Activities For A War Dog

1k Views
0 Comments
0 Votes

Introduction

Canines have fought alongside humans for centuries, assisting the military in a variety of ways. It was not until the year 2000 that military working dogs, known by the abbreviation MWD, were given the "oppawtunity" to come home after completing their dedicated service to the country. Because of "Robby's Law", though, these pups now not only have the chance to return home, but they're "offured" to their service handler or their family first for adoption. 

As a result, hundreds of service dogs have returned home and are looking for "pawsitive" activities to fill their schedules. Right now, there are currently more than two thousand military working dogs in service for the United States alone who one day will come home. If you have a service dog, you know that they deserve a world of experiences outside of the military, which is why it's crucial to find engaging activities to keep them stimulated while also giving them a new purpose.

Becoming a Therapy Dog

Popular
0 Votes
Any Day
Moderate
Normal
1 - 2 hrs
Items needed
Leash
Activity description

Therapy dogs brighten up the lives of hospital patients and elderly nursing home residents by offering stimulation and socialization. Typically, once certified, a therapy dog can register with a facility, like a hospital, and schedule regular visits throughout the week.

Special requirements for therapy dogs include obedience training, which MWDs have mastered as they're highly intelligent and extensively trained. They also need to be socialized and friendly and must complete a series of certification courses to become an official animal-assisted therapy team with their handler. The process can be somewhat lengthy, but different municipalities offer various animal-assisted therapy programs, so doing your research is essential! Once you know the requirements for therapy dogs at your local hospitals, you and your MWD can lend a helping paw to those in need.

Step
1
Meeting the criteria
The first step to becoming a therapy dog is proving that your pooch is friendly and obedient. You can earn an official certificate through training facilities, though this isn't always necessary. However, obtaining certification will make the process simpler. Therapy dogs are exposed to busy hospital environments and therefore must be kind to all strangers and capable of sustaining a calm and obedient demeanor.
Step
2
Becoming certified
You may want to explore therapy dog training classes to prepare your pooch for the busy and loud environment that a hospital can often bring. This will prepare them for the official certification course. The final evaluation is a series of mini-assessments which may be tough but are extremely rewarding to pass!
Step
3
Scheduling weekly visits
After your pooch is designated as an official therapy dog, you can look for chances to volunteer at facilities near you. Visit hospitals and nursing homes to let them know of your intentions. Schedule frequent visits where you can return to the same ward or floor to visit patients in need of a friendly face!
Love this activity?

Going for a Stroll

Popular
0 Votes
Any Day
Free
Easy
30 - 60 min
Items needed
Leash
Waste Bags
Activity description

Going for a daily walk is one way to reintroduce your MWD to the norms of society outside of war. Military working dogs have very different lives than those who are outside of the military. They've spent most of their days completing missions and tasks set out for them. That’s why it’s “impawtant” to show them a new way of life outside of the military. 

Start your day off with a long walk through the neighborhood. Remind your pooch of their leash manners if needed when taking your walks. Try exploring different areas in your community to give your pup a feel for the area. This activity is easy to do and only requires a leash and waste bags. You can walk rain or shine, so long as you’re prepared to get wet. Though a walk may seem simple, this activity is sure to make your MWD develop a sense of routine and normalcy, which is precisely what you want! 

Step
1
Planning your route
You want to pick a route that will take at least 30 minutes to walk, if not longer, to get your dog’s heart rate going. Your MWD is used to extensive training and daily work. To maintain their physique and good health, continue giving them a workout! By planning your route beforehand, you won't have to take unnecessary breaks to redirect yourselves.
Step
2
Switching it up
Taking a walk through the neighborhood can become monotonous, seeing the same sights and hearing the same sounds. That's why it's worth it to add a little variety by mixing up your routes. Try to include different terrain for your pup to explore, like a river or field in addition to the streets you walk.
Step
3
Be mindful of leash manners
Walks also give you the chance to practice obedience and leash manners. Keep your pup at your side while walking, never letting them be the leader. You want to correct pulling behaviors, and ensure it's you making the decision to stop, not them. Routine will be welcomed by your MWD as it was once such a large aspect of their lives.
Love this activity?

Daily Obedience Fun

Popular
0 Votes
Any Day
Free
Easy
15 - 30 min
Items needed
Tasty Treats
Activity description

As mentioned, military working dogs have spent their lives receiving vigorous training to prepare them for complex tasks. That's why it's recommended that you continue to provide your pooch with mental and physical stimulation through regular obedience training. 

Your pup has likely learned all the basics, so just practicing these skills using fun techniques and treats is one way to make their work much more fun than what they're accustomed to. Playing obedience games can be done daily, from anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour. The activity is entirely free unless you choose to use treats in addition to verbal praise as a reward. 

Step
1
Reviewing the basics
Start off your obedience session by getting a feel for what your pup already knows. If you were not their handler while they were deployed, this is information you will need to acquire. Consider which hand gestures you plan to pair with each command. Keep in mind these gestures may differ from those they learned, and therefore can take time to sink in. Try having them sit, lay down, roll over and stay. They are likely used to more strict learning sessions, so making light of the training can also take some adjusting to.
Step
2
Making obedience fun
Once you've established what your pup knows, you can now plan activities that are engaging and fun, but still work their minds. Try playing games such as object retrieval or hide-and-seek to make use of the "stay" and "seek" commands. You can also introduce your pup to "toy tidy-up", where they learn to pick up all their toys and return them to a designated location on command.
Step
3
Using positive reinforcement
To both encourage the behavior and to make the activities rewarding and fun for your pup, use positive reinforcement when training. Do this by giving your pooch either a physical or verbal reward when they're successful. You can use praise and treats to encourage any behavior you'd like to see more of.
Love this activity?

More Fun Ideas...

Visit the Dog Park

Give your MWD a chance to let loose and play by visiting your local dog park. Socializing and playing with other pups is key to healthy development, which your pooch likely missed out on when deployed by the military. Treat them to this new experience by visiting the dog park weekly.  

Doggie Spa Day

After spending countless days and nights in extreme temperatures and uncomfortable situations, it would be nice to be pampered and comforted. That’s why treating your pooch to an at-home spa day is an excellent way to meet their needs. Grab the necessities from your local pet shop, set the mood with relaxing music, and enjoy pampering your pooch with a manicure, pedicure and bath. 

Conclusion

Without a doubt, military working dogs have spent an enormous chunk of their lives fulfilling roles and working loyally alongside humans. This is why it’s essential these pups receive a peaceful yet stimulating life once they've served their duties. Help give your military working dog a new purpose by looking into opportunities for becoming a therapy dog. As a therapy team, you and your pooch can visit patients and help improve the lives of those who need it. In addition to therapy work, walking your pooch daily will expose them to the norms of society and give them a chance to socialize with others.

Throwing in daily obedience sessions that are flexible and fun is another way to help them adjust to their life outside of deployment. A spa day is a comforting activity that will provide your pup with some much-needed pampering. Finally, continue to socialize them back into society by visiting the dog park weekly. In essence, retired war dogs have done their duty of serving their country, which is why it's now our duty to give them a meaningful life back home!