Activities For A Bouvier Des Ardennes

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Introduction

The Bouvier Des Ardennes is a breed of cattle driving dog thought to be extinct until 1985 when researchers that were studying cows happened upon a small population of these dogs still working in the southern part of Belgium. Within just a few years, fanciers of the breed were attempting to develop a new standardization using the few specimens that they had located, and in 1996 a second small population of these dogs was discovered working farms in the northern part of the country. While most of these intelligent dogs are still working farms, a few have become successful companion animals. These dogs thrive on training and learn quickly but are easily bored with overly repetitive methods. They are also affectionate and devoted canines who stick close by their family's side whenever possible and are easily distressed by their absence.

Herding

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Normal
30 - 60 min
Items needed
Livestock
Activity description

The Bouvier Des Ardennes was developed as a cattle drover, a dog that helped to move herds of cattle from the ranch to the market, an especially important job prior to the invention of motorized transport and many of these dogs are still frequently used to control and protect livestock in Belgium. As this rare breed is becoming more popular and gaining more notice, some of them have become family companions instead, but without an outlet for their strong herding instinct, many of these dogs will start herding other things instead, such as other pets or even people in the household. Some farms and ranches have begun renting out their fields and livestock herds to people with in order to allow herding dogs, like the Bouvier Des Ardennes, to indulge their herding instinct with actual livestock.

Step
1
Health check
Before starting any new exercise routine or high-impact activity such as herding, your dog should have their health evaluated by a veterinary professional. This breed is slightly more prone to developing hip and elbow dysplasia than other dogs of their size, and their joints should be checked to ensure that they are healthy enough to handle the twists and turns that are part of this activity. This is not a suitable activity for very young dogs as immature skeletal growth plates can be negatively affected by the types of movement involved.
Step
2
Research
While there are more herding facilities springing up around the world for people who are looking to give their herding dogs an appropriate outlet for their energy and instinct, they are still generally out in the country and may require a bit of a drive to get there. When first contacting facilities, you will want to find out not only what their prices are, but also what those costs include. Some facilities have only sheep while others have cattle, pigs, and even ducks as well, and they often vary on the amount of teaching and training that they offer. It’s a good idea to visit the ranch without your dog as well, in order to evaluate how facilitators and trainers typically interact with both the people and the dogs.
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3
Evaluation
Many of the herding facilities will begin by starting with an evaluation appointment, where your dog’s herding instinct is tested to ensure that it consistently prevails over their prey drive. Exercise sessions will typically double as lessons, and in some cases, pet parents may decide to enter their dog in local herding competitions or trials, but at this time the Bouvier Des Ardennes is not eligible for herding titles from the AKC.
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Canine Parkour

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Any Day
Cheap
Hard
1 - 2 hrs
Items needed
Sturdy Comfortable Harness
Four to Six Foot Leash
Activity description

The training discipline known as parkour is one that allows those that practice it to exercise anytime and without having to have any specialized equipment. Participants are aiming to get from one place to another in the most efficient way possible, often using everyday objects such as benches, logs, and curbs as obstacles in an ever-changing obstacle course. Canine parkour follows the same basic principles but focuses more on the overcoming of the obstacles and less on speed and efficiency. Bouvier Des Ardennes are highly intelligent, agile canines that require vigorous activity on a daily basis in order to be at their mental and physical best, and this ever-shifting canine sport can help to provide that to your dog. 

Step
1
Canine gear
For the most part, canine parkour does not require a large amount of gear, but the gear that is required is particularly important. All that is needed is a sturdy, well-fitted harness to ensure that you can more easily offer aid to a dog that makes a misstep, as well as a sturdy four to six-foot lead. Having your canine companion wear booties with good traction may be helpful in some cases, particularly during temperature extremes as cold sidewalks could lead to frostbite, and overly hot sidewalks can lead to burnt or blistered paw pads.
Step
2
Dog training
When starting out on your first parkour session, you will want a well-trained dog at your side who is enthusiastic but in control of themselves. Several basic obedience commands will help to ensure that both you and your canine companion get the most out of this experience, including a stop or whoa, leave it, and a rock-solid recall. The dog will most likely also need to be trained to crawl, climb, and jump on command in order to successfully navigate the environment. Your dog should never be forced or lured with treats into a situation that makes them uncomfortable.
Step
3
Go
One of the appealing things about this particular activity is that it can be done anywhere that your dog is allowed to go, at just about any time that you want to go. You should always try and be mindful and take safety measures based on the prevailing situation. Avoid potentially slippery surfaces if it has been wet or icy out, utilize booties in cold or hot weather to avoid damage to the paws, and never push your dog beyond their capabilities.
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Search and Rescue

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Any Day
Expensive
Hard
1 - 2 hrs
Items needed
Certifications
Training
Safety Gear
Activity description

The Bouvier Des Ardennes is known for their dedication to getting the job done, and they can be very determined when tracking quarry. These dogs are extremely intelligent and exceptionally adaptable as long as they have their favorite person or people nearby. A Search and Rescue dog needs to be able to focus on their job while remaining aware of their surroundings, a task that is instinctive to this naturally alert canine. The owners or handlers of volunteer Search and Rescue dogs also go through a great deal of training, and all costs associated with being a Search and Rescue dog, such as training, equipment, and in some cases, travel, are shouldered by the dog’s owner, so while this activity is very emotionally and even spiritually fulfilling, it can be financially draining. 

Step
1
Suitability
The job of a Search and Rescue team is grueling physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is essential for the safety of the team and for the safety of those that they are attempting to help that both you and your dog are physically and mentally equipped to deal with the stressors that are often present in many of these situations. A physician should perform a check up on you, and a veterinarian should examine your dog as well, ensuring that both you and your canine companion are well-equipped to deal with the stressors that are an essential part of the process.
Step
2
Person training
The dog is not the only member of a Search and Rescue team that is required to have training and certification. In order to be an effective member of the team, the dog’s handler will be required to have education in life support, first aid, and CPR techniques, and may also require certain specialized training and certificates, such as backcountry survival skills, crime scene preservation, or even bloodborne pathogen standards.
Step
3
Missions
The certifications that are needed to become an official Search and Rescue teams can be acquired through a number of organizations including FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue, National Search Dog Alliance, Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States, and the National Association of Search and Rescue. Once registered with one of these organizations they can help you to determine what type of Search and Rescue missions your team is best suited to and help to find out what sort of equipment, additional training, or insurances you and your canine companion might need.
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More Fun Ideas...

Treibball

Treibball is a sport in which dogs herd as many large, inflatable balls as they can into a goal within a specified amount of time. This sport was designed so that traditional herding dogs can indulge their instinctive need to herd things, even when they have no access to actual livestock.

Boar Hunting

Wild Boars are extremely dangerous animals who can cause serious damage to croplands and forests, and in some cases, must be controlled. While the Bouvier Des Ardennes was most commonly utilized as cattle drover and herding dog, they were also employed as hunting dogs on occasion, specializing in hunting deer and boar. They are fearless and determined trackers who are also intelligent enough to stay out of the way of the boar's tusks.

Conclusion

These are high energy dogs that respond well to training and are good at thinking on the fly as well, making them extremely adaptable dogs, as long as they have a little room to roam. They are affectionate with their family but somewhat wary of strangers, and the high prey drive that is present in many of this breed sometimes makes them inappropriate housemates for smaller animals, including cats.