Playing badminton alone is no fun. There is no one on the other side of the court to serve the shuttlecock to, and there is no one to hit it back to you. But, on the other hand, your trusted pal, your dog, is by your side, and he is eager to play, eager to please. Yet can you play badminton with your dog?
Let’s be honest for a second: unless you have the time and patience to train your dog to play badminton, that is a no-go. However, there are some badminton-related activities you can play with your dog that could be just as good or adequate until you find a human partner.
Having Your Dog Help You With Your Serve
Perfecting the best badminton serve will decide how the game will go and have an advantage. If you are trying to do this, you probably practice your serve constantly by hitting the shuttlecock up and over the net numerous times. The problem comes when you have to go and get the shuttle after every hit because no one else is playing with you. That’s where your dog comes in.
You can train your dog to retrieve the shuttle after each of your hits to minimize the effort of you having to stop after every badminton serve and get it. This will mean you can practice more on your badminton serve and get into a better groove when hitting the shuttle. Your dog may not immediately want to bring you back the shuttle, so here are some things to try.
Introduce Them To The Shuttle
Go onto the court and let your dog see and play with the shuttlecock, letting them smell it and taking it into their mouth if they want.
Let Your Dog Watch You Hit It
Allowing your dog to watch lets them know what to expect and be safe when swinging your racket. But, of course, you want them to stay away from where you are hitting the shuttlecock from.
Make It A Game
This will be similar to playing fetch with any toy or stick. You want your dog to retrieve the shuttlecock after you hit it and bring it back to you. Once the dog realizes it is a game, they will be more than willing to bring it to you.
Teaching Your Dog How To Bounce The Shuttle
If you want your pup to have more advanced badminton skills, certain aspects of the game can be taught. Of course, your dog cannot play a full game of badminton, but they can learn to hit the shuttlecock like a pro, or at least up in the air like one. It will take some practice and obedience from you both because this is difficult to master, but it is doable. Here is how to do it.
First, start by allowing your dog to hold the racket. They should get comfortable with how it feels and the weight of the racket before moving on. They will be using it to hit the shuttle by themselves. Your dog should be holding the racket by the handle, with the netted part facing up and out towards the sky.
Next, you will be practicing hitting the shuttle. Have your dog bob their head up as if to nod, which will make an up and down motion. Ensure the racket is in your dog’s mouth tightly. You don’t want the racket to move during this. Praise your dog constantly with treats at each of their successes so they will have a willingness and incentive to continue doing it.
Finally, your dog is ready to hit the shuttle. Put the shuttlecock on the racket and have your dog use the nodding motion they have mastered to hit the shuttle up. It will probably not be seamless, but through practice, it could be.
Testing Their Agility
Being ready to move is a huge part of badminton. Your opponent could be hitting the shuttlecock in several ways. First, you have to be quick on your feet and be ready to run to one side or the other at any moment. That’s where agility comes into play. Without it, your badminton game will be lacking. Luckily, there is training that you can do to improve your agility skills, and your dog can help.
You can choose from agility training specifically for your dog or make your agility course based explicitly on badminton. Either way, your dog can join you. Here are a few activities that your dog will love.
Classic Pole Run
This is one that both of you can do. Set up posts, spreading them out three feet wide. Run back and forth through them as quickly as you can. Let your dog follow behind you. They will have to be sharp on their paws to do this. It will require a little training to get your dog to participate.
Running Through Hoops
Put two sets of hoops on the ground beside each other in a long row. Show your dog how to put the left paw in the hoop on the left and the right paw in the hoop on the right. Eventually, they should be able to run through them like this. See how many they can before faltering.
Jump Up and Get It
In badminton, jumping to hit a strong serve from your opponent could mean whether they score a point or not. You can practice jumping with your dog. Hold a treat up high so that they have to leap to get it. You can make this an exercise for your arms, too.
Incorporating your dog into the way you train for your badminton games is doable. Your loyal friend can help your gameplay as well as get the exercise they need for their health. Add in some yummy treats, and your dog is sitting pretty, becoming a badminton master like you, his owner.