That’s a lot of rules! And I think of myself as pretty easy going, relaxed, and fun. And how does Dexter The Dog respond to these requests, or demands I place on him? With a smile on his face…..most of the time. I most definitely think Dexter is a happy dog, enjoys his life, and loves me with his whole heart. I never doubt his devotion.
How with all these daily demands, does Dexter stay so upbeat and have such a zest for life? I let him be a dog, daily. I know, of course, he IS a dog, but I allow and encourage him to act like one, and to have his own choices and free-will. It’s still on “my terms”, something I actually want to work on. Below are some dog activities that Dexter engages in on a regular basis. Hopefully, they will inspire you to allow your dog to be a dog.
Taking The Lead-Teaching your dog how to walk on a leash without pulling, is a must for any good walking partner. But, allowing your dog to go where he wants, smell what he wants, walk at the pace he wants, can be quite fun for both your dog and you.
Head to a great park, and be ready for an adventure. You can even attach a nice, long 20-50′ dog leash for extra fun. Start with your regular polite walking. Then, get your dog’s attention, the Name Game, or a watch cue works well, then tell him to “go sniffy-sniff.” Now it’s time for your dog to take the lead. You may need to encourage your dog at first by pointing to some good smells, and just follow him. Allow him to go wherever he wants, sniff whatever, stay as long as he wishes on a smell, you get the idea. Keep the leash loose, and be prepared to do a slight jog! On a side note, I actually do slightly control his activity by re-directing him to areas, to keep him safe, or out of something I really don’t want him in, but I keep that to a minimum.
A harness that has a back clip, such as the Freedom No-Pull, or Ruffwear Front Range Harness, are my two favorite harnesses, because they have an attachment in the front for polite walking, and one in the back for this type of adventures, biking, or jogging. When you are done, ask him for attention, tell him “all done,” and proceed to your regular polite walking routine.
Digging-Oh, I know. But truly, dogs really do love to dig things up. Some of my favorite things to do to allow dogs to engage in this natural, and fun behavior is to install a dog sand pit! Tuck a few of your dog’s favorite food-filled toys part way in and part way out of the sand and encourage him to dig them up. What fun! What could be more fun than that? Well, Dexter loves to dig out the voles. Oh, ya. We have a real good time doing that. He’s been a master at finding their mounds, and tunnels. Together (I like to encourage him), we have a blast. And no worries, the ground is so loose, it’s easy to cover back up when we’re done.
Play-Play is a wonderful way to engage your dog, and keeps obedience skills sharp, especially if you ask your dog for some drops, sits, stays etc during the play. One of the things I do to initiate play with my dog, Dexter, is ask him, “do you want to play?” If he perks up (he always does), we go over to his toy box. I ask him what he wants to play with. We snoop in the box together, I may pick something up like his fish, and say “fishy?”, if he doesn’t grab it, I grab something else, “tuggy?” and at some point he will either take the toy I offered, or offer one up himself.
Chew Toys-I do the same thing with chew toys that I do with play. Dexter tends to be a bully stick, fish skin, or duck feet kind of dog. I keep a stash of different sized bully sticks in the closet, along with his other chews mentioned. I will pull them out, lay them down, and ask him, “which one?” I also tend to hold it while he chews, it’s a great bonding moment. If you have any resource guarding, please contact me for professional help.
There you have it. Those are some of my go-to things I do with Dexter to help him, just be a dog. Living in a home, and by our human rules can become boring, and troublesome if we don’t allow our dogs to have some fun, and enjoy life. So take care, and let your dog lead today!
Do you let your dog be a dog? Tell me in the comments.
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