Autumn is the ideal season to be active outdoors with your dog and to experience something for two. The temperatures oscillate in a pleasant range between 15 and 25 degrees, the air is pleasantly fresh due to the higher moisture content, and the vital functions of humans and animals shoot up before “hibernation”. But autumn is not only good for the body – the soul is also supplied with positive energy: by the warming sunbeams after a cool night, the soft light that glistens in the dewdrops in the morning, and the bright colors and spicy smells that delight our senses.
There are now numerous opportunities to interact with your four-legged friend in a team, with games, fun, and a little training during the day in the great outdoors and cuddly wellness treatments in the evening at home.
Discover now these 7 fun fall activities for you and your dog:
1Off Through the Hedge – Geocaching in the Rustling Autumn Leaves
Geocaching is a modern form of a treasure hunt. With the help of a GPS receiver or a treasure map, hiding places in the wild are sought whose geographical coordinates are listed in a special online database. The participants have to master exciting tasks and solve tricky puzzles in order to obtain further clues as to the treasure’s whereabouts. The objects deposited in a watertight container are small toys, beautiful minerals, or pretty costume jewelry.
More and more often, now also own tracks for humans and dogs are created, which means that also the quadruped is allowed to search for the secret hiding places. If he has sniffed a cache, he is rewarded with the treats it contains.
In this exciting leisure activity, the dog and the owner must work together attentively in exploring the foreign terrain and tracking down the hidden depots – this gives the four-legged friend especially much pleasure.
The animal becomes optimally integrated when it learns to participate in the search after the appropriate command and to lead its owner on the right track. Or it stands lookout (since the cache should remain secret) and indicates by a short barking sound that passers-by are approaching.
However, for this adventure, you don’t have to access ready-made geocaches at all. You can also create your own personal route and provide your quadruped with small gifts: Conceal the somewhat larger treats in piles of leaves or behind roots and stick the smaller ones, for example, in furrows in the bark of trees.
Of course, you should make sure that you only deposit the “treasures” on four paws just before you go for a walk with your Indiana Jones, ideally on a route that is rarely frequented by four-legged friends. Otherwise, you will make all the dogs in the area happy, but you may cause some owners to panic (or at least be at a loss) when their darling digs up something edible every few meters or picks treats from tree bark.
2Exercising Together is Fun – When Nature Becomes a Gym
The fact that you can walk (dog trekking) or run (dogging) together with your dog has long been known. Autumn is of course ideal for such activities because the landscape looks painted by its colorfulness, and you sweat less due to lower temperatures and therefore dehydrate more slowly.
But apart from fitness, you may also want to strengthen your muscles and train them together with your dog, who will certainly be able to look good with a firm body.
Here are a few exercises that you can easily integrate into your daily walk (after you and your dog have warmed up optimally).
Don’t forget to stretch after training – even for your four-legged friend. You support the middle joints in the animal’s legs with your hand, exert very light pressure on the shoulder blades or hip bones and gently stretch the limbs.
Exercise 1: Knee Bend
To strengthen the buttocks, legs, arms, and back muscles, stand with your legs hip-wide apart and your pet – depending on his size – jumps onto your knees or with his paws in your hands held forward.
You hold the dog firmly and bend the legs until the thighs are horizontal, the back is completely straight, then straighten up again. Ask your hairy training partner to bend his hind legs at the same time as you do, then praise him extensively. You should practice this jumping on command with your dog beforehand so that he can perform the exercise fluently with you afterward.
Exercise 2: Standing Push-Up
Push-ups in a standing position strengthen the upper body, abdominal, and chest muscles of the owner, and the shoulder, abdominal, and leg muscles of the dog. When standing, you support yourself with your hands on a tree trunk, bend your arms, hold the position and then stretch your arms out again. On your signal, the dog jumps against the surface and down again.
Exercise 3: Dips
Dips help people to strengthen the back of the upper arm and the animal to strengthen the shoulder muscles and stabilize the trunk. Support yourself on a tree trunk with your hands behind your back and bend your arms, with your buttocks moving towards the ground just in front of the object – hold position and then push your body up again. With each dip, your darling will climb onto the object with the front paws, balance, and slowly descend again.
In autumn, the local forests entice to collect mushrooms and wild herbs. With a little patience and training, teach your dog to show you the best spots – because who could be a better companion in search of porcini mushrooms, rosemary or even truffles than the nose specialist dog?
In late summer and autumn, the plants of choice are mainly rosemary, mugwort, thyme, heather, nettle, and marigold. You can use the herbs, on the one hand, to refine dishes, as a natural medicine for minor health problems or for cosmetic purposes as a care product.
For example, rosemary strengthens circulation, mugwort strengthens digestion and thyme strengthens the immune system. Calendula ointment protects the skin from drying out and harmful environmental influences.
All applications are also possible for dogs – for example, calendula ointment can be applied to the paws of dogs with cracked pads.
Preparation: Boil a handful of flowers for a few minutes in 200 ml olive oil, strain and mix with 30 g of melted beeswax.
4Flavors, Music and Water – Wellness for Soul and Body
Aromatherapy is especially recommended on those inhospitable autumn days when cold rain whips against the windows. In order to improve your mood now and at the same time enrich the room climate with relaxing scents, activate your aroma lamp and enjoy the wonderful smell of the essential oil, which floats through the room immediately afterward.
Please dose sparingly – your dog is able to sniff half a teaspoon of sugar in a huge pool full of water, so he will perceive all scents with the same intensity.
In addition, make sure that the oil you buy is of the best quality, it must be a purely vegetable product with one hundred percent purity. Particularly discreet, but equally effective, is the drying and distribution in the room of the herbs previously collected during a walk with your quadruped.
Rosemary, for example, increases blood pressure and has a stimulating effect, while thyme strengthens the circulation and brightens the mood.
While the relaxing aromas now tempt you to cuddle up, close your eyes and let selected sounds take you to the land of dreams.
Classic music is recommended for your four-legged darling, compositions by Georg Friedrich Händel, for example, have a calming effect on rather anxious and restless dogs.
This music also slows down the heartbeat and lowers the blood pressure, in addition, stress hormones are reduced. The vibrations of calm sounds correspond to the natural state of being of bipeds and quadrupeds, which need regular rhythms to live. Music specially selected for pets is already available in stores.
5Kneipp for 6 Legs
After relaxing, you will revive your spirits, vitalize body and mind and charge yourself with positive energy – with a Kneipp cure. Treatment with warm and cold water is a widely used therapy that takes advantage of the health-promoting and beneficial properties of the wet element.
The inventor of this technique was the Bavarian priest Sebastian Kneipp (1821-1897). The application is very simple and can be carried out in a DIY procedure (DIY = Do it yourself):
You prepare two large buckets and fill one with hot water for a bath and the other with cold water. Then you dip your feet and lower legs into the first bucket, first for a longer time, then briefly into the second bucket, and repeat the process several times.
The alternating baths strengthen the immune system and promote blood circulation and the function of the internal organs. At the end of the procedure, wrap your feet in pre-heated towels or put on thick socks.
Before that, you can rub the skin with mint or eucalyptus oil, which additionally stimulates the blood circulation and activates the positive energy in the organism. And then it’s your fur-friends turn to do the same – only without socks and aromatic oil.
If you have a water-shy specimen, please stop the Kneipp cure immediately if it is unpleasant for the dog.
6Home-Fitness – If You Do Not Send a Dog Outside the Door
If you like to move around and also allow your dog enough action, you want to be active even in bad weather. After the Doga (Dog + Yoga) now also Pilates with your fur-friend becomes a trend – so far however still without a name.
This effective and systematic whole-body training was invented and developed at the beginning of the 20th century by the German-American body trainer Joseph Hubert Pilates. Consistently carried out, this type of gymnastics, which mainly strengthens the abdominal, pelvic, and back muscles, ensures better posture and constitution for dog and owner.
The following three figures will allow you to do gymnastics with your darling without any problems or further previous knowledge. Please do not forget to warm up before and stretch after the training.
Exercise 1: Swimming
This exercise is easy to perform, extremely efficient, and strengthens the back and buttocks. You lie on your stomach and stretch your legs straight back. Then you lift your upper body, then alternately right leg, left arm, left leg, right arm, and so on as if you were plowing through the water.
You can persuade your darling to swim in the dry by alternately lifting his front paws while lying down. The hind legs do not have to be stretched out. Or you can lift all four legs of a standing dog one after the other, stretch them gently forward, bend them and pull them back. Maybe he will make the movement all by himself at some point.
Exercise 2: Drawing circles
For muscular thighs the exercise “Painting circles” is ideal. You lie on your back, stretch one leg upwards and “paint circles” in the air – very slowly and first small, then bigger and bigger. When it’s your darling’s turn, turn him on his back, first crawl his chest and belly extensively, then pull one of his legs gently upwards and draw circles with it as well.
Exercise 3: Horse and Dog (Combination Exercise)
This combo strengthens especially the leg and buttock muscles. You enter the four-footed position and very slowly step backward with one leg like a horse. Then you pull the leg to the side again in slow motion, with the knee towards the chest – you are now standing like a male dog doing the pee-pee. Then it is the other leg’s turn.
You will also have to reach under your darling’s “arms” during this exercise: While he is standing, you alternately pull the one, then the other leg gently stretched backward, and then bring him bent forward again.
7Dancing and Tricks – A Cure-All for Bad Mood and Boredom
Dog dancing reflects the pure joy of life and is extremely fun, even if you need more condition than you might think. It stimulates the senses especially intensively on a fragrant autumnal meadow when the last warming sun rays of the day let the colors of grass and flowers shine.
You can also dance with your four-legged darling at home in the living room – as soon as you have cleared away all vases, glasses, and other things that could break. Just move to the sounds and rhythms you like and encourage your dog to turn and hop around.
It’s also a lot of fun to learn little tricks – dogs love to take on this special mental challenge and love to present the trick after learning it to great applause and in expectation of a reward in front of an assembled team.
Trick “Jump into the arms”:
You start low, crouch on the floor (please only if you have a good sense of balance), or sit on a chair and let the dog jump on your lap. Then, step by step, you move your arms further and further up, for example by always putting one more cushion on the chair. Finally, you stand up completely. You can support your dog with an outstretched leg until he can jump into your arms on his own.
I hope there is something for you and your dog with all these autumn ideas. Have a great time together!