Activities For Australian Terriers

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Introduction

The Australian Terrier is a diminutive but sturdy working terrier that tends to get along better with other pets and be less vocal than most other terrier breeds. It is important to remember, however, that this tiny dog is a predator and smaller animals that scurry, such as hamsters, rats, and mice, are not likely to be safe around these dogs. While they are both small and quiet enough to make excellent apartment dogs, they do need a great deal of activity to be kept at their healthiest and happiest. 

Barn Hunt

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Easy
15 - 90 min
Items needed
Leash
Activity description

While Australian Terriers are smallest of the working terrier breeds and are usually seen as a companion animal in the modern world, they were bred to be working terriers and they have a strong desire to track and eliminate rodents and other vermin. This is a useful trait in barns and drafty houses that allow the vermin in, but in today’s modern homes, these little dogs rarely get to use the skills that they were bred for. The newly developed sport of Barn Hunt allows your wee hunter to explore the bolder side of their temperament in a safe and controlled manner by hunting actual rats.

Step
1
Find a club
The new sport of Barn Hunt is quickly gaining popularity, and as it is not a sport that most people can easily replicate in their backyard, most participants will need to find a club or group dedicated to Barn Hunt in order to find opportunities to both practice and compete, at many different levels. You can either access the list of clubs recognized by the Barn Hunt Association on their website or you can speak to local dog sports academies and training centers to see if they can offer any recommendations
Step
2
Dog meets rat
In most circumstances, introducing your ratting dog to a rat could have a disastrous outcome, particularly for the rat. Fortunately for the rats that are used as bait in these trials, they are cocooned in safety tubes and are often family pets that have trained to be comfortable in their safety tube with dogs being dogs right outside. Special care is taken to ensure that the rats are not only safe during this activity, but that they feel safe as well.
Step
3
Compete
By its very nature, the sport of Barn Hunt is somewhat competitive but there are levels of difficulty for all different types of canine, even senior dogs, and dogs that have physical impairments, each with their own titles and championships. Many participants in this type of activity have found that although Barn Hunt is a competitive dog sport, winning and losing is less important in many cases than the level of fulfillment that it brings to dogs that were bred for pest control.
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Search For Supper

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Any Day
Free
Easy
5 - 45 min
Items needed
Kibble
Activity description

Teaching your dog to search for their supper is an activity that can help make your little terrier’s meals more entertaining for them as well as providing them with a safe opportunity to use their natural skill at finding hidden things in their environment. Australian Terriers are very active and clever canines, and if not given enough opportunities to use their mind they will often attempt to find their own entertainment and get into mischief in the process. Allowing them to search for their supper gives them the opportunity to use their problem-solving skills at home in conjunction with their natural instinct to forage.

Step
1
Start slow
This is a particularly important step with mature adult dogs as their suppertime has most likely become an expected routine and they have typically been fed around the same time, in the same place, often with the same food for quite some time. Often, it is least confusing for your dog if you hid the food in the bowl, just a few feet from your dog’s normal supper spot, like just behind a chair, or around the corner. Remember not to force your dog to break rules to find their food. If your dog is not allowed in the kitchen don’t hide it there, and don’t use any surfaces that you may normally leave human food, like tables and counters.
Step
2
Distance
Once your dog has been clued into the game and quickly starts looking for their hidden meal, you can increase the distance and difficulty a little bit. This can be accomplished by hiding their dinner in slightly more difficult places to find, such as in open boxes, in closets, or even under beds as long as it is somewhere they are allowed to go. Some pet parents find that if they start this activity at the same time as they eat, they are able to finish their supper without being stared out.
Step
3
Increase the challenge
Once hiding the food in the food bowl has become old hat for your canine companion, you can increase the challenge even more by separating their meal into several small meals and hiding it in several different places. Separating the meal into small meals helps to ensure that your dog isn’t as likely to overeat at mealtime and if hidden far enough apart can provide an extra opportunity for the dog to get in some physical exercise as well.
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Toy Time

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Any Day
Moderate
Easy
5 - 30 min
Items needed
Toys
Activity description

Dogs of all types tend to enjoy toys, and they can be a particularly helpful means to keep an indoor dog from getting bored. Some dogs prefer puzzle toys that make them think for their food, while other dogs prefer toys they can chew. Dog toys not only entertain your dog, they help to reduce anxiety and may even improve your dog’s overall mood and disposition by stimulating their minds and making them think. Toys can be a good means of entertaining your pup and possibly even reducing separation anxiety issues, allowing you to be busy attending to other things nearby while your dog is safely occupied. 

Step
1
Toys that make noise
Most terriers and other hunting or pest control dogs tend to respond quickly to toys that make a high squeaking sound, reminiscent of their natural prey animals. Other sounds that your Australian Terrier may find stimulating or even comforting when playing could include sounds like crinkling or rattling. Some of the newer high tech toys designed for dogs even create realistic animals sounds and human voices.
Step
2
Toys that taste good
Toys that taste good can be an exceptional way to distract dogs of all shapes and sizes. This category of toys can include puzzle-type toys that your dog is required to manipulate in some way to release the kibble or treats or chewing-based toys like the Kong, that releases the flavor hidden in the toy only when the toy is chewed on.
Step
3
Toys that smell good
Toys that are imbued with a light scent of some sort may be particularly helpful in comforting dogs that are feeling nervous or anxious. Dogs are of all sorts are much more sensitive to smells than humans and can have a profound impact on our pets. While toys based on the practice of aromatherapy are available at many well-stocked pet stores, many dogs can be comforted by a toy made with a shirt or sock that was previously worn by their favorite person. Toys that smell good can also be used as a stimulating influence rather than calming and may include fetch toys like scented tennis balls that make it easier for your pooch to track the object.
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More Fun Ideas...

Earthdog Trials

Although your Australian Terrier may be one of the smallest participants at Earthdog trials, they are just as capable as the other terrier-type breeds.

Competitive Obedience

Australian Terriers are energetic little dogs, with quick and agile minds. They can be a bit stubborn initially during training, but often thrive when it is continued to advanced levels. 

Conclusion

Australian Terriers may be small, but they are still highly intelligent, energetic dogs with a high prey drive and they need daily exercise and mental stimulation or they can become anxious and develop unwanted behaviors like destructive chewing.  Fortunately, like most terriers, they also have the quality of gameness and are generally willing to partake in a large number of activities that are beneficial for both their mind and their bodies.