Benefits of more than just a walk

As 2015 approached I started to think about new activities to get Cookie involved in. We have decided to undertake a 6 week agility course having attended at taster session with the lovely Jenny Green at Bells and Whistles in my local area.

Having enrolled in the course, lots of people have asked me why I decided to get involved and take up every Sunday to run around in the cold attempting to jump over jumps and weave around sticks! Well the easy answer is because I am a crazy dog lady and would rather spend my Sunday mornings doing something fun with my best friend than nurse yet another hangover!

There are a multitude of activities that you can get involved in with your canine companion(s) and there are a number of benefits that come with them, to name just a few:

  • Increase the bond between you and your dog 
    • Training your dog should not stop when you leave puppy school, dogs require constant training throughout their lives and the more you do with your dog, the greater the bond you find you will have and reinforce basic obedience commands
  • Provide your dog with mental stimulation
    • Taking your dog to new environments keeps them on their toes, prevents boredom and promotes confidence
    • Allows your dog an outlet for their natural instincts
    • Teaches an “old dog new tricks”
  • Mixes up your routine 
    • Bored of walking the same route every day? Then taking up a new hobby with the dog can alleviate the boredom
  • Health benefits 
    • Both you and your dog will benefit from introducing different exercises into your routine
      • Your dog will keep healthy agile and limber
      • Exercise can help keep the dogs weight under control
      • You might find you lose a few pounds from the change in exercise
  • Socialisation
    • Classes with other dogs will continue to keep your dog well socialised and able might help build your dog’s confidence and trust around other dogs and humans
    • You will also get to meet lots of people if the activity you choose involves group classes, they might also be a good way to involve your children in training the dog
  • A tired dog is a happy dog! 
    • Starting new activities will provide both physical and mental stimulation for your dog and should help reduce any unwanted behaviour caused by inactivity

Activities and where to find them 

It is often a good idea to choose activities that suit your dog’s natural instincts; however, most dogs are capable at having a go at any form of exercise so why not give it a go.  The Kennel Club is a great place to start when looking for clubs in your area: Kennel Club Activities Page and Happy Dogs Training also provides a number of different training activities for you and your dog to enjoy, see the list here.

  • Agility 

The handler directs a dog through an obstacle course including jumps, tunnels, a-frames

  • Heelwork to Music

Requires the dog to walk in one of the 8 prescribed heelwork positions and the handler to choreograph that heelwork to a piece of music

  • Flyball

Teams of dogs race against each other from a start/finish line, over hurdles, to a box that releases a tennis ball to be caught, then back to their handlers while carrying the ball

  • Showing 

Each pedigree dog is judged against the official Kennel Club Breed Standard

  • Competitive Obedience 

Competition to test how obedient and well trained your dog is

  • Canicross 

Cross country running with dogs, click here for more information

  • Working Trials

Developed to test the ability of your dog in the arears of nosework, agility and control

  • Field Trials 

Developed to test the working ability of gundogs in competitive conditions. The trials resemble a day’s shooting in the fields

  • Geocaching

Geocaching is a treasure hunt where caches are hidden in location for people to find. Read a recent article about the activity here

  • Treibball

Dogs gather and drive large exercise balls into football goals. Read morehere.

Don’t forget the vet!

If you are thinking of starting one of the above mentioned activities then it might be a good idea to take the dog for a quick check up at the vets to check whether your dog is up to starting the exercise. Take into account the breed of dog you have and any limitations that might cause to starting certain activities and also the size and age of the dog.

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