Activities For Entlebucher Mountain Dogs

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Introduction

The Entlebucher Mountain Dog breed, also known as the Entlebucher Sennenhund, is the smallest of four regional dogs from the Swiss Alps known as Sennenhunds. They originally developed as a cattle herding breed that also served as a guardian to the herd. They are very loyal to their families and like many other dogs developed for herding and working on farms, they are happiest and healthiest when they are able to interact with their families on a regular basis and are given a mentally stimulating job that keeps them busy.

Herding

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Normal
15 - 60 min
Items needed
Livestock
Activity description

The Entlebucher Mountain Dog was developed as a cattle herding dog in Switzerland thousands of years ago, and while they are currently seen more often as a companion animal for the family, many of these dogs still retain their herding instincts. Many modern pet parents do not have their own livestock, so dogs with strong herding instincts end up trying to herd other animals or people in and around the home. In an attempt to help herding dogs get back to their roots, some farms and ranches have started renting out their fields and livestock herds to these dogs and their owners, even providing herding classes to refine their skills and hosting competitions to show their progress. The cost to participate in these activities can vary widely, and many of the farms and ranches may require a bit of a drive to get to as they are outside the city limits.

Step
1
Do a health check
Herding is a high impact activity that can consist of a great deal of running and quick changes in direction. It requires both stamina and agility, and the Entlebucher is prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, which can be exacerbated by the twists and turns that are often a part of the herding activity. It is crucial to ensure that your canine companion is physically sound enough to participate in this activity before you begin. Schedule an appointment with your dog’s veterinarian to check your particular dog’s joint and heart health. If your dog is under two years of age, you will also want to check and be sure that the growth plates have become stable.
Step
2
Do your research
Renting livestock is still a fairly new idea in most places, but more facilities are springing up as more people are looking for an outlet to satisfy the energy and instincts of their herding dogs. There are several things to consider when choosing a facility for this activity. While some of these ranches have only sheep, others will have cattle as well, which may better suit your Entlebucher, and each facility will have different levels of teaching and may have vastly differing prices depending on what services they offer. Do your research by interviewing the trainers, checking reviews, and getting recommendations from trustworthy and knowledgeable people.
Step
3
Evaluation
When you first sign up for your dog to learn to herd, many of the facilities that teach this skill will offer an initial evaluation in order to see if this is the right activity for your particular pooch. The facilitators are generally evaluating how developed your dog’s instinct to herd is, and that their herding instinct consistently prevails over their prey drive. Individuals who choose this sport as an outlet for their dogs can then decide if they are simply looking for a regular outlet for their dog’s energy, or if they have an eye towards the prizes and titles that their dog could earn by competing in official herding trials.
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Rally Obedience

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
30 - 60 min
Items needed
Leash
Rally-O Course
Activity description

Often referred to simply as Rally-O, Rally obedience is a dog sport that is particularly appealing to pet parents with dogs like the Entlebucher Mountain Dog that are prone to hip dysplasia because it combines elements of both agility and obedience training, without being as hard on the dog’s bones and joints. This is a team sport involving a dog and their handler, usually the dog’s owner, in which they navigate a course that includes ten to twenty signs indicating specific behaviors for the dog to display. While you can learn to train your dog in Rally Obedience by reading books and watching videos, many pet parents prefer to be guided by a professional which can cost between $50-$350 per course depending on whether you choose a group format or private trainer, how long the course is (usually between four and eight weeks) and whether lessons will be given at a place like a pet store, in a dedicated training facility, or at your own home. 

Step
1
Find a group or class
While some pet parents choose to learn to train their dog for Rally Obedience commands utilizing the many books and videos that are available, many find it faster and more effective to work with a trainer or a training group. You can either sign up for classes at a dog sport training facility, or you can try and contact a more casual meet up group or association. World Cynosport Rally Limited, which emerged as a major organization for Rally Obedience in 2012, has a searchable list of rally obedience groups and training centers, as does the American Kennel Club.
Step
2
Train
Your dog will need to master several different commands to receive a qualifying score in a Rally-O trial and competition. Many of the cues are familiar ones, such as heel, sit, and stay, whereas others may be less commonly seen outside of obedience and agility circles such as turn about, pivot either left or right, pacing changes, figure eights, and even spirals. Once your dog seems to have mastered the commands used in the novice category, the two of you will be ready to compete.
Step
3
Visit and compete
Before entering your dog in a rally obedience trial for the first time, the two of you may wish to visit a Rally-O competition as spectators to help acclimate both you and your canine companion to the levels of noise and activity that you would find at a competition. Visiting as a spectator will also give you a clearer idea of what to expect when you are in the ring as well. Most Rally Obedience teams start out in the Novice category then progress through the Advanced and Excellent categories and cost between $20 and $30 to enter.
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Canicross

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Normal
30 - 90 min
Items needed
Canicross Belt
Canicross Harness
Bungee Line or Lead
Activity description

Canicross is a dog-powered sport in which your canine companion is tethered to a belt around your waist or hips rather than you holding on to a leash. This allows both you and your dog to run more freely and allows the dog to pull you along at a slightly faster rate of speed. While this sport first originated as a technique to maintain the fitness of sled dogs during the snowless summer months, it can be enjoyed by any healthy adult dog. As this sport is becoming more popular, many pet parents are finding that this activity is a healthy and enjoyable way to maximize fitness for both themselves and their dog as well as improving their overall communication and bond. Canicross can be enjoyed as a casual activity, either solo or in groups of runners, or it can be organized as a competitive sport for those who prefer to compete.  

Step
1
Prepare your equipment
It is important to acquire the appropriate gear for both you and your dog before starting this activity. Your gear will consist of a specialized belt that can fit either around your waist or hips, which can come with or without leg straps, depending on your preference. Your dog will require a sturdy harness that fits them snuggly, to avoid shifting and chaffing, but not so snuggly that it interferes with the chest’s ability to fully expand when they are running. These two pieces of equipment are connected to one another by means of a bungee cord that connects the two and provides shock absorption. All of the equipment you utilize should be examined to ensure that it is free from defect or damage each run.
Step
2
Train your dog
The sport of canicross puts the dog ahead of the human runner, and it would be unsafe if they were unable to watch the road ahead of them while they were running. In order to have a safe and enjoyable run, your dog will need to be able to understand where you want them to go and how quickly you want them to do so. Your dog will need to rely on verbal or auditory cues for communication; crucial commands to tell your dog to slow down, speed up, turn right or left, and to ignore interesting sights, sounds, or smells that may interfere, should be kept short, and easy to hear clearly even in somewhat noisy situations.
Step
3
Get moving
Once your dog is consistently responding to the commands while on a leash and you have thoroughly examined your equipment, you are ready to start running. Canicross is meant to be a cross-country activity and is typically enjoyed in natural settings such as woodland park roads, forestry trails, and easy to moderate hiking trails. Although this sport can be done along paved roads, the hard, flat asphalt is more likely to eventually cause damage to your ankles, knees, and feet, and can be hard on your pooch’s paws and joints as well. If you choose to run on asphalt, invest in some good running shoes for yourself and in protective booties for your dog’s paws as well.
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More Fun Ideas...

Treibball

An emerging dog sport that was designed to give herding dogs without access to livestock an outlet for their herding instincts. Dogs are taught to herd large inflated balls to a specific spot without damaging them within a specified amount of time.

Carting

The Entlebucher, like other Sennenhunds, was frequently utilized to transport carts of goods for farmers. These dogs are somewhat smaller than the other Sennenhund breeds, however, and care should be taken to ensure that they are not given loads that are too heavy for them.

Conclusion

While this breed is believed to be a descendant of Molosser and Mastiff-type dogs that were brought to the area by Romans over two thousand years ago, they share many of their behavioral traits with other dogs that have been developed as herding and farm dogs, such as Rottweilers, Collies, and Australian Cattle dogs. They are active dogs who are people-oriented but still retain the ability to think independently.