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Things to do with your pet

There are many things you can do with your pet. Ranging from obedience training and dog dancing, to high adrenaline sports such as CaniX and Jetty dogs. There is something out there to suit all types of pets and owners. The importance is spending enjoyable time together, here are just a selected few.

Obedience training

Obedience training includes everything from, the basic training covered in the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme. This scheme covers 3 levels, taking your dog from walking and controlled behaviour on the lead to control off the lead. It also covers the general behaviour necessary for everyday life, for example examination at the vets.

Dancing to music

Canine Freestyle, sometimes known as Heelwork To Music, is a sport which combines obedience, ticks and dance. The trainer selects a short piece of music that reflects the dog’s attitude and pace, some dogs do better with a waltz, others suit rock and roll boogie although small dogs are apparantly better at hip-hop beats. The trainer then decides what moves would go best with the music. To start with, the trainer breaks the routine into pieces with only two or three moves, then these pieces are linked together. The dogs are off their leads so every movement is accomplished through the use of verbal commands and body language. Heelwork to Music is a recognised sport by the Kennel Club, you can contact the Kennel Club for more information.

Flyball

Flyball is a team relay race with dogs racing against another team at the same time. The dogs jump hurdles and step on a spring-loaded box that releases a tennis ball. The dog catches the tennis ball and then runs back over the hurdles. When the dog crosses the starting line the next dog goes. The first team to have all the dogs run without errors wins the heat. Missed hurdles and dropped balls require the dog to rerun the course after the rest of the team has finished.

A team consists of four dogs and the course is 15.54m long and consists of a starting line, four evenly spaced hurdles and a box. The hurdle height is dependent on the height of the shortest dog in the team.

Any size dog and providing it’s over 18 months old any age dog can participate. Contact the British Flyball Association for more information.

Dog agility

Dog agility is a sport in which the handler directs their dog through an obstacle course against the clock. Dogs are off the lead and the handler cannot use food or toys as incentives or touch either the dog or obstacles. So control is limited to voice, movement, and various body signals, requiring training of the animal and coordination of the handler.

In its simplest form, an agility course consists of a set of standard obstacles, laid out by an agility judge in a design of his or her own choosing on a roughly 30 x 30 m area, with numbers indicating the order in which the dog must complete the obstacles. Courses are aimed to be too complicated for the dog to complete them correctly without direction. In a competition, the handler must assess the course, decide on a strategy, and direct the dog through the course, with accuracy and speed equally important. Look at Agility Net for more information if you and your dog would enjoy agility.

Jettydogs

Jettydogs is the name of a great new sport that your dog can participate in. It involves the owner throwing a toy and the dog running at full pelt down a non-slip jetty or dock and jumping as far as it can into a huge portable pool to catch it. For many dogs this is great fun!

The dog who jumps the furthest wins, although all the dogs and spectators have a great time. It’s really enjoyable watching the dogs splashing around, and sometimes it can be entertaining if a dog decides it won’t actually jump! (Encouragement and treats are fine, forcing the dog is definitely not allowed.)

The sport originated in the US (where it is known as “dockdogs”) when workers on the docks used to bet with each other over how far their dogs could jump. It was formalised as a sport in 2002 and has been incredibly popular with dogs, owners and spectators.

If your dog enjoys getting wet why not give it a try? Any breed can take part and all you need is a toy to throw for your dog.

CaniX

CaniX is cross country running while harnessed to your dog. It has been a long established sport in USA and mainland Europe and there have been competitions in the UK since 2003. Any level of fitness in dog or human is catered for, any breed of dog can take part as most dogs can run faster then their human partner! Age limits are 7 years old for humans and 1 year for dogs. You can run with your dog on her normal collar and lead, but serious runners invest in a specialist shoulder harness (for their dogs) and waist belts (for themselves), attached by a bungee rope. Contact CaniX for more information.

Dry coats

For dogs who do enjoy getting wet there can be a problem with drying them off or them getting cold. A new product, the Trover Bone Dry coat, is a specially designed drying cover that allows hands free drying & stops the dog getting chilled.

Kathryn, our head nurse, says: “Having tried Wicca out in her Trover after she has been swimming, I can recommend this type of coat. It would be ideal for use after hydrotherapy and for that wet dog in the back of the car.”

Rabbit Jumping

Rabbit Jumping (Or Hopping) originated in Sweden in the 70′s. It is now a popular hobby in Sweden, Germany, Denmark and the USA. It is becoming more popular in the UK and the first UK competition was held 2010. The early rules were based on the rules from horse jumping, but have changed over time to suit the rabbits better! All breeds can compete in Rabbit Jumping but some tend to be better than others. Popular breeds are the Dutch, and the Lop, longhaired breeds need their coats clipping to prevent overheating. Small breeds e.g Netherland Dwarf cannot jump as high but can overcome obsticles by style and will! Giant breeds risk injuring their front legs on landing and English Lops may damage their ears.

Active rabbits are usually easier to train, a relaxed and cuddly rabbit is unlikely to be a keen jumper. Males tend to be more active than females, and are more common as jumpers. Entire or neutered rabbits can jump but un-neutered males sometimes get distracted by other rabbits and entire females are frequently hormonal.

Rabbit Jumping is fun for rabbit and owner, and a great way to keep you both fit. The official world record in high jump for rabbits is 995 millimetres (39.17 in), by Tösen & Tine Hygom (Denmark). The official world record in long jump for rabbits is 3000 millimetres (118.11 in), by Yaboo & Maria Jensen (Denmark). For more information contact Rabbit Jumping UK.

Rat agility

Rat agility is a sport for pet rats. It uses scaled down versions of the obstacles used for dog agility.

Typical obstacles you may find on a course is the jumping fence, a vertical barrier the rat crawls over. The A-fence or ramp is a simple up and down obstacle. The slalom fence or weaving poles consists of a series of vertical sticks the rat has to navigate through. A balance fence is a narrow strip or some kind of suspended walkway. Rats don’t like the ground to move so they need to trust the driver to be able to pass it. Another obstacle is the tunnel, the problem is to prevent the rat from taking a break in the middle of the tunnel. The seesaw also plays on the trust in the driver. The rat needs to dare to walk over it. It is also important that the rat doesn’t turn and run back when it flips over. The up-and-down-fence is similar to the slalom fence, but vertical instead of horizontal. The rat has to go up and down over and under the sticks.

In the sport it is the communication between the rat and the owner that is important, as you are not allowed to touch the rat and have to rely on visual and auditory signals.

For more information visit The Agile Rat website.

Cat play

I have not been able to find anything competitive you can do with your cat apart from showing, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun at home. Anyone that has seen a cat play knows that they seem to perk up when they play. So how can you get your cat to play more?

First you must figure out what kind of toys your cat likes to play with, because all cats are not the same. (Not all humans enjoy the same activities and cats are no different.) Buy several different kinds of cat toys then watch to see which type of toy is most interesting to your cat. It might take a few tries to find something they love but eventually almost every owner identifies what gets their cats excited. Some examples of toys include those simulate birds, such as toys that chirp, toys made of feathers or toys that create bird-like movements (fluttering toys).

Other cats are partial to toys that mimic catching small rodents, such as mouse-shaped toys, toys that squeak, toys made of fur or toys that have encourage jerking movements. These cats may also enjoy tossing, biting or carrying their “prey”.

Toys with movements that simulate insects in the wild are favorites for many cats. You can test this by giving your cat a piece of food to bat around, use a laser light on the floor or wall, or by playing with a string with a knot on the end and moving it quickly.

When introducing new toys to your cat it is best to introduce them one at a time. Provide an array of sizes, shapes and textures for maximum variety. Try toys made of fur, feathers, fabric and leather. Roll them, toss them, slide them, and move them in different ways and at different speeds. When using cat toys such as wands or rods that have a dangling toy at the end of the strings, move it around in front of your cat and slowly move it away.

Once you figure out what type(s) of toy your cat prefers, you have a great starting point for selecting more toys that your cat will love. And it really does pay to listen to the recommendations of other cat owners.

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