Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday in the Park

Dog parks seem so cool (only partly because they remind me of the party scene in Go, Dog. Go!).  They’re a place specifically designed to exercise your dog in the city. I’ve never been to one; my dogs have always been exercised in my back yard, on my street, on in the case of the greyhound, in a giant fenced-in soccer field in the next town (she zoomed across that huge field). So what if there are no dog parks for you and Fido to go to?

Here are just a few of the activities that you can enjoy together and possibly get your pooch into tip top shape.  Challenging the dog, both physically and mentally, on a regular basis will keep it happy and might even save a couch, some base molding, or a shoe or two from utter destruction.

Most people have some familiarity with dog agility trials – they’re like the anti-fluff exhibited by the Dog Show world.  These trials showcase the individual dog’s ability (and its owner’s ability as a trainer as well) to successfully navigate a bunch of obstacles for time, rather than showcase mere physical traits of breed standards.  I’ve seen someone practice with her dog, and I’ve been to one event.  It’s pretty cool to watch the dog and owner connect and the dog work to please his owner.

Regarding restrictions, that depends on the type of association.  The United States Dog Agility Association (USDAA) makes no breed restrictions, whereas the Norwegian Elkhound Minuteman Association, requires that your dog be not only a Norwegian Elkhound, but also a patriot.  For an explanation of a novice course, see here.

Yup, it’s a Frisbee dog! But with special dog discs now that it’s an official sport.  The dogs that I’ve seen do this certainly seem to enjoy it.

This is new to me.  Originally designed for German Shepherd Dogs, it’s protection dog agility training but can be enjoyed by any of the protective breeds and similar mixes. A series of Expert Village videos are available, but they're a little dry. Since this is new to me and I don't own a breed of dog for which this would be appropriate, I'm having a difficult time judging the resources. 

While I had seen  the video below before, it was not until I read a report on dog intelligence (Do dogs distinguish rational from irrational acts?), it became apparent that dog dancing, also known as musical canine freestyle, is considered special training for a dog.  I thought it was merely a stunt by this gal and her gorgeous golden. That said, I could not find a better display of dog dancing than this one and frankly, despite his 30 year flirtation with Scientology, John Travolta will always be the young, handsome, quick-stepping, “Summer Nights” singing Danny Zucco this song makes me think of.

If you can’t get enough doggie dancing, here’s Britain’s Got Talent’s Kate and Gin, and a DVD offer, so you, too, can learn to dance with your dog.

In searching around for a great graphic on the inner-workings of a dog’s nose for yesterday’s post  (I didn’t find what I was looking for), I found that there is an entire association dedicated to training dogs to work with their incredible olfactory sensitivity. It was heartening to see the Boston Terrier do something (I’m not quite sure what) with its nose seeing that it’s very similar in shape to a Pug’s nose.  Maybe there’s hope for my little Izzy B.

I decided to play this game with my petite pushed-in face pooch last night.  Is that cruel?  You decide.

And finally: Doga

If you didn’t infer it from the name, yoga with dogs seems to have become some type of growing human-dog activity.

This DVD has instructions that are easy for you and your dog to follow!  Huh?
All things being equal, I think I’d rather attempt a Plié with my Pug. 

There's got to be something in this list that will interest both you and your dog. And there's always the park. 

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