Outdoor activities that you can enjoy with your dog abound. Depending on the energy and fitness level of your dog, and his individual proclivities, outdoor fun might include simple backyard games like Frisbee, swimming, or hiking, but could also include more exotic activities, like skijoring (see the info on skijoring later in this chapter).
The Casual Sportsman
Hiking, camping, and backpacking are wonderful ways to spend time with your dog, get exercise, and enjoy nature. Leave the cell phone and laptop at home, and take your dog on a hike or even an overnight backpacking/ camping trip. Even the most pampered couch potato enjoys getting out and acting like a dog now and then. Swimming or a run on the beach, maybe combined with some water retrieves or a good game of Frisbee, can help keep your dog happy, not to mention well-exercised, and therefore calm and well behaved at home.
In the past several years, the idea of vacationing/camping/dog training has really caught on, leading to the development of several camps that are geared to dogs and their owners. From basic activities to competition camps, you can find one to suit your fancy at www.dogplay.com.
Basically, if your dog is allowed to be there, why not include him in the fun? Sure, you’ll probably have to do a little extra management and training in new situations at first. But any of the training you do reinforces all of the other training you’ve done, and before you know it, you have a dog that is trained everywhere.
Some dogs have all the luck! They get to accompany their owners, and in some cases, work for them (most dogs’ dream) on a regular basis. Skijoring, or snow skiing while your dog, in harness, pulls you, is gaining popularity, as are road trials, particularly for Dalmatian fanciers, in which horse-rider-dog teams compete in endurance events. Mushing or sled-dog racing isn’t just for huskies anymore — there has been at least one team made up entirely of standard poodles.
Be creative. What are your interests? How can you involve your dog in them? If you own a purebred dog, what was he bred to do? Maybe you’ll even find a new hobby. Most people who compete in dog sports started out as just dog owners who wanted a well-behaved pet, but got bitten by the competition bug when they were exposed to the variety of venues and types of competition available.