While we love our dogs, it can sometimes be difficult to connect with your furry friend. We can't always tell how our dog is feeling, and we may not know how to make them feel better. This is a problem that every dog owner faces, but especially those of the Patterdale Terrier. This dog breed has a tendency to suffer from anxiety, something that hurts the dog's owner just as much as it hurts the dog. What can we do about it? This post will explore fifteen outdoor activities you can do with your fearful dog to help relieve their anxiety and calm them down. Let's dive right in!
Go For a Walk
The first activity we have for your canine is an all-time favorite: the walk. Virtually every dog loves to go on walks, and you can sense their excitement as soon as you take out the leash. It's an effective way of getting your dog some fresh air and exercise during a time when they may be anxious and overwhelmed. 93% of dog owners said that "walking their dog made the dog feel less stressed." They may also need to pee or poop, and a walk gives them the opportunity to do that. Here are the two main styles of walking your dog.
The Leash Walk
This is the classic method of dog-walking that most owners rely on. We all have a trusty leash. Leash walking is advantageous because you have complete control over your furry friend. There's no risk of them running into traffic or jumping on strangers because you have them safely restrained. Make sure you get a leash length that fits your preferences! Some like it long, so there isn't too much tugging, while others like it short, to maximize control.
The Free Walk
The next style of walking your furry friend is free and unrestricted. This can be on an empty trail or open park, but the goal is to find a large open space where your canine can run around freely. This is an especially useful activity because it's liberating for your dog. They can get out their anxiety without the limits of a leash. The fresh air and the freedom can lift your dog's spirits and brighten their mood.
Play in the Sprinklers
Many pet owners know that their canine loves water. When their dog gets anxious or jumpy, it helps to know that a little aquatic playtime can boost how they feel and eliminate any negative emotions. To figure out whether your dog enjoys to play in the sprinklers, take them outside near the sprinkler. Gently turn the water on and see if your furry friend is interested in it. Chances are that they love how it feels! Leave the water running and get in with your dog to play. Run around with them, throw a few toys, and have some fun to overcome their feelings of anxiety.
Go For a Swim
It's a well known fact that Patterdale Terriers are competent swimmers. Most of these dogs have an active temperament, and thus possess the ability to swim. However, there is a small percentage of them who face medical or physical problems which prevent them from swimming. It's best to test out if your canine can swim in a controlled setting. Make sure they aren't scared by the water, as this can contribute to their anxiety. Once you've verified this, it's time to let your furry friend free! When you notice your dog exhibiting anxious behavior, take them to a dog-friendly body of water and watch their anxiety melt away! Swimming can help the "mental wellbeing" of a dog. The cooling experience of the water plus the unrestrained freedom of swimming will surely make your canine feel better.
Playing in the Water
As you notice your dog grow more comfortable in the water, it might be best to play with them! Get out their favorite toy, ball, or stick, and throw it in the water so your dog can see. Then, watch your furry friend return the toy to you with a smile on their face! The refreshing effect of the water, the rush of retrieving their toy, plus the exercise of swimming all combine to satisfy your canine and relieve their anxious feelings.
Go For a Hike
This is an outdoor activity that Patterdale Terriers love to take part in. Whenever you notice your dog feeling anxious or down, it might be time to take them on a hike! Trekking the mountains is a fantastic way to uplift your furry friend's mood. They'll have a large, open space to smell the nature. This offers the dog mental stimulation during their periods of anxiety, helping keep them "mentally balanced." They'll also get to expend their energy through exercise, all while admiring the gorgeous scenery along the way. Check park and mountain regulations to ensure your canine is allowed on the grounds. Make sure to take plenty of water for your canine to drink during the hike; they will get thirsty!
Take Your Dog to the Dog Park
Another reason dogs feel anxiety is because they haven't had time to socialize. Interacting with other dogs and people is a key part of your canine's development, and it's important that you facilitate this socialization early on. Taking your furry friend to the dog park is a great way to get them this social interaction. By meeting other dogs and playing with them, your pup will calm down and their feelings of anxiety will disappear. Patterdale Terriers are relatively friendly with other dogs, so make sure yours is okay with interaction. Take your dog's favorite toy or ball so that they can play with it at the park. Make sure to keep an eye on your dog while they interact with other dogs to ensure that everyone is staying out of trouble.
Play Fetch With Your Dog
This is a canine activity as old as time itself: fetch. It's the classic way to spend time with your dog, and a fun way for them to get their exercise. Your canine may be feeling anxious because they've been stuck inside all day long. Getting some fresh air and playing with their favorite ball or stick is a great way change that and help your dog feel better. Your dog may not know exactly how to play fetch yet, so it's important to be patient. Train your canine by persuading them to bring the toy back with treats. It's best to strengthen this behavior with positive reinforcement, so be sure to praise your dog and give them plenty of love when they do what you want.
Fetch Variant: Frisbee
Once your dog can successfully return a ball or stick to you on a consistent basis, it's time for them to graduate to the frisbee! Dogs love to watch frisbees fly through the air; it mesmerizes them. However, these disks are a bit more difficult for your dog to catch midair. Be patient with your furry friend! Give them time to get used to the motion of the frisbee, and they'll be catching and bringing it back in no time!
Build an Obstacle Course
As we mentioned earlier, a big reason that dogs get anxious is because they're stuck inside. They have all this pent up energy that they can't release. That's why an obstacle course might be the best thing for your Patterdale Terrier. You can purchase pre-made obstacle courses online; these offer standardized obstacles that you just need to put up in your backyard. The other option is the DIY route, where you build obstacles at home using PVC pipes, wood, and other materials. Whichever way you choose to go, make sure not to make the course too difficult for your canine. Keep the obstacles low to the ground so they don't trip and fall, and give them enough time to get through the whole course. Agility training and obstacle courses build key personality traits in your dog that help him "overcome his anxiety." It's an excellent way to help your dog release some energy and try something new. Plus, you can start timing your dog and having them compete with themselves to get faster!
Your dog might be feeling anxious because they have too much energy and nothing to do with it. The best thing to do might be an activity that releases this energy in a fun and engaging way. That's where tug-of-war comes into play. It's a really dynamic activity that activates most of your dogs body. While their jaw might be doing most of the work, their core and lower body are keeping them in place. Get a sturdy rope or other long toy and entice your dog to join you. Once they take a grip, start pulling on the toy and see if they pull back. Most likely, they will! That's all there is to it. It might be best to teach your dog how to drop, so that you can have a polite ending to every tug-of-war match.
Unlike when your dog has too much energy, sometimes they get anxious because they're drained and tired. This means they need something to recharge their batteries and refresh them. Sunbathing is one of the best ways to do just that. Find a spot in the grass facing direct sunlight, and put down a sheet there. Sit down and have your pup lay down with you, and begin your relaxation. Sunlight sets off a chemical reaction that causes more serotonin to be produced in your dog, which will then fight their anxiety. The heat of the sun mixed with the cool grass and the breeze will work together to create a pleasant and soothing experience. That environment will lull your dog into a calm state of peace, eliminating any feelings of stress or anxiety that were present. Consider applying sunscreen to your furry friend before going outside; this can work to prevent sunburns. Most human baby sunscreens are safe for dogs to use, but avoid anything that contains zinc oxide — that's toxic for pets.
Practice Your Training
Another great way to elevate your dog's mood and give them something constructive to do is to practice their training. It's possible that their anxiety is being caused by a lack of structured activity. Giving them some mental stimulation and engaging their mind in something will fix that problem and alleviate their anxiety. Get some treats to use as positive reinforcement for your dog; a clicker might help as an audio cue. Use it whenever your dog does something right, so that positive behaviors are strengthened without using punishment. If your Patterdale Terrier is a pup, then it might be best to work on basic commands like sit, lie down, and come. These are foundational in your dog's training, and need to be in every dog's repertoire. As your canine progresses, you can try and teach them advanced commands such as roll over, play dead, or retrieve. These require patience on both you and your dog's part. But Patterdale Terriers are intelligent dogs, so you should be just fine!
Rent a Boat
Sometimes, the Patterdale Terrier breed feels anxiety because they are boxed in and claustrophobic. It might be a good idea to take them to an open, natural location where they can relax in peace. Renting a boat is the perfect solution. Make sure the rental company allows pets on their boats, and bring along some treats, water, and maybe even your dog's favorite toy. They might feel like taking a dip and playing with you! Riding on a boat is a peaceful activity for your dog because the breeze, the scenery, and the motion of the boat all serve to calm their mind and relax their mood. Those feelings of anxiety will completely disappear once your dog is out on the open water with nothing around them.
Organize a Treasure Hunt
The next outdoor activity we have for anxious dogs is a treasure hunt. This is when you hide treats and toys around an outdoor location with obstacles, and then release your dog to go and find them! It's an enriching activity for anxious dogs because it rewards them with something to get their mind of their anxiety. The rewarding experience of searching for and finding a treat triggers positive emotions in your dog, replacing the negative ones. It's also a mentally engaging exercise that tests your dog's sense of smell and direction at the same time. After some scent work, most dogs are able to relax more. Some dogs face separation anxiety, so doing this when you come home from work is a great way to spend more time with your pup and strengthen your bond.
Take Your Dog Hunting
While they may not be as talented as the Retriever breeds at hunting, the Patterdale Terrier is a small but tough hunting companion. Their small to medium frame makes them particularly skilled at taking down small prey such as rats, hares, and possums. The tenacity and ferocity of the Patterdale Terrier enables them to take down game as big as foxes. This activity gives your dog the opportunity to experience their primitive side. They get to make use of their muscular body and high energy, taking their mind off any feelings of anxiety. While other breeds will try and wear their prey down, the Terrier class will instead try and outpace their opponent, taking them down as soon as possible.
Get Your Dog Ice Cream
Your dog may be feeling anxious because they haven't been out in awhile. They may just need a trip to the ice cream shop to elevate their mood and cure their anxiety! Find out if there are any dog-friendly ice cream shops near your house. Sometimes, human ice cream stores will offer a dog-friendly option, so make sure to ask about that too! One of these stores is Andy's. The cold, sweet taste of ice cream will become the only thing your canine can think about. They'll be lost in the daze of the cream, and their anxiety will be the last thing on their mind. Dogs especially love to eat the ice cream cone, so save that for the end!
Go Jogging With Your Dog
The last outdoor activity we have for your anxious dogs is a jog. Going for a run can be the best thing for your canine at times when their energy levels are out of control and thereby causing anxiety. A study by researchers at Brigham Young University found that running mitigates the negative effects that chronic anxiety has on the hippocampus - the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
If your dog is well-trained enough to stay with you, you can go on a run without a leash. They'll know to stay close by and not to wander off too far. If this isn't the case, and your dog is a bit younger and less trained, then be sure to bring a leash. Either way, the smells and sights will offer your dog mental stimulation, while the run itself will help release their energy and tire them out. Try not to run in the sun for longer than one hour, as dogs can get dehydrated and this poses the risk for bigger problems. If you plan to go on an especially long run, bring along a portable water bowl and some water for your furry friend to drink on the way.
When it comes to helping your dog with anxiety, the outdoors might pose the biggest solution. Those were fifteen outdoor activities that can help fearful dogs overcome their anxious feelings and elevate their mood. Many of these activities use positive reinforcement and mental stimulation to engage the dog breed, diverting its mind from their negative emotions towards the positive. Which one was your favorite?