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Idle Paws are the Devil’s Playground: 7 Ways to Stimulate the Working Dog


Dogs of the Working Group were originally bred to perform a variety of jobs that have been an invaluable tool to man;  examples of these tasks are search and rescue, pulling a sled, protection for humans and livestock, detecting narcotics or bombs, and many more.  Click here for the AKC’s list of breeds in the Working Dog Group.

Owning a dog of the Working Group is certainly not for everyone!  Typically these dogs are high energy and may become destructive if not given a job and stimulation.  These dogs require firm and consistent training by a pack leader, or they will run the home.  Generally protective by nature, they need guidance and plenty of opportunities for socialization starting at an early age.  Mental challenges will give the Working Dog a well-rounded life and helps to get rid of excess energy and boredom – leaving you with a happier and calmer companion!

agilitySign up for a dog agility class!  Dog agility classes open the door to excellent communication between you and your beloved companion and are fun for the dog and handler alike!  Group agility classes are also a great way to socialize with other dogs.  Below is a list of local agility training organizations, if you are interested in getting your dog involved in agility:

Capital Dog Training Club of Austin
130 Woodland Trail
Leander, TX 78641

Unleashed Unlimited
21600 Nameless Rd.
Leander, TX 78641

Austin Dog Alliance
1321 W. New Hope Drive
Cedar Park, TX 78613

Backpacking WikketStrap up your dog and hit the trails!  The Austin area offers so many opportunities for hiking and exploring, even leash-free opportunities for the well-behaved dog!  Put your dog’s backpack on him or her and go enjoy nature with a long hike.  He will be focused on carrying the load on his back, and this typically has a calming effect that leads to a higher level of obedience.  Your dog is sure to be worn out and happy by the end of the hike!

Work on learning a new trick!   Dogs in the Working Group are so smart and thrive with mental challenges!  Even if he or she already has the basics down (sit, stay, come, down, etc.), there are endless tricks that your dog can learn.

Take your dog on a long walk.  Daily walks are important for the health of your best friend, because they are stimulating both physically and mentally.  Changing up the route of your walks will keep your dog entertained and offer new sights and sounds.  Walks are a great time to work on heel, and to practice positive leash control training.

dogeatGive your dog something to chew on.  Chewing is instinctive to your dog, but that doesn’t mean you have to let him or her tear up your house to meet this need. Heavy chewers need a long lasting treat, such as elk antlers or a Nylabone.  Try stuffing your dog’s Kong toy with peanut butter and then freezing it for a yummy and long-lasting activity!

Make your dog work for dinner!  Have him use his nose to sniff out his food in the backyard or around the house.  Scatter your dog’s food the same way you would feed chickens, and have him find it.  Pet stores also sell food dispensing toys that can be stuffed with your dog’s food, which has the same effect.  Giving your dog these tasks stimulates the olfactory senses, which uses a large portion of the brain and gives them the mental stimulation needed.

Satisfy the natural urge to dig.  Dogs such as the Siberian Husky or Malamute are known to be escape artists, who can easily dig out from under a fence if not given an outlet for their restless energy.  For dogs that enjoy digging, set aside a dirt or sand area that is a legitimate place for them to fulfill this need. Bury toys or treats in this area and teach your dog to search for them, which is fun and will encourage him to dig in this particular spot. If your dog begins digging where he is not allowed, quickly bring him over to his digging spot where the buried treats will reinforce that this is the proper area to dig.Lulu Digging - 2 of 2

Short On Time?  Bring your dog to doggy daycare and you will have a happy and tired companion at the end of the day!

What jobs do you give your dog(s)?  Tell us in the comments below!