Activities For Cretan Hounds

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Introduction

The Cretan Hound, also known as the Kritikós Lagonikós, is considered to be one of the oldest breeds of hunting dogs native to Europe, and although their development predates written records, there is evidence that suggests that they may date back as far as the Minoan culture. They are highly skilled hunters who utilize both their senses of smell and sight when pursuing their quarry, which is most commonly rabbits, although they have been known to go after feathered prey as well as keeping down the mouse and rat population. While they can be somewhat reserved or aloof when dealing with strangers, they are calm and affectionate with their own families.

Canicross

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
15 - 45 min
Items needed
Canicross Hip or Waist Belt
Canicross Dog Harness
Canicross Bungee Lead
Activity description

Canicross was originally developed in Europe as a way to exercise sledding dogs in the offseason but has become a popular sport for many athletic and energetic dogs. This sport, which uses bungee lines to connect a human participant to either one or two canine runners. The bungee line connects the dogs to a hip or waist belt worn by the human, which frees up the human partner’s hands and allows both canine and human to exercise more effectively. Individuals can enjoy this pastime as a purely recreational activity, or they can indulge a more competitive spirit by entering canicross races and events. Your Cretan Hound will love to partake in this moderately priced activity any day of the week!

Step
1
Equipment
This sport does require a few specific pieces of equipment. The human party requires either a hip or waist belt, both of which are available with or without leg loops, depending on the participant's preference, and the canine party requires a sturdy harness which fits the dog snuggly enough that it doesn’t shift and chafe, but not so tightly that it restricts their breathing when running. The specialized bungee lead that connects the two is designed to be shock absorbent and should be checked for proper elasticity before each run.
Step
2
Training
As your Cretan Hound is in front of you during this activity, they are unable to read hand or facial cues, so will need to be trained to specific verbal instructions. They will need commands that can instruct them to go right, go left, speed up, slow down, and to pass by something that might ordinarily be interesting without breaking their concentration. Many canicross participants choose mushing terms to instruct their canine companions, however, short, easy to hear command can be used.
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3
Get going
Once you and your dog are communicating smoothly, you can move your activity to the open road. This sport was designed to be cross-country and is most commonly run off-road in places such as forestry trails and woodland parks rather than on streets or sidewalks, in order to avoid injury to the legs and feet of either participant.
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Competitive Scent Work

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
15 - 45 min
Items needed
Scent Oils
Reward
Activity description

Dogs, on average, have approximately ten to twenty times more olfactory receptors in their nasal passages than humans do. To compound their olfactory superiority, the portion of their brain that is dedicated to analyzing and categorizing different scents is around forty times larger than our own. Cretan Hound breed dogs have been helping hunters to locate rabbit and other game animals for thousands of years and are particularly well known for their ability to detect both trails left on the ground and scents wafting through the air. The scenting ability demonstrated by this hound is exceptionally helpful when hunting, and it can also be a useful skill to hone for competitive scent work or search and rescue operations. Purchase the supplies as a good investment toward a rewarding activity for your pup!

Step
1
Choose a scent
Competitions for scent work typically utilize specific scents, most commonly clove, birch, and anise and most introductory scent work kits come equipped with essential oils in these varieties. Anise can have a similar effect on dogs as catnip for cats, and is naturally attractive to them, making it a good choice for a first scent to work with. Make sure that you are careful with the application and storage of these oils so that you aren’t scenting objects that you don't intend to. Consult with your vet as to their opinion on which scents will be safe for your pal.
Step
2
First steps
Start by adding the scent you have chosen to five or six identical items so that no matter which choice your dog makes, it is a correct one. Reinforce each time they touch a scented object with a reward of some sort, either food treat, praise, or a click if they are clicker trained. This is to help your dog connect the scent to the reward. After a few repetitions of this, remove one scented item and replace it with an unscented item, being especially careful not to transfer any of the scented oil to the new item. Reward your pooch each time they touch a scented object, but withhold the reward when your dog indicates the unscented object. Once your dog is ignoring the unscented object, you can then replace one more of the scented items with an unscented one, until only one of the items is scented.
Step
3
Materials and locations
Dogs that are training for competitive scent work trials or obedience related scent work should be trained to locate the scent on multiple types of surfaces, most notably metal, cotton, and leather objects. Competitions for scent work typically require that the dog is able to search in several settings, including interior, exterior, vehicle searches, and in containers.
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Chasing Bubbles

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
10 - 30 min
Items needed
Dog-Safe Soap Bubbles
Activity description

The nearly mystical way that colors swirl across the surface of floating soap bubbles and the graceful way that they dance through the air have been fascinating people of all ages for a very long time. Some of the earliest depictions of bubble blowing go back hundreds of years; Jean Simeon Chardin painted a piece entitled Soap Bubbles in the late 1700s, which portrays a young man leaning out a window and blowing a soap bubble using a pipe. Dogs tend to be intrigued by floating soap bubbles as well, and just a little bit of encouragement will have most dogs chasing these ephemeral toys with great abandon, giving them an opportunity for both physical and mental exercise. This is a particularly enjoyable activity for dogs like Cretan Hound dogs, which are known for their high prey drive. 

Step
1
Bubbles
While children’s bubbles are non-toxic in general, they can cause mild stomach upset when ingested, and while ingesting them is uncommon in children, to most dogs the most enjoyable part of playing with bubbles is popping them, which is typically accomplished by biting at them. Bubbles designed specifically for canines are less likely to cause stomach upset, and may even be scented and flavored in order to better entice dogs into chasing them.
Step
2
Introductions
The majority of dogs will chase bubbles with very little encouragement needed, particularly if they are scented in an appealing way, but some dogs can become timid if they are introduced to them incorrectly. Raining a large number of bubbles on your dog from above can be frightening to some pups, but if you start by blowing just a few bubbles down at your dog’s chest level, this fear can typically be avoided. If your dog just seems a little confused rather than excited, try pointing to the bubbles and encourage your dog to chase and catch them, and if all else fails, you can demonstrate that bubbles are meant to be chased and caught, by doing so yourself.
Step
3
Bubble machines
Many dogs become experts at popping bubbles very quickly and trying to keep up with your pup’s demand for more bubbles can become exhausting just as quickly. Some individuals prefer to utilize bubble machines to keep up with their dog’s demand for more bubbles to catch. Although they require refilling on a frequent basis, they can provide a great opportunity to keep your dog busy for a few minutes while you do something nearby. Some dogs may hover over the machine while it runs, which is somewhat counterproductive as the bubbles are often popped without the dog having to chase them, but this can easily be remedied by utilizing a hand-held bubble machine or setting the bubble machine up on a table or counter before turning it on. Never leave your Cretan Hound unattended with a bubble machine.
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More Fun Ideas...

Hiking

This breed is particularly fond of the outdoors and has a high level of stamina. Their reliable and inquisitive nature makes them an enjoyable companion for either long or short hikes, but it is important to work them up to the longer hikes slowly if they are not used to a great deal of activity. The Cretan Hound does possess an extremely high prey drive, however, and should remain on lead when they are out and about, or they are likely to take off after small animals such as rabbits.

Search and Rescue

The Cretan Hound breed is not frequently seen as a Search and Rescue dog, partially due to their rarity. When these dogs are socialized, they tend to be friendly but slightly aloof with strangers and other dogs, making them tractable as Search and Rescue dogs, and their obedient and dependable natures and their ability to track scents both by ground searching and by air scent make them excellent candidates for the job.

Conclusion

These dogs are not easy to locate outside of Crete, not even in the surrounding areas of Greece. Those that have managed to acquire one of these multi-talented canines know that they are highly intelligent and active animals who are happiest and healthiest if given plenty of room to run, preferably outdoors.