Activities For Briards

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Introduction

Briards are an intelligent working breed, bred to be a companion to shepherds out in the field. They do have a dominant nature and require early socialization and training. The Briard will be aloof towards strangers but will become very bonded with their family. Without proper training and socialization, they can develop separation anxiety and other undesirable traits. Briards will bite and become aggressive towards people they perceive as a threat to their family. These dogs are naturally athletic and will generally excel at many different activities with the exception of catch because of the way their eyes are placed. They have difficulty seeing small objects up close that are flying at them. They do well pulling carts and therefore also excel in weight pulling. With a strong handler, they can also excel in agility and herding trials. 

Weight Pulling

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
15 min
Items needed
Weight Pull Harness
Cart
Weights
Treats
Leash/Collar
Activity description

Some people feel that weight pulling is extremely difficult on dogs; however, when done correctly it builds lean muscle, creates a bond with their owners, and also helps with behavior problems. There are several professional organizations such as the American Pulling Dogs Association (APDA) and the International Weight Pull Dogs Association (IWPA) that regulate weight pulling events. The United Kennel Club (UKC) also closely regulates all weight pulling events associated with their dog shows. The weight that your dog is expected to pull is based on your dog’s skill level and weight; even Toy Poodles can participate in weight pulling events. You will need to purchase a weight pull harness and either join a club that offers weight pull or also purchase a cart for training purposes. 

Step
1
Fit the harness
When starting weight pulling; your first step will be to fit your dog with a proper harness. Any harness will not work for weight pulling, the harness must be made specifically for weight pulling and be the correct fit for your dog’s size. Weight pulling harnesses can be expensive and it is important to purchase the correct one. Ask seasoned weight pull exhibitors about their dogs’ harnesses and seek their advice on the best place to purchase a harness. Some dog clubs will offer used equipment for newcomers to the sport to purchase at a greatly reduced price.
Step
2
Start slow
There are specific weight classes and when you are first starting weight pull with your Briard you do not want to start with a full load on the cart. If your dog has never done weight pulling, start by having them drag an empty cart. Once they are used to the motion of pulling in the harness and know what is expected of them you will increase the amount of weight put on the cart. Do not push your dog too quickly as you can cause injury to them if they try to pull too much too quickly.
Step
3
Give breaks
After each pull, make sure your dog is given a 5 to 10 minute break before expecting them to pull again. Keep plenty of clean water on hand and offer them a drink after each pull. You will also want to give small rewards to your dog once they have completed a pull and never scold a dog for not being able to pull. The experience needs to always be positive so your Briard is willing to give their all with each pull.
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Boating

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Normal
1 hr
Items needed
Life Vest
Collar/Leash
Boat
Shade
Emergency Kit
Treats
Activity description
Briards are happy being with their people. Therefore, if you like to go boating, you can easily teach your Briard to enjoy the experience. The main thing to remember when boating with your dog is to bring enough fresh water for your dog and provide shade while on the boat. The sun can be cruel and a Briard can easily overheat if they have to sit in the sun while gliding through the water on a boat. Keep a life vest on your dog while on the boat and make sure you have taught your dog how to swim. Do not stay out on the water for hours, plan shorter boating trips with your four-legged skipper.

Step
1
Teach to swim
Before putting your dog on a boat, make sure your Briard knows how to swim. Fit them with a life vest and slowly introduce them to the water. Some Briards will enjoy the experience of swimming while others may not find this to be a fun activity. However, when on the water, it is important to practice safety and everyone on board your boat needs to be able to swim in case of a disaster.
Step
2
Prepare for trip
When boating with your Briard, this should not be an impromptu decision unless you keep provisions onboard your boat at all times. You will need to pack fresh water and a water bowl for your dog. Also make sure you have a first aid kit for your dog that includes antibiotic ointment, Pepto Bismal, emergency food packs, emergency ice packs, and gauze pads. It is always best to be prepared for any circumstance. Make sure your boat offers some type of shade for your dog while out on the water to keep them out of direct sunlight.
Step
3
Enjoy the water
Once you have packed your boat with your provisions, take your dog out for short trips to start so they can get used to the feel of the boat moving through the water. Some dogs will become panicked on a boat and if you notice your Briard is having difficulty adjusting to the movement of the boat, turn and take them back to dry land as quickly as possible.
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Cart Pulling

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Normal
30 min
Items needed
Cart
Cart Harness
Collar/Leash
Treats
Activity description

Many years ago, Briards were used as cart dogs to transport goods between villages. Nowadays, they are not needed to transport goods; however, a well-trained cart dog is always a fun sight to see in parades or walking through the park. It can be pricey to teach your Briard to pull a cart simply because you need a special cart harness and a cart. Do not allow your dog to become overtired when pulling a cart and always offer encouragement and treats when they are in the harness. After your dog has become fully trained to pull a cart, you can enter them in several different activities or even have them pull your kids through the neighborhood while they are trick-or-treating!

Step
1
Basic obedience
Before a dog can become a trusted cart dog, they must know their basic obedience. If you are a seasoned handler, you can easily train your dog at home. However, if you are still learning the basics, find a local dog training class and enroll your dog. An untrained dog pulling a cart can cause harm, especially if your dog gets spooked and bolts away from you and into a crowd of people.
Step
2
Fit the harness
Remember, not just any harness will work to pull a cart. There are specialty harnesses for each dog activity and a cart harness functions differently from a weight pull harness or a walking harness. Take your dog with you when picking out the harness and ask a specialist for help with fitting the harness. You do not want your dog to be uncomfortable in their harness and you do not want them to be able to easily slip out of the harness.
Step
3
Pull the cart
Once you have the right harness, it is time to hook your dog to the cart and coax them into slowly pulling the cart. Start with an empty cart and have them pull it for only about five minutes. Work them up to pulling the cart for 30 minutes and then you can start adding weight to the cart. Once your dog has become accustomed to the harness and cart, you can start taking them for short walks through your neighborhood.
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More Fun Ideas...

Herding Trials

Even though the Briard is in the herding group, they were actually more companion and protector of the sheep and shepherd. That does not mean they cannot do well in herding, they will just need a little more encouragement to properly herd the flock and not become too protective while doing their job. Herding trials take a lot of work and require dog and handler to work as a team; it is a great bonding experience.

Agility Trials

For the most part, Briards do make great agility dogs. However, sometimes they can become stubborn or their dominant nature can cause them to not want to listen while on the agility course. When doing agility with your Briard, make sure you are the absolute leader of the team willing to take charge and guide them through the course. 

Conclusion

Briards may look like large, shaggy, huggable dogs, but they can be rather aloof towards strangers and will exhibit aggression towards those they perceive a threat. Early socialization and training is a must for this dog. Be sure to choose activities that reinforce your role as the leader and allow you to work as a team with your dog. No matter what activity you choose, keep it fun and do not put any extra pressure on your dog. These activities are supposed to help your dog expend some of their energy so they are well-adjusted members of your family.