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Dogs have always been favored companions. Recently the popularity of canines has expanded beyond the home, and more owners are including their dogs in daily activities. Opportunities range from structured classes to informal fun that is free of charge including:

Pet Parades

Credit: storyvillegirl on Flickr
Pet parades are offered throughout the year in many communities. Often sponsored by a humane society or other non-profit; these events give owners and their dogs a chance to strut their stuff with other animal lovers while raising funds for homeless pets. Some parades have contests and prizes for largest dog, longest tail or best costume. These events are often centered around holidays or an important date for the host city. No specialized training is necessary as long as your dog is well-socialized and will walk calmly on a leash.

Biking With Your Dog

Credit: Robert Couse-Baker
Bicycling with a canine provides exercise and enjoyment of the outdoors for owners and their pets. Many parks now offer bike paths making the travel easy for paws and those pedaling. It does take training to accustom a dog to running safely beside a bike, but there is equipment available to make the activity a safe one. Special attachments that go on the bike as well as leashes made specifically for biking with a dog can be found in pet supply stores and catalogs. One should always wear a helmet and other protective gear while enjoying the scenery when biking with your best friend.

Lure Coursing

Lure coursing is a sport that was developed to showcase the talent of sight hounds. The dogs are judged on speed and agility by having them chase a lure attached to a line. This line is run mechanically in a pattern across an open field. It is a timed event, and the dog must prove they can turn quickly and with ease. Recently the sport has opened up to all breeds of dogs including mixes, and many canine clubs are now offering practice sessions and competitions. Dogs get a mental and physical work-out while trying to catch the lure as the humans watch on in awe of these amazing athletes.

Freestyle Dance

Freestyle dance instruction is often held in conjunction with obedience classes and focuses on the relationship between dog and handler. The team performs a routine set to music. Dance moves such as the dog weaving between the handlers legs, bowing on cue, leaping into the air and walking on their hind legs are crowd pleasers. Competitions are held and many groups sponsor a show that is open to the public to display their talented dancing partners. This is a fun and energizing activity that can be practiced with your canine at home or with fellow dog lovers.

Rally Obedience

Rally obedience is a less formal style of traditional obedience competition. Open to all breeds of dogs and mixes; the starting level requires the dog to know basic commands like sit, stay and walking nicely on a leash. The dog and handler team moves through a course while performing a specific command at each station. The beginner level is performed while the dog is on-leash, and judging is based on how well the team performs the required commands. Dog and owner can progress to advanced levels that are off-leash and include jumps and more complex exercises. A number of different organizations, including the American Kennel Club, offer titles for the various levels of rally obedience. It is a fun way to be rewarded for how well you and your canine work as a team.

All of these activities offer a chance to further bond with your pet and provide them with more skills. Training in a positive fashion utilizing praise, affection and treats your dog enjoys will ensure any of these activities will be enjoyable for both of you.

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