Chapter 16: Other Activities
The exercises on this website are not an exhaustive list of all the things you can do with your dog.
There are other city- and suburbs-based activities you and your dog can enjoy. For example:
What About Earthdog And Herding?
The use of other animals to be ‘worked’ by the dog (in the case of the former) or herded (in the case of the latter) doesn’t sit well with me ethically. It’s one thing if, by instinct, a terrier catches a rat. But to purposely put a rat in a cage for the dog to bark at and terrorise for a certain amount of time in order to qualify for an earthdog title is a whole different thing.
That’s my opinion. Yours might be different. If that's the case, I implore you to reconsider your position. However if your mind remains unchanged and you deem earthdog and herding trials to be okay with you ethically and your dog is suited then, as far as I can tell, it’s a safe activity for your dog to engage in.
The good news is that a lot of these earthdog trials (not sure about the herding ones though) are now using artificial prey. If you feel the same way I do about using real prey, you might be lucky enough to have a club close by that uses prey of the artificial variety. Get onto the Internet to explore the options.
Keep It Lighthearted
If you do decide to get into organised doggie sports - and good for you if you do! - for goodness sake, don’t take it too seriously.
Some people can get so damn serious, and the tension they feel inevitably gets taken out on the dog if he or she isn’t performing to the person’s standards. And that's just not fun for the dog at all.
If you’re freaking out about winning and are unduly harsh with your dog, you could destroy his or her confidence. Worse, the trust between you can be broken and your dog will be constantly worried that his or her beloved and loving person could suddenly turn into a bad-tempered, demanding lunatic for no apparent reason. So, for the love of dog, keep in mind at all times that it’s just for fun.
Other Indoor Activities
The Little Dogs’ Activity Book by Deborah Wood is specifically for small dogs, but many activities it suggests are appropriate for medium and large dogs too. The book contains loads of indoor activities including training, tricks, and fitness. It includes party ideas, and activities specifically for young pups, seniors, and disabled dogs. It also talks about the possibility of your dog becoming a therapy dog.
You can hire a dog walker a few times a week, or send your pooch to doggie daycare either to play or to top up obedience training (if they offer training sessions). Ask others - your vet, trainer, behaviourist, other people with dogs - for their recommendations.
Remember that hiring dog professionals to do such activities is not a replacement for what you do with your dog. Exercising with your dog should be a fundamental part of your daily life. It enhances your relationship with your dog, and frankly: why bother having a dog otherwise?
What About Dog Shows?
You might notice that of the activities I’ve mentioned, one well-known dog activity is conspicuously absent: dog shows. This is because, to start with, too many (not all, of course, but too many) people use dog shows to benefit their egos rather than benefit their dog.
If you’re in doubt, see the mockumentary film Best In Show. You’ll see what I mean - yes, it’s a comedy but, as the saying goes, many a truth is said in jest. And then there’s the whole ethical debate about having dog breeds at all…but that’s a long and complex debate for another time.As this website is ALL about the dogs, I can’t in good conscience advise that you show your dog. In my opinion, dog shows are out! (However, if you must, keep a clear view of the fact that it’s all just for fun.)
SAY NO TO PUPPY MILLS! SAY NO TO ANIMALS IN PETSHOPS! SAY NO TO BREEDERS!
Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance
It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.
Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.
Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.
Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.
Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.
If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.
All information and photos are copyright © Despina Rosales.