Fun and Fitness with Your

Most dogs love to be outdoors and active. Finding ways to indulge your dog in these pleasures may introduce you to new activities and new ways of enjoying old ones.

What do you do if you live in Vermont, where snow covers the ground for many months, and you have to exercise two big dogs? When I was in that position, I learned to cross-country ski, which proved to be great exercise for me and my dogs. The dogs had to learn to stay out of the way of swinging ski poles, heel with a skier, and get off the trail when snowmobiles approached. Mine had to learn that when I fell, it was not an invitation to play. One of the hardest things to teach them, and something that was the cause of a few spectacular crashes until they learned, was that when they were running in front of us on a downhill section and we yelled their names, we did not want them to stop and turn around to look at us!

In the summer, when it is too hot for your dog to exercise any other way, swimming is the activity of choice. You will probably have to get into the water with him to build his confidence about stepping off into water that is over his head. Support him under his belly while he gets the feel of it. Don't count on your dog being able to swim instinctively. I have seen dogs jump into the water and let themselves sink without making any effort to save themselves. Dogs may also flail around with their front legs and try to climb out of the water, spinning in circles and going nowhere. It helps if your dog can play with another dog who loves to swim. If he likes to retrieve, you might be able to entice him into swimming by throwing something just a little farther each time until he is forced to swim. You can introduce puppies as young as eight weeks old to the water. It takes a little longer for an adult dog to relax in the water, but most can learn to love it. Swimming is the perfect exercise for older dogs with arthritis.

Hiking is a great activity to share with a dog. This may take the form of a two-hour walk in the woods, or an overnight expedition. I live along the Appalachian Trail, and I meet dogs who are hiking with their owners all

Cross-country skiing is a good way to enjoy the snow with your dog. (Belgian Tervuren)

the way from Georgia to Maine. A good combination is hiking with a dog play group. It is so relaxing to walk and talk with good friends, while the dogs play with each other.

There are other ways to share the outdoors with your dog. We've already discussed jogging with your dog in the chapter on exercising your dog. You could take your dog with you on horseback rides or let him gather all the tennis balls you hit over the fence. We enjoy canoeing with our dogs. Believe it or not, they quickly learn to balance. A good response to the "stay" command is a necessity when they want to jump out to chase a duck! Whatever you do, dogs (trained dogs, that is) and the outdoors are a natural combination.

Dog Owners Handbook

Dog Owners Handbook

There are over a hundred registered breeds of dogs. Recognizing the type of the dog is basically associated with its breed. A purebred animal belongs to a documented and acknowledged group of unmixed lineage. Before a breed of dog is recognized, it must be proven that mating two adult dogs of the sametype would have passed on their exact characteristics, both appearance and behavior, to their offspring.

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