We all know how excited dogs get when they know they are about to be taken out for a walk and as long as they are well-behaved on their leads, it can be as much fun for their owners as it is for them. If you take your dog to the park on a regular basis, it provides the perfect environment for some playtime. The bonus is it will reinforce the bond you have formed with your canine friend as you continue training them in a way that's really enjoyable.
The more physical exercise your dog gets and the more mental stimulation they are given, the better behaved they will be! The fact you spend an hour or so playing games together in the park will achieve many results. This includes getting dog fitter and it will help tire them out so that when you get home, your dog will be nice and relaxed. This in turn means they will be less likely to be destructive when left on their own.
It's important that your pet's life is filled with as much excitement and stimulation as possible because when a dog's life is on the dull side, they get bored which can lead to a lot of destructive behaviours like excessive barking for no real reason.
It's important to start your walk calmly, making sure there's no pulling on the lead. Your dog should have their full attention on you and not really on what's going on around them although you have to let them follow their noses to a certain extent because that's what makes going out for a walk so exciting for our canine friends.
When you get to the park, you need to keep your dog on the lead for a while before finding a nice quiet and safe area to let them off making sure they stay close to you to begin with. You should never let your dog run off as soon as you let them off their leads, because this encourages them to do as they please which is something you need avoid when you are in a public park.
However, as previously mentioned you have to bear in mind that it's your dog's nose that's going to lead them everywhere they want to go when they are out for a walk in the park. All those lovely scents left behind by other dogs and animals are fascinating to your dog and they would naturally like to investigate them which you should allow them to do. This is all part of their fun when running around in the park with you and as long as they don't stray too far, you should let them check things out because it's good for them.
Once your dog has had a good sniff around, it's time to start playing a few games with them because this not only stimulates their muscles but their brains too. You need to take a few of their favourite toys with you to the park which could be a Frisbee, a ball or something else your dog loves to play with. The first most important first lesson is the “recall” command which you need to use every so often to remind your dog you are still there and that you want to join in the game with them.
If your dog is still learning the ropes, you might need to keep them on a long lead in the early stages of playtime in the park. You can buy long training leads from most good pet stores and they are very worthwhile tools to have with you when you take younger dogs out to a park. They prevent them from running off while at the same time allowing enough freedom to romp about and follow a few delicious scents with you always on the other end. With this said, you need to be aware of other dogs and people who may be around you when you let your dog run on a long training lead or you might end up in a tangle!
There are lots of fun exercises you can play with your dog when out for a walk in the park. This includes games that get your dog to use one of their best traits namely their superb sense of smell. The game is called “hunt the goody”.
You will need to take a few of your dog's favourite treats with you making sure they are healthy ones that have a “nice” smell to them. Hunt the goody will really get your dog's attention. They will be ultra alert and if they have developed a habit of rushing off, it's a great way of teaching them not to be quite so impulsive.
Find a nice quiet spot where the grass is slightly longer and ask your dog to sit before showing them the tasty treat you are about to throw for them. The treat needs to be small – around the size of your fingernail and it could be a piece of liver, chicken, cheese or a bit of their dry kibble! The nicer the treat smells, the better and easier it will be for your dog to find it!
Throw the treat a little distance away and then let your dog chase after it. They will need to track it down before they can devour it. This is one game where you'll find you don't need to give too many commands to begin with! Repeat the game four to five times, but each time you throw the treat, increase the distance to make it a little more difficult for your dog to find!
Note: If your dog is on a lead, you need to make sure you don't throw the treat too far for them to retrieve it.
As you increase the distance, you need to make your dog wait before they chase after their treat – this is where the training starts in earnest. You may have to gently hold on to their collar when they sit to prevent them darting off after the treat to begin with and until they get the message.
When your dog is sitting quietly and relaxed, you can let go of their collar and say “OK” to send them off while pretending to throw out another treat for them as you do. Bear in mind, you would need to allow your dog enough time to find their treat and remain quiet until they do.
As time progresses you can make it harder for your dog by being a little more demanding. This could be by asking them to sit for longer before going off to find their treat. You can even teach your dog to retrieve the “goody” and bring it back to you before being allowed to devour it!