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Fun and Games with Puppies


     Every puppy and dog needs a good amount of exercise on a daily basis. It helps regulate their appetite, control weight, and is vital to their mental health. Left to her own devices, your puppy or dog will probably find ways to give her mind, body and teeth a workout, but you might not be happy with the results. A bored puppy is a destructive puppy. You can channel your puppy's energies in the right direction by providing appropriate toys as well as actively participating in exercising her.


     When it comes to exercising your pet, quantity is as important as quality. A 15-minute round of fetch is nice, but not nearly enough physical exercise or time bonding with you. Plan a walk or jog through your neighborhood daily. Since dogs are creatures of habit, scheduling your outing at the same time each day will give her something to look forward to. You can also use this "special time" to explore a new area of town or visit an off-leash puppy park where your canine companion can make some new pooch pals. A change of scenery-and in your puppy's case, "scentery"-keeps things interesting.

     Another way to exercise your puppy's body and mind is by taking part in dog "sports."  Frisbee tricks, flyball and agility are some of the dog sports gaining in popularity. Most dog lovers have seen Frisbee competitions on television or in live demonstrations. A human, usually the puppy's owner, tosses a Frisbee and the pooch leaps and twists in mid-air to catch it on the fly. The owner usually trains the puppy to perform a choreographed routine that is breathtaking for spectators and just a whole lot of fun for the human/canine team.

     Flyball is a team relay sport. Each of the four puppys on a team take turns racing down a course, leaping over hurdles along the way. At the end of the course, the puppy triggers a spring loaded box that pops a tennis ball into the air. The puppy catches the ball and races back over the hurdles. Once the puppy has crossed the finish line, the next puppy on her team takes off. The winning team is the one that scores the best time with fewest errors. The goal in the puppy sport of agility is to run an obstacle course in the shortest amount of time. Unlike in flyball, the puppy's owner runs alongside the puppy directing her to the next obstacle. Agility puppys must focus on their owner's directions while trying to maneuver through pipe tunnels, over see-saws, across narrow planks and over various jumps. These physical competitions give any puppy a good workout, and require training that keeps her mind sharp.

     Be sure to give your puppy toys to keep her mind and mouth busy while you are away from home. Pet supply stores have an amazing array of chew toys and puppy "puzzles."  These are hollow cubes or balls into which you place small pieces of treats. Your puppy will be able to smell the treats inside, and must figure out a way to get to them. Usually, this requires nosing and rolling the puzzle until a treat falls out of one of many small openings. The treat rewards the puppy's effort, and encourages her to continue solving the puzzle using her mind and body.

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