Activities For Large Dogs

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Introduction

Bored dogs get into trouble. When they are left alone, as they say, the dogs will play and create havoc. The bigger the dog, the bigger the mess. So what can you do to prevent this from happening? Well it may be a challenge for you, but keep them busy! There are so many games and activities that you can play with your large dog apart from chasing a ball. Yes, all dogs are hotwired to chase a ball, but don't let that be the extent of your imagination. You can throw toys in a game of fetch, play tug of war, or take your dog swimming if they are fans of excursions to the lake. There are even dance classes for you and your dog if you feel so inclined. The likelihood of your dog developing destructive behavior diminishes considerably if you just spend some fun time with them and show them love.

Cart Pulling

Popular
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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
10 - 60 min
Items needed
Cart
Dog harness and lead
Treats and water
Activity description
Depending where you live, you can train your big and strong dog to be a cart or sled dog. Locations that enjoy an abundance of snow in winter are perfect places in which to train your dog to pull a sled. Ensure your dog harness fits well and that your dog is suited to and is fit enough for the task. A large dog will enjoy having a job to do as they race around with the cart behind them. But first, teach them the way to safely pull the cart and to obey rules. You don't want them to take off after a cat, dragging you along for the ride! If the area you live in doesn't get snow, put some wheels on the cart and off you go. Do be careful in public areas, you don't want to bang into anyone walking along the pathways. This activity is not suited to a hot day. Your dog can overheat easily, so be practical about when you go out. Children will love this activity, but oversee younger children to ensure both dog and child are safe.
Step
1
Getting set up
This activity does take some planning. First you need to get either a cart or a sled, and then a dog harness which can cost a bit. But the fun it delivers is worth it. Don't rush into this activity. Allow your dog to get used to the harness first. Walk with them while they are in the harness so that they get used to your directions.
Step
2
Attach the vehicle
Next step involves attaching the cart or sled to the dog, and getting your dog used to it. Walk beside your dog to reassure them as you move around. Then get one of your children to sit in the vehicle quietly as they pull it along while you lead. They will soon get the hang of it, especially if you reward them well for their efforts!
Step
3
The wind in your dog's ears
The final stage is really fun. This is where your dog understands your commands and the harness movements. Now you are ready to roll! What a wonderful afternoon gliding over the snow or rolling along the path as your dog enjoys a sense of importance. It is a strenuous activity for your dog, so take it easy at first. They need to work up their fitness. And remember to thank them afterwards with a special treat.
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Backpack Workout

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Any Day
Expensive
Easy
5 - 45 min
Items needed
Dog backpack
Water bottle
Leash and treats
Activity description

How many times have you walked to the shop, or have even driven to the local market, then ended up carrying a bag or two of groceries as you browse. If you have a large dog like a German Shepherd or Rottweiler, why not take your dog with you when you go shopping and let them help to carry the groceries? There are many excellent dog packs available at pet stores, and one is bound to fit your dog and your budget. The benefits of this activity are that your dog gets an outing, and at the same time they enjoy some exercise and a change of scenery. Just don't overload the dog,  you can cause damage to your pet if the load is too heavy. Most dogs love being useful. They love to please, so why not take advantage of that inclination? Both of you will benefit from this activity and have fun at the same time. This activity helps when you go trekking, as your dog can carry their own water and treats, and maybe a towel or two. Let your dog work and earn their food, they will be healthier and happier for the experience.

Step
1
The practice run
It will take your dog a while to get used to carrying something on their back. Give them time, and let them adjust to the weight. Don't expect to buy the backpack and then half an hour later decide to go trekking. That is a recipe for disaster. Let your dog adapt to the backpack and reward them for wearing it.
Step
2
Test drive your packdog
Once your dog is used to walking with the backpack, load it up with a few items so it has some weight. Again, let your dog adjust to this added weight. Calmly walk with your dog, praising them and stopping to give them a treat now and again. They will come to realize that wearing the pack equals attention and tummy treats.
Step
3
Going public
Finally, the big day arrives. Take a visit to the local market, strolling around the shops with your dog on a leash, wearing their backpack. Load up the dog's pack with a few items and let your dog earn their treats. Keep the weight of the pack in line with the size of the dog. A large dog has stronger bones and can carry more than a tiny dog, but don't be over zealous. Exercise caution and always have your dog's best interests at heart.
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Food Puzzle

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Sunny Day
Free
Normal
15 min
Items needed
Large plastic bottle
Treat bits
Length of rope
Activity description

If you come home from work and have little energy to spare, set your large dog up with an outdoor puzzle bottle on a length of rope. Instead of giving them their usual afternoon meal, you can take them for a few laps around the block, then take them in to back yard with a puzzle toy. You can buy a puzzle toy or make your own. A thick bottle with holes punched in it is a simple form of puzzle. The benefits for your dog are that it will take a while to get all the food out, and they will get exercise by sliding the bottle, shaking it, and turning it around. It provides valuable exercise and increases their ability to solve a problem. If it's summer, you could also put out a frozen block of beef broth that has some healthy pieces of meat and vegetables in it. As the block defrosts, your dog gets a treat, and the frozen broth is refreshing. 

Step
1
Get prepared
If you are making your own toy, you need a large thick bottle that has big holes punched in it that allow the food to drop out as it is moved about. Thread a thinner rope through the bottle to allow it to hang. Then tie the bottle to a ring on a long length of rope between two trees or objects where you can secure it.
Step
2
Meal in a bottle
The idea is to tie the bottle so it hangs just above the ground, allowing your pup to shake it or rattle it to get the food out. Having the bottle tied to a ring on a rope allows the bottle to 'escape' from your dog so they have to work to get their food. Stuff it with bits of yummy treats and vegetables that your dog likes or their favorite mealtime kibble.
Step
3
Let your dog get to work
Once it is all set up, give your dog permission to work for their meal! This is an activity best supervised. If you see that your dog is getting frustrated, best to give them a hand. As well, a persistent dog may pull the toy to the ground and in that case, there is a safety concern with the rope. It can be a fun interactive way to feed and occupy your dog; just keep in mind the limitations.
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More Fun Ideas...

Dog Walking Help

The bigger the dog, the more exercise they need. Perhaps you can hire a dog walker once or twice a week to drop in and take your dog for a walk. Professional dog walkers are experienced dog handlers with references. Even a half an hour walk around the immediate area of the home is better for your dog than sitting and being bored. The other option is to trade services with a friend. Maybe they could walk your dog a couple of times a week, and you could babysit their kids so the parents can enjoy a bit of time together. Your dog will enjoy a change of scenery and won't be so demanding for a walk the moment you get home.

Earn The Food

Give a dog a plate of food at dinner time and what do they do? They gulp it down in two seconds flat then they sit and make you feel guilty while you try to enjoy your food. The solution is to make your dog work for their food. Get hold of a food dispensing toy, fill it with their dinner (preferably dry food) and give it to them when you all sit down to eat. It will take them ages to rattle, shake and roll the ball or toy to get out a treat at a time. This activity is healthier as it stops them from gulping food down, which can be bad for their health. Plus, the family gets to enjoy their food without those pleading eyes and guilt trips that only a dog can dish out.

The Home Helper

Dogs get a kick out of helping and feeling useful. As you do your work around the home, train your dog to help. They can hold the hose and spray the wheels of the car as you wash it. They can be taught to collect the pegs you drop on the ground when collecting the washing. Train them to pick them up and drop them in the peg basket. If you have a fire you could train them to bring in the firewood, one piece at a time. Or, their job could be to collect the mail and bring it into you (in one piece preferably). Dogs are highly intelligent and you can use their eagerness to help to your advantage. It's like having a helper with you 24/7.

Conclusion

Dogs were born to move, search, and nose about. It is in their DNA and goes back to the beginning of time when they had to find their own food to eat. Fast forward to today, and they don't have to do much at all to get their food. Many dogs lounge about all day, bored with the monotony of life. No wonder they start to dig an escape tunnel under your vegetable garden! Rather than go to the gym to workout, take your dog for a run. Keep them on a leash and a big dog can pull you along on roller skates or blades. Teach them to run alongside your bike and get out and enjoy some fresh air. Throw a ball till one of you tires (it will be you, I can guarantee that). Both you and your dog will benefit from the activity. Even if you just go to the local market, take your pooch for a day out. They will love the people and the other dogs they meet. You can sip on a latte while your dog has some cool water and enjoys a few dog treats you brought along for the occasion.