5 Fun Bonding Activities for You and Your Dog During Covid19
COVID19 has certainly changed the way we are interacting with others, but thankfully, we can still enjoy activities with our pets! Hanging out with your furry friend is the perfect way to enjoy life during these unusual times. While most dogs seem to never tire of a good game of fetch, it can be a little repetitive for the person tossing the ball! When you need a break from tug toys and tennis balls within your four walls and yard, just grab your mask, continue to mind your social distancing and try out one of these activities instead!
What better way to have a total outdoor experience with Fido than a night or two under the stars. Of course, this extended excursion will require a little more forethought than a simple picnic in the park.
Be sure your dog has the temperament, as well as, the desire, to enjoy an overnight stay away from the safety of home. A barking dog will keep everyone awake, a Nervous Nelly will not have a good time and an aggressive hunter may be hard to control and keep contained at the campsite.
Make sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations, is protected from ticks and fleas and is chipped and tagged.
Research and create a packing list before you head out. Camping with pets has become increasingly popular and it is easy to find lists and tips simply by typing "camping with pets" into your browser. Or check out this list at musthavemom.com. If you make frequent excursions, consider keeping a lidded 18 gallon container filled with the pet's gear and non-perishable necessities. While this will require you to purchase duplicates of some items, the time savings might be well worth it. Label the container and store it until the next outing.
2. Backyard Agility Course
If you have ever seen an agility trial, whether in person or on television, you probably thought it looked like a lot of fun. One of the fastest-growing canine sports in the United States, dog agility is not only a whole lot of fun, but it also provides physical and mental stimulation and helps to improve your dog's obedience. The joy and excitement you can provide for your dog with each little success on the course is priceless and the bonding experience is undeniable.
Maybe you want to test the waters and gauge both your interest and your dog's enthusiasm for the activity before you sign up for agility classes, or maybe you simply want to have fun. Either way, there are many articles and how-tos on the internet (like this one from k9ofmine.com) for building backyard courses and the basic skills learned will increase your dog’s confidence and trust, and introduce you both to fun new experiences.
For days when relaxation is calling, try a picnic. Grab a camping chair and your dog’s kennel (or a combination of the two) and pack some snacks! Make sure you bring plenty of food and water for both yourself and your pet, but keep in mind that some picnic fare, such as bones (especially chicken bones), grapes and raisins, chocolate, onions, and avocados can be dangerous to dogs.
Also, remember, your pets can’t tell you when they are overheated, so always keep an eye on them to make sure they are getting enough water, spending time in the shade, and not panting too heavily.
4. Scent Work
According to the AKC, "Scent Work is a sport that mimics the task of working detection dogs to locate a scent (e.g., explosives or narcotics) and communicate to the handler that the scent has been found."
That's right, your dog's strongest, natural sense can be used to create a fun bonding experience while staying at home! Many dog sports require extra gear (think... $$$), but with scent work, you need look no further than your dog's nose and a few other simple items to start. You can start with an activity as simple as "which hand" at puppyleaks.com and step it up by hiding treats around the house. While you may find that creating the scent work area reminds you a bit the "new normal" of hyper-vigilance and awareness of contact surfaces, with careful planning and preparation of the area, it could be a great boredom buster for both you and your dog.
For a balance of exercise and exploration opportunities, you can’t beat hiking. Pick a trail that works for you and your dog’s skill level, pack snacks and plenty of water. Your dog will love sniffing around and discovering new smells and will certainly appreciate the exercise. Hikes with your pup can also provide opportunities to reinforce basic obedience skills like sit, down, stand and stay with this fun dog trail trick from Juliet Whitfield at tailsfromtheroad.com. Be sure to find trails that are dog-friendly, shady and easy on the paws. Avoid trails heavily used by horses and or bikes. You can find canine friendly trails by state at bringfido.com. Remember, that if you are new to this, your dog is also - take it slow in the beginning. If this is something you want to get more serious about, research the topic.
All the fun and exercise your dog craves without ever having to throw a ball!