Monday, 2 May 2011

Play Dates in the Dunes - Keeping Your Dog Vibrant with Exercise and Play

Woof, woof, Miyuki here again!  I just had to write another post so I could share with you what a lovely afternoon I had yesterday!  I met up with Honey the Great Dane at my local sand dunes for a play date! 

It was a little windy, but that suits me fine as I prefer the weather a little cooler, especially when walking in a desert landscape!

Honey is a 7-years wise old dame like myself who also prefers cooler weather so it was perfect today for us to both do a little sand dune running, circle work and chasey.  We have met up once before but it was much hotter that day so neither of us were very interested in playing then.  But this afternoon we both let loose!

Play dates are so much fun.  Honey got a bit thirsty afterwards so she had to stop for a drink.  She is so clever - she can drink straight from a bottle!

Honey is a wealth of wisdom on all things doggy, in fact she also has a blog (bighoneydog) that has really interesting posts on raw food diets, doggy socialisation, exercise, play and training, doggy toys, even doggy travel!  Honey also writes posts about her new kitty sister 'Muesli' and knows a lot about felines too!  Luckily I can leave all that feline stuff to Miss Monique; cats are a mystery to me.

Honey the Great Dane with her human Hsin-Yi

Anyway, back to play dates.  A lot of people take their new puppies to puppy pre-school classes, which is an excellent introduction to basic doggy behaviour, training, manners and socialisation.  Once your puppy is a 'puppy pre-school' graduate, however, it is important not to stop there.  Training, exercise, play and socialisation are all life-long requirements for us doggies.  Our intelligence belies the fact that our brains really are quite small, and there is simply not a lot of room in there for long-term memory, particularly when it is more convenient for us to forget certain things. 

What was I doing again?

When looking for a puppy pre-school, make sure the class involves at least some off-leash time. It is really important for us doggies to be allowed to meet each other on equal terms, and express our natural language and behaviours.  This can be quite difficult to do when one or both dogs are on-leash, particularly if the human at the other end is at all stressed about the doggy greeting dance. 

Much easier to protect human baby when off-leash!

Personally I am not a fan of greeting other dogs when I am on leash, or if the other dog is on leash.  I am much more relaxed when both of us are off-leash and able to interact naturally and equally.  I am a very protective soul and like to know that I can easily do my job if required (not so easy when attached to a tangled leash!)  So being able to frequently meet other doggies on equal terms is really important to remind me of how to interact in a calm and friendly way.  Luckily I get to roam our beautiful sand dunes that stretch as far as I can see!  And meet and greet other doggies who are all doing the same. 

Off-leash time exploring the sand dunes

For doggies who have not yet learnt how to greet other dogs in a calm and friendly manner it is even more important to introduce them to lots of other calm, confident, happy dogs for them to learn manners.  Doggy manners can be easily taught by a wise canine friend who already knows the ropes!  Calm, confident leadership by the human in charge and lots of positive reinforcement marking good behaviours (liver treats or pieces of hard cheese are highly recommended for this!!) will help anxious doggies learn that meeting other dogs is really quite fun and rewarding.  Once the doggy has realised this, and other responses to requests like 'Come' and 'Sit' are reliable, they can enjoy the freedom of play and exercise off-leash!

Honey was asked to sit for pats from the human baby.  She loved it!

Ah, I was speaking of forgetting things before wasn't I?  Sorry, I meant to continue that train of thought.  I had a goldfish moment.  I must remember to take my Gingko (a herb that helps us older doggies, and humans, with memory loss).  I was going to say that I am usually excellent at recall, and always return to my human when I hear her whistle, however during holiday periods there are a lot more people around enjoying picnics and bbqs, and they leave really tasty snacks lying around just begging to be devoured, so in these situations I conveniently forget that I have been trained to return to a whistle. 

Off to search for more snacks...

Doggies that don't do things when they are asked are not being 'naughty' or 'stupid' but have simply found something more rewarding to do.  Dr Renee calls this 'competing motivation' which means I am more motivated to scavenge up all the yummy treats I find than I am to acknowledge her whistle.  She says it's her fault though as she is so busy with her human baby, growing another human baby, her online Holistic Vet business (Roar Kingdom), studying, growing vegetables and sprouts, cleaning house and making yummy raw food for me, Monique and her human family that she neglects my training, and forgets to carry yummy treats on our walks to make her more interesting.

She may forget to bring me yummy treats, but at least she remembers to organise play dates with Honey!  We walked until sunset, and there were beautiful orange colours over the sand dunes so Honey's human snapped a family snap for us.  What a lovely end to the day!

My family


  1. Sooo enjoyed reading about your playdate Miyuki, and your human baby looks like she had a good time too!

  2. Oh, I had a great time too, Miyuki!! And your human got some fantastic pictures. I really agree with everything you said about doggie socialisation - I also feel much more comfortable making friends when I'm off-leash - and other doggies feel less threatened by me too when they're off lead.

    My humans LOVE the dunes - Paul was wondering what all the fuss about as he was making the long drive there but after they got there, he agreed with Hsin-Yi that it was well worth the drive!!

    And it was SO nice to have a play with you at last! Except for my bossy human who kept interfering but she was afraid that I would smack into your little human pup, you see, because I'm not very good about looking where I'm going when I'm busy playing. Maybe next time we play, we can hopefully play a little bit further away and can really get some decent running action in without Hsin-Yi being a spoilsport! :-)

    Hope to catch up with you again soon!

    Honey the Great Dane

  3. Hi Miyuki! We are visiting from Honey's blog! Isn't she the greatest?!
    The dunes look like a great place to let loose!
    I've been working with Darwin and her on leash reactivity. Sometimes she's okay, but sometimes she goes crazy and barks like a maniac. It's embarrassing when it's a dog she knows and is fine with them when they are both off leash, but when she's on her leash she goes nutty. I think it's that protective thing. Now I try not to greet other dogs when we're out walking and treat her lots when she ignores the other dog. So far so good. She's been getting a lot better.
    I can't wait to read more about you!

  4. Hi, Miyuki! You're the first Maremma we've ever seen! You are very pretty :) We also came from Honey's blog to say hi. We live in the USA, too, but on the opposite side from Darwin. She's West Coast, we're East Coast - specifically, the Washington D.C. area. We're both rescue doggies. Mama grew up with Danes and Dane mixes, and we're the first time mama has had non-Danes and not also had Danes in the house. We're teaching her a lot she didn't know :) Abby is a Boxer-Beagle mix and Jed is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. We don't have a blog, but we love reading the blogs of others and look forward to reading more of yours.

    Jed & Abby in MerryLand, USA

  5. Hello! Read about your day over at Honey's blog and had to come say Hi! Y'all had such a wonderful time at such a great place!

    I'm followin your tail so I don't miss any of your adventures! :D

    Waggin at ya,

  6. Hi!

    Hopefully you received my last comment before Blogger Meltdown ;)

    Just stopping by again because I've been trying to add you to my blog roll and it just won't let me >:(

    Not sure what's causing it. I can add other Blogger sites, just not yours.

    I'll keep trying :)


  7. It's nice to see so many new followers, and from all over the world! How exciting.
    We have been away for the last few weeks, hence no new posts! But stay tuned as Monique has had a lot of time while we were away to contemplate her first topic - the perils of commercial pet food!

  8. That's a wonderful play date of your dog and a Great Dane. It's sad the life of the dogs are less than humans. As they became the important member of the family and shared a span of time with us. We provide members to create a virtual pet memorial webpage in remembrance of our pet.