Taking a walk is always fun, but here are some fun games to keep your dog physically enthusiastic as well as sharpening up their grey matter…
“Treasure hunt.” Take along his favorite treats and as soon as he gets distracted from you, toss one and tell him to “find the treat.” You might have to guide him the first few times, but this game is learned easily and teaches him to stay focused on you.
“Pathfinder.” If you’ve gotten in a rut taking the same walk every day, chances are Fido’s as bored as you are. Vary your route and make it challenging. Climb stairs, walk on curbs, jump over small barriers, or even splash through some water. Keep his attention by abruptly changing direction and he’ll soon be keeping his eye on you!
“Red light, green light.” You played it as a kid. Now teach it to your dog! As you walk, stop suddenly and say “red light!” (or whatever word you want to be the command). Sometimes go as soon as he sits at your side, and sometimes wait for a bit. Keep him off balance, never knowing what you’ll do next, and you’ll sharpen his attention right up.
“Follow the leader.” Do you have a dog that insists on being out in front? This game will teach him who the leader is. Each time he heads out in his own direction, immediately change directions so he has to turn to catch up with you. Keep moving, but keep him following you.
“Come!” While walking with your dog, suddenly reverse direction, running backward and calling his name. He’ll decide coming when called is a fun game, and it’s one of the most important things you can teach him.
“Push-ups.” At varying intervals, stop your walk and quickly have your dog sit, down, and sit again. Then break into a run or give him a treat. Soon he’ll be watching you closely to see what you’re up to next.
“Dribbling.” Take along a soccer-ball when you walk your dog. Push it with your feet and let him push it around, too. Just be careful you don’t step on the ball or on Fido, either!
“Flirt-pole.” A flirt pole is a long pole with a lure at the end. You dangle and dance it in front of him as you walk. He’ll love trying to grab the lure and you are always in control due to the length of the pole.
“Parkour for dogs.” This urban agility training is so much fun for both you and your dog, it will turn the way you walk your dog on its head. Parkour combines dog agility with your daily walk to make his world (and yours) exciting and stimulating. He’ll jump, climb, balance, crawl under, and go around obstacles you see every day one every street in town. For detailed information, check out the International Dog Parkour Association website.