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In the good ole’ summertime…

June 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Dog Activities and Training

The days are at their longest, the weather is fit for outdoor play, and the lakes, streams, and parks are calling your name.  It can only mean one thing:  it’s time to get out there and have some fun with your best friend in the great outdoors.  This time of year, it’s easy to get caught up in the weddings, graduation parties, and picnics your human friends are hosting, but don’t forget to set aside some time for that special canine in your life.

In your own backyard

When your days are overly hectic with the kids’ ball practices, day camp, and driving the parent taxi, you may be able to carve out only a few minutes to spend with your dog.  When that’s the case, there’s no better way to spend it than throwing a tennis ball or a Frisbee in the back yard for the dog to chase.  Even elderly dogs will act a little younger when they see their favorite toys come out of the toy box for a quick romp.

If you have a younger dog, you might use the time to work on obedience.   Older dogs might even benefit from a refresher course on manners.

If you have a heavy shedder, you might take the dog outside to bond through grooming, allowing the fur to blow away on the breeze.  Afterwards, you can make the experience more positive by following up with the aforementioned tennis ball or Frisbee.

Local Parks

Many local parks have discovered the benefits of adding dog areas, for swimming, hiking, or even just off-leash play.   Park districts have figured out that most of us consider our dogs part of the family, and might be willing to spend more time and money in the park if we can bring them along.

Pick an activity that you like to do in the park, then figure out a way to make your dog a part of it.  If hiking or nature walks are your thing, your dog might be a natural partner for you (unless they chase all the nature away).  If you like sitting on a bench, find one that’s inside an off-leash area and let your dog make some new friends while you enjoy the sunshine or sit in the shade of mature trees.

If you go fishing, consider renting a rowboat and taking your dog along for the ride.  Before you do this, make sure your dog knows how to swim – not all of them take to it naturally – and consider buying a life vest even if your dog is a strong swimmer.  Dogs can tire out easily in the water, and may not be able to make it back to the boat or shore.

National Parks / Camping

Are you and your family planning a trip to enjoy some of the natural beauty cared for by the National Park Service?  Check pet policies before you go, but many sites allow leashed dogs to fully participate with you in whatever activities you plan.  Whether you will be camping, sightseeing, hiking, or just visiting for a day, you can bet your dog would rather be with you than left home alone or in a kennel.  (If you can’t take them with you, at least consider letting them spend the time at overnight camp such as Camp Dogwood or Camp Unleashed, where they get their own mini-vacation while you travel.)

Maybe you plan on sitting on the beach for awhile this summer.  There’s nothing quite as fun as watching a dog experience the ocean waves for the first time.  Again, you will need to check out pet policies before you go, but plan on taking along some toys for your dog so he or she can enjoy the cool water with you and your two-leggers.

Dog Sports

Last, but certainly not least, don’t overlook the joy of participating with your dog in a sporting event.  Whether you choose agility, dock diving, lure coursing, earth dog trials, herding, or weight pulling, summer’s a great time to challenge your dog while satisfying your own sense of competitiveness.  Here are a few websites to get you started:

Agility – United States Dog Agility Association

Dock Diving – Dock Dogs

Lure Coursing – AKC Lure Coursing

Earth Dog – American Working Terrier Association

Herding – American Herding Breed Association

Weight Pulling – Pull Doggies

No matter where you go:

  • Take plenty of water, both for you and for your dog.
  • Know the pet policies of the parks or other locations you will be visiting.
  • Make sure your dog is wearing an ID collar that includes a number where you can be reached on-the-go.
  • Take a small first-aid kit including antibiotic ointment, tweezers, sterile water, and bandages.
  • Make sure your dog is in good physical condition to avoid strained muscles and other injuries.
  • Take a few minutes to review your dog’s shots and make sure there are no special vaccinations needed for the area you will visit.

Whether you will travel near or far, or even just stay in your own back yard, your dog will appreciate all the love and attention you can give him or her under the summer sun.

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