You love your dog and would like to spend more time with him, so here are a few ideas on how to spend more time outside – sort of ‘bucket list’ items to do:
What: Take up a dog sport
Why: There are so many sports to choose from. As long as this is enjoyable for both of you, dog sport is a great activity to do together. It is mentally and physically stimulating and builds a bond between you and your dog as well as teaching you both new skills. You can do it for fun or to compete. Dog sports include:
- Dog yoga
- Field trials
- Conformation showing
- Freestyle dancing
- Therapy dog
How: Contact local dog clubs and schools.
Take a hike
What: Get off the beaten path and go for a hike
Why: As long as your dog has a reliable recall off-lead, hikes are great adventures to enjoy time with your dog to explore and enjoy a kaleidoscope of new smells and sights. This is your opportunity to explore the unexplored, as dogs experience the world predominantly through their noses. It creates excellent bonding time either with just you and your dog, or you can arrange some buddies to join. Take frequent rest periods, sit and relax with your dog and enjoy the quiet with great company.
How: Google hiking/walking areas which allow dogs and look at social media and dog-related platforms.
When: Hiking is weather dependent, so don’t get caught in a lightning storm or walk in extreme heat. Always stay safe.
What: Organise a play date
Why: Arrange a play date with a friend and invite your dog’s buddies over. Have it in a safe area where the is no interference from the local park bully. It also maintains social ability in your dog. If you have an older dog at home who can’t go to parks, the extra company and activity could be enjoyable, and it will help keep your social life going too.
How: Dogs are the best magnets to meet new friends. So, get to know the folks you see regularly at your usual walking spots.
By the sea
What: Holiday by the sea
Why: A dip in the waves, digging in the sand, chasing a ball, lots of new smells and things to investigate are all part of the great fun on doggy-friendly beaches.
How: Ask the local residents and the municipality where to locate dog-friendly beaches.
What: Attend a charity event
Why: Many welfare organisations arrange dog walks to raise funds for dogs in need. If your dog enjoys the company of many other dogs and people, this is a great outing, and you will be supporting a good cause.
How: Link up with welfare and rescue organisations and request notifications of their organised walks.
What: Coffee shop or out for a meal with your pooch
Why: Your dog likes to be with you! So, bring your dog along for a coffee or a meal. Dog-friendly restaurants often supply water and some even have a doggy menu. If your dog enjoys being out in public, this is a relaxing activity to do.
* Respect other patrons’ space as well as your dog’s personal space – consent goes both ways.
How: Google pet-friendly restaurants and coffee shops in your area.
What: Complete a muddy obstacle course
Why: A muddy obstacle course typically is an event which consists of walking, running, crawling, climbing and jumping an obstacle course, in loads of mud!
How: Sign up and have fun. Watch out for the Animaltalk event later in the year.
What: Fun at home
Why: If your dog is not a social butterfly and off-property adventures are too scary, there are many things you can do at home. Try home canine enrichment, such as scent games, hide-and-seek, teaching a clever trick to show off to your friends, or try out food puzzle games with your dog. All dogs enjoy learning and investigating interesting things. Mental games improve confidence, teaches problem-solving skills and keeps your dog out of trouble.
How: Invest in a canine enrichment book or join a social media group that shares these ideas.
Be a dog
What: Allow your dog to be a dog
Why: These are some very normal dog activities which, depending on what you are able to tolerate, just sometimes let your dog be a dog, and don’t sweat the small stuff. As long as he is not going to hurt himself, let your dog:
- Get filthy, stinky and muddy dirty
- Chew something other than a dog toy
- Disembowel a teddy
- Shower you with water after a swim
- Join in the zoomies (running at full speed like a bewitched mad dog)
- Dig up the garden
- Swim in the pool
- Lie on your favourite chair
- Give sloppy kisses
- Sleep in the bed
- Lick the dinner plate
- Sniff disgusting things on a walk
What: Celebrate your dog’s birthday
Why: Have a party in a park or at your home with party packs, games and a doggy birthday cake.
What: Family portrait with your dog
Why: Arrange a professional birthday shoot with your best friend for lasting memories.
The most important gift
Of all these ideas, the most important gift that you can give your dog is to teach him to cope without you! The single most important responsibility you have toward your dog is to ensure he has the coping skills to enjoy life when you are not around, even if he has a best dog-buddy at home.
You can do this from puppy days – start teaching him that alone-time is super fun. In a multi-dog household, do activities together as well as individually. Through training and careful early socialisation, teach your dog as many coping skills as possible, so when life does happen, he is able to bounce back and continue to enjoy being a dog even if you are not there.
Consult your vet first before taking part in any strenuous activities to ensure that your dog is fit and healthy enough for the activity.