Puppy Playgrounds and Socializing Ideas
Taking Dexter to the park is one of my favorite activities. I’m not talking about off-leash dog parks, just regular dog walking parks. I’m actually not a fan of off-leash dog parks, but I’ll leave that post for another day.
Taking your dog hiking or just for a casual stroll at a park is a great way to get out with your dog. Neighborhood walks are nice, but there’s something to be said about allowing your dog to investigate a new environment. It’s a big part of good puppy socialization.
It’s important when you are leash training your puppy or adult dog you do get out to new environments. If not, they will always be so stimulating and challenging. Teaching your dog to walk on a leash without pulling can be found in this article.
Today I wanted to talk about five fun things you and your dog can do at your local park that allows dogs. As always, remember you may need to adjust these activities to meet your dog’s physical and mental needs.
Five Fun Things to do at the Park with Your Dog
- Sniffy-Sniff~I love the sniffy-sniff walk. I think I like this walk the best because it brings so much joy to Dexter. I don’t think I have to tell you how amazing a dog’s nose really is. A dog’s sense of smell is his biggest sense. A dog can smell 10k-100k more than a human. I urge you to allow your dog the use of this precious ability. Let him lead the walk. To help Dexter know the difference between walking with me and me walking with him, I tell him “sniffy-sniff.” This is our cue that he gets to lead the way and I will follow. When I’m done, I just ask for him to “watch me” and then I tell him “let’s go” as I walk him where I’d like to go.
- Find the Treats/Toy~ This fun game doesn’t just have to be played in your living room; you can play it at the park. Depending on the park, you may be able to attach your dog to a longer leash. If not, you can still use a 6′ leash. Ask your dog to sit and stay and, while holding on to his leash, hide a treat or toy behind a tree, bush, or stump. It really doesn’t matter if he sees you do it. Then tell him to go find it! Get excited with your dog and scratch his butt, give him a second treat, and do it again. It’s just about engaging with your dog and having fun. Learn how to play find it.
- Walk the Plank~I’m continually looking for fun things for Dexter to walk on. Not only is it good for his body and part of his canine physical therapy, but it’s also really good for his mind. Dogs enjoy being challenged if it’s done at a pace they can be successful at. Keep safety in mind at all times. Look for something like a fat, low log. Lure your dog up and treat. Lure him across as you treat. Again, please make sure it’s low and wide enough for your dog to be able to do safely. Jumping down can be hard on a dog’s body, so you may need to help him down.
- Two Paws Up~This is another fun behavior to do with your dog at the park. Find something sturdy and low enough that your dog can easily place his two front feet on. Lure him up with a treat and tell him just how cute he is. Ask him “off” to get off and move along to find another thing to do paws up. As he learns, you can challenge him more by finding items that are smaller and smaller. This will challenge his mind and body.
- People Watch~This is a nice way to wind down, or for new and excited dogs, a good way to start teaching them that parks aren’t a place they need to spin out of control. Find a nice bench out of the way from the big crowds, or bring a blanket to sit on. Just chillax with your dog. Let him snoop around his 6′ of leash. When he checks in with you, tell him how smart he is. I would recommend keeping up with your training and conditioning by rewarding him for various sightings, like a skateboarder, biker, dog walking, or jogger. When these things pass by, remind your dog how smart he is and give him a nice treat.
Do you want to know one of the big bonuses of doing these things with your dog at the park? Your dog will find YOU interesting, and he will start to listen more around distractions. And you both had a great day at the park. How awesome is that?
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