Activities For First Time Dog Owners

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Introduction

You've never had a dog before and are excited to get to know you new friend and build a strong relationship with them. As a new dog owner, you may need some ideas of activities for your new pooch that will allow for your pup to get the physical and mental exercise they need while helping to facilitate your bond with one another. Fortunately there are plenty of activities to consider that will benefit dogs (and people) of different energy and activity levels. With minimal effort, your dog can be kept busy both indoors and outdoors, while getting to know their human companion.

Walk

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Any Day
Free
Easy
10 - 60 Minutes
Items needed
Leash
Waste Bags
Treats
Water
Activity description
Taking a walk with your new canine companion is a simple way for you to spend time together and get to know one another. A walk is an ideal activity in that it can be geared to the energy level of your pup (and you) so that it can be successful for anyone and their canine pal. Your dog will enjoy new sights and smells, as well as meeting new people along the journey. Make sure they remain on their leash for safety and should you plan on going more than a short distance, that you bring some water so that your pup can stay hydrated. A walk will provide your pooch the exercise needed for good health as well as keep them busy and mentally stimulated.
Step
1
Decide on the route
First you will want to decide where you and your pooch will be going for your walk. You and your canine companion can walk around the block or neighborhood, or hit a nearby trail. It is best to start with shorter walks as you see how you and your pup do. As both of you develop endurance, you can enjoy longer walks, perhaps with elevation gain and loss. You will want to keep the weather in mind when deciding where to walk. If the weather is hot and sunny, choose a route that offers shade, for example.
Step
2
Get ready
When going on a walk with your dog, you will want to have a few things ready. First, make sure you have your dog on their leash. This is important to keep your pup from running out into the street into traffic. There is a chance that during your walk your dog will be ready to go "potty". Brings a few waste bags so that you can clean up your pup's waste. Treats are also a good idea to have along; they can be used to reward your pooch as well as to distract them if needed. For a longer walk, make sure to bring some water; your dog will get thirsty and it is likely you will too!
Step
3
Hit the road
Once you have everything together and your dog is on their leash, go ahead and get started on your walk. Remember that being outside is exciting for your pup and that they will likely want to explore a little and take in new smells. Give your pooch the chance to "check things out" as you go within reason. Let them sniff a bush for a minute for example. You will likely find that once your pup gets some sniffing done they are ready to focus on the actual walk. During your walk you can also work on some training (like getting your dog not to pull on the leash) and reward your pup with treats to reinforce the efforts.
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Dog Park

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Any Day
Free
Easy
1 - 2 Hours
Items needed
Leash
Treats
Water
Frisbee or Ball
Activity description
Once your canine buddy has had their shots, the dog park is a great way for the two of you to spend time. A great thing about the dog park is that your pup will likely get plenty of exercise without requiring a large amount of energy on your part. This makes the dog park an excellent option when you are tired but your pup is not. In addition to exercise, the dog park offers the opportunity for socialization. Your dog can make new friends during each visit to a dog park. As dogs come and go, you don't have to worry that your pup will get bored. On the off chance your pooch is lacking in action at the dog park, throw the Frisbee or ball for them to chase after.
Step
1
Research the park
Depending upon where you live, you may have only one dog park nearby or many dog parks in your area. Each dog park will have its own unique qualities and may be the best choice for a certain situation. For example, when the weather is particularly sunny and hot, your best option may be a dog park with a good amount of shade. As a first time dog parent, if you are not familiar with the dog parks in your area, a quick online search will help you learn more about options near you.
Step
2
Get ready
There are a few things you will want to bring with you for a trip to the dog park. First, make sure to bring your dog's leash; you will want to be sure to get your pal from your car and into the dog park safely. Waste bags are also important, as there is a chance your pup may go "potty" during the time you guys are at the park. Water and a portable water bowl are also necessary. It is likely your pup will be running around a lot and will welcome a cool drink. A Frisbee or ball will also be good to have along. Sometimes your dog won't be interacting with other canines and will be more interested in a game of fetch with their person. This way, you will be prepared.
Step
3
At the dog park
When you arrive at the dog park, make sure that you canine companion is on a leash for the walk from your car to the park. Some dog parks have two gates, creating a space between the parking lot and the dog park itself. This is to ensure that a dog does not accidentally get out into the parking lot without their person with them. If this is the case at the dog park you visit, go ahead and close the first gate before opening the second. Once you are inside the dog park, you can close the second gate behind you. You will do the same in reverse when leaving. Once inside the park, your dog can have the run of the place. Some dogs will be hesitant at first, while others will jump right in. Let your pup explore and get comfortable at their own pace. Some dogs are shy and will be nervous around the other pups. Make sure to give your pooch the attention they need to feel comfortable, whether it is cuddling or a game of fetch. While at the dog park, keep a close eye on your pup even if they are interacting well. Sometimes, your dog may be overly friendly to a pup that is not interested, requiring you to intervene.
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Obedience Training

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
10 - 60 Minutes
Items needed
Leash
Treats
Activity description
It is a good idea for all dogs to participate in obedience training. How challenging obedience training will be is dependent upon the age, temperament and past experience of your pup as well as whether you are just looking for your pooch to learn basic obedience or to become competitive in obedience trials. Obedience training will help you and your canine companion communicate better as well as lead to an increased bond with one another as a result of the time you spend together learning and practicing.  When it comes to obedience training, you can watch videos and read books to learn how to work with your pup, or participate in a training class. Whichever method you choose, obedience training will keep you and your pooch occupied and provide you pup with the mental stimulation that they need.
Step
1
Research obedience training
When it comes to obedience training, the first thing that you can do is research the topic. There is a lot of information available online about obedience training that you can read. You will also come across videos that will walk you through how to go about training your canine companion. It is also a good idea to talk to people you know who have dogs, to learn more about what worked for them in regards to obedience training. They may have recommendations as to online courses or in-person training classes that they found to be successful.
Step
2
Decide on a training method
Once you have done the research, you are ready to choose the training method that you think will work best for you and your pup. People that are very self-motivated and who feel confident that they will commit a certain time period to obedience training without attending a class can be very successful utilizing videos and online information. For others, having a class that you must pay for and attend with your dog is the better option as it will ensure that you spend the time as you planned with your pup. A class also offers the chance for your pup to socialize with other dogs.
Step
3
Start training
Now that you know how you are going to go about your training, it is time to get started. If you are using a video to assist you with your training, make sure to have the recommended items available when you begin working with your dog. You may find it helpful to watch a video multiple times and refer back to it when you can't remember an aspect of what was recommended. If attending a class, make sure to be aware of what you should bring to the class (in addition to your pup) and ask questions as you go.
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More Fun Ideas...

Go Camping

Taking your dog camping provides the opportunity for you and your canine companion to spend hours of uninterrupted time together. You can choose to embark on a one-night trip or a days-long adventure. Your pup will likely enjoy the time outdoors as well as having your attention. While camping, you and your pup can enjoy hiking, time next to the campfire and snuggling in the tent. If you are in a place with a creek, river or lake, you and your pup can spend time together in the water, whether swimming, playing a game of fetch or taking a ride on a kayak, canoe or boat.

Water Play

Many dogs enjoy the water, particularly when the weather is warm. There are many options for water play. One easy option is to find a hard plastic kiddie pool and put it in your yard. You can start by filling it up with a small amount of water, allowing your dog to get comfortable with it. As your dog's comfort level increases, you can add more water to the pool. This is a great way for your pup to cool off on a hot day and for them to occupy themselves outdoors. You can also take your pup to the beach, river, lake or creek, where they can run in and out of the water and even play a game of fetch. Regardless of what water source they are playing in, you will enjoy watching your canine pal have a blast as they splash around.

Agility Activities

A fun way for you to spend time with your dog is to work with them on agility activities. These can be affordable and easy to set up. For example, you can use PVC pipe to create a "jump" for your dog. It can be set at a low height and as you pup accomplishes the jump, the height can be increased. A hula hoop can also be used for your pooch to step through, and then raised off of the ground so that your dog has to jump. A kiddie tunnel makes a fun task for your dog who can run in and out of it. As your dog successfully accomplishes a few of the tasks, you can connect them to create an obstacle course of sorts for your pup.

Conclusion

As a first-time dog owner, you may not be sure where to start when it comes to activities for you and your dog to participate in. It is likely that you are hoping to come across things that you can do together that will not only give your dog the physical and mental exercise that they need, but also offer the chance for you and your pup to develop a strong bond. Fortunately, a myriad of activities are available that you and your pooch can participate in; it should be no problem to find activities that suit the energy level and temperament of your new friend.