Watching the subzero weather outside the window and the snow falling mercilessly, made me think of those days when people get really bored.
A long time ago, during one of the visits to my hometown, I had met an old schoolmate that stopped to say hi to me. While we were having a random chat, he started to tell me how disappointed he was, because all the entertainment (music bars) moved to the neighbouring city.
The encounter made me think that many people think entertainment means being entertained by others instead of busying yourself with something.
I do not want to say that you should get a dog for the sole reason of entertaining yourself. However, if you have one already, you may have a big source of entertainment right next to you.
In my book “Before You Get A Dog” and in this blog, I promote the expectation of an excellent basic training level and a set of rules regarding the dog. Both combined will allow any dog owner to have control over their dog and build a strong bond.
An unresponsive dog out of control is a liability that makes any outdoor experience as fun as going to work on a Monday morning.
1 – Train your dog.
If your dog lacks basic training, rules and you find yourself bored, training your dog may be one thing you can do. Having a responsive dog under control can enable you to engage in all the fun activities that you can do with your pet. During your spare time and at any moment you spend with your dog, always engage it in basic training.
You do not need to turn it into a circus performance, fancy tricks are supplementary and not important. On the other hand, giving your dog basic training can completely change your experience of having a dog.
The most important commands are “sit”, “stay” and “come”. You would be surprised at how many dogs are completely clueless of those simple commands. If your dog can perform those commands like a little soldier, your dog is already above the average.
You can also work on your dog’s behavioural issues and try to help your dog overcome fear and anxiety through desensitization.
In my book, you can find both the basic training instructions and the desensitization program and many other pieces of information regarding dogs.
2 – Go to the top of a mountain.
If you are like the average person most of us are, probably you are unaware of the beauty of the place where you live.
Find a mountain where you can reach the top hiking. You will not regret the experience. Fresh air and breathtaking view will be worth the effort! Just remember to bring water with you for you and your dog.
Go there only during the most favourable conditions. Remember to take a hat, sunglasses and sun protection. Keep in mind that the temperature will probably change from the valley to the top, so bring extra layers with you.
3 – Visit a natural reserve.
This is less exciting than going on top of a mountain but definitely better than the doggy park.
A change of scenario will please you and your dog. And also, if you do some research about the history and nature of the place, you can turn a walk with your dog in an educational experience. A new place means much more mental stimulation for your dog and he or she will be grateful for it.
4 – Go to the beach or for a swim.
If you have a dog beach around then why not go there? Your dog can socialize with other dogs and swimming is a great way to drain your dog’s energy. Once back home he or she will sleep like a little angel.
5 – Go for a jog or a bicycle ride.
We, humans, walk too slow for our dogs and, for many dogs, walking is a boring slow-motion experience. Jogging or riding a bicycle speed up the walk and consequently make it more fun for the dog.
The benefit here is not only the healthiness of physical activity for both of you. As with swimming, your dog will get rid of the excess of energy and consequently will be calmer in general.
Also, during a fast walk, the dog will be generally more focused on you rather than the surroundings. Try it as an experiment next time you walk your dog.
Walk slowly when your dog is busy sniffing and looking around (no problem with that), then all of a sudden start speeding up and you will notice your dog raising its head and looking at you while following you. A dog concentrated on you is less likely to cause trouble around and is more obedient.
6 – Modify your dog’s favourite games to make them fresher and more fun.
My dog loves playing fetch but outside everything is covered in deep snow. Yesterday, because of the snow, we changed the game from ‘fetch’ to ‘search and rescue’ the ball. Because the ball was sinking in the snow, my dog was ‘forced’ to act like search and rescue dogs that save people trapped under the snow.
Every time I was launching the ball, he had to go around sniffing and digging to find it. At some point, I couldn’t find the ball myself and we took too long to discover it. Unfortunately, it was too late for the tennis ball, it got frozen, R.I.P. tennis ball! Still, my dog had a great time.
These were some of my ideas that I had in moments of boredom. What do you think? What would you do with your dog if you are both bored?
I hope you have enjoyed this article and if you like to learn more, please, feel free to subscribe to this blog.
Also, if you like the topic of dogs, please check my book ‘Before You Get A Dog’ by Simone Burani. You will find the essential knowledge written in simple language to have a great time with your pet.
All images © Karyna Zaslavska