As a friend and I walked around the dog park yesterday, she shared her experience with “nose work.” She and her dog, Ellie, are into their second set of classes and Ellie is absolutely loving it. So much so that she can’t wait to get out and do it again as soon as she is done!
Like many dogs these days, Ellie has already done and experienced so much. She has already been through basic and advanced dog obedience and has her therapy dog certification. She has gone on camping trips and loves going with her mom on her kayak adventures. She is an active dog with a mom who loves to do things with her.
It got me to thinking about how much has changed in our world when it comes to dogs. Sixty or seventy years ago, a dog would have been great entertainment for the kids, might have been taken on walks in the neighborhood, and sometimes went hunting in the spring and fall. But, that’s about it. They did not have the enriched lives that many of them experience today. Activities rarely centered around them and their fun.
There are so many more choices for us and our dogs. We can do almost anything with them these days, including:
- nose work
- geo caching
- going to the dog park
- fly ball
- freestyle musical dance
- sheep and goat herding
- trick training
- circus dog training
- search and rescue
- dock diving
- frisbee competitions
- doggie puzzles
These are only some of the things one can do with their dog. The list really is endless.
Realizing how many choices we have these days made me wonder, what changed? When did our dogs not only become so much of our lives, but also become a focus of the activities we do in our lives? Why do we do so many things with our dogs these days?
I’ll admit that I am no different. Jasper has gone experienced sheep herding many times. Daisy and Jasper and Cupcake have all gone hiking in the woods, and we play with doggie puzzles.. I like doing things with my dogs. I like that they get me outdoors and doing things I might not normally do. But, I also know that I could be doing other things. I could be traveling or crafting or attending classes. Instead, I choose to do activities that include my dogs. The question I am pondering today is, why? What motivates me to include them in all I do?
Do you do one of the above activities with your dog? What motivates to want to do so? What keeps you doing it? Why do you think we do so much with our dogs these days?
My dogs and I haven’t had much of a chance to go for a walk at the dog park this week. The frigid sub-zero temperatures have made it virtually impossible. So we’ve been playing a lot of indoor games and practicing our commands and tricks.
Last night I had the dogs wait behind a baby gate while I hid treats around the living room. Then I let them out so they could search for them. By the 4th round, the dogs were so excited they rushed past me and the gate and made a beeline for the ones they were certain they could find easily. They were so proud of themselves when they found one it made me smile. (Of course, it may have had something to do with me cheering for them when they did.) Seeing them having fun made staying indoors just a little bit easier – on all of us.
I love being able to “do” something with them on these cold nights, but I really wish that we could be walking at the park instead. To be honest, we could all use the exercise. It’s also nice stress reliever after a long day at work. (Can someone please talk to Mother Nature about this cold spell?)
But after hearing the weather report for next week, I am starting to lose hope that we will ever leave the house again. I am desperate enough to start doing 101 Things To Do with a Box. Not a bad thing to attempt mind you, but I really would prefer a little fun in the snow too.
Things may get bad enough that I may have to resort to dressing the dogs up in costumes just to entertain them! (Okay, that last one would be purely for my enjoyment. I doubt the dogs would find it funny or entertaining.)
Are you dealing with freezing temperatures? How are you keeping your dogs busy?
This weekend I was reading something that Pamela, from Something Wagging This Way Comes, had posted on her Facebook page. It turned out to be a blog post by Jodi Stone of the blog named (funny enough) Jodi Stone. Jodi was responding to Pamela’s post called “Do you have dreams for your dog?”
Pamela’s wonderfully thoughtful blog post asked:
If you had expectations for your dog, did they work out? Or have you had to shift your attitude and accept that some things would never happen?
What has been the best thing you’ve received from your dog that you weren’t looking for?
(If you get a chance, go read a few of the interesting answers to Pamela’s questions.)
Jodi’s blog post was a response to Pamela’s questions, but what really caught my attention was the alternating activity schedule she has for her dogs. Check it out:
In the winter on Mondays and Wednesdays they get a twenty-minute around-the-block leash walk, once the time changes and the days are longer, they will get at least a half hour hike.
Tuesdays and Fridays they get a half a day of daycare, and yes it’s true most days they don’t play a lot, but they are awake the entire time and it is a different type of mental stimulation.
Thursday nights are obedience class, which is where Delilah really gets her mental stimulation. Sampson just doesn’t care for it at all and I think I’m going to have Hubby start walking Sampson somewhere else, because I don’t think he should have to do it if he’s not enjoying it.”
What a great idea! Alternating your dog’s schedule probably adds more stimulation to their lives and addresses the monotony that comes with doing the same thing every day. Why didn’t I think of this??? Our schedule usually consists of a little training reinforcement in the mornings and a walk at the dog park in the evenings. But, maybe it’s too predictable? To boring? Maybe I need to switch it up a bit. Hmmm…..
Reading Jodi’s post made me wonder if anyone else was doing something like this with their own dogs. Do you switch up your schedule for your dog? Do you have a daily schedule or routine? And if you do, do you notice a difference in your dog as a result? What do you think of the idea of creating a schedule like Jodi’s to make things a little more fun for your dogs?
Andrea Arden tweeted a link today sharing a list of all the different types of activities you can do with your dog. Who knew the list would be so extensive? Holy cow!
On the list were: Agility, Canicross, Coursing and racing, Dock Jumping or Dock Diving, Flyball, Flygility, Backpacking, and Skijoring, and that’s just a few!
Looking for something to do with your dog? This may offer you just what you and your dog have been looking for.
And, if any of you have done or are doing one of these activities with your dog, please share. Maybe you will motivate someone else to try it!