Summer means a lot to us humans, warmer weather, nights on the patio, days at the beach, the list goes on. But what does it mean for your dog? Guest blogger, Amanda Bonner, tells us all about how getting active with her dog Cooper is what it’s all about. She shares some tips on getting active with your dog too among the gorgeous photos of the scenery they are lucky to enjoy!
“Staying active can be hard. There is no way around it. Between work, family, household commitments, friends, and so on it’s very easy to put physical activity on the back-burner. BUT… it turns out there is a trick. Get a dog! Exercise with your dog is waaaaay more fun and pretty easy too. Of course, different dog breeds have different exercise requirements but being active with your dog can vary from going for long runs to practicing obedience in the nearby park with your pup. All of these activities are great for a dog’s brain and body and are great ways for us humans to get up and moving.
I learned this lesson when my Golden Retriever, Cooper, came into my life when I was 23 years old. I had just recently lost my dad to cancer and was trying to balance the transition from graduating university and starting my new career with coping with the loss of my dad. This made staying active very tricky and I was struggling. Cooper changed all of this for me. When Coop first became a part of my family, he was 8 weeks old and weighed 13lbs. This tiny little ball of fluff would run around for about 20-30 minutes before needing a nap. He quickly grew out of this stage however and soon he was ready to play from early morning to late at night. I realized that this energetic little puppy was exactly what I needed to get back into the activity that was once so important to me.
In order to prevent exercising my young puppy too excessively we started with simple and fun ways to get active. Puppy school! Cooper started puppy school within the first few weeks of coming home and this was a great way to teach him obedience, give him a task to focus on, give me a task to focus on and allow us to start forming a solid bond.
We also started outdoor activity by going for walks every day. Before I knew it Cooper was growing into a big and active dog. We were soon able to increase our distance and eventually he was old enough to start running (check with your vet about this!). We started biking, hiking and running together. These were fun new activities that Cooper took to very quickly. When wintertime came and some of these activities were no longer possible, we started snowshoeing together. If you have a dog that loves snowballs and rolling in the fluffy white stuff, this might be a great sport for you!
By the end of 2016, Cooper and I moved from Ontario to British Columbia, allowing us to take our outdoor activity to the next level. Here we tried and fell in love with mountain biking. Mountain biking is now one of Cooper’s favourite activities and when the bike comes out he gets very happy and runs to the door with a wagging tail and goofy grin on his face. Cooper has also become a very loyal camping companion. Camping is a great way to get out and enjoy fresh air and fun through swimming, hiking, biking, hammocking and of course campfires!
Overall, staying active is so much easier and fun when you have a pup that craves mental and physical activity. Soon you’ll forget about the hard work of hiking or biking because your pup is having so much fun you won’t be able to stop smiling and laughing. Dogs make great adventure companions so you never feel alone while outdoors.
Here are a few things I’ve learned to make staying active with your dog enjoyable for both of you!
Find an activity you really enjoy! It could be walking, running, biking, playing fetch, going to a dog class, anything you want as long as you enjoy it! Dogs are very perceptive and pick up on our emotions, especially emotions from the people they love. If they sense your stress or anxiety, they will act it out. If they sense you are happy and relaxed, they will be more happy and relaxed.
Work on basic commands. Come, Sit, Stay, Leave it, etc. Once your dog knows these commands, make a game out of it to keep it interesting! Even on the trail I will stop and do little mini-training sessions to practice Cooper’s commands in a new environment. If you are going on off-leash adventures ensure your pup will stick close and come when called. One of the best parts of training is finding out which rewards work best for your pooch. Healthy, low calorie treats are perfect for this! Cooper and I have had great success with Northern Biscuit’s Grain Free Mini’s which are dry making them perfect to stick in your pocket, or the Soft and Chewies that come in a handy re-sealable bag. Any of Northern Biscuit’s full sized treats are another a great choice since you can break them up or give a fill sized treat (or a few!) as a reward at the end of a great adventure! It’s lots of fun to try different options and find a flavour that works for your dog! Your dog will love this excuse to try different cookies too!
Learn to be ok with plan change and remember it’s all about having fun! This is essential when being active with a dog because dogs often have their own plan. So you made a plan to hike a trail and only made it half way because you came across a beautiful lake and your dog decided that it was swim time? Or maybe you were going to play fetch but your dog would rather roll in the grass? (both of these often happen to me..) That’s OK! Have fun with it. Take a camera and snap a few photos of you and your pup so you can look back on the fun you had. Give your pup some ear scratches and belly rubs and just enjoy being together. At the end of the day, you were able to get outside and do something active that was both healthy and stimulating for you and your best friend. Remember its all about having fun!
Don’t wait until next week. Try it now! Get outside even if it’s just for 15 minutes and try a new activity with your pup and see what kind of magic you and your dog can create!
Looking for more ideas on how to get active with your pup? Follow me on instagram @amanda.bonner to see what kinds of activity Cooper and I get up to everyday! I would also love to hear back from you about what kind of activities you get up to! Tag us (@amanda.bonner) or hashtag (#rightasraincoop)to show us your adventures! Have fun making memories!”