Just like any relationship, the strength of the bond with your fur-friend is only as good as the effort you put in. Spending time with your pet is one thing, but spending quality time with your furry, feline, feathery and even scaly friend can be something different all together.
Like us, dogs can become bored easily so making play time fun is important for you, and your pet, to ensure you get the most out of your time together. Simple things such as playing catch or reading to your pet are great ways to show your pet you care, but changing the play routine will make sure your pet continues to be stimulated both mentally and physically so they don’t stray into mischievous habits. It also ensures you look forward to these moments just as much as your fur-kid, rather than considering it a ‘tick the box’ activity. With the year ahead of us, we’ve put together a list of activities to inspire your pet play times. Try these activities, evolve them into something that suits you and your pet, or think of your own!
- Go to the beach and splash in the surf: Most dogs love to crash through the waves at the beach and jump and bounce in the foam left by the crashing waves. Make some time to play catch on the beach, digging for shells or playing in the water. The sands texture could be different for your pet and one that they need to get used to, or it could be something that they instantly take to. If you’re planning a trip to the beach, be sure to protect your pet from harsh sun rays as you would yourself and take plenty of water in a collapsible bowl for your four legged friend.
- Treat your dog to a spa day: Everyone loves to be pampered and our pet pals are no different. Treat your pet to a day at the spa where their fur will be fluffed, nails trimmed and even painted for that extra special treat.
- Go on a scenic wilderness hike: Navigating through different terrain and exploring different tracks with a variety of fauna and flora to uncover is a mentally stimulating activity that both you and your pet could enjoy. Be prepared and pack well for the journey and be sure to check that your pet is welcome where you plan to hike.
- Try something new – Bikejoring: Bikejoring is riding a bike while dogs are pulling you. Dogs naturally want to exert their energy and often run faster than you, which is why bikejoring is becoming a new phenomenon. If you haven’t tried it before, seek advice and wear plenty of head and arm/leg protective gear, because falls are likely, but adventure is guaranteed.
- Hold your dog while you dance: There is nothing more smoothing than dancing with your dog. Pick the right music with the right tempo and start swaying and moving your feet with your pooch enjoying your dance moves too.
- Play in the sprinklers: Sprinklers are such a simple and wonderful way to enjoy time with your pet. Stand, jump and twirl around in the sprays of water on a hot summer’s day. Play with your pooch and roll around in the puddles on the grass for added enjoyment.
- Paint with your dog: For something a little messier, try painting with your dog. Get out the (washable) paints and place them in containers around a large canvas or paper. Let your pet discover how to step in the paint to make their paw print artwork, or guide them along their artistic journey – and get into it yourself! Then – voila! You have an artwork that you and your pet have created together.
- Take an agility training class: Get active and take an agility training class together. Your pooch will be stimulated both mentally and physically and it will give you great ideas for play times for the future.
- Play a game of ‘which hand?’ to test your dog’s sense of smell: Any activities that involve your dog’s senses are great for stimulating your pet’s mind. Place a treat in one of your hands and present both hands to your dog. See if your pet can work out which hand you have the treat in and praise them when they get it correct.
- Pet karaoke: So long as you don’t participate in pet karaoke in the wee hours of the morning when your neighbours would prefer to be sleeping, try cracking out some tunes with your dog crooning along with you.