10 Pokémon Go Tips for Your PokéDog Walk
One summer when I was underemployed on the Big Island of Hawaii, I spent a weekend in a costume at the 2007 Pokémon TCG World Championships. I was bewildered and charmed by all the people who would see a giant cartoon penguin walking toward them, squeal, “Piplup!” and snap a photo with me.
Earlier this month when Pokémon Go became a national craze, it piqued my curiosity. I signed up for the free game and started wandering around with my phone trying to find little Pokémon characters that randomly appear in my neighborhood. I found I love the satisfying feeling of lobbing a virtual “Poké Ball” at the critters and seeing goofy lights and stars and the phrase “Gotcha!” light up the screen with a successful capture. It’s super silly and fun.
Like pretty much every other activity in life, playing Pokémon Go is even better with a dog. In fact, my dog Rio and I spent his Gotcha Day searching for Pokémon and loading up on bonus balls at “PokéStops.” He was thrilled to sniff new smells and greet people all around our Colorado mountain town. Here’s what I learned on our PokéDog Walk:
1. Look for PokéStops in public parks. Often a statue or mural is a “PokéStop,” so find a grassy park and start walking around with your dog. It will give the PokéStops time to reactivate while your dog checks his “pee-mail” on nearby trees. You might even find dog-related PokéStops nearby.
2. Take silly photos. When a Pokémon shows up, it’s tempting to start flinging Poké Balls at it. But hit the little camera icon, and take a breath. Set up your shot and wait to see if the character will jump, sit on your dog’s head or, in the case of the Jigglypuff, spray happy lines.
3. Hand someone else the leash on pavement. Otherwise you risk missing the shot – or dropping your phone and shattering the face into a million little pieces, as I did – if a squirrel runs up a nearby tree or the intoxicating scent of urine drifts by.
4. Reward your dog for being patient. Rio will now stop and wait for me to take photos because he knows there will be a tasty treat afterward.
5. Resist the urge to game and drive. Seriously – you have precious cargo! And don’t scapegoat your dog if you do something stupid while playing, like accidentally walk into a culvert or something. Prioritize your dog’s safety, as always.
6. Play in home improvement stores. They’re typically pet-friendly, so you can wander around looking for Pokémon and taking photos of canine shoppers.
7. Look up from time to time. This is key to avoiding your dog snarfing down the remains of a sandwich he finds on the ground while you’re distracted, or stepping in poo yourself.
8. Remember a tired dog is an obedient dog. If your dog has already had exercise, he’ll be more understanding if you need to pause when a Nidoran suddenly appears.
9. Search at night together. Sometimes this is the only time my husband and I can log onto the overloaded Pokémon Go server, so we put a flashing light on Rio’s collar and cruise around the neighborhood. Nighttime sights, sounds and smells at night are so different from a typical walk, so it’s a great enrichment activity for dogs.
10. Don’t panic if you can’t connect to the server. Sure, the game is fun, but we don’t really need augmented reality when the world is already so magical thanks to dogs.
Freelance journalist Jen Reeder is an award-winning member of the Dog Writers Association of America.
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