Holidays are great opportunities for recharging. Besides perhaps getting more shuteye and visiting with friends, I do like to keep things somewhat routine for the dogs. We might add a new place to visit or just spend more time hanging out. This Thanksgiving weekend I spent the time upping my Frisbee game with them.
Playing Frisbee is:
A. A fantastic way of exercising the dogs in just a short time since it is a highly aerobic form of exercise and …
B. Much more technical than people give it credit.
There are so many skills the dogs need to learn in order to catch a Frisbee over and over again. I noticed as I was teaching Deuce and Rio how to do so (I got some good advice from a Frisbee champion) that they needed to develop eye coordination while gauging the speed of the Frisbee so that they could get it in the air prior to its landing.
Besides these skills, dogs need to be athletic – able to jump and learn how to land without injury. This is the aspect of the game that “worries” me the most: Dogs, just like people, can get easily hurt by moving their bodies in the wrong direction, landing wrong, etc. That is why us learning the basics of this sport is really crucial prior to having our pups flying into the sky in pursuit of the disk.
The person should learn how to hold the Frisbee and how to throw it. My emphasis here is twofold: hold and throw in a way that gives the dog the advantage of not only seeing it mid-air, but enough opportunity to catch it. Also I try and send the disk so that my dogs do not have to jump vertically too much. Yes, indeed this looks “super-cool” but the problem is that injuries are bound to happen.
Throwing and playing with my dogs and the Frisbee requires that I pay close attention. I also like to give them enough breaks in between the running and jumping. Dogs are sprinters (not long distance) so making sure they rest in between throws is paramount.
As I was playing with them this am, I focused my attention on making sure that my shoulders are pointed in the direction where I could throw the disk and that my knees are slightly bent to give the dogs a visual cue as to when I am ready to throw. In no time both dogs were much more able to reach the toy and to catch it because of my cuing them.
Our dogs are always watching us. They take massive amounts of information from everything we do and, of course, the tone of our voices. It was the process of domestication that most likely gifted dogs with their keen sensibility to how we move, how we position ourselves in relation to them, etc. It is also the case that dogs study and communicate with us as they do with other dogs. So I guess it is fair to say that it is not only us that pressures dogs to learn our verbal language but they too relate to us as they with their own kind. Ideally though, we meet them half-way.
Everything I do with my dogs is tailored to keeping them safe and happy. I put tons of effort into making sure that their lives are catered to their doggy-needs. And in the process we both get so much out of it. In essence both parties are constantly looking for opportunities for engagement and this my friends, is one of the highlights of living with dogs!