New Fun Activities for Humans and the Dogs Who Love Them
Everyone knows that in order to have a dog that is considered to be a good citizen and family member they should teach their dog the basic five commands: sit, stay, heel, down, and come. These five commands are the key to a well-behaved dog and the beginning of a wonderful relationship with our canine friends. A well-behaved dog is a joy to be around, but an ill-mannered dog that doesn’t listen can be…well…not so much of a joy. Training everyday manners such as not snarfing food, potty training, not jumping up and the basic five are the beginning of a lasting, positive relationship with your dog.
Ok, so your dog is a well-mannered pooch, what now? Did you have fun training and enjoy the bond that formed between the two of you as a result? I think that most dog owners would agree that training the basic five and everyday manners is a great way to experience the bond between you and your dog, but it doesn’t have to end here. Dogs are one of the most versatile creatures on the face of the earth. Man has been intentionally breeding dogs for specific purposes that go beyond companionship for thousands of years. The result is that today we have over 150 recognized dog breeds that were originally bred for a specific purpose. Understanding this begins to open up new avenues for training fun and continuing to develop that special relationship.
If you have a pure breed dog it is easy to look up their history and what job they were originally bred to do. For instance the border collie was bred to independently go up into the highlands and bring back a herd of sheep with little help from the shepherd. If you have a border collie, you know that makes most of them hyper, intelligent to a fault, and independent. A beagle was bred to tirelessly track small prey, beagling loudly all the way. Beagle owners know that when the nose is to the ground and the tail goes up, the rest of the world ceases to exist for the dog. These are only a few examples of dogs that have been bred for a certain job at a specific point in man’s co-mingled history with them.
If you have a pure breed, you also know that the very traits for which they were bred can also be the source of great frustration. The border collie’s intelligence makes them creative in getting into mischief. The beagles’ bugling at the cat that walks by the fence at 4:00 AM might not be start of good neighborhood relations. Every dog owner has stories of instinctive behaviors turned catastrophe.
The problem arises because dogs have internal desires and drives for which they no longer have an outlet in our modern world. Fortunately, there are many new activities for dog owners that can be the solution to giving your dog a more appropriate outlet for their drives. Finding one of these activities that is right for you and your dog can have many benefits. First, they provide an outlet for behaviors that might otherwise become undesirable. Secondly, they provide a way to challenge your mind by taking training to a new level and they challenge your dog’s mind by learning new activities. The third reason to pursue new activities with your dog is that they provide exercise for the dog and the owner. All of this time training and doing a fun activity with your dog helps to strengthen the bond between you.
Many of the same principles that apply to human health also apply to dogs. For instance, a dog that is active is able to maintain a healthy weight. Staying in shape is good for both of you. Dogs live to please us, doing sports with them provides many opportunities for them to enjoy this favorite activity. Doing sports with your dog relieves stress. Who can be stressed when they are having so much fun? A walk is good, but there is much more to life than walking around the same block and sniffing the same trees again and again. Let’s explore some of these options and how to become more involved. These sports are taking the dog world by storm and it is never too late to get started.
There are many options to explore in new dog sports. Many of these sports have official competitions and meets where you and your dog can compete with and meet other dog owners who share the same interests. Many of these can be done either competitively or just for fun to get our and have some fun with your dog. New potential activities for you and you dog might include skijoring, agility, rally, herding, dock diving, flyball, freestyle dancing, tracking, and hiking. There are many more, but this list should get you on your way to joining in on the fun. This series of articles will get you started on what you need to know to choose the sport that is right for you and where to begin.