7 activities for a mindful dog
Is your dog a tad hyperactive? Perhaps they have become disobedient, disinterested or even stressed? Even bored or unable to satisfy natural instincts? It’s important that your dog is physically and mentally challenged on a regular basis. The activities below are guaranteed to leave your four-legged friend mentally engaged and content. This will also increase the bond between you and your dog, and you’ll become a more 'mindful' dog owner or dog sitter in the process.
1. Long walks
A lengthy, one to two-hour walk helps your dog to fully unwind. All that sniffing, running, play and exploration enables them burn some energy. Try to take your dog for at least one off-leash walk per day, and give your dog some freedom. Note: it’s important that you’re mindful too! So, forget about work, leave that smartphone at home, and go enjoy some well-earned down-time with your dog :-)
In contrast to short, quick bursts of energy, a solid run can make your dog considerably calmer. Running with your dog prevents your budding athlete from going full sprint and forces them to trot leisurely alongside you. Done correctly, it’s considerably less taxing on your dog's muscles than fetching a ball or rowdy play. Always build up to a long run gradually - don't start by taking your dog on a marathon.
3. Scootering, skating of skateboarding
Scootering or skating is an excellent endurance sport that combines exercise and relaxation, and is great fun for you and your dog. The important thing here is to allow your dog to get used to your chosen 'mode of transport'. If he no longer barks at or appears frightened of your scooter, roller skates or skateboard, then it’s time to hit the road. Always adopt a comfortable pace and, again, build up distances slowly.
Does your dog adore getting wet? Repeatedly throwing a ball into the water for your faithful friend to retrieve might be entertaining, but this type of exercise actively boosts adrenaline levels and can prove too intense for some dogs. Swimming, on the other hand, is extremely relaxing and produces truly ‘zen’ results. Encourage your dog to swim next to you and motivate them to keep going by praising profusely. Note: never swim too far out into open water or strong currents, and make sure that you can both get out of the water quickly if required.
Dogs that are suffering from stress invariably find something to chew on. Such as your furniture or shoes. This behaviour isn’t as strange as it might seem: chewing for prolonged periods is actually extremely relaxing and fulfilling for dogs. So, treat your canine companion to some quality ‘me’ time and simultaneously protect your favourite slippers by giving a daily chew stick. Chew sticks, raw dried meat, deer antlers and the raw bones of small animals (such as chicken necks) are great alternatives to your sofa. Never supply weight-bearing or recreational bones (such as leg, shank or knee bones) from large grazing animals, as these are too hard for your dog's teeth.
Chewing actively lowers your dog’s stress levels
Scent-tracking is guaranteed to transform a 'standard' walk into a favourite activity, from which your dog will derive a tremendous amount of satisfaction. It demands extremely high levels of concentration and commitment, and really puts your dog to work. Scent-tracking essentially involves your dog placing their nose to the ground and then picking up on and following a scent trail. Most dogs absolutely love it!
Here are two scent-tracking methods. The first is to wind a complicated route through a park or bushland and encourage your dog to come find you. If your dog is a novice, then bring someone along with you. That way, you can stay with your dog and point them in the right direction, whilst your partner in crime goes into hiding. The other method is to use a tracing product, such as peanut butter or dried dog food. Either method is guaranteed to awaken your dog’s natural tracking instincts and they will especially savour that tasty reward (or the joy of finding you) at the end!
A massage is as relaxing for your dog as it is for you, and your dog will certainly appreciate it. Start by gently stroking your pampered pooch until they are nice and calm. Then lightly massage under the ears and around the neck, before proceeding to the shoulders, back, chest and legs. Only continue if your dog is visibly at ease. Read more about how to massage a dog.
Tip: Are you a dog sitter? Why not offer the above activities as part of your dog walking or doggy day care services? You can add information about these services and your related experience to your profile. This type of additional extra can be the deciding factor in booking your pet sitting service!