Activities For Afghan Hounds

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Introduction

Afghan Hounds are an ancient and powerful breed of sighthound that typically stands more than two feet tall at the shoulder. Once bred and trained to take down wild animals ranging from hares to snow leopards, these canines are also known for their elegance and regal bearing. Like other sighthounds, this breed loves to run, clocking in with an average running speed of forty miles per hour, has an extremely high prey drive, and a curious and independent nature. These dogs can be distinguished from other large sighthounds by their long, silky coats which tend to require a great deal of grooming.

Lure Coursing

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Normal
15 - 90 min
Items needed
Crate
Water
Muzzle (if required by the specific club)
Activity description

Like other sighthounds, Afghan Hounds were bred to hunt and take down game. They are independent thinkers with an extremely high prey drive, bred to chase and bring down prey such as hare and mountain antelope as well as to provide protection from local predators such as jackals and snow leopards. Lure coursing is an emerging dog sport in which a dogs with high prey drives can satisfy their urges to chase in a safe and controlled manner by chasing a lure, usually a white plastic bag, which is attached to a series of pulleys that moves the bag quickly around the field in a zig-zag pattern to mimic the speed and quick direction changes of fleeing game. 

Step
1
Examine your dog
This sport is very demanding physically, and it is often a good idea to have your dog checked over by a veterinary professional before engaging in physically demanding activities. If your dog is older, overweight, or if you have any other doubts about their overall health, your veterinarian can help to determine if they are healthy enough to run. When checking to ensure that your canine companion is strong and healthy enough to participate in this activity, your veterinarian is likely to pay special attention to the health of their heart and their joints.
Step
2
Find a club
While there are only four officially sanctioned coursing clubs: the Federation Cynologique Internationale, the American Kennel Club, the American Sighthound Field Associaton, and the Canadian Kennel Club, there are many smaller local clubs found throughout the United States that can help show you the ropes. It is often recommended that you and your dog visit at least one coursing event as spectators before participating in lure coursing as competitors, both to acclimate your canine to the sights and sounds of competition and to evaluate their behavior.
Step
3
Learn and compete
This sport is designed to be fairly instinctual for your dog, but there does tend to be a little bit of research required by the owner of the participating canine. Individual clubs and competitions often have different rules and regulations with some institutions having stricter rules such as requiring muzzles on all dogs until it is time to course, and others being somewhat laxer. When you enroll to compete for the first time, it is often advisable to mention that you are new to the sport as some courses will allow first time competitors to run the course by themselves first and are likely to take time to go over the proper usage of the slip lead and coursing blankets that are usually required for competition.
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Canicross

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Normal
5 - 45 min
Items needed
Harness (for dog)
Hip Belt (for human)
Bungee Line or Lead
Activity description

The activity of canicross is the sport of running with either one or two dogs connected to you by way of a bungee line, which allows both you and the canine or canines you are exercising with more freedom when you are out adventuring together. This set up allows the human to run faster and with more stability by freeing up their hands and also allows the dog to extend themselves further by allowing the human participant to run faster. While any breed at all can participate in canicross activities, it is an activity particularly well-suited to sighthounds like the Afghan Hound. 

Step
1
Get good equipment
The activity of canicross does require some specialized equipment. The harness that you use for your dog should be sturdy and it should fit snuggly, but not so snugly that there isn’t room for the chest to expand when running. The bungee lead that connects your hip belt to your dog is also an important piece of equipment as this lead provides shock absorption for both you and your dog during your running adventures.
Step
2
Train your dog
In order to participate in canicross, you will need to be able to clearly communicate your needs to your dog. Your dog will need some sort of verbal command for instructions such as go right, go left, speed up, slow down, and to pass something by. While many people choose mushing terms to give commands, any fairly short command that is easy to say distinctly while still running will work.
Step
3
Get moving
Once you have the communication down, it’s time to take your dog outside and get moving. Canicross is generally considered to be a cross-country sport and is most often done off-road at places like woodland parks and forestry trails and a mix of hard and soft ground for your dog to run over is typically recommended as it provides the best conditioning for the pads of the paws.
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Flirt Pole Play

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
5 - 60 min
Items needed
Flirt Pole
Activity description

A flirt pole consists of a pole, a line, and a lure, like a tug toy or rope. It looks very similar to many cat toys and is used in much the same way, to entice your animal to show their more athletic or acrobatic side by running and jumping in an attempt to catch the lure on the end of the line. Canine flirt poles are quite a bit larger than the average cat toy, usually with a pole that is between four and six feet long. This particular activity is enjoyed most by dogs with a high prey drive, and it can help your dog improve their agility, stamina, and in some cases, their ability to follow commands when in a state of excitement. 

Step
1
Is it right for you?
While this is a great activity for many Afghan Hounds, it is not an appropriate activity for all. Dogs that are under a year old or that have problems in relation to their joints, hips, or heart should avoid this activity, as should dogs that become over stimulated, stop listening to cues, or even become aggressively possessive of the toy.
Step
2
Buy or make a flirt pole
While there are several commercial varieties of flirt pole, such as the ones made by Kong and by Squishy Face Studios, many people choose to fashion their own flirt pole instead. An easy version of the flirt pole can be made using four to six feet of PVC pipe, ten to fifteen feet of rope, and a dog tug-toy or other suitable cloth lure.
Step
3
Toy and tool
While this can simply be used as a toy to entertain your dog and wear them out, it can also be utilized to strengthen their training and to get your dog used to listening for your commands even in a state of emotional arousal. Incorporate positive training methods to teach your dog to respond to commands like come, sit, or wait even while the flirt pole is in motion. Remember that these are not designed as tug toys and allowing your dog to tug too hard on this toy could cause injury to both you and your pup.
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More Fun Ideas...

Agility Training

This breed is well-known for being both fast and agile. Training an Afghan Hound can sometimes be a challenge due to their independent nature, but watching an elegant and well-trained Afghan Hound perform agility work is a treat that is certainly worth the effort.

Spa Day

Afghan Hounds typically require a great deal of attention when being groomed. Try making the experience a little more pleasant and relaxing for both of you by the addition of calming elements to the atmosphere like soothing music, soft lighting, and gentle, pet-safe aromatherapy oil defusers.

Conclusion

Afghan Hounds can become destructively curious when they are not given enough mental stimulation as well as the opportunity to run on a regular basis but are typically aloof but mild-mannered, although they can occasionally show a more affectionate and clownish demeanor towards their human and canine friends and family. The activities we have described are perfect for this clever canine and engaging in them will give you a happy and healthy companion.