I've seen a couple of your posts about walmart, meijer, and given that we live in the same area I'm trying to understand how she is allowed in those stores? All the ones around us are the larger ones that carry groceries, and as such don't allow dogs other than service dogs. which locations are you taking her to that allow pet dogs the size of a german shepherd?
I am really on the fence about this. On one side of the coin, I realize that I am putting "real" service dogs in jeopardy by taking my dog in a store and "acting" like a service dog. On the other side, I know my dog's temperament and obedience level- and I know she can properly handle such a situation. It's really pretty easy to do. I just put a backpack on her (happens to be red) and walk in the store. Sometimes, we just walk right in like we own the place, none of those "greeters" [HA! Don't get me started on that rant...] know anything about anything. They are way too busy sitting on the handicap carts chatting it up with their buddies to give to ****s about someone walking into the store. So we just do.
Other times, I will play off the "ultimate obedience" card. I'll walk her in, and the instant I make eye contact with an employee of any kind, I immediately put her in a down. They are always impressed to see a dog go from walking to down in an instant. I waste no time to pop the "You do allow service dogs, right?" question- and I waste no time moving on when they say yes. It's an exchange that I keep as quick, cut and dry as possible.
So far, I never have tried to "hide" it from anyone. We just go in the store and do our thing. In fact, I've only had employees comment on it positively ("Oh look- it's one of those working dogs" or "Hmmm... better not touch that working dog"). I've never had an employee/manager question me.
I have had a couple store patroons question me, though. One time I was sitting at walmart waiting for a prescription and some dude starting asking me about her. I always just tell them she's with "Indy Therapy Dogs" which to the best of my knowledge doesn't exist. I can go on to explain what therapy dogs are and how they benefit people. Etc, etc...
I do generally try to keep her out of the grocery areas of such stores- I don't think that's quite fair for anyone. Nobody wants dog hair in a grocery section.
Other than that- there's really nothing to it. Like I said- I sometimes feel conflicted about the potential (though almost nonexistant) for my dog to do something that would provide a bad name for "real" service dogs, or even remove the right for SDs to enter the store. That said, I believe the ADA requires the right anyway. So not sure a store could ban them. Anyway- I play it safe. If things are escalating, or if too many people are trying to gather around the dog- we simply leave.
---Anyway--- back on topic-
Try playing 'find it'. Even during a hike you can hide his favorite toy or tasty treat and have him find it.
I don't know if you have ever played Hide-n-seek in the house, but it is truly great fun and one of my dogs favorite games. And you get to stay warm while you play!
This is a really good idea! I've never figured out how to do hide-n-seek since it's just me and the dog. But find it could be very fun- especially outside! I've always wondered though- the item that is to be found- do you have to drag it across the ground/floor in order to leave a scent trail? Forgive me if this is a stupid question- but is there an easy way to do this besides bending over and walking backwards while you pull an object across the ground for however far you want to go? I've never really laid a scent trail, and the mechanics of doing so seem a bit allusive to me.