Any responsible pet owner should know that dogs need to go on walks and have ample playtime. This gives a dog a positive way to release energy, bond with their pack leader, and learn acceptable behavior. Keep the following safety tips in mind to get the most out of playtime.
Consider your environment
If you are taking your dog on a walk, or traveling to the dog (or regular) park, leash him up and look for signs with rules about leashing. Ask yourself if the environment is a safe one for your dog in particular. Is your dog good with other dogs? How about good around children?
Fence ‘em in
A busy person like me may want to let their dogs play outside, but if you aren’t in a dog park, it’s best to do it in a fenced area. Whether you are letting your dog play outside with his best buddy or you are teaching your dog to fetch, you’ll want to make sure the dog won’t bolt for the woods for whatever reason (or jump over the fence as mine would when I left him unattended for even a second in our yard). One of the good options out there is a wireless dog fence for a customizable boundary zone and collar that corrects your dog when he reaches the boundary of the roaming zone.
Establish and enforce rules of play
While playing with your dog, you need to consistently make it clear if your dog’s behavior is acceptable or not. While this is true for living with a dog in general, it is extra important during playtime to prevent any bad habits from beginning to form. Be sure to take breaks to keep a positive vibe and your dog’s attention during playtime.
Tug of war
This is a great game for two dogs, but as always, playtime is only fun until someone gets hurt. To make sure you don’t unintentionally encourage dog biting when playing tug of war with just the two of you, make the rules clear, such as when it’s okay to take the rope or toy and when they must drop it. Make use of commands such as “Take it” and “Drop it” and stop playing and take a break if your dog inadvertently touches his teeth to your hand. If your dog refuses to drop it on command, stop playing altogether.
Don’t leave your dog outside too often. You may be considering it as a quick fix for those behavioral problems that seem unsolvable, but you are only making things much worse. Your dog will soon replace his need to please his leader with a desire to occupy his time in any way he can find, which in turn makes training your dog even harder.
Cold weather cruelty
Cats and dogs are not actually any more resistant to cold weather due to their fur – even the Alaskan Husky sled dogs wear booties on their feet depending on the weather and type of snow conditions. Buy or make your pup some booties, and make sure their toenails and fur is trimmed to the proper length to avoid snow collecting around their toes. Like us, dogs run the risk of hypothermia and frost bite, so limit play and walks in extreme cold weather.
Keeping these considerations in the back of your mind will ensure playtime is always an enjoyable and fruitful use of time. Make sure you and your dog are in the right environment with a secured fence or dog park, with well-established rules, don’t leave your dog outside too often, and protect them from the cold. Keeping outdoor playtime safe for your dogs has never been easier.
Adam Holmes loves his two dogs Argos the husky and Lilly the Labradoodle more than life itself. When he isn’t writing for Havahart Wireless, he spends his time training his dogs for CGC certification and he is thinking about doing agility training with Argos.