Saturday, April 10, 2010

How to exercise your dogs and not kill yourself in the process...

You may have read my post where I was whining about how difficult it is to truly exercise a working dog in the city. Well I might have found a solution. There is a group of beagle owners who organise a bi-monthly "Beagle Hunt". Before the bunny-huggers squeak in protest, just like I did at the thought of a "blood sport", it is nothing like that.

There are no live animals or blood involved except a very smelly sack of pilchards (dead that is).
These fish are excellent for laying a strong scent trail through the bush and the idea is to tap into the beagles' breed trait of a strong sense of smell and working well together in packs.

There are strict rules about how the "hunt" is run but it is apparently all done with the dog's best interests at heart and is relaxed and fun for owners. It is also out in the countryside!
So the idea is that they follow the scent trail to the finish and are awarded points (if they finish) and the overall winners are announced at a Beagle Ball at the end of the season.

Apparently they don't need to be trained but it can take a while before they catch on. But I have started giving Jamie and Jemma the occasional pilchard as a treat just so they recognise the smell and know that it should lead to something tasty and nice.

What appeals to me is that the owners sit back and wait for their dogs to return. So my dogs are not restricted by my level of fitness. They have several heats and your dogs can do as many as they want. At the end of the morning there is a bit of a social get together with sandwiches and coffee for dogs and owners alike. We will be doing our first hunt soon - so will keep you posted.

I think the concept of creating a relaxed event around what a particular breed of dog enjoys doing and which is also enjoyable for the owner, is great. Another brilliant solution to the problem of how to mentally and physically stimulate your dog!

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