A guest blog by John Woods of All Things Dogs
Unfortunately, as dog owners, we are becoming more and more aware of the injuries sustained by dogs from excessive ball throwing or flinging.
Not only is it the repetitive movement that strains their legs, necks and backs, but balls can also become lodged in their throats. Then we have the added issue of sticks becoming lodged in chest cavities too.
So, how do we keep our dogs active outside without causing harm?
We’ve put together our top games you can play outdoors to keep you both active and having a great time together!
1. Flirt Pole
This is a firm favorite for competition or working dogs for maintaining condition. For a pet pooch, this is great for sight hounds, retrievers or just those guys who are eager-to-please. You can buy a flirt pole readymade or make your own.
To make your own, find a length of PVC piping. Thread some rope through the pipe and tie it at both ends to stop it coming out. The rope should have excess on the one end. At the end of the rope, tie a toy or stuffed animal.
The purpose of the flirt pole is to encourage your pup to chase the toy/animal. With it being attached to the pole, you still have control over it, and you can regulate how fast/far your pooch is traveling/chasing. It’s best to keep calm and quiet whilst they are chasing and then praise when they catch it.
2. Treasure Hunt
A great game for all dogs, especially recovering, older or less mobile dogs. If your dog is toy orientated you can hide toy, if he’s food orientated, then hide treats.
To start off with, if you are using toys, it’s best to hide treats alongside the toy so they can find it easier. Use high value, aromatic treats.
Hide toys/treats around your yard and let your dog see where you hide them. Let him retrieve them, you can label the behavior “hunt” when he finds them.
Once he’s understood the concept, keep him somewhere he can’t see you when you hide them and ask him to “hunt” on command.
This is a great game if your dog is a digger!
Think terrier, husky, malamute and dachshund! Find a kids sand tray and fill it with play sand or non-toxic sand.
Bury toys in the sand encourage your pooch to dig them out. You can help him initially. This is a great way to prevent unwanted digging in the rest of your garden. Just remember to cover the sand up if the rain comes in.
No-one wants wet sand paw prints across their kitchen floor.
4. Tunnel Master!
If you can find a kids or dog agility tunnel, set it up in your yard.
Some dogs will confidently walk through it as soon as it’s up, others will need a little more encouragement. If he’s wary, keep it tied together and encourage him to walk through the “hoop” that it appears.
Once he’s mastered this, set the tunnel up and encourage him into the entrance by throwing treats around the entrance. As he gains confidence, throw treats into the entrance and then further into the tunnel.
The idea is that he just gets further into the tunnel each session.
Once he’s confident, label the behavior “in” and he should happily run through! Remember to practice entering from both ends of the tunnel! You may even consider taking up agility!
5. Apple Bobbing!
If you have a water tray, fill it with water and throw some floatable toys or balls in it. Encourage your pooch to retrieve the toys/balls. Be mindful that he doesn’t swallow too much of the water though. Some dogs choose to “bob” from the edges, some will jump into the pool! It can be a brilliant game to help them cool down on a warm day! Use fresh water every time you use the pool as algae can from which is toxic to Fido.
There are plenty of ways to keep your pooch active whilst outside.
Just consider the weather and don’t spend too much time outside with him in extreme temperatures.