Activities to Try

If you and your dog are getting bored of simply walking around the block each day, there are many fun activities you can do to add a bit of spice.

  1. Swimming – there are plenty of dog friendly beaches in Sydney, and some swimming pools even do special dog days. Get a lifejacket and some floaty toys such as the Amphibious Duck Diver or Wubba, and get in the water!
  2. Running – fitness is as important for your dog’s health as it is for yours, and beginning a fitness plan together can keep you on track and be very rewarding.
  3. Biking – if you struggle to wear your dog out, try riding a bike with them. As long as you make sure to use a spring or special detachable lead hook to attach them, you can really cover the miles.
  4. Rollerblading – this is lots of fun and very impressive if you have some spare time to teach your dog to rollerblade with you safely. You’ll need a bombproof stop command, and ideally go right and go left to avoid embarrassing tangles with passerbys. Use a stretchy leash such as the EzyDog Zero Shock lead to prevent sudden tugs that pull you off your feet.
  5. Circuit training – liven up your training routine by taking your dog along with you. You can even teach them cute tricks like sit ups whilst you do your own.
  6. Dog classes – there are so many options these days that you’re bound to find something to suit you both. Don’t be intimidated, most people are just there with their pets looking to have some fun. See our ‘dog sports’ article for ideas, such as discdogs or doggy dancing.
  7. Ball play – a classic game of fetch is always a favourite, and will have your dog tearing back and forth without you having to move an inch. For something different try the Chuck It Erratic ball or Rogz Asteroids. For dogs that aren’t so keen on a ball, you can use low calorie treats to hurl across the park and have them streak after it.
  8. Indoors – try a doggy treadmill. You can rent time on them at doggy daycare centres or invest in one yourself. Make sure to start slowly and build up their endurance over time.
  9. Train and walk – keep them on their toes and practise your cues as you walk. Randomise your requests and have them listening and waiting for their next task. You’ll need a treat pouch to keep things clean and easy, such as Doog Training Pouch.
  10. Group Outings – the best way to keep you both excited about getting out the house, organise walks with other dog owners in your areas. Being social for the both of you, time will fly.

Swimming

Safety First

First off, invest in a quality lifejacket. Accidents can happen even to the most aquatic of dogs, and having them floaty and safe will give both you and him some peace of mind. (…) is a good example. Taking your dog to the store with you in order to get a nice and secure fit is a good idea.

Believe it or not, not all dogs instinctively know how to, or even can, swim. This can be true of short legged (such as dachshunds), squashed face (such as pugs) or skinny dogs (such as whippets). Some dogs will even sink like a stone if thrown into the water for an instant ‘lesson’, such as greyhounds and bulldogs. Don’t worry though; all dogs can learn to love the water, with the added flotation of a lifejacket and a bit of quality time.

Fun in the Sun

Start by teaching your dog that water can be fun, and doesn’t necessarily mean bath-time and a sponge. It’s best to begin somewhere that gently slopes into the water, so that your dog can gradually walk deeper and deeper without having to take a sudden plunge. If you don’t have access to that luxury, a child’s paddling pool is a good way to begin the introduction.

Arm yourself with lots of their favourite treats and toys, and begin to lure your dog into the water. Just paw deep at first is fine; you just want to build up a positive association. Have some good games or food rewards, even tossing them into the water for your dog to fetch out. Some good floaty toys include (…)

Doggy Paddle

Over time, you can start to move the fun deeper and deeper. With a lifejacket on they may not even notice as their paws leave the floor. If your dog is struggling, support underneath their stomach to encourage them to kick with their back legs. Many dogs paddle stronger and stronger with their front paws and forget about the back, causing their bottoms to sink.

Keep encouraging and rewarding your newly paddling pooch, and pretty soon they will be diving in and out to retrieve their toys and food rewards, or to cool off out of the sun.

Drying Off

Remember to thoroughly wash and dry your dog after they have been swimming, to remove any algae, toxins or chlorine from their coat. Don’t ever throw your dog into the water either; if any gets into their ears it is difficult for them to get out and makes them very prone to ear infections.

Sport for Dogs

Looking for more to do with your dog? Sports are fun for owner and dog alike, you can be as casual or as competitive as you like with most of these fun activities.

  • Agility – derived from Equestrian Showjumping, Dog agility is an obstacle course for the dog to negotiate, with you as the navigator. Including tunnels, jumps, climbing frames and weaving poles.
  • Flyball – a relay race for the dogs over a series of five jumps to a Flyball box. The dog triggers the box to release a tennis ball and race back with the ball over the jumps to their owner.
  • Herding – traditional sheep herding within the confines of a large pen. There are classes and weekend training camps that you and your working breed can attend to learn and participate in actual sheep herding techniques.
  • Treiball – this is sheep herding minus the sheep. The urban “sheep” is a large gym ball which the dogs are taught to “herd” through a goal post. Great fun for many dogs and owners.
  • Dockdogs – long jump into water! Using a your dogs favourite water toy the dogs launch off a dock into a pool to retrieve their toy. The dog that jumps the greatest distance wins.
  • Nosework– (scent work) any dog that likes food can enjoy this sport. It involves teaching your dog how to search for food in various locations and in, under or around obstacles. The most thoughtful and methodical dogs often do well at this game.
  • Lure Coursing – not just for Greyhounds, this game involves chasing a “lure” or fake rabbit around a course. Any dog that likes to chase will love this sport.
  • Canine freestyle – often called “Dog Dancing” is a series of heelwork patterns and tricks that are performed to music to look like dancing.
  • DiscDogs – Frisbee lovers favourite sport! There are different classes involving Distance Throwing or Tricks / Flips to earn points against the clock.
  • Obedience – competitive Heelwork, Scent Discrimination and Stays are a large part of this sport, suitable for any breed to show case his obedience skills and learn new ones.
  • Rally-O – this is a less formalised version of competitive obedience involving less complicated heelwork and some stations where different activities are performed. This sport is also timed, giving the handler a sense of urgency as well as accuracy to be successful.

Dog Park Etiquette

Dog parks can be fantastic places to supplement your dog’s daily exercise routine, as long as you are sensible and careful about when you go and who you let your dog interact with. Here are a few tips to make your walks as enjoyable and safe as possible:

  1. Try to find one in a quiet area, or go at unpopular times of day. With lots of dogs that don’t know each other in the same small place, the possibility of disagreements can be quite high.
  2. Let your dog off the lead to interact with the other dogs. Statistically the most fights happen when one dog is on a lead and the other is off; this is because the one on lead can feel trapped, or are unable to perform their normal appeasing behaviours that would calm the situation.
  3. Keep yourself moving. If you stand in one place to let them play with another dog for too long, the likelihood of one misunderstanding the others intentions can rise. Let them greet politely and maybe have a brief play, and then it’s time to move on.
  4. Take toys and balls, but make sure your dog doesn’t guard them. Although it’s good to interact with yours and the other dogs, and have yourself as involved in their play as possible, keep an eye out for possessiveness and jealousy and reward polite games.
  5. Exercise your dog before you take them to the park. As counter intuitive as this sounds, a lot of problems arise when a highly energetic dog that has been pent up in the house all day is let out of the car to hurtle into a big group of dogs.
  6. Practise your recall at home. Calling your dog to you at the dog park is one of the hardest things to do, since you are asking them to come away from a highly rewarding and stimulating environment. Remember to call them to you throughout the walk, reward them, and then let them go again to play, otherwise they will begin to associate coming when called with going home.
  7. Teach your dog polite doggy manners. Running straight up to another dog and expecting them to play, as well as pushing into their personal space, is fairly rude and a lot of other dogs won’t appreciate it. If you see your dog pestering another that is clearly uncomfortable, call them away to find someone else.