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Ranger is 2.5 years old, his father was a GSD, his mother was a Black Mouth Cur. He lives inside on the 6th floor with us, the parrots, and his best friend the cat.

He is very high energy. True story: a few weeks ago he and my husband went for a 16 mile run (marathon training). When they returned, we went to the "dog beach" and he bounded through the water for over 2 hours. When we came home, he still wanted to play, so we played with his chuck-it for 45 minutes. He wanted more.

Both my husband and I have recently had our careers start to demand more of our time. In addition my health has become complicated, and my energy is much lower and extended walking causes severe pain.

I want to spice up his activity in ways that help him expend more energy and help me be in as little pain as possible, but I want that experience to be safe. Since he is not a draft dog, is there anything I should consider before training him to pull weight? Also, he has a doggy backpack which he LOVES, but I am not sure what level of weigh is safe for him to carry long distances on a regular basis. He is about 60lbs, very narrow and tall. Right now he just carries his own water on hikes.

I would also love other suggestions on activities for him to burn energy. here is what we already do:

-Walks and runs, both on leash and off (his recall is flawless, and we are in safe, appropriate areas).
-hikes
-fetch
-chase the laser (I was I initially against but he begs for it at the drawer where the pointer is kept and accepts it when the game is over, so I feel it is ok for him emotionally since he isn't upset by it and enjoys it)
-swimming and other beach play
-digging (on command)
-finding, sending, and fetching games in the house, slight rough housing but not much
-obedience training
-stair climbing (we live in a 10 story building).

We do not have access to agility equipment, or a safe place to improvise that particular kind of thing. Any suggestions? But my main question is about safe weights for him to carry, and pulling weight.
 

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I'd make mental exercise more important, since I'm pretty sure gets more than enough physical exercise.
Working breeds are often bred to go go go and they can be also trained to have an unhealthy need for physical exercise.
mental exercise is much more tiring for a dog than just physical exercise.
searching games sound great, but also food puzzles or training all kind of tricks can help to tire the dog out.
if he likes searching and finding perhaps mantrailing or Fährtenarbeit could be something for you to look into.
(I personally don't like playing fetch and laserpointers, I've seen too many dogs (including my old one) that were psychically addicted to these games.)

Make also sure to teach your dog how to settle down.
it is not unnormal for a dog to sleep 20 hours per day.
 

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I've read never to put more than 25% of a dog's weight in a pack.

You could add a pack to these activities, start with a small amount of weight and work up. I've heard it does wonders for very active dogs to help them need less time exercising.

I'd be careful of becoming a weekend warrior with the dog (lots of exercise on the weekends compared to the weekdays). This is not good for their joints, or for being able to regulate themselves.

I agree with mathilda- up the mental exercise as well. And teach a settle. My dog is still a puppy and needs help realizing that she's tired and that resting is a good thing to do. I'm currently working through relaxation protocols and teaching a default calm.
 

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Sounds like you have great ideas already. But just mention indoor training games, which could be canine freestyle, spins, leg weaves, you can make a wobble board or just a square of plywood plunked on top of a roundish object, jump through hula hoop, go outs to all the corners of the apartment. Hopefully you have carpets or noise could be an issue. Your downstairs neighbours will hate me.
 

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Lol thanks everyone!

He is very good about calming down, we have good communication on what is acceptable inside the house, etc. he does sleep during most of his down time, or quietly chew on his toys, etc. he has been known to play catch with himself. When out and about he knows to calm down and obey when told to heel or lie down, and when fetching he typically knows when to stop and will tell us he is done by coming back to stand by us but not dropping the ball until told to.

25%? Wow, that is 15lbs... That's a lot more than I expected. Thanks, that gives me an idea, though I will obviously keep looking to be sure, and work up to anything rather than diving in.

Noise isn't a problem... This building is made of concrete! But it unfortunately is VERY small, even jumping through a hoop isn't really feasible for a dog his size. I'll have to google canine freestyle... He is too tall for leg weaves lol... He is afraid of anything that moves Beneath him other than the car, so a wobble board wouldn't be a good fit for him, though my childhood dog would have loved it.

I like the idea of man trailing, I will look into that. We do our best to keep his mind pretty active, he learns new things very quickly. He picks up labels the quickest so we add to the list of things for him to find. He under stands the phrase "go find" and many labels of things to find including specific people, toys, and other animals. We try to take him to new places often as well.

As to the weekend warrior thing, that's what I'm trying to avoid. I want to add to what I can do during the week with him and get it closer to the level of what he gets on the weekends. That example was extreme, (we were surprised) but he is accompanying my husband as he trains for a marathon, and will hopefully join him on it.

The reason I am specifically thinking weight pulling is because it can be both useful and adjustable, and can be done calmly and in a relaxed fashion. He loves to work, but here in Hawaii we personally don't have access to a lot of working dogs and people who understand them. There are a lot of hunting dogs, but most of them are not treated very well at all and I wouldn't take advice from their handlers in a hundred years. Not everyone is like that obviously, but the dog culture here leaves something to be desired.

I've had dogs most of my life, grown up around them, and even volunteered with professional service dog trainer as a kid, but I haven't ever sought out an online community, so it might take me a little while to get up to speed on all the lingo. Hopefully my dog will benefit from all your input!
 
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