13 Fun Dog Activities to Boost Your Bond
Written by Adaptil, published on April 04, 2023
Your relationship with your dog is special and you probably already enjoy lovely walks in the park or countryside with them. You may even enjoy taking holidays together or going to the beach, but what other fun activities can you do to boost your bond?
There are lots of different things you can try that will provide both physical and mental stimulation. These can be great fun for you and a way to meet with other like-minded pet parents.
Most dogs love exercise, walks and playtime, although there will be some exceptions due to various circumstances such as health issues. Every individual dog will also respond to training differently! So while some dog breeds (such as the Border Collie, Golden Retriever and Australian Kelpie) may be quick to learn and agile, having a consistent, positive (and fun!) training approach is the most important factor, regardless of your dog's breed. If your dog does find some training difficult, speaking with a local trainer can help you find a training routine that suits them.
Here are some examples of bonding activities to do with your dog:
This is about training a dog to perform obedience exercises which can include activities such as heelwork to music, rally obedience, or scent training.
For example, rally obedience requires the dog and human team to complete a course involving several obedience exercises. Judges observe the teams to make sure the exercises are completed properly with points deducted for errors. There is a set time that the course should be completed in and trials involve several levels.
Agility is a sport that involves an obstacle course. Dogs are directed around a course by a 'handler', making jumps, running through tunnels, navigating walkways and weaving around poles.
The 'handler' travels around the course with the dog, so effective communication between them is important and both dog and human need a certain degree of fitness. This is a great activity for any dog, as the difficulty of the course can be altered depending on a dog's limitations.
Agility competitions were introduced in 1978 at Crufts and are great fun to watch. Some agility clubs have puppy classes to introduce your pup to the sport, so your dog can start from an early age.
This is a new dog sport that originated in the USA and is great fun for dogs and humans of all fitness levels and ages. The courses are low impact, meaning they don't involve tight turns and are focussed on the ability of human and dog to work together. Dogs run through hoops, tunnels and around barrels.
4. Dog parkour
Often known as urban agility, dog parkour involves dogs moving through their environment using obstacles that are in their path. It can involve running, jumping, climbing, balancing and even vaulting.
This isn't a competitive sport but something fun you can do as you walk around your local area (of course making sure your dog is safe doing the movements). Dog parkour became very popular during lockdown as other agility classes were closed.
Simply put, this is dancing with dogs. Heelwork is a musical performance between a dog and their human. Any move is allowed as long as it doesn't put the dog or human in danger.
Dogs often perform heelwork, twists, jumps, weaving between legs, and moving with their human. Using positive reinforcement training methods and a mastery of cues, each 'move' is learnt individually and then put together to make the performance.
Puppies cannot begin these classes until they are 12 months old and need to be 18 months old before they can compete.
This dog sport was introduced in the UK in 2000 and involves running off-road (across country) with your dog. The dog is attached to the owner via a harness and a 2m bungee cord and runs out in front, following cues for direction.
To get started, introduce your dog to the harness and running on a long line. As you are attached to each other, it's important that you are fully confident that your dog will obey your cues.
7. Dog Scootering
Well established in the USA, dog scootering is also a growing UK sport. Think Huskies and sleighs, but instead consider your (strong) pooch and a scooter (crossed with a bike). Your dog will need a harness, a shockline, a lead tug and training to follow some basic cues, like:
Gee = Go Right
Haw = Go Left
Hike / Pull = Go Forward
Whoa! = Stop
Trail = Stay on the trail
On By = Go past (e.g. past a distraction)
Easy = Go Slower
This activity is best done on tracks or open countryside and not in built up areas. Finding a local group is often the best way to learn and train for this activity safely with your dog.
This is a winter sport for you and your dog that can be done when there's a lot of snow on the ground. A person on skis is partly pulled by a dog the human provides power with their skis and poles while the dogs provide additional power with the person's voice for direction guidance.
It's said that this sport may have originated in China during the Yuan and Ming dynasties when dogs would 'pull a person on a pair of wooden boards'. If you do choose to enjoy the snow with your dog, make sure to follow winter considerations and make sure they stay warm!
9. Dog shows
Dog shows are held across the world, with the top dog in each being awarded 'Best in Show'. Different breeds are shown in different ways, but your dog has to be a pedigree to take part although lots of small local fairs hold dog shows for dogs living in their neighbourhood.
Dog shows are held worldwide with the most well known ones being the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in the USA and Crufts in the UK. These shows are a great way to learn about different breeds and speak to experienced breeders.
10. Disc dog
Using a disc (or frisbee), teams of dogs and humans are judged in disc throwing events. These include freestyle routines, accuracy of catching and distance thrown and each requires combined skills from the human throwing the disc as well as the dog catching or moving with the human. It's an exciting, fast-paced and fun sport that all dog breeds and people can enjoy.
This is a fun relay race with a team of 4 dogs. One dog from each team runs down a course towards the flyball 'box', often navigating jumps as they go. The dog steps on a panel, triggering the release of a tennis ball, which they then bring back to the human. The next dog is then released to do run the same course, with teams timed for all 4 dogs to complete the task.
An ideal activity for dogs that have a natural herding instinct, like a Border Collie or a German Shepherd. Trials involve a dog herding a group of animals (usually sheep) and they are judged on the time taken to successfully herd the sheep into the required pens.
It takes dedication to train for these trials and requires a certain level of fitness from the human involved.
Dogs have an amazing sense of smell, so why not use it to bond with your dog? In this activity, dogs are required to follow a scent trail and can mimic search and rescue activities. You can even make your own scent tracking game at home simply by hiding your dog's favourite treats around the house or garden.
Don't forget that training at home, playing games, going for walks and just relaxing with your dog are great activities too. Using an ADAPTIL Calm On-The-Go Collar and ThunderShirt can help your dog be calm and ready to cope with learning new things!
Following our expert tips will help to ensure your bond with your dog goes from strength to strength.
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