By Elena Browne, author of Take the Lead: How to Care for Your Dog – A Fun & Practical Guide written by Elena Browne and illustrated by Jennifer Farley
Take the Lead is all about taking up the responsibility of looking after your dog, taking charge of their care and being confident when you train them. It also means take the lead. Pick up the lead and get out into the world. Walking can be fun but if you’re doing the same routes and are limited to the 5km from your house, walks aren’t as exciting as they used to be. Except when you have a dog, whether you’re lead training your dog or whether your dog is just smelling the sights, walking is a million times better with a dog.
- Bring your dog to school
Doing school work at home is fun, you can wear your normal clothes, you only have to walk a few steps to get to school, but most importantly you can study with your dog nearby! Instead of bringing your dog to school, you’re bringing school to your dog. Your dog will love that you are at home and because they sleep on average 12 to 14 hours per day, they can have a little snooze while you get your work done and when it’s time for a break they’ll be ready for some games.
Dog games are the best. See below (pages 24 & 25) the steps to cups, fetch and my absolute favourite game, hide and seek. My dog, Rogue, loves to play hide and seek, especially with small treats. Games are fun but they are also important for your dog’s brain. They have to use their minds to work out the puzzle, learn how the game works and most importantly, find the treat! The big plus is that it’s fun for you too! It’s fun to watch them hunt around for the treat or if you play hide and seek with you as the treat, it’s just like the human game! Cups is great, especially when you watch your dog figure out which cup has the treat. Fetch is the most popular game but Rogue doesn’t like it so we don’t really play it that much.
- Training and Tricks
Make sure you always have an adult with you whenever you’re training your dog. Sometimes it can help if you read out the command steps while the adult does the actions and then swap over for a while. (Pages 20 & 21) Training, like games, uses your dogs mind and they help your relationship with your dog as they learn that if they do what you tell them, good things will happen. Commands like ‘come’ and ‘sit’ are to help us to keep our dogs safe so it’s good that they learn to trust in us as we train. An important thing to remember is that dogs are a lot like us, they get fed up with repetition so keep your training sessions short (around 10 mins per session). Make sure you both relax afterwards.
There are loads of ways to relax with your dog and these are great ways to practice mindfulness. Listening to your dog sleep can be very calming, if you’re feeling anxious or worried, sit near your dog while he or she sleeps and listen to their steady breathing. Remember, let sleeping dogs lie so just listen and try not to wake them! Look out the window with your dog, watch the trees in the wind or people walk down the street. Remember, if you dog barks at passers by be ready to jump when someone walks along your line of sight and your dog suddenly barks!
- Wow your family with facts
Learn some facts from Take the Lead and tell your family about them. Maybe even get them to guess the answers.
Humans have nearly 9,000 taste buds in their mouths while dogs have only 2,000
Dogs have 220 million cells in their nose to detect smell while humans only have 5 million
A dog’s nose print is unique to identifying them as our fingerprint is to us
- Watch a movie
There are so many great films about dogs so it can be great fun to sit with your dog and watch a movie. Some dogs actively watch the TV and are interested in the movement they see there but other dogs don’t notice the TV or just don’t find it interesting. Nevertheless, there’s nothing like petting your dog while watching a film to make you feel cosy! Some fun dog films are: Homeward Bound, 101 Dalmations, Balto, Lady and the Tramp, Hotel for Dogs, and Bolt. To name a few!
It’s a Dog’s Life
Spend your lockdown days doing activities and relaxing with your dog. Walks, games and mindfulness are all things that benefit you both. Be sure to leave your dog be as well, make sure they get their own space to sleep and relax. Like us, they like a bit of peace to themselves.
Take the Quiz
Once you’ve read all of Take the Lead, you can take the quiz to get your Dog’s Best Friend license! Downloadable from www.obrien.ie/take-the-lead
Show off everything you’ve learned about how to care for your dog. Most importantly, remember you need to have courage, kindness and fun!