Activities For Tough Dogs

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Introduction

Dogs that are considered to be tough or macho still need love and time with their owners. Finding activities that interest you and use their strength and intelligence can be a little daunting. It is best to research each activity and if possible, go watch dogs performing that specific activity. You may even notice your dog has a propensity for a specific sport and that could lead to fun evenings or weekends with other dogs and their owners doing something that you both love. Check out a few of these activities for your tough dog. Jump in and give one or two of them a try.

Weight Pulling

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Any Day
Moderate
Hard
30 min
Items needed
Treats
Collar and Leash
Weights and Pull Harness
Chute
Activity description

Many people probably think that weight pulling is not really a sport, but for those with dogs that love it this is a sport and your dog can earn their way to championships and high honors. Before you start hooking your dog up to weights, be sure to have them thoroughly checked by your veterinarian and also have their spine and hips x-rayed for any condition that could be aggravated by participating in weight pulling. Most dogs that compete in weight pulling are mature dogs over two years of age. Younger dogs are still growing and maturing and should not be put under the strain. Be sure to keep everything upbeat and fun when your dog is performing. Never reprimand your dog for not wanting to pull or performing poorly. Dogs need encouragement when being asked to pull these heavy loads.

Step
1
Find a mentor
You should not just stick your dog in a harness and ask them to pull hundreds of pounds without knowing what you are doing. It is best to find a mentor or a dog club that has people who perform in weight pulling. You do not want to start out doing things wrong and possibly cause injury to your dog. Talk to people who are already involved in the sport and find someone willing to step in and mentor you while you are learning.
Step
2
Start slow
When beginning with weight pulling be sure to start slow and with a lighter load. As your dog becomes accustomed to the weight, they will be able to pull more. Do not overload them in the beginning or they may become injured or frustrated. Be sure to give them at least 10 minutes to rest between pulls. Keep them hydrated when they are pulling and always be upbeat and positive when working on weight pulling. Your dog’s health and well-being is the most important thing when they are participating in weight pulling.
Step
3
Always end positive
This cannot be stressed enough. Tough love should never be practiced in weight pulling and you should be willing to give your dog praise and rewards when they are finished whether they pulled the weight or not. Just like with people, some dogs have a bad day or they simply do not feel like pulling a heavy load that day. Let your dog know that it is okay and they are still loved no matter what happens. Dogs will work harder for their owners when they know that you are happy with them. Not all tough dogs will think weight pulling is fun. If this is the case, you might want to find a different activity.
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Backpacking

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Sunny Day
Cheap
Normal
1 hr
Items needed
Canine Backpack
First Aid Kit
Food and Treats
Water/Water Bowl
Leash
Collar
Activity description

What can be more fun than trekking through unknown terrain with your dog by your side? Backpacking can be strenuous on your dog, so make sure they are fit and healthy before embarking on this adventure. Puppies should be started with smaller, lighter packs and short hikes. Do not over-stress a young dog and take plenty of breaks. Make your time together fun and exciting. The only specialized equipment that is needed is a canine backpack for your dog and a backpack for you. A leash and collar are also needed so your dog cannot get into trouble on the trail. Backpacking is more enjoyable during sunny weather, but cloudy and cool can also be beneficial when hiking. 

Step
1
Plan your route
When you are backpacking with your dog be sure to plan your route and let others know where you plan to hike, as well as if you are doing an overnight hike. Hiking and backpacking with your dog should be an enjoyable experience, but safety must also be considered. There have been too many hikers that get lost or have accidents when on the trail. Having a planned route will ensure that you can be found in the event of an accident and you should not get lost if you stay on your route.
Step
2
Prepare your packs
Remember, if you are backpacking with an older puppy keep it short and their pack light. Younger dogs should never have to carry a heavy pack. Before you start strapping on a canine backpack, make sure your dog has been cleared by their veterinarian for the activity. If your are planning to stay out overnight, be sure to pack the regular items plus provisions for you and your dog such as food, extra water, shelter and clothing. When day hiking be sure to pack water and bowls, treats, first aid kit, cell phone and emergency charger. Your dog’s pack should never be more than 30% of their body weight. Therefore, put extra clothing or a jacket, food, drink and bowl in their pack. You should carry heavier items.
Step
3
Enjoy your adventure
The most important thing is to have fun. If your dog is not properly trained to walk with you on the trail this will not be a fun experience. Train your dog to behave on leash before setting out and you will both find the adventure to be fun and a bonding experience. Take plenty of breaks along the train and explore new places together, just remember safety first and be careful on unknown terrain.
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Sledding

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Any Day
Expensive
Hard
1 hr
Items needed
Sledding Scooter or Sled
Bungee Line
Sledding Harness
Activity description

There is a common misconception that dog sledding can only be done in the snow. This is simply not true. People in Florida or California can enjoy dog sledding just as much as people in Alaska. There are now specialized sleds or scooters that can be used for dog sledding. Most of these scooters or sleds have three wheels and can be pulled over many different terrains. Some people even hook their dog up to their bicycle to be pulled along. There are competitions available for the serious dog sledding enthusiasts. 

Step
1
Get comfortable with harness
Have your dog fitted for their sled harness. A harness that does not fit correctly can cause injury to your dog. Most dogs will not be immediately comfortable with the sled harness. Go slow with your dog and get them used to wearing the harness before hitching them to a sled. This will take some time and a lot of encouragement. Do not start putting them in the harness until they are older and have been checked by a veterinarian. Once you feel they have fully accepted the harness, you can then move on to the next step.
Step
2
Pull empty sled
Never start your dog out with a weighted sled. Instead, walk beside them while they pull an unoccupied sled. This gets them used to the feel of the harness pulling and the weight behind them. Offer encouragement and treats during this time. Move to the back of the sled when they are comfortable pulling with you beside them. Once they are pulling the sled with no problems, add a little weight to the sled and work up to having them pull enough weight that equals your weight.
Step
3
Start sledding
After your dog has become accustomed to pulling weight, it is time for you to step onto the sled. Be diligent in your care of your dog. When starting out, do not allow them pull for long periods of time. Take plenty of breaks and keep them hydrated. Be sure to pack plenty of water and a water bowl when you are out sledding. Have fun and always encourage your dog, never be negative with your dog when sledding.
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More Fun Ideas...

Schutzhund/IPO Training

Protection training is definitely a tough dog sport but should never be misused. Schutzhund training focuses on three parts: obedience, tracking and protection. Your dog’s abilities are evaluated before they can begin training. Things that are evaluated include endurance, willingness to work, scenting abilities, mental stability, courage and trainability. Dogs bond closely with their owners when they are doing IPO training and you can even compete with your dog in Schutzhund trials. 

Swimming

Most people do not consider swimming to be a tough dog sport, but dock diving on the other hand can be. Your dog must first know how to swim before you can dive into other dog sports that challenge your dog, such as dock diving. Start slow and work your dog up to longer times in the water to build their muscles and swimming skill.

Conclusion

Tough dogs are highly trainable and their macho appearance and attitude can be used in different dog sports. The first step is to properly train your dog so they understand basic manners and can participate in different activities without causing a disruption. Have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian before beginning any activity. After they are trained, the possibilities are endless for your dog. Research activities you are interested in and talk with people already involved in those activities. Be patient with your dog and offer a lot of love and praise when doing an activity.