Most people just walk their dog in the park, happy in the knowledge that they are running around and burning off energy. What happens though if you have a dog with almost unlimited energy like a Border Collie, working Cocker Spaniel, or a Terrier?
How do I improve my dog’s walks and use his brain?
Most people are aware that you can go to agility classes with your dog but your local park probably has much more that you can use to mentally simulate your dog than you realise. When I go to a park in Brighton & Hove with a dog I’m always on the lookout for “Urban Agility”. Urban what!?! This means anything that a dog can jump on or over, commando crawl under, balance on, weave around etc. This could be park benches, posts, tree trunks, logs etc.
I particularly like things that slow a dog down like a log or upturned tree. Jumping on to something and balancing can be a real challenge for an active dog who is only used to running around at full speed. It forces them to stop and think about what their body is doing, how to balance, turn, sit or lie down etc. It’s like yoga for dogs!
Next time you go to the park keep a look out for your own Urban Agility course. Your dog will have to learn to do these tasks but I can guarantee that he will come home more tired if he has had to use his brain on a walk.
Sam shows you how Urban Agility its done:
This is Sam learning to walk slowly along a log. The first few times he fell off because he had no awareness of what his body was doing. This was also a great trust exercise for Sam to know I was there with him.
Mike Garner is a dog trainer and behaviourist at Rainbow Dogs in Brighton & Hove, Sussex.
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