We repeated this like a million, maybe a trillion (low zillion?) times. It allowed Tug and I to have quality time together, just the two of us, which made it worth the irreparable damage to my right shoulder.
Yeah, good times, but good times in the early ‘90s, back when a good time with your friend was pretty much limited to throwing the ball and walking them on the leash. Sure, there were other, more adventurous activities you could do with your dog, but these were pretty much limited to people who preferred sandals to shoes and dogs who wore bandanas instead of collars.
The same can’t be said of today, when the adventurous and creative, not to mention the culinary, have gone mainstream and given us numerous things to do with our dogs, things that range from sporty to shapely to fun and everything in between, and yes, that does include a nice glass of wine.
Not only do these activities offer variety and the chance to perform squat thrusts with your buddy by your side, but, experts say, they present the opportunity to connect with your dog on a different, deeper and, ultimately, healthier level.
“A lot of people take their dog for a walk a few times a week and they think that’s enough,” said trainer Dan Atkinson of Kind to Canines. “The fact is, the more activities you do with your dog, the better rounded your dog is going to be mentally and socially.”
With that in my mind, we’ve made it our business to show you some of the different directions and opportunities you can take with your dog. Of course, what’s presented here is just a fraction of what’s available throughout the pages of Petsguide, so give it a read, then explore a little. It’s all good. Of course, before we talk about any of that, we have to talk about something a little serious. I’m speaking of …
Or is socialization?
Oh well, I say “Tomato” you say “Karl Marx,” the point is virtually none of the terrific things we’re going to present for your dog to do are possible unless the animal is comfortable being around other dogs and/or people.
Jill Bowers, who runs Thank Dog Bootcamp where owners and pets workout together, says she “can’t let anyone in that can’t control their dog. An unruly dog, one with no socialization skills, it just won’t work.”
Training expert Dan Atkinson says the process of socialization should begin when your dog is a pup. And he’s not just talking about walks.
“If all you do is walk your dog, chances are the dog is going to be anti-social,” said Atkinson who runs Kind to Canines Obedience Training (www.kindtocanines.com). “Let’s say we’re talking about a two-year-old dog, so basically a teenager who’s been home-schooled since he gets walked a few times a week. All of a sudden your child has a Little League game and you take the dog and the dog freaks out because he’s not used to being out of its element. That’s when I get a phone call.”
Exposing them to new things is actually simple. Atkinson recommends taking them in a car through a drive-thru food window or to the pet store to get some food. Simple things, but things that “get them out, get them exposed to see and hear things so that it’s not such a shocker for them to be outside the house or yard.”
Atkinson assures that all is not lost if you haven’t socialized. There are ways to get them socialized. One is to walk them with other dogs. Also introduce them into areas (like a dog park) with dogs that are comfortable being around other dogs.
“What I try to do with dogs like that is get them acclimated by having them learn from other dogs that are mentally sound, dogs that are confident outside the home. You can build a dog’s confidence that way. But I think it’s a combination of doing things with your dog and the dog having some form of discipline. A dog must listen to you: the most unhappy dog in the world is one that doesn’t have structure and rules.”
Fortunately, there are a lot of places you can take your dog to get that structure. Many, many cities offer dog training at local parks (see page 26). Then there are heavy hitters like Atkinson who can personalize training to fit the need of your dog.
May we also suggest …SHEEP HERDING!
If structure and discipline is what you and your dog crave, then check out All Breed Herding Training. Jerome Stewart has been teaching herding classes since 1988, and currently teaches three classes per week in Long Beach, Anaheim and Perris. Classes are available year-round to teach all breeds of dogs how to herd sheep. Each class is two-and-a-half hours for $30; pre-registration is not required. No previous experience necessary. You can find more information at home1.gte.net/jerstew or e-mail Jerome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dogs have always been known as furry exercise machines, though, for a lot of us, we tended to think of them in terms of treadmills. You know, attach leash, walk, or run a bit. That was pretty much it. Well, now there are a lot of things you can do to keep your dog, and you, in shape.
One of our favorites is Thank Dog Bootcamp (www.thankdogbootcamp.com) which allows owners and dogs to workout together. The brainchild of Jill Bowers, a dog trainer who had a very hyper Doberman and couldn’t find the time to keep both her dog and her body in shape.
“It allows you to save time and the dog helps you from the aspect of working out,” she said. “Dogs are routine-based animals, they start to know when it’s work out time. A person can not, not go.”
Bowers says the workouts, which are performed in parks in Long Beach and Orange County, are designed for people and pets of all fitness levels. There are circuit, weight and cardio workouts. To make sure that you and your pet get the most of it, dogs have to be well-trained, something Bowers and her staff can help with in an initial training session that will ensure you both get the most out of your workout.
For workouts that are more dog-centered, you might think about agility classes that are offered by many cities (see “Recreation, Parks, Trails & Beaches” for a list) as well as organizations, such as the South Coast Agility Team (www.southcoastagilityteam.com) which has regular practice sessions, mentoring programs and annual AKC and CPE competitions.
May we also suggest … Jump Start Dog Sports!
Located in Yorba Linda, this outfit offers classes not only to get your dog fit and in shape, but also competitions to show off your dog’s skills. And we’re talking fun stuff such as disc and a little something called musical freestyle, which either means your pooch will catch a disc to musical accompaniment or will soon be opening for Kanye. For more information, call (714) 985-1555 or go to www.jumpstartdogsports.com.
Now that you and your dog are in great shape you’ll want to be doing something with that. You’re in luck, there are a lot of options.
One that you’re probably very familiar with is disc, you know, Frisbee. This activity has been around a long time and even got so big in the ‘70s that they had disc dog competitions held in the Rose Bowl.
You don’t have to go that big to get involved. In fact, an organization known as Disc Dogs in Southern California (www.d2isc.com) will let you go at whatever pace you want. D2ISC organizes a series of informal play days and clinics throughout the year where members and prospective members can exchange training ideas. They also plan several competitions and a variety of shows throughout the year for dog-related charities, humane societies, sporting events and schools. Members include regional, national and world competition finalists. Clinic dates, event schedules and contact information are available on their Web site.
You might also check out a sport called flyball which seems to be picking up lots of very enthusiastic adherents. Flyball races match teams of dogs against each other. They race side-by-side over a 51-foot-long course with each dog required to run in relay fashion over jumps, trigger a flyball box that releases a ball, retrieve the ball, and return over the jumps.
May we also suggest …URBAN MUSHING!
The Southern California Working Snow Dogs is a group of humans and their canine companions who indulge in different fun dog-powered activities not all of which require snow. We’re talking about urban activities such as dog scootering, carting, bikejoring, canicross, skijoring, weight-pulling and, yes, dogsledding. Clinics and meetings offered. For more information, go to www.urbanmushing.com.
OK, let’s face it. As much as we’d like to spend plenty of quality time with our buddy, things do come up. Things take us away from our dog, you know important things like work and watching the entire first season of Real Housewives of New Jersey on DVD.
But why should our dogs suffer because we can’t make it? Fortunately, there are plenty of people who are willing, you know, for a price, to be your pups surrogate mom or dad. One of the best and most popular is Neal Ward who runs BeachHounds.com Dog Beach Adventures (www.beachhounds.com). Ward’s company will actually come to your house, pick up your dog and take them to Huntington Beach’s Dog Beach where they can run, frolic and generally exhaust themselves.
“It’s funny, when we’re on our way, they’re happy and wagging their tails,” says Ward, who takes the dogs in a van. “But on the way back, it’s a completely different atmosphere. Much more mellow. Some of them snore.”
Ward’s service is so easy that you don’t even have to be home for him to pick up your pooch. If authorized, he’ll let himself in.
“When they hear the van, they know where they’re going and they get so excited,” he said. “You can see it. It’s like they’re going to Disneyland.”
Well, kinda. Huntington Beach’s 1.2 mile stretch of sand for dogs was recently voted the nation’s best dog beach, outperforming the likes of similar beaches in Del Mar and Carmel.
May we also suggest…UGLY DOG ADVENTURES!
This unique pet sitter really isn’t a sitter at all, in that there’s very little sitting going on and much more in the way of one-on-one dog adventures, cart and trike rides as well as pack activities such as play dates and pack hikes that range from easy to advanced. For more information, call (714) 585-3868 or go to www.uglydogadventures.com.
And, hey, do we always have to be in such a rush to improve ourselves? I mean, a boot camp here, a little skijoring there, is all very well and good, very good. But there comes a time when a person, and their dog, just wants to chill. Take some valuable “them” time.
For that, you might think of heading over to Chewsy Dog in Long Beach. Owner Eva Kuncewicki offers a variety of products and services to pamper your pup. Perhaps our favorite is Doga which is, you guessed it, yoga you do with your dog.
“It’s kind of like having a partner for yoga,” said Kuncewicki. “It’s a wonderful bonding experience with your dog. Through the movements, they come to trust you more.”
Chewsy (4107 Viking Way, Long Beach; 562-354-6040. www.chewsydogonline.com) also offers times when owners can come down and just have their dogs meet up with other dogs—a terrific opportunity to continue the work of socialization. Or, throw a themed party at the shop for your pup: celebrate a puppy shower, barkday party, adoption event, or bark mitzvah!
There are other local shops that offer similar products and services. Chateau Le Pooch (860 W. Imperial Hwy, Suite M, Brea; 714-842-0454. www.chateaulepooch.com) offers parties and party supplies, including made-to-order goodie bags and barkday cakes, plus regularly scheduled “Yappy Hours” (see “Calendar”).
Pussy and Pooch (4818 E. Second St., Long Beach; 562-434-7700. www.pussyandpooch.com) offers an interactive social setting that is designed for you and your pooch to enjoy together. Your furry friend can feast on made-to-order meaty pet meals at the Pawbar®! Or the two of you can attend a number of pet-centric activities, such as charity events, Mutt Mingles, and nutrition seminars.
“A tired dog is a happy dog!”