Activities For Estrela Mountain Dogs

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Introduction

The Estrela Mountain Dog is a large, imposing animal that is generally employed guarding flocks of sheep in Portugal, just as their ancestors have been for many centuries. They are extremely loyal animals who can be somewhat wary of strangers but are very affectionate and gentle with their family members and flocks. They are particularly gentle with children and have been known to ignore adults in the room in order to spend time with them. They are, however, just as capable of being a fierce protector and they require a great deal of socialization and training to ensure that their protective urges don't turn to aggression.

Search and Rescue

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Any Day
Expensive
Hard
1 - 2 hrs
Items needed
Leash
Certifications
Activity description

Despite their independent and sometimes stubborn natures, Estrela Mountain Dogs are very intelligent and confident, good qualities to have in an emergency situation. In the country of Portugal, these formidable dogs are sometimes trained to work with the police, and they are able to withstand cold temperatures making it possible for them to make exceptional avalanche dogs. In order for an Estrela Mountain Dog to be a good candidate for search and rescue they will need to be non-aggressive towards both people and other dogs, so early and intensive socialization is crucial. Training for Search and Rescue dogs is based on positive, reward-based methods which are typically very successful with these large guardians. 

Step
1
Eligibility
Search and rescue dogs and their handlers are required to be both mentally and physically fit in order to manage the stressors of their job. Both the human and canine members of the team will need physical evaluations both before starting their work and periodically as time goes by. Search and rescue dogs also need to be calm, composed, and obedient in potentially stressful situations, and generally well-disposed to people and other dogs. This means that if you want your Estrela Mountain Dog to become a Search and Rescue dog, you will need to socialize your dog starting at a very young age and in as many new situations as possible.
Step
2
Get your certification
The handlers of search and rescue dogs also are required to have several certifications to do their jobs, for instance, they will need to be certified in basics like first aid and CPR, but may also need additional certifications depending on which type of search and rescue they and their canine companions specialize in. Some of the certifications that may be needed include backcountry survival skills, navigation techniques, and avalanche awareness.
Step
3
Train and certify the dog
In the United States, there are four groups that officially provide certification for dogs that are able to pass the training; the National Search Dog Alliance (NSDA), FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue Certification program, the National Association of Search and Rescue (NASAR), and Search and Rescue Dogs of the United States (SARDUS). There are several categories of Search and Rescue that your dog may end up specializing in including area searches, trailing, human remains, and disaster or avalanche responders.
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Camping

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
24 - 48 hrs
Items needed
Tent
Water
Food
Food Bowls
Leash
Canine First Aid Kit
Activity description

Camping with your canine companion can be a very enjoyable and rewarding experience for many pet parents. Well-socialized Estrela Mountain dogs can provide not only companionship but also warmth and security when camping. Their thick, coarse coats protect them from harsh weather conditions, and they tend to be confident and calm while in the campground. Dogs who accompany their owners on camping trips should never be left alone in order to ensure that they do not encounter dangerous or sick wildlife or eat toxic plants that grow native to the area. 

Step
1
Do your research
Not all campgrounds allow dogs to visit, so it is important that you check the rules of the campground before setting up your campsite. It is also important to check the rules for each of the trails that you explore as well because some of them have very specific restrictions to avoid disturbing the local wildlife and to ensure your and your pet’s safety. You should also keep the name, number, and address of a nearby emergency veterinarian handy, just in case your dog needs medical attention when away from home.
Step
2
Get the gear
Along with your camping gear, like your tent and sleeping bag, you will need additional gear for your dog. Bowls specifically for your dog should be brought along to avoid any contamination between you and your dog, as well as their kibble and plenty of clean, fresh water. You will also need a six-foot lead, to protect both your dog and the wildlife in the area, and a first aid kit that includes an emergency blanket, a tick removal tool, and a bandana that can be fashioned into a makeshift muzzle if needed.
Step
3
Training
It is crucial that your dog master a few specific commands for their own safety when they accompany you on adventures in the wilderness. A reliable recall command, a stop command, and a leave it command. These commands, particularly the “leave it” command, can be essential to your dog’s well-being as they may help to avoid your dog getting lost in the woods, eating toxic plants, or contracting a dangerous disease from wildlife.
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Group Training Classes

Early obedience and socialization are particularly important with flock guardian breeds such as the Estrela Mountian Dog. Starting group training classes early can not only give your dog the basic training that they need but also lets them interact with people and other dogs in a less threatening or intimidating environment.

Skijor

The sport of canine skijor, in which a person on skis is pulled forward by their dog, was designed to help train and exercise sled dogs but has been gaining in popularity with other pet parents around the world. The Estrela is a powerful animal that was developed to handle the rugged and often cold environment found in the mountains of Portugal, making them excellent candidates for this activity.

Conclusion

Estrela Mountain Dogs are reasonably laid-back animals around the house, but they do need both physical exercise and mental stimulation on a regular basis in order to maintain their mental and physical health, and if not given enough activity they can become both loud and destructive in their boredom. Fortunately, they are also intelligent canines, and with persistent socialization and training, they can successfully participate in many different activities.