The Olympics are here, so why not include your own gold medalist: Fido!!!! There are many Olympic activities for dogs and with a little practice, your dog could embrace his or her inner champion (and we all know they already take first place in our hearts).
The Olympic Creed sums up this worldwide athletic event: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” It also sounds like the mantra of dogs, too. “Not to win, but to take part.” Whether your dog has gold medalist potential or is more a couch potato bronze medalist, here are some dog sporting activities to serve as ins-paw-ration for setting (and leaping) the bar high.. along with some Olympic style ideas that dogs of any age can do!
Disc Dogs aka “Frisbee” dogs: Dogs and their humans throw disc a certain distance, many with choreographed-type catches. For the less-athletically inclined of the canine set, a soft indoor disc or squeaky ball in the house. If your dog is obsessed with a certain toy, use that toy as a reward in training, too. My dog will sit, stay, and nearly juggle if he sees the squeaky ball revealed.
Agility Competitions: Whether you’ve been to an event, your dog participates in it, or you dream of pooch leaping hurdles and weaving the poles, agility is a fun, year-round activity to keep dogs’ minds thinking, embrace owner-pooch bond, and a 365 way to keep Fido fit (there are indoor agility centers). If you’re like me and want the fun but not the formality of an agility competition, set your own pieces up at a local park. Some dog parks even have playground-type equipment for dogs! There are ten dog parks across the country that Dogster recently featured.
Sniffing Skills: Ever see those amazing search and rescue dogs, the drug and bomb detection dogs, and even cadaver dogs whose sense of smell is so uncanny and accurate that it would take dozens of people over the course of weeks to get the same job done? A dog’s sense of smell is believed to be times greater than that of a human. So foster it with your dog. Hide and go seek is a perfect year-round game for dogs of all ages. Not only does this game work perfectly on rainy days, but it heightens a dog’s sense of smell in a fun and rewarding manner. Start out with a few of your pooch’s favorite treats. This game will require two people initially. One person stays with Fido in a room while the other hides. When ready to be sought, the hidee lets out a “come, Fido” or “woo hoo” sound to initiate the game. As Rover scours room to room, occasionally let out a verbal signal. Once found, praise him like he just won an Olympic medal and reward with a treat.
Odyssey of the Mind: Flex Fido’s cerebral muscle with “board games” for dogs. Something like the Nina Ottosson Collection of games has been a relied-upon activity in our household for rainy days. These activity toys encourage problem solving in a multitude of ways: finding hidden treats via lifting and pushing blocks, pushing pieces and turning discs. The Kong line of mind-stimulating toys fit the bill on a rainy day. Stuff treats inside the opening and your dog must problem solve to access the reward inside. Of course, my Dexter has on more than one occasion, flipped the game upside down in an attempt to hit the jackpot with one swipe.
Become a Canine Good Citizen: The American Kennel Club launched the Canine Good Citizen Program in 1989. It’s designed to teach responsible dog ownership behaviors to pet parents, while dogs learn basic training and good manners. The core of the program is the 10-step testing process. Whether pedigree or mutt, spunky Sparky or golden oldie, dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages are eligible. Oh, and your dog can ace the training at home. I did it, and training for CGC is easier than you think (and oodles of Poodles of fun). Here’s how we trained at home for the Canine Good Citizen test (and passed!) By the way, you get a cool certificate and your dog can wear a “medal” of sorts when you pass!
Question: If your dog could get a gold medal in anything, what do you think it would most likely be? Let us know.