Activities For Appenzeller Mountain Dogs

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Introduction

The Appenzeller Mountain dog, also known as the Appenzeller Sennenhund, is a medium-sized molosser-type mountain dog from Switzerland that was developed by local herders along with three other breeds of Sennenhund. The Appenzeller shares a common ancestry with the three other Sennunhund breeds, such as the Bernese Mountain Dog, as well as a distinctive tri-colored coat. This rare breed is made up of solidly-built athletic animals with a great deal of energy, that typically require a great deal of activity each day. 

Carting

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Sunny Day
Expensive
Hard
15 - 60 min
Items needed
Harness
Cart
Shafts
Tracers
Activity description

Carting with dogs is not a commonly seen activity in the United States, however, dogs have been utilized as drafting animals for many centuries in several different countries. The often were hitched to carts that carried meat and milk to the market as well as carts with the occasional passenger. Due to excessively heavy loads, fears of diseases like rabies, and improper practices, carting with dogs was made illegal in many European countries, but many breeds enjoy this activity when it is properly managed, and it may help to maintain muscle mass and improve cardiovascular health. This breed is sturdily built and particularly well-muscled, and Appenzeller Mountain Dogs have been employed to pull carts in Switzerland for many decades.

Step
1
Determine suitability
While the Appenzeller Mountain Dog breed is generally well-suited to this activity, it is not suitable for all individuals, particularly the young or infirm. Dogs under the age of two should not attempt carting, and before starting this activity ensure that your dog is of sound body for the activity. Your veterinarian will probably focus on the condition of the dog’s joints and heart during their checkup. This is also not the sport for distractable dogs or dogs with a short attention span.
Step
2
Choose your equipment
In order to participate in carting, you will need several pieces of equipment, in particular, a harness, a cart, shafts, the solid metal or wood bars that connect the harness and cart, and tracers, additional lines or straps that run from each side of the harness to the cart. There are both smaller two-wheeled carts and larger four-wheeled carts to choose between, often depending on what your dog will be pulling and how maneuverable it needs to be, and many different types of harness. Some of the harnesses to consider include the siwash harness, a type of harness with a padded “V” shape that crosses the chest or a buckle harness, with a thick band that goes across the chest of the dog.
Step
3
Train commands
Before you start training your dog for carting, they should have a good grasp of basic commands such as sit, stay, and leave it. Many pet parents who are just starting out with canine carting may find it easiest to find a local club with members and trainers who can mentor them. Dogs are usually started with just the harness on; then the tracers are added after a few days to get the dog used to how that feels. Once the dog is comfortable with the harness and tracers, empty milk jugs are added onto the tracers to get the dog used to the weight and sounds, all before the cart is ever even attached.
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Herding

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Normal
15 - 60 min
Items needed
Livestock
Activity description

The Appenzeller Mountain dog and its ancestors were often employed as all-around farm dogs, frequently herding livestock such as sheep and cattle to market, as well as pulling carts and guarding their homes and families against intruders and predators. Many of these dogs retain their natural herding instincts and can easily be taught the proper skills to wrangle a herd of either cows or sheep. Many pet parents who do not have livestock of their own have turned to specialty farms that are designed specifically to give the homebound herding animal a chance to try their hand at this physically and mentally dynamic activity.

Step
1
Do a health check
Herding requires a great deal of both stamina and agility, and it is important to ensure that your dog is in good enough physical shape to participate in this activity. If your dog has not had a recent check-up, now would be a good time to do that. Let your veterinarian know about your plans and they can ensure that your dog’s joints and cardiovascular system are healthy enough to take part in this activity.
Step
2
Do your research
While herd rental facilities are still fairly new, they are growing in popularity as many pet parents are searching for ways to help satisfy their herding dog’s instincts other than herding the neighborhood kids. The ranches can often be a bit of a drive for many people, and it is important to be sure that it is the right fit for you and your dog. Do your research by checking reviews, visiting with the trainers at the facility, and getting recommendations from trustworthy and knowledgeable people.
Step
3
Evaluation
In many cases, your dog’s first experience with herding will also be an evaluation of the animal’s instinct and drive, to determine if those instincts are strong enough to overcome natural prey drive of the canine. If your dog does have the herding instinct to make this sport more than just a one-time experience, you can either continue to simply enjoy the sport on a casual basis, or you can pursue the prizes and titles that can be earned during official herding trials.
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Agility Training

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
5 - 60 min
Items needed
Treats
Leash
Activity description

Appenzeller Mountain Dogs tend to be a little larger than the average agility competitor, but they tend to be very agile for their size and have the capacity to do quite well at agility competitions. Traits like their intelligence and their tendency to bond closely with their owner and family help them to quickly pick up on their handler’s commands and make adjustments on the fly, helpful traits during agility competitions, although their independent and assertive nature can sometimes make training a bit challenging. This exercise, whether pursued casually or on a competition level, can provide quite a workout for your dog, both mentally and physically. 

Step
1
Introduce obstacles
Standard agility course obstacles may seem strange and unsettling to your pet at first so it may be best to introduce them to your dog one at a time. While obstacles such as the weave poles, the A-frame, and the tunnel are suitable for all ages, those that involve jumping activities, such as hurdles and tire jumps, should wait until the joints are fully formed.
Step
2
Putting it together
As your canine companion becomes more confident in their abilities, you can start stringing two or three of the steps together, eventually combining all of the different obstacles in greater numbers and with greater complexity. Competition level courses tend to string obstacles together in groups of around fifteen to twenty-two, usually in several different categories such as contact obstacles, jumps, and others.
Step
3
Compete
While this activity is beneficial for your dog even on a casual basis, many teams find that competition brings out the best in their partnership, strengthening their communication skills and their overall bond. Local agility and dog sport training centers and groups will be able to steer you in the correct direction for your dog’s skill levels and provide helpful tips for participating in your first competitions.
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More Fun Ideas...

Schutzhund

Schutzhund is a dog sport developed in Germany in the early twentieth century as a way to test German Shepherd dogs for breed suitability and is now utilized to determine the suitability of many different breeds for police, protection, and security jobs.

Puppy Playgroup or Group Training

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog tends to get along well with other dogs when properly socialized, but unsocialized dogs may become suspicious and aggressive towards other dogs. Puppy playgroups and group training lessons are often great ways to enhance socialization efforts.

Conclusion

The Appenzeller Mountain Dog is an active and intelligent molosser-type dog that requires vigorous physical activity as well as mental stimulation each day. They were bred to be a hard-working member of the family with whom they have an extremely close connection, and can become anxious or irritable if not given enough daily exercise and attention.