Every person who has ever loved and lost a beloved dog has at least one thing that they wished that they'd done with their dog. From the simple and trivial to the outrageous, there are all manner of activities that we SHOULD do with our dogs while we are in their company on Earth.
Holly Kernot spoke to as many dog owners as she could find in order to find out what the nation's dogs love doing most.
Going for a swim in the river is one thing many dogs can’t resist. One look at a large plane of water with ducks swimming on it, and they are straight in! Many dog owners say that this is one activity guaranteed to get their dogs tails wagging. It is also a fantastic form of exercise. We recommend taking a towel with you though, as it can get very muddy!
Get A Spa Treatment
If all that swimming has left your dog a little grubby, why not invest in some spa treatments and treat your dog to an afternoon of pampering? With dog spas becoming popular in Britain now, grooming, haircutting and nail clipping are all options available to your dog. While they are being treated like royalty, why not get some treatments done yourself. You can both go out looking like super stars!
Go On Holiday Together
Everyone loves to go on holiday- including your dog! Make it a proper family affair and take your dog you. No kennels this year!
Cornwall is reputedly one of the most dog-friendly counties in England, with plenty of opportunities for long walks amidst beautiful scenery, visits to the beaches and pub lunches. With lots of holiday homes now accommodating dog owners, it sounds like pure heaven!
If group activities are more your thing, why not join a group holiday specifically with dogs in mind? You can take the opportunity to learn some new skills with your dog in beautiful surroundings. Many holiday packages include the option of taking part in various classes to improve training, as well as other leisure activities, from cycling with your dog, to walking and having picnics!
Hydrotherapy can often be used to assist dogs in a variety of ways. Taking part in sessions can, for example, assist in your dogs recovery after surgery, by strengthening the affected limb and encouraging its use within the water. Hydrotherapy can also provide a means of weight control and can help to maintain a healthier lifestyle for dogs generally. Some hydrotherapy pools even allow owners to swim with their dogs, so get out that swimming kit! Vets can generally advise if dogs would benefit from this treatment.
This form of training can be enjoyable for the dog and beneficial to the owner too. It works by using a device which makes a 'clicking' sound when your dog does something positive, like sitting when asked, for example. Once the desired action has been completed, give your dog a treat. They will then, after a time, come to associate good behaviour or certain actions with the click, and consequently a treat!
Seek Out The Fun
Why should humans be the only ones to enjoy the excitement of the traditional party game hide and seek? Let your dog join in the fun too. Tell them to sit, while you go and hide somewhere in the house or garden. Call their name to encourage them to come and find you.
They will love the fact that they have to go hunting to find their best friend, and their enjoyment will be heightened even more if you give them a treat for finding you successfully! Or if you don’t fancy getting physical yourself, vary the game by hiding a treat somewhere for them to hunt down.
Routine is all well and good, but just like humans, dogs love a bit of variety too. Why not go somewhere new for a walk at the weekend? Visiting a new park, beach or forest will provide your dog with a thousand new sights and smells, allowing him to enter a wonderland of new experiences.
Many dog owners try to let their dogs have as many experiences as possible by getting them into as many places as they can, from having a train journey, to hopping on a bus or going to concerts in the park.
It could be just as exciting for you too, not so much if you get lost though, so may we recommend you take a map…
Taking part in an assault course is the perfect opportunity to let your dog do some exercise and improve behaviour. Your dog will love the chance to explore new surroundings and completing challenging tasks on a set course, which could contain anything from running through tunnels to sprinting up steps and contending with a see- saw! This also allows you to have interaction with your dog.
Classes are offered in agility, but many dog owners enjoy setting up make shift courses in the comfort of their own gardens for their dog to enjoy!
Be A Star
Strike a pose and let your dog become a star for the day. Many photographers now offer the opportunity for dogs to sit for their very own set of photographs. Okay, so this may be one experience tailored to the owner's pleasure, by providing a keepsake of your beloved pet. Having said that, we are sure your dog will enjoy the attention and will look a million dollars when the shoot is complete. Just don’t let them demand their own trailer in between shots!
Let Battle Commence
The tug o’ war. A classic game amongst dog owners. Your dogs favourite rope toy can be used to play this ultimate game designed to test strength and stamina! You take one end while your dog takes the other between their teeth and see who is victorious. This activity is guaranteed to get your dog's tail wagging through sheer enjoyment. Be warned though, this could become addictive if you are both competitive types!
Have A Ball
Fetch is one game that most dogs just cannot get enough of, and as such, playing this comes with the territory when one becomes a dog owner! Throwing their favourite ball or rope toy as far as you can, in order for them dog to retrieve it, provides hours of entertainment and can ensure that long walks are kept exciting and lively. It also satisfies a dogs need to run, hunt and ultimately ‘kill’ its prey, tapping into his natural instincts.
No matter who we asked for this article, one of the top activities that owners said their dogs just love to do is…sleep! Generally, the dog's favourite place to sleep is on their owner's beds (this is not good news, especially if you are trying to train…) therefore, one thing every dog should experience in their lifetime is a good night sleep on a comfortable bed which they can call their own.
Going for regular walks is obviously at the top of the list when it comes to experiences every dog should have in their lifetime, but being let off the lead every once in a while is also a wonderful thing too.
Dogs love to be, well, dogs, free to run, explore new areas, sniff around identifying new scents, socialising with other dogs and generally being inquisitive. Being off the lead can ensure dogs have a wonderful time, allowing them to be natural, as long as they are trained to return when called.
Relight My Fire
One of the most romantic images after a long day, is returning from a long country walk and curling up in front of a roaring log fire. This seemed to be a popular activity amongst dogs too. Although always ensure the fire guard is in place. No one wants any singed fur.
Be A Pirate
Dogs are inquisitive by nature and love to dig. Indulge them and use that sense of smell to the optimum by letting your dog hunt for buried treasure. Hide one of his favourite toys somewhere in the house [like under a rug] or in the garden [maybe in a sandpit if you happen to have one] Then let him come and hunt for his toy. He will love the opportunity to get dirty and use up some of that energy by working those legs, and will feel proud of himself for being top dog having found the bounty.
Dog owner Sarah says: ''My dog loves playing the biscuit in the cup game'' This consists of placing your dogs favourite type of biscuit under one of three cups on the floor, then mixing the cups around. Your dog will have to stay alert and use his eyes and sense of smell to remember where that treat is hiding! Hours of fun!
Tender Loving Care
Out of all the experiences that came as recommended by dog owners, one answer kept re-occurring and was delivered with sincerity and passion by all.
This was the fact that every dog should experience lots of tender loving care within their lives, in whatever form that comes in, from long walks in the countryside, to tummy rubs, hugs or partaking in training courses. As long as a dog is loved, looked after and that tail is wagging, then you have one happy dog on your hands. And a dog who has most definitely landed on his paws in having you for an owner.
And if dogs could talk…
And here is a list of other activities owners said their pets loved to do. We are pretty sure they would indeed be listed if our canine friends could speak, including: Chasing the local cat, barking at the postman, marking lampposts as their territory, chasing sheep and mating with as many dogs of the opposite sex as possible. Although, we don’t condone the aforementioned activities, obviously…