Humane Society: Get serious about pet play |

Humane Society: Get serious about pet play

Dawn Armstrong
Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA

Is your pet bored? Do you have a dog who is eager to go every minute of the day? Maybe it’s your cat who can’t sit still. Here are pet play activities to work off excess energy, get fit, and enjoy quality time together. Most of these activities start in your home or yard and can lead to local fun socials and international competition. Remember to go slow at first to keep the fun in learning and to become more skilled without injury. Stop and see your vet at any sign of lameness.

Cat agility is always performed inside in a fenced area. With toy or clicker, handler guides cat over hurdles, to jump through hoops and run through tunnels in a timed event. It is a growing sport and training is easy to start at home with feathers dangled over chairs (on their sides) and other low objects.

Dog agility involves the human directing the dog through an obstacle course in a race for both time and accuracy. Dogs run off-leash. The handler controls with voice, body signals and movement. There are local practice matches and exciting regional, national and international spectator events.

Canicross is cross country running with dogs attached. Originated in Europe, Canicross can be run with one or two dogs. The runner wears a waist belt, the dog wears a harness, and a bungee cord or elastic line joins human and dog to reduce shock for both when the dog pulls.

Disc dog (Frisbee Dog) features dogs and their human disc throwers in events such as distance catching and freestyle catching. Freestyle events consist of short routines choreographed to music with multiple discs in play. There are short and long distance events. It’s a good spectator sport, too.

Dock jumping (Splash Dogs) involves humans enticing dogs to jump for distance or height from a dock into a body of water. Toys are thrown into the water (retrieve) or used as a tease (chase) with various commands given to achieve speed and jump distance. The dog is not required to chase or retrieve the toy.

Flyball is a relay sport in which teams of dogs race over a line of hurdles to a box that releases a tennis ball to be caught when the dog presses the spring loaded pad, and then taken back to the handler. Large and small dogs can play, as long as they can trigger the ball release.

Musical canine freestyle (Musical Freestyle, Freestyle Dance, Canine Freestyle) is a mixture of creative obedience, tricks, and dance. You Tube videos (“Dog Dancing”) provide amazing examples of sophisticated and hilarious numbers, including matching human and dog dance costumes.

Rally obedience (Rally or Rally-O) is based on obedience commands. Competitors proceed around a course of designated stations with the dog in heel position. The course consists of 10 to 20 signs that instruct the team what to do. Handlers are allowed to encourage their dog around the course.

Other dog activities with large followings include herding, tracking, and weight pulling. There are local classes and get-togethers for the activities mentioned here. Find out more at Dog Day, Wednesday, June 30, 4-7 p.m. at Cove East off Venice Boulevard. Trainers from Carson Dog Sports will demonstrate how easy it is to have real fun with your dog.

Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help “Keep Tahoe Kind.”

-Dawn Armstrong is the executive director of the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and SPCA.

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