Activities For Rafeiro Do Alentejos

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Introduction

The Rafeiro Do Alentejo, also referred to as the Portuguese Watchdog and the Alentejo Mastiff, is a large mastiff-type breed, typically over two feet tall at the shoulder and frequently exceeding one hundred pounds in weight. They have been employed to guard both herds of sheep and cattle as well as large rural estates on the Iberian Peninsula for at least three hundred years, and are quite good at their jobs. Like other herd guardian breeds, these dogs are quite gentle and affectionate with their family and with those that they are meant to protect but have a tendency to be territorial. They tend to be naturally aggressive towards other dogs and can be somewhat aggressive towards strangers as well, making them inappropriate for novice dog owners. Proper socialization and early training can help to mitigate these tendencies.

Camping

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Any Day
Moderate
Easy
24 hrs
Items needed
Dog Food
Water
Canine First Aid Kit
Tent
Sleeping Bags
Waste Bags
Activity description

Livestock guardian dogs like the Rafeiro Do Alentejo often spent a great deal of time outdoors, generally moving and sleeping with the livestock that they were tasked with guarding. They are typically calm and confident animals who truly enjoy the outdoors and are able to tolerate a wide range of climates. A well behaved and well socialized Rafeiro Do Alentejo makes a wonderful camping buddy, providing a measure of warmth and security, as well as companionship. Camping with your canine companion is a rewarding experience for many pet parents, but they should never be left to their own devices to avoid encounters with toxic plants or dangerous or diseased wildlife, either living or dead. 

Step
1
Do your research
While a large number of campgrounds are likely to welcome your canine companion, some of them do prohibit dogs, and often for good reasons. The mere presence of a canine predator can cause stress to some species of prey animals and can spread certain diseases to wild canines in the area. Checking the rules ahead of time will help to prevent difficulties and extra expense when you get to the campsite. It is also a good idea to locate a veterinarian as near to the campground as possible and keep their name, number, and address handy in case of an emergency.
Step
2
Get the gear
Bringing your dog camping also means bringing additional gear along for your canine companion. You will need to remember to bring enough food and fresh, clean water along to keep your dog fed and watered and should typically bring bowls specifically for them to avoid contamination between you and your dog. Most campgrounds and trails require a six-foot lead to protect both your dog and the wildlife in the area, and a first aid kit that includes a tick removal tool, a bandana or towel that can be used as a makeshift muzzle in the case of injury, canine appropriate antihistamines, an emergency blanket, styptic powder and clean bandages.
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3
Training
When adventuring with your dog in the woods, it is vital that you ensure that they have a few specific commands that they consistently respond to, for their own safety. A reliable recall will help to ensure that your dog stays safe even if their lead is damaged or if you drop the lead. A stop command helps to ensure that they do not pull you over or step into a dangerous situation, and the leave it command helps to prevent your dog from snacking on dead wildlife or toxic plantlife.
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Pack Walks

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Any Day
Cheap
Normal
15 - 45 min
Items needed
Six-foot lead
Waste Bags
Activity description

The Rafeiro Do Alentejo breed is naturally territorial and tends to be aggressive towards other dogs without a great deal of socialization. This can result in isolation issues, not only for your canine companion but to some extent to yourself as the owner as well. It can be difficult to walk with a large breed dog if they tend to lunge at other dogs, making it challenging to get enough exercise into their daily routines. Some pet parents of somewhat aggressive or reactive dogs have begun organizing walking groups specifically designed around these types of animals, typically headed by a professional in the dog training world who is proficient at reading canine body language. Walking dogs in a pack tends to be beneficial for most dogs, reactive or not, and pack walks also provide reactive or fearful dogs a much-needed opportunity to socialize with other canines around. 

Step
1
Choose a venue
Which type of dog walking group you wish to join will depend a great deal on your companion’s tolerance to other canines. Dogs that have not developed any negative reactions to other dogs may choose to join meetups that involve some degree of interaction between dogs, while canines that are nervous around other dogs may prefer a pack walk without interaction between them. Owners of those that are particularly fearful or have shown aggression will want to ensure that the group they choose has at least one professional trainer who can help to spot trouble before it starts. Joining one of these groups typically has some sort of cost attached to it.
Step
2
Learn the rules
Groups are likely to have different rules depending on the needs of the dogs involved. Along with differing rules about the amount of interaction, there may be rules that define the size or breed of dog, whether or not some or all canines are expected to wear muzzles or if dogs that need their space require some sort of sign indicating this, like a yellow ribbon tied on the leash. In most cases, leashes longer than six feet and retractable leashes are prohibited for safety reasons.
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3
What to Expect
Dog walking groups can range from very small groups, just three or four human and canine pairs, or can grow to reach upwards of thirty to forty pairs of walkers. Groups designed with reactive dogs in mind may have fearful or reactive dogs start out with a little more distance between the new dog and the pack until they exhibit a higher level of confidence and control but these dogs are often are walking closer to the pack within just a short time.
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Swimming

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
15 - 45 min
Items needed
Canine Swim Vest
Activity description

Rafeiro Do Alentejos are very large canines that frequently reach adult weights of a hundred pounds or greater. While joint problems like arthritis and hip dysplasia are less common with these dogs than with other large and giant breeds, they are still more commonly found than in most smaller breeds, particularly if undue stress is placed on the joints before the skeletal growth plates have matured. Swimming is an excellent way to build and maintain muscle mass as well as providing great cardiovascular benefits as well, and because the water supports so much of your canine companion’s weight, it prevents adding undue stress to the dog’s bones and joints.

Step
1
Find a place
Indoor swimming pools designated for canine use are becoming more prevalent and are in many ways safer than swimming in natural bodies of water. While there is typically a small charge to use canine swimming pools, ten to twenty dollars per session, they do provide security from dangerous or diseased wildlife and unexpected currents and are generally free from viral and bacterial infestations. If you do decide to swim in the great outdoors, it is best to choose an area where the water is free of algae, slow-moving but not stagnant and smells fresh. It is also important to be aware of safety signs and of local wildlife that may be nearby, including amphibians and reptiles which may frequent lakes and ponds.
Step
2
Introduce the water
Even in a relatively safe environment such as a swimming pool, dogs that are unproven or weaker swimmers should be properly fitted with a swim vest designed for canines. While the Rafeiro Do Alentejo is a capable swimmer, they are not always as eager to jump in the water the first time as retriever and spaniel breeds that were developed to have a love of swimming and should be gently coaxed into the water. It is essential that your dog is not forced or frightened into the water as these behaviors can backfire and cause your dog to develop a fear of the water which can be difficult to extinguish.
Step
3
Splash!
In most cases, dogs quickly become habituated to the feeling of the water supporting their bodies and begin to enjoy the experience of swimming. Those that take a while to come around should continue to wear their swim vest until they are confident navigating through the water. If your dog likes the game of fetch on land, playing it in the water may encourage them to swim faster and keep them interested in swimming longer as well.
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Group Training Classes

The Rafeiro Do Alentejo tends to be dog aggressive, however, early training and socialization can help to mitigate this behavior. Enrolling a pup in a good group training class can also help to socialize your canine companion, although dogs that have already shown aggression towards other dogs should be evaluated before enrolling in a class with other dogs.

Carting

Large breed dogs have been utilized as drafting animals throughout history, particularly for small farmers in ancient times who may have been unable to procure a horse. While the Rafeiro Do Alentejo was not traditionally employed to move carts, their strength and normally calm temperament make them well-suited to this activity.

Conclusion

While this breed does not tend to be particularly active or energetic, they still require adequate exercise and mental stimulation. They are both strong and intelligent, but they are often difficult to train as they tend to be very independently minded as well. This tendency should not deter you from training these dogs, as early training can help to make your Rafeiro Do Alentejo a more manageable and more content canine.