Activities For Bergamascos

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Introduction

Bergamasco breed dogs are a rather friendly herding dog that developed near the Bergamo area of the Italian Alps to guard and guide sheep in the region. They are more heavily boned that some herding dogs and they have a distinctive shaggy coat that is made up of three types of hair that naturally form loose mats all over their body, a trait that helps to protect them both from the harsh weather in the mountains, as well as from predators. Strong and attentive, the Bergamasco will happily engage in activities with the family.

Herding

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Normal
30 - 90 min
Items needed
Livestock
Activity description

The Bergamasco breed was originally developed as a herding dog in the Italian Alps, and even those dogs without access to livestock may have a strong herding instinct. Herding dogs that do not have an appropriate outlet for their herding instincts will find something to collect together. These dogs are naturally drawn to children and without another outlet for that herding instinct they may attempt to herd your children or even the children of friends and neighbors. One way to ensure that your dog gets an outlet for that herding instinct is to rent a herd of sheep or cattle at a ranch or farm that specializes in teaching dogs to hone their herding instincts. 

Step
1
Check your dog's health
While Bergamascos are typically fairly healthy, herding sheep and cattle is a very physically demanding activity. If your Bergamasco has not had a recent check-up, this is a good time to get that done. Let your veterinarian know your plans or discuss the herding activity with a veterinary professional who is familiar with your dog’s history to ensure that they have a healthy enough heart and strong joints to participate.
Step
2
Do your research
More and more ranches and farms are beginning to offer this opportunity in the United States, and it is becoming easier to find a facility near you, wherever you are. With all the options that are available to you, it becomes essential to do your research and ensure that the ranch you are considering is appropriate for your dog. Some of these places have only sheep while others have several types of animals, and they tend to offer varying levels of teaching and lessons for you and your dog.
Step
3
Herding time
Once you have chosen a facility, the people who run it are likely to evaluate your dog’s herding instincts and drive on your first experience. From there, they can often recommend the proper course load for your specific animal and possibly help you decide if you wish to keep it casual or eventually compete, and what level of competition is appropriate for your pup.
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Canine Freestyle

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Any Day
Cheap
Hard
30 - 60 min
Items needed
Music
Activity description

Canine Freestyle Dance is a dog sport first exhibited in the late 1980s, with the first official freestyle organization forming in British Columbia in 1991. During this activity, the dog performs a series of tricks and commands, similar to canine obedience, alongside their handler or pet parent that are set to music. The choreographed routines seen in this dog sport can be range from simple to complex and can be either dramatic or humorous. Bergamasco dogs tend to form very close bonds with their owners, are quite easy to train, and they tend to be very agile for their size, making them excellent candidates for this activity.

Step
1
Check eligibility
Canine Freestyle can be a physically demanding sport and dogs should be physically healthy before starting this type of activity. Some of the activities that canines take part in during these shows, such as standing on their hind legs or jumping, should be avoided until the dog has matured enough so that they don't injure their musculoskeletal system (at least fourteen or more months of age).
Step
2
Choreograph the routine
There are two types of Canine Freestyle; freestyle heeling to music, in which the dog performs the entire routine while staying in a heel position closed to the handler, and musical freestyle, in which the dog performs additional tricks and commands, such as jumping, rolling over, and other innovative and theatrical tricks and commands. You will want to determine the piece of music that you want to choreograph to, which type of freestyle you will be showcasing, and exactly which steps or tricks you wish to teach your canine companion in order to enhance the performance.
Step
3
Teach your partner
Once you have determined the music you wish to perform to and have chosen choreography that is appropriate for your specific pooch, you should ensure that the tricks and commands that are used are ones that are safe and comfortable for your pup. If your canine companion shows any sign of discomfort or is a novice at tricks such as standing on their hind legs, it is important to be willing to adjust your routine to better fit their needs.
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Hide and Seek

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

Hide and seek is a classic game played by children all over the world and it can be easily modified to entertain our canine companions as well. This activity is one that comes naturally to many types of dogs and with their natural herding and guardianship tendencies Bergamasco breed dogs are no exception. While this game can be taught with the use of treats, many dogs will eagerly play this game for no more reward than your praise and attention. This particular activity is a great activity to indulge in with children as this breed is drawn to children and will naturally seek them out. 

Step
1
Hide
When first playing Hide and Seek with your pooch, you will probably want to pick a fairly simple hiding place, possibly one that is even slightly visible from where your dog is. As your dog begins mastering the concept of trying to find you and begins searching more earnestly, you can begin making the hiding places more and more challenging to locate.
Step
2
Seek
Many herding type dogs, when they realize you are not where they expect you to be, may start looking for you without any real prompting. Other dogs may need a clue before they start looking. Things, like using a squeaky toy or quietly saying the dog’s name, may inspire the dog to start looking for the target if they aren’t otherwise aware of the game.
Step
3
Praise and reward
When your dog finds you, praise them profusely. While many pet parents may also give the dog a treat when they find you this is not always needed, many canines are perfectly happy to play the game strictly for the praise and attention. Choosing to reward your dog with treats too often if they are satisfied with praise can cause them to expect the treat, causing disappointment if the treats are not forthcoming and possibly affecting your dog’s enjoyment of the game.
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More Fun Ideas...

Photo Shoot

The Bergamasco breed, with their long shaggy fur, pleasant expression, and general friendliness, make excellent subjects for a photo shoot, either by themselves or with the whole family.

Therapy Dog

The Bergamasco dog is extremely fond of children and often seeks them out. While they make an excellent therapy dog for most individuals, they are particularly well-suited to visit children who need the attention.  

Conclusion

The Bergamasco breed dog is typically a very friendly dog that is happiest with some sort of job to do. They are somewhat naturally protective, and they enjoy seeking out people, particularly children. The activities listed here should speak to this breed’s inborn instincts, improving both their physical and mental health.