For dog owners, dogs are more than just pets. They are loyal, faithful, and part of the family. When you develop a close relationship with your furry friend, there is an inner instinct which tells you to try different activities with them. You plan different things to do with your dog which is a positive approach.
Trying new things with your furry friend is a well-deserved reward your dog gets from your side. Because they get to break their normal routine and enjoy the adventure you plan for them. So, if you are a newbie or simply looking for some new things to do with your dog, let me be your guide.
Things To Do With Your Dog
There are many things or activities you can do with your dog. They have the capacity to do different stuff as they are always looking to get their mental stimulation and release of energy. Also, as a dog owner, you may get bored after repeating the same exercise or playtime routine. So, to counter this boredom it’s clear you look for different dog activities.
But, before I suggest you the activities, let’s have a look at some basic aspects of why dogs enjoy new activities.
- Mental stimulation
Dog enjoys any form of activity or exercise, they get mental stimulation and feel good. Also, if you provide them with a puzzle while exercising or playing their excitement is on a completely different level. The reason for such excitement is they love challenges.
So, while you are doing new activities with your furry friend, their cognitive function is improved. Their memory also gets better and they become more attentive. Hence, the dog will remain mentally motivated.
- Physical stimulation
A dog needs physical exercise to release their energy. While they are normally getting the exercises and playtime sessions from you, trying new activities will significantly help with physical stimulation. The body conditioning of your furry friend will improve and they will remain excited about the next sessions for the activities you decide.
In addition, if the dog is having issues like obesity or any behavioural problem, the activities can help your furry friend tackle such issues and make them feel relaxed.
- Social interaction
Dogs need social interaction to improve their ability to connect with their fellow canine friends. This can also help in avoiding issues such as depression, separation anxiety, or stress. Your furry friend will get better at communicating with other dogs and this behaviour may also reflect while interacting with you.
Social interaction elevates the oxytocin hormones which make them more affectionate. In simple words, the new social activities help your dog feel stress-free and also reduce loneliness.
Dog Friendly Activities
Now, you have a basic idea regarding the aspects which make dogs go nuts for different activities. So, it’s obvious you are thinking about which are the ones you can consider. There are too many activities and I have tried to come up with the best ones and also included some activities that worked out fine for me. I will cover outdoor and indoor activities that you can try easily.
Outdoor dog activities
In this section, I will highlight some of the outdoor activities that are dog-friendly and I can assure you that I have leveraged many of these activities with my own dog and the resultant behaviour after each activity was amazing!
#1 A walk on the streets
Normally, you take a stroll in a park, but, going out on the streets is something that your dog may enjoy. The surrounding environment is different, and your dog will get to enjoy different scenarios and observe different people.
Many restaurants also allow dogs on their premises. So, your furry friend will get to meet other dogs and who knows you may also bond with other people. However, I am not saying you shouldn’t take a stroll in the park. A park will always be an option
After taking your dog into the city for exploration, it’s time you increase the level of the activity. So, consider taking them for hiking. This will not only help with their physical stimulation but, also provide them with the opportunity to connect with nature.
You will see them excited throughout the hike and see them relaxed as well. They will enjoy examining and exploring the wildlife. In addition, you will also see your furry friend smell flowers, and plants to get used to the scent of the environment.
Remember, while you take your dog for hiking it’s necessary to make sure they are on lead. Otherwise, they may try to escape into the wild, or chase another hiker.
This is one of the best activities that you can try out with your furry friend. They will enjoy your company and you get a chance to bond with them as well. You will easily find a pool that allows dogs. You can also go swimming on a beach, or in a nearby pond.
The only concern while taking your dog swimming is the water in the pool. Make sure it’s dog-friendly. Otherwise, your furry friend may get infected and the fun activity may turn into a health catastrophe.
#4 Pick a sport
You can try different sports and see which one your furry friend enjoys the most. I mostly prefer canicross and fly ball. Because canicross helps with the running aspect and dogs get plenty of energy release.
In the fly ball, the dog has to race over the hurdles in the direction of a box that is releasing the tennis balls when the dog presses the spring-loaded pad. The dog will catch the ball and return it to the owner. It’s a team competition and your dog gets to have a competitive thrill and adventure while getting both physical and mental stimulation.
There are other sports such as agility, and disc dog. In agility, dogs have to navigate through an obstacle following the commands of the owner. This can help dog owners who are looking to provide their dogs with enough mental stimulation. Disc dog is a simple sport where your dog has to catch the disc that is thrown in the air.
Kayaking with friends is fun and your dog will also enjoy it. The pleasant view of the habitat and the water view will make your furry friend feel calm. This activity will also not make them tired. However, you’ll have to make sure you consult with the trainer and get some instructions for ensuring your dog’s safety.
The 5 activities that are suggested were based on my experience. But, there are other activities you can consider.
- Road trip and a camping trip
If you haven’t travelled in a while going out camping trip and taking your canine friend with you is one of the best outdoor activities. You may have to pre-plan for this but, trust me, it’s worth it. Not only you’ll get the chance your furry friend will also get to spend some time at a different place.
You can take them to your farm, cabin, or out in the hills near the wildlife. If you don’t have a place don’t worry there are many hotels that now allow dogs on their premises. The condition is that you’ll have to follow the rules.
- Join a group
If you wish to make your dog socially active, you can join a group in the dog community. These social groups host events and competitions for the dogs. You can easily find them online and connect with different dog owners at the events.
Your furry friend gets a chance to communicate with other canines and you can also chat around with other dog owners and make some friends.
If your furry friend has enjoyed kayaking and swimming, they will surely enjoy fishing. You can make plans for a dinner with your family and take your pooch with you. Pick the nearest pond or an area where you go for fishing.
Once you pick your spot, set up your stuff where you will have your special dinner. Make sure you have plenty of water and food supply because it’s possible you may end up with no fish. While you are on the boat, make sure your dog is strapped in a life vest as a precaution. In addition, make sure that the pointy items such as hooks are kept away from them as they may hurt your dog.
- Treasure hunt
For this fun activity, you don’t necessarily need to go out in a forest or a park. You can arrange a treasure hunt using different food treats and toys in your backyard. While you are hiding the treats and toys, you can either allow your dog to watch you do it, or make them sit in another room for making it more challenging.
The treasure hunt can help with mental stimulation and also make them receive enough physical exercise. You can try different techniques and keep increasing the level of difficulty.
These were some of the outdoor activities that you must consider in your things to do with your dog list. Now, let’s have a peek at a few which you can conduct within the house.
Indoor dog activities
You may have already tried different indoor dog activities for keeping your furry friend. While they may not be much physical or intense as the outdoor ones, they surely provide the dog with mental and physical stimulation. Here are some of the indoor activities you can try:
#1 Teach your furry friend a new trick
You train your dogs to follow the commands and make them sit, stand, or start running. You can use the same techniques to teach them new tricks. Start with the basic ones like – a handshake, or sniffing a treat.
Once your dog is comfortable with such basic tricks, you can make them spin in circles, jump with both hands up and so on. You can use the play fetch commands to make your dog fetch some personal items within the house, the training will be challenging but, you can get it done by referring to some videos online.
#2 Arrange a play-date
I have used this activity tons of times. Whenever my dog feels bored and is not showing any intent to walk or exercise, I arrange a play date with one of my friends. So, while I can spend some time with my friend my dog also get’s to have a productive time in the presence of a fellow canine.
You are wondering why I prefer this particular dog activity, what’s so special about it? To be honest, there is nothing special about this activity but, dogs spending more time with each other will have a better mental state in comparison to the ones who are not able to.
#3 Watch a movie
This is a refreshing activity for both owner and the dog. There are ample movies starring dogs, and you will enjoy watching them with your dog. I watched the Disney classic 101 Dalmatians with my dog and he enjoyed it. He hopped and jumped like crazy while watching the movie.
For variation, you can also try different films. There is no specific rule to watch movies you must watch. The movies starring dogs helps dog transit into this new activity and once they get comfortable you can try a different movie.
#4 The cup game
We have played this game a lot and probably never guessed the right cup with the coin. You can use this game and play with the dog. Take 3 cups and instead of a coin, you can use a small food item. Instruct your dog to sniff the cup and pick a cup.
Once they start identifying the right cup reward them and increase the difficulty level. This means after a few times, you can start shuffling the cups around and see how your dog is handling the shift. Many dog’s enjoy this game as it provides a challenge and the effort they put in to guess the right cup will provide mental stimulation.
In contrast with the general belief, you can play tug-of-war with the dog in the house. Also, dogs don’t get aggressive after playing tug-of-war. These beliefs are purely speculative and you must not focus on them, because playing tug-of-war with your furry friend is fun and your dog gets to burn some energy in the process.
When you decide to play tug-of-war with the dog, it’s crucial for you to consider the following things:
- Use a specific toy that is made for playing tug-of-war
- Take enough breaks to avoid excessive physical stimulation
Additional indoor activities
If you are looking for some other alternative activities here are a few you can consider:
- Indoor obstacles
While there are many outdoor competitions which involve obstacles, you can also from one in your house. You can use different items such as pillows, pop-up tunnels, couch cushions, and some clothes. You can also set up rings for your dog to jump through.
- Clean up the house
While you are cleaning your house with a vacuum, you can encourage the dog to pick up their own toys. This will give your furry friend a sense of purpose, instruct to put them the toys in a specified container. You will see they will enjoy the activity and if you reward your dog afterwards, they will feel happy. If your pup has never cleaned up before don’t worry, it’s easy to train them to clean up.
- Play with bubbles
Like us, dogs also adore bubbles. You can use a bubble maker or use a simple bubble solution and spread them in your living room. Your dog will chase those bubbles, you can also teach them to burst them with their paws. Simply burst the bubbles with your hands and they will replicate the same.
- Play hide-and-seek
You can play hide-and-seek with your furry friend and also try making it more challenging. While feeding them a food treat, you can use the treat bowl and hide it somewhere. Your furry friend will get curious and start finding the treat.
Further, to make it more challenging, you can try hiding with the food treat in your hand. Your furry friend will find you and you can give them the treat. Hiding toys is also an option.
Preparing Your Dog For a New Activity
You cannot straightaway make your dog do something out of the blue. You’ll have to mentally prepare your dog for any new activity you think of conducting for them or with them. So, let’s have a peek at some points and see how you can prepare your dog for a new activity.
- Pick the right one: it’s crucial for you to pick a suitable activity for your furry friend. You’ll have to see that the activity suits your dog’s characteristics, energy level, and preferences. For instance, you cannot play fetch with a German shepherd inside the house. These types of dogs are highly energetic and need intense exercise so hiking is a perfect fit. On the other hand, you cannot take a cockapoo or a chihuahua for a hike.
- Train your dog to be patient: often dogs can easily lose their patience in a new environment and this can escalate the situation and disrupt the activity plans. You need to train them at home using different strategies to maintain patience. So, while you are executing different exercises and training increase the buffer period and make them wait for their favourite exercise.
- Use rewards and treats: when you are preparing your dog for a new exercise, or activity, you need to reward their positive behaviour. If the activity is new, you must use more lucrative food items or toys so that they can understand that performing this activity will get them such food treats or toys.
- Make them familiar with the terrain: if it’s possible to pre-visit the place you plan on visiting, you must take your dog to make them feel comfortable. They will register the smell and scout the area by themselves and analyse how safe it is.
- Consult with a vet: before you train your dog for a new activity, visit your vet. The vet will examine their physical health and also test their fitness levels. You will get a thorough analysis and the vet will suggest you take certain precautions based on their health. For instance, if you are planning to go for a hike, the vet may insist on improving your physical health so that you don’t have any painting issues.
Now, you have prepared the dog for a new adventure, activity or fun using these strategies. But, the job is only half done. There are certain things which you need to take care of, especially if you are planning a trip with your dog.
- Ensure your dog is healthy
It’s crucial to ensure that your dog is in a healthy state. Visit a vet and get them examined before you proceed with your trip. Also, if you are going to travel on a plane, you might need their vaccination records as well. For avoiding any hassle with the authorities, you can also get a certificate from the vet indicating the dog is in a proper condition for travelling.
- Take necessary equipment and food supplies
When you are planning to go on a road trip, or a picnic with your furry friend, take enough food with you. In addition, you must also take toys, blankets, and sleeping beds with you. You must also take a harness and muzzle with you. Because your dog may react differently in the environment and can act aggressively which may not only jeopardise your trip but also put others at risk.
There are many fun activities that you can do with your dog. There are some indoor activities and some outdoors. You can pick any activity for entertaining your dog. Indoor fun activities mainly include – playing with bubbles, hide and seek, massaging or a playdate with a fellow canine. The outdoor activities will involve – hiking, swimming, kayaking, walking, running, etc. There are many such options, it’s solely up to you to decide which one will suit your dog.
Dog-friendly activities will make your dog feel good. These activities help to cope with stress and anxiety. They receive mental stimulation and their cognitive capacity is improved significantly. The activities also help improve the bonding between you and your dog. The activities also help control their aggression and destructive behaviour.
Dog breeds that have flat faces, short snouts, or breathing issues will not be able to go hiking. These breeds are referred to as brachycephalic breeds and bulldogs, French bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, and Shih Tzus are some of the dogs that come under this category. These dogs have difficulty oxygenating themselves.
There are many things to do with your dog which can benefit both of you. For instance, hiking will help you improve your physical health and also provide physical and mental stimulation to your dog. Also, they will feel your compassion and the bond will get stronger.
While you are trying out new dog activities, I will suggest you repeat the ones your furry friend enjoyed the most. You can also film these activities and watch them with your dog. Overall, these fun activities will maintain a healthy and exciting lifestyle for your furry friend.