Dog Ownership Brings Families Together
© 2007 The American Kennel Club, Inc.
Owning a dog can be a great way to bring your family together, get exercise and become involved in activities that are enriching for both dog and owner. In fact, according to the AKC 21st Century Dog Owners Survey, 88% percent said that they consider their four-legged friend to be a member of the family. And, not surprisingly, 90% said they got a dog for companionship. So I’ve developed my Top 10 list of things you can do with your dog as your family member and companion.
1. Travel “canine” style: Pile your family into the car for a daytrip and visit dog-friendly parks, or beaches, (most parks indicate on their web sites whether and in what areas of the park dogs are allowed). Or if you’re up for a bigger excursion, consider a vacation with your best friend. Check ahead for lodging that accepts dogs. If flying, ask about travel accommodations for your dog when you make your reservations.
2. Enroll in canine training classes: Puppy kindergarten, agility, obedience, rally or performance courses are great ways to train your dog, and if your entire family attends, all will be on the same page in regard to training techniques.
3. Become active in competitive dog sports: Showing your canine companion in AKC Conformation, or participating in Obedience and Agility competitions is a family affair. AKC’s Junior Showmanship program allows children from ages 9-18 to compete in conformation and performance events, attend seminars, and earn scholarships while bonding with your dog. The events offer opportunities to get involved, stay fit, meet new friends and just have fun!
4. Take the AKC Canine Good Citizen challenge: Enlist your family members to train your dog to achieve her AKC Canine Good Citizen certification, designed to reward dogs that have good manners at home and in the community.
5. Dogs with jobs: Keep your dog active and alert by giving her tasks to complete. Kids can teach her to fetch their dirty laundry and put it in the hamper, while Mom and Dad can train her to fetch the morning paper, carry groceries or empty the dryer.
- Encourage breed behavior: Find family activities that will encourage your dog to fulfill her breed’s purpose, such as retrieving (playing fetch in a swimming pool) or becoming a certified therapy dog (ideal for small companion breeds).
- Responsibilities don’t have to be “ruff”: Assigning roles and responsibilities to care for your new four-legged friend can help you and your family work together. Decide who will be responsible for feeding, walking, grooming, etc. Prepare a schedule before bringing your puppy home and assign each family member a task.
- Visit the vet: A trip to the veterinarian can be a good learning experience for the entire family. Routine check-ups will help keep your dog in top form and can also help teach the children a thing or two about the importance of health and well-being.
- Help your dog help others: Dogs are invaluable in providing service to humans — visiting the sick, helping the disabled, locating missing persons, and much more. If your dog is of the correct temperament, your family and she can reap the rewards of helping others together!
- Spend some downtime with your dog: Simply put, one of the greatest things you and your family can do with your dog is play! So start a game of fetch with Fido – playing with your new friend isn’t only fun for her — it is guaranteed fun for the entire family!