K-9 FUN AND GAMES
By Pete Eromenok
Dogs play an important role in our society. Some round up livestock from the vast expanses in the west, where it would take the work of many men and horses to do the same job. Some chase nuisance geese.
There are dogs that retrieve waterfowl from the freezing tidal waters of the east or the slush filled rivers of the northwest, so his master can conserve game and fill his bag limit. Some cruise the vast areas of the desert lands to lock up on a covey of quail, and others hunt a variety of game in a variety of different ways. Some hunt animals underground.
Around the world there are canines searching for drugs, explosives, lost victims of disasters, even termites. Some detect cancers, some warn their owners of an upcoming seizure, and some serve and protect police and the public.
They can guard compounds, or be used for therapy and some play games that mimic the type of work they do. And some just lie next to the hearth.
Whatever the role, dogs shape the lives of their masters and people they know, as they bring enjoyment to their master’s job, or a friendly face to come home to after a long day at work. They seem to be the perfect remedy for the saddened or lonely. We have a symbiotic relationship with our canine friends. Dogs give to us, purely wanting to belong and function in a group. So we give back in return, because we are pleased with their function-whether work or pleasure related.
Dogs are happier when they have something to do. If you don’t have any sheep to round up or borders to patrol, just obeying simple commands is usually just as gratifying for the dog. After all he just wants to be a productive member of his group. There are many things you can do with Fido that will stimulate his mind and body.
Just a simple act of playing ball or Frisbee can be a modest goal. You can take that game as far as you want and really wow your buddies. For instance, If you teach your dog to “down” really well, you can give the command when he is in a flat run, after the ball, and he will slam into a down and still remain focused on the ball. Next release him and let him get the ball. On the way back with the ball you can command “sit”, and watch him skid into a sit. Then he can return to the heel position and sit and drop the ball in your hand on command. If that’s not enough, you can teach him hand signals to go along with this game…all this- in a simple little game. The dog will love the game, and it will be fun for you too.
So let’s break down the components of the game. Have your dog sit and stay sitting while at the heel position, while the ball is being thrown. Now, give the “release” command, and the dog is on his way. Then you give the “down” command, so the dog stops half way between you and the ball. Give another “release” command for the dog to get the ball. The dog picks up the ball and is recalled to handler using the command (here or come). Halfway back, give the “sit” command, and the dog sits. When released, the dog returns to the heel position and sits. Then the dog drops the ball when you say “drop” or “give”.
In this simple game of fetch, a dog is performing all of the basic obedience commands. It not only looks good but it’s good for your dog.
A helpful hint: If you want to try this game, just remember: be careful not to squelch his drive with too much obedience. You can work on the ball drive and obedience separately at first. Then when they are nuts about the chase, start incorporating the two together, making the dog wait longer and longer before getting the ball.
A productive pet can be a real pleasure and great fun. What could your dog do for you?