When it comes to having fun with a dog, I think the best fun always happens when owners and dogs are doing the sorts of things that they personally enjoy. I hear dog owners tell me that they are doing things with their dog because they think that’s what a dog owner is “supposed” to do for and with a dog! As a result, I see owners sometimes doing things that they really hate, all because they think that’s what is expected of them as dog owners!
Let me fill you in on a secret! There is NO rule book for having fun with your dog!! ALL dogs and owners are different! What works for one dog, may not for the next. There are no set rules for engagement between a dog and his owner!! I remember so well, a Labrador Retriever that I trained who hated to be in water! Her owner called her his “Land Lab” because she just enjoyed land activities rather than water activities!
Rugby is the dog who helped me to really understand this whole idea more fully, because initially, I really tried to give him experiences that I don’t think he ever wanted. I kept feeling like he wouldn’t enjoy life if he couldn’t really experience a full world with lots of adventures. Maybe if I had been Rugby’s initial owner instead of his fifth….he might very well have enjoyed having a big world with lots of adventures. However, that simply stresses Rugby too much, and he’s much happier staying home and enjoying simple activities!
As a result, I’ve learned to re-think life with my special needs dog. Rugby’s ideas of fun have changed over the years as he’s aged, but so have mine! As a younger dog, all he wanted to do was RUN!! I wish that I enjoyed running, but sadly, I don’t! My left knee has taken a beating from big, rowdy dogs slamming into it over and over, and so it needs a lot of TLC! Fortunately, Rugby can run alone, so he has a grand time in the yard, and that works well for me, so it’s a win-win. And what I absolutely love, is that Rugby really seems to be happiest when I’m out in the yard watching him! He’s like that small child who says, “Mom! Watch me! I can run really fast!” It never fails to make me smile from ear to ear!
My job involves a whole lot of problem solving, so I love anything that involves puzzling or thinking games for dogs. Rugby loves those types of activities too, so we do a fair amount of those things together. He’s a thinker and problem solver, so he’s always all in when I pull out puzzles or teach him a new trick.
I’ve tried giving Rugby a puppy pool for some summer splashing fun, but he really doesn’t enjoy water sports at all, so I gave that up after the first summer he lived with me! No sprinklers, no hose play….nope. Not for Rugby. He doesn’t enjoy those things.
He enjoys being anywhere that I am, so when I’m puttering around the house cleaning, organizing, etc., Rugby is often nearby….snoopervising whatever I’m doing. He enjoys doing this….although at times….he’s underfoot and not helpful, I have to admit! But he means well, so it’s hard to be cross with him for tripping me left and right!
We both really enjoy car rides together….just taking in the sights, sounds and smells of someplace new! When he has the car surrounding him, he’s much more calm, and has a fun outing when we get out and about.
He really loves some piggie play with me…jamming his piggies into my ankles and legs…over and over…play growling all the while!
And he likes to binge-watch TV with me….movies with popcorn…sit in front of the fire on a cold or rainy night…that sort of thing. He almost always enjoys a snuggle when he can get one, and I love a good puppy snuggle myself!
So let Rugby and I encourage you to march to the beat of your own drummer! Find your own unique fun with your dog, and throw yourselves into it! Don’t let anyone else tell you what you are “supposed” to do with your dog! Listen to your dog…try some different things, and learn what works for you and your best friend!