Activities For Working Dog Breeds

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Introduction

If your dog is of a working dog breed, you have probably noticed that they do best (and stay out of trouble) when busy.  To benefit the mental and physical health of your pup, it will be important to give them a job (or jobs) to do. Should they not have a job to do, they may come up with their own "work", which can involve things like chewing up your shoes. Their job does not necessarily have to be in the form of productive work, but can include focused play. Fortunately, even without sheep to herd or a farm to guard, there are plenty of opportunities to keep a working dog busy; some of which are a benefit to the community or a member of your household. Other activities are just plain fun. Regardless of how you keep your working dog busy, the time you spend together will be great for further developing your relationship.

Food Puzzle Toys

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Any Day
Cheap
Normal
10 - 60 min
Items needed
Food Puzzle Toy
Food or Treats
Activity description
A food puzzle toy is a well-made container (typically made of hard rubber or plastic) that you can put food or treats in. The food puzzle toy is designed so that the food or treats won't come out easily, leading to your dog having to work to get them out. Often, the toy will have holes on each end or on the the sides, and your dog can shake, roll, or paw at the toy to attempt to get the food out. Getting the food out often proves to not be an easy task and will require a lot of patience and problem-solving ability from your dog. Attempting to get the food out of the food puzzle toy will keep your dog occupied; this will be their job. When you consider that before being domesticated, dogs spent a good deal of their time scavenging for food, it makes sense that food puzzle toys, where your dog will have to work for their food, is a good way to keep them occupied.
Step
1
Purchase a food puzzle toy
First, you will need to obtain a food puzzle toy. There are a variety of these available in different shapes and sizes. Search online or at the store for a food puzzle to that seems to be the right size for your pooch. You can start with one that is somewhat challenging and move on the one that is more complicated as your dog masters the first one.
Step
2
An indoor hunt
Once you have the food puzzle toy, go ahead and fill it up as the directions show. You can then offer it to your dog. It is likely that your canine companion will quickly figure out that there is some work to be done in order to access the food or treats that are in the toy. Your pup will go right to work, attempting to release the food by manipulating the toy in a myriad of ways. As your dog succeeds, they will receive ongoing rewards for their efforts.
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Search and Rescue

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Any Day
Free
Normal
1 - 6 hrs
Items needed
Treats
Activity description

Search and rescue is an excellent activity for working dog breeds. Should your pup get involved with search and rescue, their training will involve the job of learning how to locate someone who is lost. Once your dog is trained, they will be ready to embark on the job of finding someone who may be missing in the wilderness. Between search and rescue missions, your dog can continue to work by practicing finding someone and by going on hikes to build their endurance level. An added bonus of this work is that you and your canine can do it together; not only can you and your dog make a difference in your community, but you can enjoy quality time with one another. You can also join a search and rescue group, where you and your pooch can make new friends as you embark on missions.

Step
1
Find and attend training
Should search and rescue work seem like a fit for your working breed dog, look into training opportunities. A great way to get started is to find a search and rescue group in your area. You can ask for information about training, as well as ask any questions that you have about the work. This will help you to determine whether search and rescue is right for you and your pooch, as well as help you learn the process to become involved in your area. You can also start taking your dog on hikes in the wilderness if you aren't already doing so. This will help both of you gain the endurance that you will need for search and rescue work.
Step
2
Develop your skills
Next, you and your pup can attend training for search and rescue. Not only will training help the two of you develop the skills necessary for the work, the training will be a "job" for your pup, which will fulfill his need to work. You will also have the chance to meet additional people involved in search and rescue and ask the questions that you have. Another benefit is all of the quality time you and your dog will get to spend with one another as you develop the tools to be successful in search and rescue.
Step
3
Get started
Once you have completed training, you and your dog can get to work. Depending on where you live, there may be opportunities to be of service in your area or an area not far from home. Through your research and subsequent training, you have likely formed connections with nearby groups and will be able to participate as search and rescue missions come up. You and your pup can assist as your availability allows. Both you and your canine companion will keep busy and stay in shape, while having the chance to serve others in need.
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Bikejoring

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
20 - 120 min
Items needed
Bikejoring Kit
Treats
Water and Bowl
Safety Equipment
Waste Bags
Activity description

When you think about finding a job for your pup, there is no question that bikejoring sounds like hard work. This activity involves riding your bike, with your dog attached and pulling you. If your dog is in need of a job and has a good amount of energy, this is a great activity to involve them in, as it will benefit their physical and mental health. Bikejoring will give your pup a task that will keep them busy while allowing you the chance to spend time together. This activity has the additional benefit of allowing your dog to run at the pace he prefers, which is likely faster than you are able to keep up with. After putting in some major effort bikejoring, you pooch will likely be tired and calm, at least for a little while. For all of these reasons, bikejoring is becoming more popular and may just be the perfect activity for you and your canine companion!

Step
1
Check it out
Getting involved in bikejoring is not something you can just go out and do without some research. If the activity sounds interesting to you and a possible fit for your pup, take some time to investigate. You can start by looking online for information, as well as attending a bikejoring event or group meeting. Ask as many questions as you can think of and let those with bikejoring experience share their stories. Not only will you learn more about bikejoring, but you can get some insight on some things to avoid, as well as what equipment you will need to obtain to get started and how (and where) to get started training.
Step
2
Start your training
You've decided to give bikejoring a try and are ready to start training. During your investigating, you likely got ideas on bikejoring kits; once you have purchased one you can attach your dog to your bike, which will allow them to pull you along. Before you get on the bike and start your adventure, make sure you have all the necessary safety equipment, like a bike helmet. Realistically, you will have accidents and falls while bikejoring, making safety equipment imperative. Why get hurt if you can avoid it? Stay away from busy streets and congested areas to further ensure the safety of you and your pup.
Step
3
Adventure time
Bikejoring will be a learning process for you and your dog. Once you understand the equipment and your dog accepts his new job, you are ready for some fun and adventure. Prior to attaching your pup to your bike, be sure that they learn the commands they will for the activity. At the beginning, it is likely that this activity is going to require a lot of patience on your part. It is best to avoid bikejoring if you have to be somewhere at a specific time, particularly when you are just getting started. It is recommended that you stay away from trails that can harm your pup's feet and avoid this activity when the weather is particularly hot. Regardless of the weather, make sure to offer your dog water regularly, as they will be working hard and will need hydration. While bikejoring is challenging, it is a great opportunity for your and your pup to spend time together and further increase your bond!
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More Fun Ideas...

Fetch In Water

Time in the water is great for working dogs. While "fetch" is a good job for your dog, playing fetch in the water adds an additional element. This activity can be done with a pool, a river, lake or in the ocean. Once you know your pup is comfortable in the water, and understands the idea of "fetch", throw a ball or toy into the water for them to retrieve. Your pup can run to the water, jump in, and grab hold of the item. Then can then (depending on the depth of the water) swim or run with the item to bring it back you. This can be repeated over and over until your pooch is pooped!

Agility Activities

Agility activities are great for working dog breeds. These will give them something to focus on (a job), which will keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Even better, these activities will offer you and your pup a lot of time to interact and further develop your relationship. Start small and simple; for example, with PVC pipe, set up a low jump. As your pup masters the jump, you can then raise the height of the pipe. A similar thing can be done with a hula hoop; start by placing it on the ground and having your dog walk through. You can slowly increase the height of the hula hoop as your dog achieves each height. A kiddie tunnel is also a great agility activity to introduce to your pup. As your dog masters a few activities, you can combine them for an obstacle course!

Hide and Seek

A great job that your dog is sure to love: finding you! If your dog struggles with "stay", you can have a friend hold their collar until you are ready. Once you have hidden, it is time for your dog to find you. Start with some easy hiding spots and gradually makes things more difficult. This is a great way for your pup to practice tracking! You can increase the difficulty of this activity by having multiple people hide, or change things up by hiding your dog's toys. Hide and Seek is a great way to increase your dog's skills, keep them active AND spend quality time together.

Conclusion

A working dog breed NEEDS a job; without one, your pup can easily become bored and seek their own employment. Chances are that the work they choose is not work that you would like them to take on, like chewing on your shoes or removing the stuffing from your couch. Fortunately, there are a myriad of activities available that make perfect jobs for your pup, while also providing the opportunity for the two of you to enjoy one another's company. Offering your dog a job will not only keep them busy, but will provide the physical and mental stimulation that is important for their overall health.