Off leash time for Niko is the best time for Niko. He gets to run fast and hard and exert his energy. He is at his happiest when he goes off leash. Without a fenced in yard and the danger of cars make off leash time a rare occasion. I subscribe to the Dog Trainer's podcast and a very good tip I got from her is to find a fenced in vacant tennis court to take your dog to. The weather in upstate NY has turned rather chilly, so tennis fans have put away their rackets for the season. Although, last week, we had exceptional warm weather and Niko and I were bummed to find people playing tennis. Anyway, ever since the first time we let Niko off least at this these courts, he gets very excited when we go in the direction of the park. He pulls and hyperventilates from the excitement.
On the walk to the park, we make sure Niko eliminates so he does not do it in the courts. We play tennis here too, so we respect the courts. Also, as dog owners, we must be courteous and mindful and not ruin a good thing for others. With the shorter days, it is a challenge to get Niko outside before dark on weekdays. Here's a picture of Niko taken with my phone as the moon is rising:
We toss a tennis ball around over and over to play fetch. I tried jogging the perimeter of the courts and Niko outruns me of course. It's amazing how fast Shibas can run. Very fun to see him gallop like a horse. He has pretty good brakes too. Tennis balls are good and reliable toys for Niko. He never gets tired of it. They are cheap and he chews threw them if we leave them around.
When we first brought Niko home last year at 8 weeks old, he was very shy. He shook and trembled for a day or two. We bought him a few toys and were dismayed when he didn't show interest in any of them. We even worried that we chose the wrong puppy out of the litter: "What's wrong with this one, he doesn't play!"
On his second day, I took out one of our tennis balls and rolled it around. Right away, Niko stared at it and chased it. It was a big moment for us because he showed his playfulness for the first time. The tennis ball was Niko's official first play thing. Here's a picture from that 2nd day. He could barely fit the ball in his mouth at the time.