For an exciting way to practise basic obedience and handling drills with your pooch this summer, go geocaching. It’s also a great way for both you and your dog to hone your hunting skills. Plus, as a bonus, you’ll see new places, get outside and have fun with your canine companion. With more than 238,000 geocaches in Canada, you should have no problem finding one near you.
Learn the game
Geocaching adds a high-tech twist to finding hidden treasure. Using a GPS, participants navigate to coordinates listed at www.geocaching.com to find weather-resistant containers holding a logbook and small knick-knacks for trade. While the coordinates will get you close, crafty “cachers” are masters of deception, leaving riddle-like clues to complete the task. You need to use your smarts, along with your dog’s sniffer, to discover the loot (below).
Play the game
Many cachers are also dog owners, and they’re adding dog-friendly items at designated locations to help keep it fun. Other participants are also dreaming of fun ways to pull you and your dog into the action—try finding caches with dog references in their names. And to practise handling and to follow your progress, enter the cache coordinates into the handheld device for your dog’s GPS tracking collar. Once you’re close to the cache, guide your dog to the prize using hand signals.
Geocaches are found in urban areas, parks and public lands, so be sure to use a leash and scoop up poop as required. And as with hunting for game, it’s important to bring plenty of water and doggy treats for a job well done. Finally, be sure to log your dog’s finds online.