Take A Hike, Would Ya?
I’ve found Broward County parks to be great places to hike, play and slip in a little training. Some of my favorites are Tree Tops, Markham, Easterlin, T.Y. and Heritage. There are areas within each that are off the beaten path. If you can visit them during weekdays, you and your dog will have a bit of solitude to bond and explore. Don’t forget to take some treats along so you can reinforce good leash manners. I like to bring a 30-foot tracking lead, so my dog can have some freedom, and I can capture desirable behavior by reinforcing him each time he checks in with me. This teaches the dog that even though he has options, sticking by me is always a good choice. If your dog is motivated by toys, a spontaneous game of fetch and retrieve will keep him thinking you just might be more interesting than that squirrel over there. Blurring the line between playing and training gives your dog a positive association with the behaviors you want to see more of. And research shows that play during and after training helps him learn.
Inviting a friend of your dog’s that happens to have a human you like as well, can make the hike even more enjoyable. Walking together at the park is a great way to socialize, even if it is all on-leash. With two tracking leads, though, the dogs can play. Be sure to choose a good playmate- one with a similar energy level and interest in play.
Spending time with your dog helps your dog become the kind of friend you want to spend time with!