It is so important to keep your dog stimulated both mentally and physically especially if they are a working breed.  Below are some ideas on how to keep them busy and happy.

Round up

Herding dogs such as border collies were bred to herd livestock.  Use your dog’s natural instinct to keep them busy and stimulated.  With little kids, sometimes herding dogs can nip at their heels which isn’t fun for your little one, so It’s important to help teach your dog to be gentle.  They can also round up other members of your pet family when you go on your trail hikes.

Scent games  

If your K9 has a powerful sniffer, put their nose to work!  There are competitions that you can enter your dog to earn titles and awards, but you can do this in your own home or yard for fun and bonding time.  Try using scents like birch, anise or clove and see how they do.  This will stimulate your dog’s mind and body while giving them a satisfying job

Puzzle toys 

These are a great option for anyone with a small space.  Puzzle toys can vary in the levels of difficulty so you can increase their challenge when they have mastered the first toy.  This is also a great way to combat boredom or anxiety when Rover is at home and you are at work.

Trick training  

Most dogs love to please and if you have a highly motivated pup that likes their treats, this is a great way to spend time with your dog.  You can start off with basic tricks like roll over, high five, or fetch.  Then you can start to challenge them by jumping through hoops, over objects, or weaving through your legs.  Both you and your dog will enjoy the time together.

Carting/Pulling 

If you have a large breed dog that has been historically bred to pull and haul, then run out and get a weigh-pull harness!  Some communities will host weigh pull competitions that you can enter with your dog.  Try contacting your local rescue group.  Don’t wait for the competitions though, get yourself a cart/wagon and take your big dog to the grocery store.  Let them bring home their own food and groceries.  Make sure your dog harness is the proper style and fit so it doesn’t cause them any injuries.

Backpacking     

Take your dog backpacking and make sure they carry their own weight.   I would often put a harness on all my dogs and carry groceries home in their backpacks for small grocery visits.

Sledding 

If you have a sled dog (which can be most medium-sized dogs who like to run and pull), then invest in a sledding harness and a kicksled.  A kicksled is a very small dog sled for 1 person that can be used in the snowy weather to go fast and far – as long as your dog is healthy and happy this is a great way to exercise your dog and yourself!