Activities For Koolies

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Introduction

The Koolie is a medium-sized herding dog out of Australia that has been bred for their intelligence, train-ability, and endurance - the majority of the Koolie population still lives in their homeland where they spend their time herding livestock. These dogs have a great deal of energy and a drive to work that they just cannot seem to ignore, and without an outlet for all that intensity, herding dogs like the Koolie can develop anxiety, inappropriate responses, and even destructive behaviors. It's important that activities for this particular breed exercise the mind as well as the body as these athletic dogs have very quick and agile minds as well as bodies. 

Treibball

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Any Day
Moderate
Hard
30 - 60 Minutes
Items needed
Treibball balls or equivalent
Activity description

Treibball is a relatively new activity that was originally developed in Germany as an outlet for herding dogs with no access to livestock. The goal of the game is to use voice and hand commands to instruct your dog to guide or push several balls to a specified goal. It is an activity that not only tires your dog out physically but works their very active minds, as well as satisfying an innate desire that has been a part of the Koolie breed since its inception. If your herding hotshot has been keeping themselves busy by rounding up the neighborhood pets and kids, this might be just the activity to satisfy the intense work drive of the Koolie, at least for a little while. While this sport is often played competitively, it can be just as much fun in your own backyard. 

Step
1
Learn the game
While the basic premise is rather simple, train the dog to push the balls to the goal within the 15-minute time frame, there are some specific rules to learn. The balls need to stay within the specified boundaries, your dog must wait for your command before starting the show, and cannot bite or break the ball. The dog is allowed to move throughout the field but you, as the handler, are not allowed to move out of the designated handler’s area and yelling, intimidation, and threats or punishment are strictly forbidden.
Step
2
Train your dog
There are several basic behaviors that a dog playing Treibball has to learn to play effectively. First, they need to learn to run to a target 15 feet away, turn around to face you, and lie down, a step known as the outrun, while ignoring distractions like, say, really exciting looking treibball balls on the field. Once your pup has learned to consistently ignore the herding balls, it's time to show them the point of the game, teaching them to how and where to push the ball using target training and to signal that they have finished by lying down facing you. It may take several weeks to train your dog to reliably perform each behavior, don’t rush through the lessons, no matter what the dog says.
Step
3
Up the game
The Koolie, however, is a thinking dog and once they've got this thing down pat, your Koolie may just get a little bored. There are many ways to add challenging twists to Treibball training sessions. Some ideas might include shortening the time frame allowed, requiring that the balls be driven to the goal in a certain order, or placing obstacles or objects in between the ball and the goal that your dog is aiming for.
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Fetch by Name

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Any Day
Free
Easy
5 - 60 minutes
Items needed
Dog Toy
Activity description

Working herding dogs often have to be able to recognize certain sheep and single them out of the herd on their master's command. While you may not have any sheep to identify, you can help your Koolie to exercise this part of their mind by teaching them to pick out a specific toy by name to return to you. Dogs with a herding background are often very successful at this particular game, and it was a component of the method used to teach Chaser the Border Collier her extensive vocabulary, which  included the names of 1022 different items. It’s a simple concept that can really get your dog’s mental muscles working. 

Step
1
Make the association
Pick a toy for your subject, preferably one with a name that is distinctive from your dog’s current commands and one that is easy to spot and identify. One popular item to start with is a tennis ball, although any item your dog can safely carry to you will work. First, play with the toy with the dog, while saying the name of the item, then toss the toy a little ways away, instructing your dog to fetch "the bone", for example, using the name of the toy. Treat and praise heavily when the dog retrieves the toy. Then, using the same toy, do it again, and again, and again.
Step
2
Fetch without tossing
Put the toy in the middle of the floor all by itself and ask your dog to fetch the toy by name. Treat and praise heavily if your dog retrieves the toy, otherwise go back to step one a little longer. You can cement the name association for that specific object by having your dog fetch the object from different rooms, from under or behind other things, or by having them pick the right toy out of a few different types of dog toys.
Step
3
Learning new names
One your clever Koolie dog has got that first name figured out, it’s time to stretch their mind once again and add in another toy. Again, it can be anything that is safe for your dog to carry, but choosing a toy that is very different from the first in texture or shape with a name that is easy to differentiate from the first name you dog learned will help set your dog up for success. The nice thing about this game is that it is only limited by your dog’s interest and the number of objects you can come up with a name for.
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Dog Parkour

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Hard
30 - 90 minutes
Items needed
Treats
Harness and Leash
Activity description

Parkour is a training discipline that utilizes objects in the everyday world around us as a complex and ever-changing obstacle course, a great fit for an adventurous and active breed like the Koolie. The Parkour method was originally developed in France in the 1980s and has since spread throughout the globe as a training technique that is effective, inexpensive, and never boring. This exercise technique has even encompassed the canine world as its a more challenging and exciting way to improve fitness that people and their pets can do together.

Step
1
Get your dog's gear
When doing Parkour with your furry buddy it's important not to forget that you, as their spotter, are responsible for their safety. That means making sure that they are wearing a sturdy harness around their chest that has been inspected for fraying or any other defects, which is then attached to a sturdy four to six-foot leash. This kind of equipment helps to give you more control so you can give your dog the proper support if they happen to make a misstep. Avoid canine parkour in slippery or otherwise dangerous conditions for the safety of both you and your dog.
Step
2
Train your dog
There are several basic obedience commands that your dog should become familiar with before embarking on a parkour adventure. Teaching your dog to put all four paws on or in an object helps to increase both muscular strength and increases the awareness of their own body, a sense known as proprioception, while teaching your dog to back up not only helps them get out of sticky situations, it also helps improve the strength of their rear ends as well as their stability. Balancing on curbs, logs, and boards can help increase both proprioception ability, and learning to jump gaps in the environment can even help to increase your pup’s ability to work with distractions. While treats can be used as a reward, they should never be used to lure your pooch into a situation where they feel uncomfortable.
Step
3
Go!
Pick a nice day when your dog will have fairly clean and dry surfaces to work on, and go. One of the biggest draws of the Parkour experience for any species is that it can be done anywhere, you don’t have to wait for an open gym and you don’t have to stay to the designated paths. When you do Parkour with your canine companion you are giving them the sense of adventure as well as increasing their confidence in their own abilities.
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More Fun Ideas...

Flyball

This high intensity version of fetch involves dogs competing relay style as they attempt to catch and retreive a ball that is shot to the end of a specially designed obstacle course. 

Herding

Just because you don't have your own ranch or livestock  doesn't mean that your Koolie has to be denied the experience its ancestors. There are places now where you can rent the sheep and the herding field so they can feel like an old-fashioned working dog.

Conclusion

A basic daily walk is rarely enough activity or mental stimulation for an athletic and high-energy canine like the Australian Koolie and in order to keep them occupied and exercised, they may require longer exercise sessions. Fortunately, they are also generally well-suited for certain higher-impact activities such as Parkour than many other breeds might be. This is an athletic, intelligent, and rugged dog breed that can on any adventure that you can dish out and then some. Try and keep up!