Australian Shepherds are a remarkable breed. Not only are they incredibly physical dogs, they are intelligent as well. This is why engaging them in activities that boost their physical and mental prowess can help a great deal. It can keep your pooch entertained and reduce the risk of negative behaviors.
Physical Activities For Australian Shepherd
Here are the physically challenging activities you can try out:
Playing with Frisbee
This is preferable to playing with a ball with your Australian Shepherd. Due to the manner in which the Frisbee moves, your dog is required to make use of their agility, coordination, and other physical skills. Not to mention, your Australian Shepherd has to time their movements’ just right.
For the most part, catching a Frisbee is pretty instinctual. Still, it is something you will need to get your dog used to. Start by rolling the Frisbee on the ground towards them. When they begin to grasp the object in their mouth, toss it towards your dog at a lower level.
Gradually aim the Frisbee higher and higher and further and further away. It will be a full body workout for your Australian Shepherd.
Herding a Ball
As you are aware, your Australian Shepherd is a natural herder. So, why not allow them to exercise these instincts in a controlled way? This is where teaching your pup to herd a ball into a goal or any designated area can be a great workout and a lot of fun.
It should be noted that this activity can take some time for them to get used to. You will require patience and have to teach your pup some new commands as well.
Your goal is to get your dog to roll a large, inflatable ball into a soccer goal, in between goal posts, or any other designated area.
You will have to start by training them to boop their snout on your palm. Then, progress to a sticky note on your palm. When they learn to touch this instead, move the sticky note to the ball you will be using for your exercise. Then, teach your dog to move the ball forwards. Eventually, they will be able to move it into the goal.
Backyard Agility Exercises
Australian Shepherds have amazing agility, which is why they perform quite so well on all those agility courses. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on fancy equipment. You should be able to set up an agility course with things around your home and a little bit of creativity.
Remember, the whole point is to encourage as much physical activity as possible. Set things up so that your dog has to run, jump, leap forward, etc.
These courses do have an obedience and mental aspect to them. It is important to teach your dog to complete the course in a particular pattern or manner. Make sure to also have parts of the agility course where they will need to pause or stand still for a bit.
To make things interesting, switch up the manner in which the agility course is set up.
Playing with a Flirt Pole
In a way, you can think of a flirt pole as an oversized cat toy. This toy is made up of three parts – the long, solid pole that you hold onto, a bungee-type cord that is attached to the pole, and a dog toy that is attached to the cord.
Your pup will be excited by the movement of the dog toy and can chase, tackle, and wrestle with the toy.
You can buy a flirt pole or even make one for yourself – it’s pretty simple. This activity is great for when you have limited space in your backyard but you still want your Australian Shepherd to get plenty of exercise.
Here, you move the pole – and by extension the cord – around. You can drag it on the ground, lift it in the air, move it around in circles, etc. Just make sure to switch up directions and movements so that your dog stays engaged.
It is a good idea to teach your dog a few commands before getting the game started. This includes wait, catch, drop, etc.
Tug of War with a Spring Pole
There is no denying that your Australian Shepherd probably loves playing tug of war. However, you may have felt that you can’t provide enough resistance for your pup to work all of their energy out. Well, this is where a spring pole comes in.
As the name suggests, it is essentially a large spring onto which a tug-of-war dog toy is attached at one end. The other end can be hooked onto a tree branch or any other elevated surface.
Then, your pooch is free to pull, wrestle, and be as physical as they want with the toy. It is also a great way to ensure that you don’t end up completely tired out at the end of the play session!
Playing Fetch with a Ball Launcher
The problem with a regular game of fetch is that you may have limited throwing skills and stamina. So, you may not be able to get the kind of distance that can make this game challenging for your Australian Shepherd.
Keep in mind, this breed is used to running fast and covering extensive distances. If they don’t have to make an effort during playtime, you will not be tiring them out.
A ball launcher can take care of this issue. It will launch the ball high up and far away every time. Your dog will love running after the far thrown balls.
Mental Activities For Australian Shepherds
Here are the mental activities that can keep your Australian Shepherd entertained:
Find the Treats
For this game, you will need a plastic container with a lid with holes punched in the top. Place a few treats in each container and hide them around your house or backyard.
Once this is done, you can then release your pooch and have them go find the treats. It can take a while for your dog to catch on, so make sure to start by hiding the treats close by and in an easy-to-find spot.
After they have gotten the hang of it, you can make it more and more complex. If your pooch appears to have a particularly well-honed sense of smell, you can even try burying the containers in your backyard.
Hide and Seek
This is similar to find-the-treat, with the exception that you are the treat in this scenario. You can play this game with one person or two people.
With two people, one person can hold your pup on a leash and you can go hide. Then, your dog is taken off the leash and told to find you. Until they understand the concept, call out their name at intervals so that they know to come looking for you.
With just one person, ask your dog to stay. Then, hide and call their or use a release command so that they begin to search for you. Once again, gradually increase the complexity of the game.
101 Things to Do With a Box
Not only is this a great activity for your pooch, it is pretty amusing for you to watch as well.
For this activity, you will require a cardboard or plastic box that is large enough for your dog to get into. You will also need to be armed with small treats.
Go ahead and place the box in front of your dog. In the beginning, you should give your dog for any interaction with the box – this includes looking at the box, moving towards the box, touching it, etc.
Once your pup realizes that they are getting rewarded for interacting with the box, they will begin to get more and more creative. There is no right or wrong maneuver. It is just a way for you to allow your dog to find different things to do with this box.
Modified Barn Hunt
This is an old training exercise involving rats in ventilated tubes and hay bales. The goal here is to let the dogs to sniff out the rats hidden in and around the hay bales. The bales themselves acted as an agility course for the dogs.
Most people don’t have access to hay bales and certainly don’t want to have to work with rats. Therefore, some modification is required.
Set up an agility course for your pup. Then, place boxes with treats around the agility course. To start with, you may want to keep the boxes open to the air or have them with punctured holes. Don’t hide the treats just yet, just keep them in various spots.
Your main goal in the beginning is to get your dog used to the agility course and the concept of finding the treats. Remember to lead your pooch on the leash at first. Only once they have gotten the hang of the exercise should they be off leash.
As your dog gets better at this activity, be more creative with how you hide the treats around the course.
There are plenty of ways for you to exercise your Australian Shepherd’s body and mind. They will never feel bored again and you can now make sure of it.
Go ahead and try out these activities with your pooch – they are guaranteed to love it!