Spring is in the air, and it’s time to renew one of my favorite pastimes: Playing ball with the dog in the back yard.
I know; it may seem boring to throw the ball, the dog returns the ball, then you repeat the routine all over again. But you can make this activity exciting again by injecting some risk and reward into it.
I’ve created a list of results a reasonable pet owner should strive for. Each result awards you a point score, either positive or negative depending on the desirability of the outcome. Feel free to add results that reflect the hazards or challenges of your own back yard.
For example, we have a fenced back yard with limited access to the neighbors, a swimming pool, a narrow strip of grass reachable mainly only by throwing the ball over the pool, and a dog that is faster than Satan. Here is my list tailored for our combination of challenges:
Keeping the ball in the yard: 0 points
Getting the ball beyond the dog: +1 point
Getting the ball all the way to the back fence: +2 points
Throwing the ball into the swimming pool: -20 points
Throwing the ball over the fence: -100 points
The dog is ready to quit before you are: +20 points
The game ends without getting any dog slobber on the ball: +1000 points
This system may lead to some unintentional side-effects, such as dunking the ball in the pool a few times to eliminate the dog slobber, but overall I think these incentives contribute to a fun and relaxing time with your canine pet.
Get out there and put that Spring back in your step!