Our dogs have it made - a nap on the couch, walk around the neighborhood, afternoons at the dog park. Since all of us love spending time with our best friends, why not take the activity level up a notch? From jogging to flyball, pooches are the perfect companions for sports and recreation.
Kris Pickering is a Las Vegas attorney by day, flyball devotee by weekend. Pickering and her eight border collies, which range in age from 3 to 13, have competed in flyball for more than a decade. The sport involves teams of four dogs that race a track of hurdles, catch a tennis ball, and then race back. Flyball is a great way to hone the communication skills between you and your dog.
“Dogs learn to be interested in what you’re trying to communicate,” says Pickering, vice chairman of the North American Flyball Association. “They read people really well, and doing any activity with them teaches you to read them and them to read you better. The dog starts to look at you as interesting. You’re a source of interest and amusement. You’re the game.”
Lawrence Frederick, owner of Disc-Connected K9s, revolves his life around his “World Famous Frisbee Dogs.” Seven of his eight dogs are rescues and all compete worldwide in Frisbee competitions and shows.
Working with your dog in a sport builds communication and trust, Frederick says. “We’re both putting our trust in each other – I’m going to be where the dog knows I’m supposed to be and he’s going to be where I know he’s supposed to be.”
With any physical activity you choose to do with your dog, Frederick and other experts recommend you both be in good physical shape before you start. Other tips include:
- Be responsible. Use a leash when hiking with your dog. It makes the situation safer for your dog and other hikers.
- Be tidy. Clean up after your dog. Baggies are a must. Exposure to waste can be harmful to wildlife in the area.
- Be hydrated. Dogs need about eight ounces of water an hour when being physically active.
- Be healthy. In addition to making sure your dog has his shots and is wearing identification, be careful to not overdo it. Be especially aware of the pads on your dog’s feet.
- Be safe. If you take your dog on a boat, get a doggie life jacket. Be sure your dog has plenty of shade breaks and dips in the water to cool off. Keep the weather in mind. A dog shouldn’t jog at noon in August in Texas any more than a human should.
- Be fun. That’s the easy part.
More fun dog sports
Purina® Incredible Dog Challenge®