Winter activities, part 1: Agility

agility

By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

Winter is going to be here for real before we know it. I don’t know about you, but I did not enjoy walking my dog, Bailey, in the freezing cold. Of course I did it, but I liked to keep it short.

She, on the other hand, could stay out in the cold all day. She loved the cold weather. Since I am not covered in fur, I had to find ways to exercise my dog without freezing to death. That is when I came across indoor sports.

In this multi-part series, I am going to discuss the magical world of indoor dog sports, which are especially great during the cold months.

I’ll begin by talking about agility. Agility is one of my favorite sports. It has really picked up enthusiasm over the years, so it is pretty easy to find a facility that offers classes in your area.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with agility, Wikipedia defines it as “a dog sport in which a handler directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy.” Some of the obstacles consist of the following: A-frame, weave poles, tire jump, jumps, tunnel, dog walk, seesaw, pause table, etc.

Agility is a great way to tire your dog out. It requires a lot of running and mental stimulation. You, the handler, also do some running, so it is best if you are physically able. You can either take agility classes for fun or if you get serious about it, for competition. I only participated with Bailey for fun. She wasn’t the best at it (she got distracted very easily), but she loved the treats and extra attention at the end of each course.

For those of you that decide to compete, you will have to work at it. There are rules to follow and time to keep perfecting. But competitions are a lot of fun. There is a great atmosphere and a lot of camaraderie. If you are interested in competing, take a look at the Agility Rule Book and website from the AKC.

No matter what you decide to do, agility is a great way to bond with your dog and get some exercise for both you and your four-legged companion. And it will keep you out of the cold for an evening, which is reason enough for me.

Have you tried agility? What was your experience?

********

Erin with baileyErin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Training, is a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.

 

 

 

Fun activities for fall weather

autumn-dog

By Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the weather, the colors, the holidays, and the food. I could go on and on about all the things I love, but one of the things I love most is being outside, taking longs walks in the crisp, cool air. When my Westie, Bailey, was alive, this was also her favorite time of year. She loved to bounce in the fallen leaves, chase the squirrels, and smell to her heart’s content.

Fall is a great time to get out with your dog. Here in Colorado, the Aspen trees in the mountains are breathtakingly beautiful, so hiking is ideal. But there are many things to do with your dog that gets you outside to enjoy the fresh air.

Find it

Find it is one of my favorite activities to do anywhere. But you can make it a little more fun by hiding your dog’s favorite toy in a pile of leaves. Practice the following.

  • Without your dog seeing, place your dog’s favorite toy next to a pile of leaves.
  • Release your dog and say, “Find it.”
  • Once your dog finds their toy, say “good” and play a short game of fetch.
  • Once your dog is getting to be very good at finding their toy, you can start hiding the toy within the leaves.

Hikes in the great outdoors

Like I said, Colorado is lovely this time of year (but when isn’t it lovely?) and the crisp mountain air is just perfect for some hiking. But even if you don’t live in Colorado, there are some great trails just about anywhere you live. Make sure to bring lots of water for both you and your dog. Just because the temperature is cooler, doesn’t mean that your dog can’t get dehydrated. And also be on the lookout for wildlife. Many wild animals are out more during the cooler months.

Outdoor agility

Agility is a great sport any time of year, but it can be especially fun on a cool, fall day. You don’t have to have expensive agility equipment to have fun. DIY jumps and weave poles work just fine.

Working walks

I believe all walks should be working walks, but let’s be honest, not everyone has the time to take their dog for a long walk. But when the kids are back at school and the cooler weather is just inviting you to be outside, take the opportunity to spend a little more time on your walks and tiring your dog out. Working walks are simple – you go for a walk, but work in some training at every corner. I like to practice the following on my walks:

  • “Sit” and “stay” at every corner. Release when you cross the street.
  • “Touch” on the side of the sidewalk when you see another person/dog coming towards you.
  • “Watch me” before you release your dog to go sniff their favorite tree.
  • “Come” when your dog gets out in front of you.
  • Loose leash walking/not allowing your dog to pull you down the street.

No matter what you do with your dog, just make sure to have fun and stay safe!

What are your favorite activities you like to do with your dog during fall?

********

Erin Schneider 250x300Erin Schneider, CPDT-KA and owner of Touch Dog Trainingis a certified professional dog trainer who employs positive reinforcement behavior modification techniques intended to deliver results while building stronger bonds between dogs and their owners. Erin practiced her craft in Chicago for many years as a Senior Trainer for AnimalSense Canine Training & Behavior. There she taught dog training classes and also conducted private, in-home lessons with pets and their owners. In March 2015, Erin relocated to Colorado and is excited to share her knowledge and expertise with dog owners in the Denver/Boulder metro area.