Activities For Black Norwegian Elkhounds

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Introduction

The Black Norwegian Elkhound is typically a very active canine, sometimes even described as restless, with both a strong work drive and a strong prey drive. While they will relish walks, jogs, and hikes as much as the next dog, they prefer something a little more challenging on a regular basis and can become noisy and destructive if left to their own devices. Fortunately, they enjoy learning new things and are well built for a wide range of activities, giving you and your pooch a variety of fun things to do. 

Skijor

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Cold Day
Expensive
Hard
30 - 90 Minutes
Items needed
Ski Equipment
Towline
Skijor Belt for You
Pulling Harness for Dog
Neckline (if tandem)
Booties (optional, but recommended)
Belly Band (optional, may be part of harness)
Activity description

Skijor is a Nordic sport in which a person on skis is pulled by a vehicle, horse, or dog. Dog Skijor was designed for Arctic sled pulling dogs like Huskies, Samoyeds, and Malamutes, but any dog over thirty-five pounds is able to safely participate in this sport. The thick coat of the Black Norwegian Elkhound is perfect for keeping your dog warm and while the Black Norwegian Elkhound may be on the small side for the sport, they are powerful and they love to run. In Scandinavia, dogs like the Norwegian Elkhound are frequently used to pull a type of low slung toboggan know as a pulk. 

Step
1
Gear up
In any cross-country skiing excursion, the gear is an important part of the equation, and this is not an exception for the sport of Skijor. Along with the skis, poles, boots, and bindings that the traditional skier needs, as a skijor participant, you will require a specialized harness for your dog, a skijor belt for yourself, and a towline to connect the two. A belly band for your dog will prevent them from backing out of the harness if they are so inclined and more importantly, it can also help to protect their belly somewhat from the elements and a good pair of booties will protect against snow accumulation, frostbite, and injury. Ensure that everything fits snugly and is free from defects before each activity or training session.
Step
2
Train up
Once your dog is used to wearing their equipment, it is time to teach them the commands that they will need to respond to. They will need to learn commands to get into position to start (line-out), to pull (hike), to slow down (easy) or to continue by a distraction (on-by or leave-it). Unless you only plan on going in one direction, teaching them to turn right (gee) or left (haw) is also important, as is a simple whoa, or stop. These commands may take several weeks to a few months to master, depending on your dog, but it is important that your Skijor partner consistently responds to your commands while you are on foot, with better physical control, before you switch to skis. Many new skijor enthusiasts may wish to find a class or skijoring group in the area to mentor them.
Step
3
Hit the trail (safely)
Make sure that you know the route before running it with your dog or dogs the for the first time and while gear like helmets and elbow pads may not be strictly required, they may be a good idea in the beginning. Either use the buddy system and skijor with another enthusiast, or be sure to let someone know exactly where you will be skijoring and when you will return, particularly for excursions into wooded or remote areas, and use reflective tape and a headlamp if skiing in low light. Start with shorter trips at first to help your dog build their confidence and endurance and never push your pup to go faster or further than they are willing to go.
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Hide and Seek

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Any Day
Free
Normal
15 - 45 Minutes
Items needed
You
Hiding places
Activity description

This childhood classic can be modified to make an entertaining and educational game for your Black Norwegian Elkhound that makes use of their natural tracking ability. While this game is simple in its concept, you hide, the dog seeks, and there is praise and celebration when they find you, it can be made quite complex if there are enough places to hide. This game not only encourages your dog to use and refine their tracking ability, it encourages bonding, and if the hiding places are far enough apart it can even help your pooch to work off some of that extra physical energy they have as well.

Step
1
Getting the idea
In many cases, you can start the game simply by waiting until your pup is distracted and slipping off to a fairly simple hiding place, possibly one that is also partially visible. It usually doesn’t take long before your dog naturally starts looking for you, and when they find you its praise and celebration time. If you have distracted your dog too well, and they don’t come looking on their own, calling them from your hiding place, or having someone else in the house ask the dog “Where’s (your name)?” is usually enough to get them curious and make them motivated to find you. For some dogs, praise and celebration aren’t quite enough to motivate them; try tossing them their favorite toy as a reward. If you can resist the urge to use treats for this game, it will be beneficial for your pup and your pocketbook.
Step
2
Refining
Once your pooch has gotten a general idea of the game and is locating you on a regular basis in easy spots, its time to start making it a challenge. Hide in more difficult spots with less visibility, make use of additional rooms or the backyard if possible, use a less direct route to get to your hiding spot and stop in multiple places. If you are outside you can try well-known tricks like doubling back or going through puddles to see if your faithful furball can still find your scent.
Step
3
Adding intensity
While the first two steps are challenging enough to keep most dogs happy, Black Norwegian Elkhounds are naturally quite talented at tracking prey and can often handle tracking sessions that are even more challenging. Twists that can take your hide and seek game to a higher level can include searching with lights off, having multiple people hide, or involving another person to handle the leash and taking your hide and seek game to a park or wooded area that your canine companion is less familiar with.
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New Trick

Popular
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Any Day
Free
Normal
5 - 15 Minutes
Items needed
Clicker
Treats
Activity description

This is a great activity for a restless dog like the Black Norwegian Elkhound, one that depends on your dog’s creative thinking skills rather than shaping their behavior. The point of this game is to get your dog to do something “new”. Not only does this diversion help your canine to become a more creative thinker, but it can help to improve your dog’s working memory as well. This works best with the use of a clicker for training, but if you are like me and tend to lose small items like clickers, clicking your tongue or using a verbal marker like “Yes” or “Right” will often work in a pinch. 

Step
1
What's a clicker?
A clicker is a small plastic or metal device that makes a clicking sound whenever you press it. Its entire job is to make that clicking sound. Your job is to get your dog to associate that sound with a reward. If you can remember that every time that you make that sound, your dog gets a treat, then it won’t take long before your dog remembers that too.
Step
2
Playing the game
The rules of this game are simple, but like many games with simple rules, this game can get incredibly complex rather quickly. You say “New Trick,” and wait for your dog to do something, lie down, sit, extend a paw, it can be anything, prompting you click and treat. Then you say “New Trick” again, and again, whatever behavior or trick that your dog exhibits get a click and a treat, as long as it hasn’t already been done. For example, you say “New Trick” and your dog extends their paw, you click and treat, but if you say “New Trick” again, and your dog extends their paw again, they do not get a reward for that behavior, however, if they sit or lie down instead they are rewarded, as that is a "new" trick. The goal is to do as many tricks as possible without repeating any.
Step
3
Pay attention!
If you keep working at this game you may find that your dog comes up with some new and unexpected tricks and behaviors. It’s a good idea to note these new and creative behaviors that your dog comes up with as they can later be paired with a command to further improve your dog's training and skills. It can also be useful to note which behaviors that they suddenly start avoiding as well, as avoidance may indicate sore joints or other physical challenges.
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More Fun Ideas...

Agility Training

The Black Norwegian Elkhound is particularly quick and agile, even more so than the grey variety of Norwegian Elkhound and they are likely to excel at running agility courses.  

Herding Trials

While these dogs were developed with hunting and tracking skills in mind, they are also quite capable herding dogs. If you want to see just how capable your Black Norwegian Elkhound is at herding livestock, there are now facilities available where you can rent out the livestock and the herding field, so your dog can get a taste of the working life.  

Jump Rope

Black Norwegian Elkhounds have short, strong backs that give them a great deal of extra bounce. Put this to good use by teaching your dog how to jump rope. While treats may be required to help your dog get the idea, once your dog gets going with this activity, they may never want to stop

Conclusion

The Black Norwegian Elkhound is an active dog with a keen mind and like many working breeds, they require a great deal of physical and mental exercise to be at their happiest and healthiest. While this breed is willing to learn just about anything you want it to learn if positive training techniques are used, they can become stubborn and aggressive if heavy-handed techniques are used. Keep your activity with this dog fun, frolicsome, and frequent and both you and your dog will be content.