Brought to you by Bupa
Families: they can be big, they can be small. They can be fun and sometimes, challenging. But, one undeniable fact about families is that bringing a dog into the mix will provide plenty of opportunities to try new and exciting things, that will help bring you all together.
So, whether you’re looking for low cost, easy activities, or something a bit more adventurous, we’ve put together ten activities you can try that are sure to get our tails wagging and make the whole family feel happier and healthier.
1. Neighbourhood Walks
Life is busy, right? When the humans get up in the morning or home from work, often the last thing they feel like doing is going for a walk. But we know that getting them out first thing in the morning for a brisk walk around the neighbourhood starts the day off on a positive note. A walk after work allows everyone to disconnect from the school/ work day, catch up and settle down for a relaxed evening together.
Neighbourhood walks also provide a great opportunity for any little humans (children) to learn how to walk a dog. Simply attach a second lead to your dog’s collar or harness so the dog remains safe and give this to the little human, whilst you retain control with the first lead. We don’t have any little humans in our house but we do have lots in our neighbourhood. They often join us on an evening walk, which is fun for all of us.
2. Beach Walks
Going to the beach is one of our favourite activities! We go to the beach all year ‘round and it doesn’t matter to us if the sun is shining or if it’s cold and blustery – the beach is always fun for us.
We have to drive a little bit further to reach our favourite off-lead beach but it’s worth it! We really get to stretch out our legs and swim freely on the days we visit this beach. When time is limited, we simply head off to the closest beach and walk on-lead along the boardwalk. The fresh, salt air is invigorating and we love stopping to meet as many people as we can along the way.
*It’s always important to check whether your local beach is dog-friendly and permits off-lead walking.
Flyball is a team sport and is all about the activities dogs love to do – run, fetch, jump and retrieve.
It has a focus on fun and includes dogs, their handlers and spectators. Unlike some other dog activities, there is lots of cheering and involvement from spectators, so it’s a pawfect activity for the whole family.
4. Dock Jumping (Dock Diving)
Dock jumping is not only suited to dogs that love the water and love to retrieve, but is also designed to increase the confidence of dogs in and around water.
Dock jumping is another high-energy, family-friendly sport that encourages the dog, the handler and the cheer squad to all be involved. Getting started in dock jumping is pretty easy as there are clubs throughout Australia. Be prepared to laugh, have fun and get a little bit wet!
5. Agility Classes
Agility classes are high in energy, involvement and fun. Agility involves directing your dog around an obstacle course correctly and to beat the clock. Obstacle courses typically include jumps, ramps, elevated walks, poles, tunnels, see-saws and more!
Classes are available for all skill levels and physical abilities. The most basic level of agility includes only jumps and tunnels, so even newcomers to this activity can participate and learn.
6. Create an obstacle course in your back yard
Use your imagination and look around the house for supplies. Maybe a broom balanced on some cups to jump over and crawl under, a play tunnel to crawl through, hula hoops to jump through, a plank of wood elevated on some bricks to walk over – the possibilities are endless. Safety and fun first though – keep everything stable and don’t ask your dog (or your small humans) to jump, weave or climb over anything that is too high, or too difficult.
7. Earth Dog
Earth dog is a sport most suited to small, short-legged terrier dogs and dachshunds. It involves the dog negotiating man-made, underground tunnels by following a scent. The tunnels vary in complexity depending on the skill of the dog.
This is not a spectator sport as most of the activity is underground! But, what the sport lacks from a spectator point of view, it makes up for by allowing your dog to engage in its natural instinct to burrow and hunt (in a simulated environment); and it allows the whole family to enjoy the great outdoors and form deep bonds with their dog.
We are going to try Earth dog later this year (dachshunds were originally bred to hunt badgers!). We found local clubs by searching the Internet, as well as Facebook and we can’t wait to wriggle our way underground!
8. Sled Dog Racing
This is one for the bigger dogs that like to run and artic breeds like huskies and malamutes.
The good news is that sled dog racing can be done without snow and this is called ‘dry land sledding’. There are a variety of rigs available, which are used with a bike, scooter or even just your body. You can use everyday language to command your dog or learn ‘mushing’ commands. This sport looks like so much fun and is definitely one the family can enjoy to get fitter and healthier.
9. Disc Dogs (Frisbee)
We’re smiling as we think about Frisbee fun. If this is something you’ve tried down at your local park, you might be interested to join a club that have events such as distance catching and freestyle catching. These can be done to music and with multiple discs. Disc Dogs also have team events, known as games.
Not sure if your dog is cut out to be a Disc Dog? Start off by rolling the disc along the ground on the vertical edge to encourage the dog to chase it. Once pupper is enjoying the chase, gently throw the disc toward your dog from a short distance and build up the throwing distance over time. Try this in a park or join one of the many Disc Dog clubs.
We love exploring off the beaten track, it’s one of our favourite ways to exercise and have fun with our family. Because our legs are quite little, we tend only to do half to ¾ day hikes with plenty of rest during the hike. The good thing about hiking is that you are sure to find a trail reasonably close by that suits your fitness level and the amount of time you have.
You do need a few supplies if you’re heading out hiking. A simple, short hike requires the usual walking gear (poop bags, water, bowl and maybe a snack) whereas longer hikes will require more supplies. There are doggy backpacks made especially for hiking, so you can carry all your own gear (bonus fitness points there!).
If you live in Melbourne and surrounds, we recommend Merricks Trail on the Mornington Peninsula for an adventurous walk. The humans love the cafes at either end of the trails – pawfect for rest and refreshments for us all.
A snuggle on the sofa is nice, but getting outside and stretching our legs means all of us feel happier and healthier. What is your favourite way to stay connected and healthy as a family?
Tell Bupa how you like to bring your family together through sport for your chance to win up to $5,000 to help make it happen. Enter now and until 12 October 2016 at Bupa Family Fun.