10 Great Activities To Do With Your Dog
Looking for Something Fun To Do With Your Canine Companion?
All dogs are better behaved when they are involved in activities to exercise both their minds and their bodies. A bored dog is often a mischievous, or destructive dog. Dogs love to please us. They don’t call them mans best friend for no reason.
Some dogs excel at one or more of these activities, but all dogs will benefit even if they are not at the top of the class.
We adopted a Border Collie named Emily (in the photo above stalking the steers) about a year ago. She is an awesome dog, with a heart of gold, but she likes to be busy. That isn’t hard for us since we live on a farm with several barn cats and wild rabbits for her to chase. We also have some cattle she thinks she can herd. She loves to be working, something that caused her to lose her previous home!
She enjoys walking and hiking, pulling my son on his roller skates, playing ball and Frisbee, herding the cows, and just racing around the yard at top speed. We make a great obedience team. She goes nuts when I get the leash out, because she knows she gets to work. She enjoys working in obedience, and agility. She loves to work her brain. Learning a new trick is a challenge she gladly accepts.
We also have a Shih tzu named Lily, who loves to fetch balls, is learning agility and obedience, and curling up on the nearest lap at night.
I am creating this lens to provide information to others who may be looking for activities they can participate in with their canine companion. All dogs learn at a different pace, don’t get frustrated if your dog doesn’t pick something up right away. Just keep trying, and remember it’s just for fun, and the best interest of your pet. I have seen too many bored dogs become destructive, and lose their home. Working with your dog can help you get to know him, and help you connect on a whole new level.
There are many more activities you can participate in than I have listed in this lens. Take a look at some of the additional resources to find more information on some of these additional activities
Here is a list of the activities included here:
- Obedience Training
- Go Fetch (anything to do with retrieving including ball, Frisbee, and Flyball)
- Dog parks/ Take a walk
- Hiking and Camping
- Tracking/ Earthdog
- Teach your dog a new trick
- Pet Therapy
- Harness and pulling activities
- Drill Team
Before you engage your dog in any type of physical activity set an appointment to have your dog checked by the vet, and discuss the activity you are interested in participating in.
Image: Linette Gerlach all rights reserved
What is Your Favorite Activity to do With Your Dog?
#1 Obedience Training
All dogs should have at least basic obedience training for their own safety. There may be a situation where your dog's life is at stake. You may need them to come to you the first time you call them instead of running into traffic. You may need them to stay where they are instead of running in front of a truck or car.
Obedience has come a long way in recent years. Most obedience trainers and groups use positive reinforcement from treats, or clickers to train your pet. Obedience instructors can also give you tips and pointers for breaking any bad habits your dog may have.
Beyond learning the basic commands, if your dog loves to learn, you can go on to compete in obedience trials. Your dog can earn obedience titles, and awards. You can work with other dog loving people and their pets.
Image: My own all rights reserved.
#2 Agility Training
What started in England, as a doggie version of horse jumping has evolved into a popular dog sport around the world. Agility training is a really fun challenge for you, and your dog. Any breed can participate, from the smallest to the largest. Just have fun with it!
Your dog will learn to maneuver through an obstacle course of jumps, poles, ramps, tunnels, and other equipment. The course is determined ahead of time, and the dog must run the course (off leash) in the correct order from start to finish. You may communicate with your dog by clapping, talking or signaling to help them through the course.
The course will contain several jumps, and other obstacles. The goal is to complete the course in the least amount of time, with no faults.
Learn More About Agility
A handy reference for beginners, and those more advanced at agility training.
Training your dog (and yourself) for agility competitions will create a fun working relationship that both of you can enjoy. Find everything you need to know in this fun guide that includes information on pre-agility training, detailed advice on correction-free training, and step-by-step agility training techniques. Also learn how to make your own agility obstacles, use a clicker as a motivational tool, and officially enter agility trials.
# 3 Go Fetch!
Train your dog to catch a Frisbee (flying disc), retrieve a ball, or fetch a stick. All of these are great exercise for your pet.
Disc dog competitions are becoming more and more popular. Some of the best disc dogs in the world are mixed breed dogs, but Retrievers, Border Collies, and Australian Shepherds also excel at this sport. But just for fun any dog can do it, if they enjoy it.
Dogs work on relay teams jumping a series of hurdles to release a ball, and retrieve it. They return over the jumps.
Some dogs are born to hunt. Let them build on their natural ability by training them to retrieve, and entering them in retrieving trials.
You don't have to compete in organized competitions to play fetch with your dog. Just get out in the back yard and throw a ball, or stick for them to retrieve. It's great exercise for them in a minimal amount of time and effort from you. Just be sure you don't over exercise them on a hot sunny day. Some dogs love to fetch so much they will do it until they drop.
Fetch Some Great Books From Amazon
#4 Dog Parks/ Walking With Your Dog
Walking with your dog can be great exercise for both of you. There are many parks that are designed specifically for our four legged friends. Some of the parks even allow you to walk with your dog off leash. Some are enclosed, and some are open.
Wherever you are walking your dog, make sure you pick up any extras your dog may leave behind. Teach your dog good leash, and social manners prior to walking in public.
Check the additional resource links below (at the bottom of the page) for a site that lets you plug in your zip code to find a dog park near you.
#5 Hiking and Camping
Hiking and camping with your dog can be a lot of fun. Before you take off on a ten-mile trail, be sure you have conditioned your dog to handle the distance. A great way to condition your pet is to walk with your pet daily and build up the distance, or play ball with them on a regular basis.
Make sure you protect your best friend from pests like mosquitoes, and ticks. Work on your dog's social skills prior to hitting the trails. Wild or unfriendly dogs may cause a problem if the trail is well traveled. Call ahead to ensure the trails are pet friendly, and make sure you have all the equipment you will need on the trail. If you are going for an overnight hike, be sure you have a way to secure your dog for the night, enough food and water, and containers to put them in.
# 6 Tracking and Earthdog
Some dogs, especially the hunting breeds excel at tracking, but all breeds can learn to do scent work. Start by playing scent games with your dog. Hide a treat, or favorite toy and have him find it using his nose. Work your way up to tracking people or animals by rewarding your pet when they follow their nose to find items you hide around the house. If your dog loves to track you can check into tracking dog trials, and compete against others.
Earthdog competitions are geared towards the terrier breeds. The dog tracks the scent to a hole entrance and works to get at the quarry. You can train your dog for this type of tracking by training them to track squirrels, or rabbits in your yard.
For more information on Earthdog Trials check out the AKC page in the resource section at the bottom of the lens.
#7 Teach an Old Dog a New Trick
Teach your dog to do some fun tricks like rolling over, or balancing a biscuit on their nose.
I taught my Border Collie how to close the cupboard door. I started by holding a treat between my fingers and asking her to touch when my hand was right in front of her nose.
After we mastered that I held my hand up in the air so she would have to stand on her back legs to touch it. I asked her to touch, and gave her a treat.
Then I held a small square of paper in my hand and requested her to touch. Once that was mastered I transferred the paper to the outside of the cabinet door.
Now when she is commanded to touch she will touch the cabinet door and close it.
There are many tricks you can teach your dog. Just be careful you do not teach them to do something that can harm them in any way. Most dogs love to learn new tricks, and show them off for some love, or a treat.
Teach Your Dog A New Trick
# 8 Pet Therapy
Pet Therapy is not for all dogs, but if you have a well socialized, well-trained dog, pet therapy can be a very rewarding activity. Find a couple pet loving friends to recruit to come with you. If your dog loves people, or knows a few tricks that's great. What a great way to show those tricks off to others.
Take your pet to local nursing homes, children's hospitals, or schools to entertain and receive some love from the children or residents. It can be a very fun and rewarding experience. I went to the local nursing homes with a couple friends. We had a short routine we performed with our dogs (we each did a couple tricks). Then we went around to the residents, and the dogs collected the rewards (pats on the head). The residents, and the dogs both had a great time.
# 9 Harness and Pulling Activities
Does your dog love to pull you along when you go for a walk? Strap him into a harness, grab a pair of rollerblades and let him pull. One word of caution, be sure you have enough control over your dog that you can stop if you need to.
Some dogs love to pull. There are many organized pulling activities you can do with your pet. Carting, sledding, rollerblading, skijoring, and scootering are just some of the pulling activities you can do with your pet. When equipped with a proper harness pulling can be very good exercise for your dog, building important hip, leg, and shoulder muscles.
Before attempting any pulling activities you should wait until your dog is eighteen months, to two years old. If you are unsure of your dogs physical abilities consult your veterinarian before hooking them up to the harness.
The first step is to get your dog used to wearing a harness. You can do this by putting the harness on the dog, and adjusting it until it is comfortable. Play a fun game with your dog, or give him yummy treats while the harness is on. Do this several times, over a couple days until your dog looks forward to putting the harness on.
You will need a command to cue your dog to pull, and another to make him stop. Work on teaching him both of these commands while you are following behind on foot, and have control in case he forgets the command. With a little work, and patience your dog will be pulling you, a sled, or a cart in no time.
Your dog is hooked to a cart or a wagon to pull. The cart can range in size from very small, for a toy breed, to a cart that can pull a child for larger breeds.
Any breed of dog can be a sled dog, especially if it is just for fun and exercise. Malamutes, and Huskies excel at this activity, but it does not mean that other breeds won't enjoy it. You can train one dog or a team of dogs to pull the sled.
Skijoring is a winter sport. You can have one, or more dogs pull you cross country on skis. It is a unique sport combining the skills from sledding, with cross country skiing. Your participation can range from fun and exercise to serious competition.
Our Border Collie enjoys this sport. She loves to pull our son along on his roller blades. We really had no formal training for this one. She loves to pull and she picked up the cues without much training on our part. The toughest part was training her to stop on command.
To Find Out More About Your Favorite Pulling Activity
# 10 Doggie Drill Team
Dog drill teams are usually an extension of obedience training. Many local obedience, or agility clubs also have a drill team. It is a great way to socialize, reinforce training, and have a great time working with other dogs and people.
Learn how to work with your dog in sync with other handlers and their dogs, many groups perform in competitions, but they also perform for fun and entertainment.
I participated in a drill team many years ago with my Shih Tzu, we did performances at local nursing homes, and at the county fair. We wore matching shirts, and the dogs all had matching bandannas. It was a lot of fun working with others who love dogs as much as I do.
Check with your local obedience group to see if they have a drill team, if not be brave and start your own!
My Favorite Dog Activity Resources
Most of these are on my favorites list. These links are all great references, please check them out if you are looking for more information on any of the activities above.
- Dog Activities
Gives you a run down on activities you can do with your dog.
- Dog Play
Great activities you can do with your dog.
- Hike With Your Dog
Find a tail friendly trail.
- Working Dog Web
Information on activities sports and work for dogs.
- Agility Ability
A great place to find out more about agility.
- K9 Trailblazers
Information you should know if you go hiking with your dog.
- Dog Patch
Guide to canine shows and activities.
- AKC Earthdog Info Page
How you get started with Earthdog? Check here.
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Share your favorite canine activities with the world, or just say hi! Sorry, lounging on the couch does not qualify as an activity.