Fun sports to teach your dog to play
We all know fetch, but outdoor fun with your favorite pooch doesn't have to only be about throwing tennis balls or Frisbees. The next time you head to the park, try one of these activities. Your pup will thank you with sloppy kisses and an early bedtime.
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What dog doesn't love Frisbee? Take fetch to the next level with disc dog classes and competitions, offers animal behaviorist Kristin Collins, who is also the director of ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Behavior Rehabilitation. "Disc dogs perform jaw-dropping leaps in the air and spectacular tricks and spins, all while catching the flying disc," she said.
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That's right: Bubbles aren't reserved for 3-year-olds. If your dog likes to chase and catch bubbles, you can find flavored bubbles made just for dogs. Check out these IncrediBubbles that come in peach flavor — nontoxic, of course. While blowing bubbles isn't necessarily an organized sport, it certainly provides plenty of exercise for those couch-loving pooches.
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Agility courses provide great exercise for both you and your dog and strengthen your bond as you play and learn together, Collins says. Check with any dog training facilities around you to see if they offer agility lessons. Some, like the IncrediPAWS dog training facility in Columbus, Ohio, will offer private one-on-one lessons, while others will offer instruction in teams of two or three or even in group classes.
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If you have a specific breed or breed type, consider exploring activities that might capitalize on your dog's individual strengths and behavioral tendencies, Collins says. "If you have a border collie or border collie mix, look into herding classes," she said. "If you have a sighthound mix, or any dog who loves to run and chase things, she's sure to enjoy lure coursing." Have a retriever who loves good fun in the water? Try dock diving.
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While many dogs love the water, swimming is especially beneficial for older dogs. "Try teaching him how to swim with you," Collins says. "Be sure to invest in a canine life jacket first, and consider taking a class at a facility that specializes in teaching dogs how to swim."
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No, your dog probably can't get on a bicycle and ride away. However, with a little time, you can teach your dog to run with you as you bike. The ASPCA recommends first teaching your dog how to run beside you without pulling — if possible, as you run yourself. It can also be helpful to use a Springer, a device that lets you attach your dog's leash to the bike. The device has a coil spring that is designed to absorb and reduce the force of a dog's sudden movements or tugs if she lunges to one side, helping you keep your balance on your bike.
What fun activities do you like to do with your dog? Share in the comments section below!