Activities For Large Working Dogs

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Introduction

If you live with a large working dog, you likely have noticed how important it is that you keep your pup busy. After all, a large working dog with nothing to do will find themselves SOMETHING to do...and there is a good chance you won't like what they have found! Fortunately, there are activities that are great for large working dogs, that will keep them busy and out of trouble. Even better, participating in these activities together will help you build a stronger relationship with your canine companion. And you never know...after a hard day of "work", your pup may be too tired to get into too much trouble.

Bikejoring

Popular
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Any Day
Moderate
Hard
1 - 2 hrs
Items needed
Bikejoring Kit
Water and Bowl
Safety Gear
Treats
Waste Bags
Activity description

Bikejoring involves riding a bike; with your dog pulling you! The activity is a bit like dogsledding, only you are using a bike. Pulling you and your bike will not be easy, making this a great activity for a working dog who does best with a job to do. Not only will bikejoring keep your pooch busy and help them get their energy out, it will allow for the two of you to spend quality time with one another. Another benefit to your canine pal is that bikejoring will allow for them to run at the pace they prefer, as opposed to what you can handle. Getting out their energy will lead to a calmer dog who may even be ready to relax with you on the couch. Bikejoring is becoming more popular as folks look for ways to spend more time with their pup that offer the chance for them to get the physical and mental activity that they need.

Step
1
Learn about bikejoring
Prior to diving into bikejoring with your dog, it is a good idea to investigate the activity to learn whether it will be a good option for you and your pooch. You can find information online and possibly find a bikejoring group in your area. Attending an event or group will provide the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about bikejoring before giving it a try. Take some time to talk with someone who has been involved in bikejoring, as this can help you learn from their experience and offer tips on how to start and about the activity itself. For example, you can learn about important safety equipment and best places to begin training with your pup.
Step
2
Get what you need
Should bikejoring sound like something that would be a good activity for you and your pup, you will want to acquire a bikejoring kit. This is what will allow you to connect your dog to your bike. Safety equipment will also be important, as it is likely you will fall off your bike more than once as your pup learns their new job. Meeting those who have been involved in the activity will be very helpful in providing recommendations for what you will need and how to best get started.
Step
3
Give it a go!
Once you have what you and your dog will need and have received some guidance on how to get started, it is time to give bikejoring a try. Do your best to find a trail that won't hurt your dog's feet, and avoid bikejoring when the weather is particularly hot, as strenuous activity in the heat can be harmful to your pup. Before attaching your dog to your bike, you will want to teach the commands that are needed for the activity and make sure that they are comfortable responding to them. It is important that you have some patience for your pup as they become accustomed to this challenging activity.
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Search And Rescue

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Any Day
Free
Hard
1 - 6 hrs
Items needed
Leash
Treats
Water and Bowl
Activity description
When it comes to large working dogs, search and rescue is a great way for them to have a job to do while they also serve their community. You and your pup will need to attend training, which will include your dog learning how to locate someone who is lost. Search and rescue is an excellent activity for working dog breeds. After completing training, your canine companion will be ready to take on the job of finding a person who may be lost in the wilderness. Your dog can still work between search and rescue missions; the two of you can practice finding someone as well as going on hikes in order to develop their endurance. Doing this job requires you to be together, which will help you to further develop your bond. You and your pal can also join a search and rescue group, which will help you both extend your social circles.
Step
1
Research search and rescue
First, take some time to learn more about search and rescue work. It will be easy to find information about it online and you can also contact a search and rescue group near you to find out more about the work. Make sure to ask questions so that you can learn as much as you can about training and being involved in the work itself. Ask about training opportunities in your area; there may be options locally or you and your pup may have to travel. You can also attend a meeting of the search and rescue group to learn about how it operates.
Step
2
Start training
Based on what you have found in your research, sign up for a training course for you and you canine companion. This will be a great chance for the two of you to spend time together while you and your dog BOTH have a job to do. In addition to formal training, it will also be helpful to both you and your dog to go on hikes in the wilderness. This will help you and your pup build endurance, something that will be important for search and rescue work.
Step
3
Start working!
Once you and your dog have completed training and you have built the endurance that you both need for search and rescue work, you can get started! When researching search and rescue work, you likely learned about groups in your area or relatively close to you that are involved in this work. Join a group and start participating in the missions that come up. Between missions, you and your pup should continue training, which will both keep you dog's skills fresh, as well as keep them "working". Make sure to offer your pup water regularly when on a mission on in training so that they remain hydrated!
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Hide And Seek

Popular
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Any Day
Free
Easy
1 hr
Items needed
Treats
Water and Water Bowl
Waste Bags
Activity description
A game of hide and seek will give your dog a job; to find you! This is a simple game that can be made more complicated as your dog gets the hang of it. More than one person can hide, for example, or you can also have your canine pal find their favorite toys or treats. Hide and seek will keep your dog mentally and physically active, which is an important thing when you have a pup who needs to work. In addition to meeting your pal's activity needs, the game will also be a lot of fun for the two of you!
Step
1
Getting ready
If you are playing hide and seek outdoors, make sure to grab some water and a bowl so that your dog can drink when thirsty. Also, get that sunscreen on; chances are that you are going to be having a lot of fun and will be outside for awhile! Grab some treats on your way out so that you can reward you pup when they find you.
Step
2
Starting the game
Part of hide and seek will involve your dog having to "stay" while you go and hide. If your pup struggles with that command, that may be something to work on first. You can also play the game with a friend who will hold onto your dog's collar, ensuring that they stay while you go and hide. Your friend can then release your dog so that they can find you. Once you pup has tracked you down, make sure to reward them with a treat!
Step
3
Changing it up
After your dog has managed to find you a number of times, why not mix it up? You can create further "work" for your motivated pooch by having another friend or two hide in different places, meaning that your dog has to find more than one person. You can also hide your pup's favorite toys. Show them the toy and then hide it, encouraging your dog to then track it down.
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More Fun Ideas...

Agility Activities

Setting up agility activities is a great way to keep your working dog occupied. You can start small and simple, and build up from there. Activities are easy to set up for little or no cost. For example, you can hold up a hula hoop and your dog can walk through it to start. You can then raise the hula hoop off of the ground so that your pooch can jump through it, increasing the height gradually. A kiddie tunnel is another great agility activity; your pup can run through it again and again.  PVC pipes can be used to create jumps as well as poles for your pup to weave through. As your dog masters a few activities, you can put them together to create an agility course for your dog.

Fetch

The simple game of fetch is ideal for a working dog. The game gives your canine pal a job to do; they must go to the item, pick it up and bring it back. This can be done over and over until your pup is ready for a break. A game of fetch can also be played in the water for an extra challenge. Go ahead and throw the ball or Frisbee into a lake, river or the ocean and let your dog retrieve it. While simple, fetch will keep you working dog occupied and productive...and out of trouble!

Food Puzzle Toys

A good job for a working dog breed is to get the food out of a food puzzle toy. These toys are well-made containers (usually of hard rubber or plastic) that have a place for you to put food or treats inside. The toy is designed so that your dog has to work to get the food or treats out of the toy. This will require your dog to shake, roll or paw at the toy in order to get the food out of it. Since it is usually not easy to get the food out, this activity will require a lot of patience and problem solving skills, likely keeping your dog occupied from some time. Prior to being domesticated, dogs had to search on their own for food; the puzzle toy, in a sense, replicates the experience.

Conclusion

It is important to give working dogs a job to do; otherwise they may choose their own "work", which can often lead to a mess. When considering a large working dog, it is likely that one that is not kept busy will create quite a bit of chaos. Fortunately, there are plenty of activities that will provide your pooch with the work that they seek. Occupying your pup with work will keep them busy and provide the physical and mental activity that they seek. An added bonus is that these activities will provide quality time for you and your pup with one another, strengthening your relationship.