Most dog owners walk their dogs on a regular basis, whatever the season. Spring and Summer, however, lends itself to being outdoors and enjoying a few more active pursuits.
- Why not visit an off-leash park for your dog to play with other dogs? Check with your local council for dog parks nearest you or visit a new location. Remember to supervise your dog’s interactions and make sure that he is having fun. This is a great opportunity for you to socialise with other dog lovers, too.
- Even if you are not a particularly active person, you can still exercise your energetic dog. Seat yourself outdoors in a lounger in the beautiful spring sunshine and throw your pet’s favourite toy for them to retrieve.
- It is wise to start your exercise program slowly. It is a good idea to get your pet checked over by your vet before any new activity, especially if your pet is older or suffers from any ailments such as arthritis.
- If you are beginning a serious new exercise regime, take it slowly. Walk a few times around the block before you begin jogging. Dogs, like us, can end up with sore muscles, so go gradually.
- Remember when you apply your sunscreen, your pet’s nose and ears may benefit from a generous application of sunscreen, too.
- Keep your pet hydrated by offering it plenty of water to drink both before and after exercise.
A new hobby
There are endless amounts of activities we can do but why not think about hobbies that will benefit both you and your pet?
- Training classes for you and your dog – formal obedience lessons at a training club or simply introduce a few new commands at home.
- Teaching your dog a new trick. Teach them to shake paws or to give you a ‘high five’. By rewarding them with a treat, a pat or a word of praise each time they lift a paw, they will soon learn to shake paws for the reward. You can then add a verbal command, such as “shake” and a hand signal, such as extending your hand to shake. Your pet’s antics will then impress all your friends!
- Visit a dog show. Even if your pet is not show quality - and remember there are shows nowadays for non-pedigree pets - it can be fun to go and watch other pet owners taking part.
- Try an agility class with your dog. Here your dog will run, climb, jump over and through various agility objects and you run alongside him. Dogs love this.
- If you have a well-behaved and sociable pet you might like to join a hospital visitation program. The Delta Therapy Dogs visit hospitals and nursing homes all over Australia, giving people, who might otherwise not have contact with a pet, a chance to meet and greet your dog.
The most important factor is that you and your pet both enjoy your activities together. Not only will this improve your health and vitality, but the bond between you will grow stronger.
About Dr Joanne Righetti
Dr Joanne Righetti is an animal behaviourist, educating the public and professionals in all aspects of the human–animal relationship. Her background is in zoology, with a PhD in animal behaviour and a counselling diploma – qualifications which enable her to work with all sorts of animals – including the human variety! Joanne likes to help pet owners understand their pet's behaviour and solve any pet behaviour problems. She also consults to a variety of organisations including non-profit organisations, commercial companies and councils and is involved in a variety of media including regular spots on radio. Joanne is an honorary associate of the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, University of Sydney. Find out more about Joanne at www.petproblemsolved.com.au