How do you keep working dogs entertained?

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How do you keep working dogs entertained?

This is a discussion on How do you keep working dogs entertained? within the Puppy Help forums, part of the Dog Training and Behavior category; I wanted a Golden Retriever. I know what to do with a Golden. Or, better yet, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I want one of ...

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Old 10-15-2013, 03:18 PM
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How do you keep working dogs entertained?

I wanted a Golden Retriever. I know what to do with a Golden. Or, better yet, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I want one of those so badly I nearly burst into tears every time I get to play with one.

I may be a touch over-dramatic.

But my husband wanted a blue heeler. I didn't want a herding dog. I know they are high energy and very smart. But I told myself 'well, a good puppy isn't in the breed but the training' and agreed.

AJ isn't a problem yet, she's just 8-weeks-old. I took her for a four block walk (that's about half a mile in these parts) this morning, and she is much more tuckered than usual. But I know that won't last long, and physical excersize won't be enough stimulation for her anyway.

I want her to be a trail dog since I live near some really fantastic canyons and would love to hike during the day while hubby is at work. She's still too little right now, though, and even then I don't run-- it is painful for me to do so.

What can I do with my little girl to keep her a happy and entertained dog? And is there any training I can start right now to get her ready for hiking with me?
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Old 10-15-2013, 06:04 PM
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I grew up with mainly herding breeds, kelpies, heelers, BC's - mixes of the lot of them. We had a fair amount of land & I have to admit, they never got formal walks (were all leash trained though). They would follow me around on the horses, swim in our dams, chase lizards & birds, play with soccer balls, a few were trained to bring in the chicken/ducks/geese at night...& basically hang out with the family whenever we were outside. We always adopted as adults, so I dont have any experience with Apple Jacks stage unfortunately...

Puzzle games/treat dispensing toys are brilliant. Look into Nina Ottosson products, tug-a-jug, busta cubes etc.

Do lots of training, not just obedience but fun trick stuff...she isn't too young to start!! Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise IMO.

Do "nose work" games with her...let her sniff out something specific, or flip half a dozen plastic cups on the ground, place a treat under one & let her find it. Or get a muffin tray, put in treats & then put a tennis ball in each hole so she has to figure it out.

She is most likely going to be a ball fanatic, so take advantage of it & tire her out. Look up flirt poles, that is a great way to burn some serious energy (just dont let her jump too high just yet).

Unfortunately, she wont be up to a hike for a long time yet. The general rule of thumb for puppies is 5 minutes of formal walking for each month of age.
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Old 10-15-2013, 07:32 PM
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Just saw your pup in your other post. At this point you can start training, but until she gets a smidge bigger you might be a little limited. I would definitely, definitely socialize her as much as you can (within reason for a pup her age). Let her interact with other puppies/gentle dogs and as many people/strangers as you can.

I got my pup a bit older and it's still something we are constantly working on. Cattle Dogs are fantastic, but I would recommend researching their common traits. They can be wary of strangers and protective of their family among other things.

Good luck with your puppy!!
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Old 10-15-2013, 08:51 PM
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Mental games. Mental stimulation. Any of her food you can't work into training work into food dispensing toys and kongs. Training doesn't have to be obeidence either, games, tricks, anything you can teach or capture and give a command for.

For physical exercise, on top of hiking, look at frisbee. Also, do you bike? There are attachments where you can connect a dog's harness to a bicycle, and biking is easier on the joints than running.
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Old 10-16-2013, 08:59 AM
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I love to bike, so I had wondered about that. I know my sister's Malamute was trained to do that (because, really, no one can run long enough to tire out a Malamute!) but I wasn't sure how safe that was for something smaller.

I'll have to look into the food dispensing toys. We started some more formal training yesterday-- really simple stuff like something to interupt her-- and we had decent sucess even in the living room. Well...I got her to drop a giant grasshopper and a dryer sheet she'd somehow managed to find in exchange for a treat anyway.

I'm going to see if there are any fenced parks around here. My brother-in-law hasn't finished the backyard fencing. He doesn't mind because his poor blue heeler doesn't get almost any excersize.

Speaking of that, AJ sees the other dogs a lot. I don't mind the socialization but they have some habits (like barking at everything that walks by and being very destructive) that I'd really rather her not pick up on. Any ways to prevent that?
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Old 10-16-2013, 09:26 AM
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I've done biking with my 33lb dog if that helps. Using this: WalkyDog PlusŪ Bike Leash | Walky Dog Bike Leash | Bicycle Dog Leash | Bike With Your Dog | Dog Bike Accessory - The Dog Outdoors (though I personally recommend the extra attachment that allows you to attach it to a wheel instead of under the bike seat, especially for dogs Arty's size and larger, Arty was able to jerk me around and mess with my balance quite a bit using the seat attachment).

Just be mindfull of the pavement temps in the summer (it can get REALLY hot) if you bike on the road. Maybe consider booties for the dog in teh summer if you do your biking on the road.
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Old 10-16-2013, 10:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ApplejackMom View Post
Speaking of that, AJ sees the other dogs a lot. I don't mind the socialization but they have some habits (like barking at everything that walks by and being very destructive) that I'd really rather her not pick up on. Any ways to prevent that?
I have trained Calypso that when we walk by a yard with a barking dog, it is a cue to look at me and keep walking. Basically, every time a dog behind a fence barks, I would click (I clicker train) before she could bark back, so I'm clicking the "not-barking" response, and then she'd get a treat. I did this for a few months solid, and now Calypso doesn't bark at dogs behind fences barking at her, even when I'm lazy and don't bring training treats on our walks. (She's got a NASTY bark for her size, though, and she pulls it out when she needs to. Yikes.)

Preventing destruction is more about keeping the dog mentally occupied OR tired out on one hand, and removing opportunities for disaster on the other. (Like keeping your kitchen trash behind a door or a dog-safe gate).
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Old 10-16-2013, 10:33 AM
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My workers take long hikes in safe offleash areas (they are recall trained) or you can use a long line (even up to 200ft!) for this in fields.
We like to use the chuck it to play fetch.
They like kongs and puzzle toys.
Also we use a flirt pole and they love it!
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Old 10-16-2013, 12:06 PM
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Thanks guys . Took AJ to the fenced in park down the road. I figured this time of year and at 10 AM there wasn't likely to be anyone there. I was right, but she was still too afraid to do much but stay right on my heels. We worked on fetch with her very favorite tennis ball, and she got it a couple of times.

The main problem right now is that I can't get her to forget the treats she knows I have and pay attention to me. Going to see if I can find a video on that right now.
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Old 10-17-2013, 06:39 PM
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Is parvo a problem in your area? Most vets recommend not letting puppies walk where other dogs have been until fully vaccinated. Just something to think about.

As for dealing with a food driven dog, that is very Calypso. So the most important thing we work on is "look at me". That way, paying attention to me instead of the treat bag, is its own trick.
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