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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey, so I have a german shepherd pup who is roughly 5 months now. He is pretty cool. I haven't had a dog before that understood relatively easily what I want/need him to do, im actually surprised how well hes growing despite me not knowing much about raising dogs (he's the only dog I've had since 8 weeks old).

Anyway, right now our primary activities to exercise him involve playing fetch in a fenced in football field (I slam his kong balls with a louisville slugger about halfway down the field and he retrieves them) and hiking on mountain trails.

I was wondering, what are some more creative play exercises you guys recommend? He's very smart and these activities, though he enjoys them, are not really stimulating him mentally. I do the normal things like teach him tricks, work on his recall, etc etc when we're not out and about, and hes picking up on those well, but I was trying to think of some fun games that could be both physically and mentally stimulating. Any ideas?
 

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Well, there are a lot of tricks. Maybe hundreds. My Jupiter is 16 months and I have been working on beg and wave, and it's fun. I think these dogs do enjoy the challenge of figuring out new stuff.

We are also playing around with nosework. I hide some cloves in a tupperware container, slit it, and then hide it in the house. Then I say, "Clove!" and he runs around and tries to find it. You can tell he loves it. Before that, I used to make him stay in the kitchen, then go hide some kibble somewhere, say "Find!" and then he'd run out and sniff it out. These dogs have great noses and Jupiter loves to find stuff. Dogs in general are basically walking noses, so if you can use that sense, they'll be happy.

I have also heard of Barn Hunt, which is when people hide a rat in a barn and the dog has to find it. (it's done so the rat doesn't get hurt). I heard dogs love this.

You can make a flirt stick, which is a pole with a rope and a rag or something attached. It's sort of a giant version of those cat things that they can chase. Jupiter loves chasing it. Depending on how active you are, you can make it quite a fun activity.

Working on a long stay is always good. Taking him around to places where there are other dogs and training him there. That is a huge change-up and necessary if you want him to obey you when there are distractions. Every time you change something, that's something that he has to adjust to and is good for him.

Maybe try agility. This requires the dog to learn lots of movements and to go on many different surfaces and things. Good for them and they get to run!

Another possibility is protection sports. The dog gets to bite things, bark at things, etc. They seem to really enjoy it.
 

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I like to take my 6-month pup on mini-adventures.
This afternoon we spent about 20 minutes walking back and forth between the entrances at wal-mart. There were all sorts of
Vehicles; cars, trucks, motorcycles, bikes, mobility scooters, wheelchairs, strollers.
People: young, old, slow, fast, many races, dressed differently with glasses or hats.

We just loose leash walk back and forth through the crowd.... sitting and waiting as necessary if things get too congested. The bollards outside the doors to keep cars from crashing in make great weave poles.

Other places are through the square at our local university. We go to a lot of playgrounds; Pup loves climbing on the toys and going down the slides. pet-friendy stores.

Basically, anything where pup will see or experience something new. For extra credit have pup do the first part of the adventure on a loose leash heel. Pup will really have to stretch his self-control not to lunge ofoff to investigate everything. Then let pup explore on a longer leash so he can fully take in everything.

All the new stimulation saturates pups mind. It is not unusual for him to need a 4-hour nap after a couple of these stops. plus he is physically and mentally content for the rest of the day. Just be careful not to flood (overstimulate) pup with too much at once.
 

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I love this statement:

I do the normal things like teach him tricks, work on his recall, etc etc when we're not out and about, and hes picking up on those well, but I was trying to think of some fun games that could be both physically and mentally stimulating
So, what are the "normal tricks, and recall, etc. etc." that you are or have worked with him on? How much time does he spend doing these things? What's his daily exercise regimen look like? How much time per day is spent out and about, and doing what exactly?

I'm not trying to be prying or critical, just curious. There are tons of things you can do that are fun for your dog, but for my puppy it seems like progressing beyond sit or recall with her training taxed her plenty mentally, so again, I'm curious.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I love this statement:

I'm not trying to be prying or critical, just curious.

His daily exercise regimen I’ve laid out above. We spend a minimum of an hour outside, whether it’s on the football field or on a mountain trail.

The tricks he has down definitively (meaning able to do them without fail) are sit, speak, shake, down, go crate, fetch.

For his recall I will train him on the field or mountain trails by randomly letting go of the leash and creating some distance, then calling him back, but we do this work mostly at home. I let him off leash in the yard with no distractions and call him over. Then I introduce distractions with the neighbor kids playing nearby, adults walking by our yard, other dogs walking by our yard, etc etc. recall he does not have down perfectly, especially if another dog is nearby that he wants to play. His recall sucks, but he’ll surprise me sometimes and come even under distraction.

we spend a minimum of an hour a day on tricks such as the ones I listed above or recall. What I’m trying to teach him now are roll over and place.

Finally he goes to puppy obedience school once a week where he does some obstacle course work and reinforces some of the tricks he already knows.

I am of course not saying that I have run out of tricks to teach my dog or that he has them all down perfectly. My post was more-so about creative games that him and I can play together on our 1 hour of outside physical play/training, rather than football field fetch and mountain trail hiking.
 

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Hide and seek are great games. My hubby and I take turns hiding, the other holds the leash.
Urban Parkour is good, too. Find things to climb up on, crawl under, balance on, etc. Just be cautious about jumping down. A long drop is jarring on the joints, especially young ones.
 

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Well done you. My favorite is to start introducing Nosework Games. Search the forum, youtube or simply google the term. Very easy (and inexpensive) to get started and you can go from there. A couple of years ago, we had a succession of nasty ice storms which precluded early AM walkies. (Can't avoid what you can't see). So, I started simple nosework games around the house. The Wild Child LOVED it! She caught on very quickly and got to use her brain and her sniffer. Depending on how well things go, you can branch out to scent work or trailing from there. Lots of fun.
 

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:rolleyes::rolleyes:

His daily exercise regimen I’ve laid out above. We spend a minimum of an hour outside, whether it’s on the football field or on a mountain trail.

The tricks he has down definitively (meaning able to do them without fail) are sit, speak, shake, down, go crate, fetch.

For his recall I will train him on the field or mountain trails by randomly letting go of the leash and creating some distance, then calling him back, but we do this work mostly at home. I let him off leash in the yard with no distractions and call him over. Then I introduce distractions with the neighbor kids playing nearby, adults walking by our yard, other dogs walking by our yard, etc etc. recall he does not have down perfectly, especially if another dog is nearby that he wants to play. His recall sucks, but he’ll surprise me sometimes and come even under distraction.

we spend a minimum of an hour a day on tricks such as the ones I listed above or recall. What I’m trying to teach him now are roll over and place.

Finally he goes to puppy obedience school once a week where he does some obstacle course work and reinforces some of the tricks he already knows.

I am of course not saying that I have run out of tricks to teach my dog or that he has them all down perfectly. My post was more-so about creative games that him and I can play together on our 1 hour of outside physical play/training, rather than football field fetch and mountain trail hiking.
Thanks for explaining! I don't consider sit, down, or go crate tricks, so I honestly would never have guessed that's what you meant.

Roll over, play dead, bow, shake, speak, wave, these to me are tricks because they really have no real-life application.

At any rate, I second the Nosework idea, dogs seem to love working their nose and finding things! I bought this kit:


It's good quality and inexpensive, but we've gotten many many hours of great fun out of it!

Agility is also lots of fun, but jumping is hard on a young puppy's joints, so I skipped the equipment that required jumping until my dog was full grown.

If you don't have access to agility equipment, as many do not, empty playground equipment works well, teeter totters, platforms to climb on, slides to slide down, lots of fun things there.

With my dog I work on obedience during all activities. Yesterday, for a change we practiced remaining in a down while I threw her ball. Normally I just point and say GO and she'll run out where I point knowing the ball will appear shortly. I send her out different directions, so that she has to look at me first. Yesterday was only the second or third time I have asked to to hold a down when I threw the ball. Same game, different rules. I mention this because it is always good to mix things up...

Enjoy your pup!
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for explaining! I don't consider sit, down, or go crate tricks, so I honestly would never have guessed that's what you meant.

Roll over, play dead, bow, shake, speak, wave, these to me are tricks because they really have no real-life application.

At any rate, I second the Nosework idea, dogs seem to love working their nose and finding things! I bought this kit:


It's good quality and inexpensive, but we've gotten many many hours of great fun out of it!

Agility is also lots of fun, but jumping is hard on a young puppy's joints, so I skipped the equipment that required jumping until my dog was full grown.

If you don't have access to agility equipment, as many do not, empty playground equipment works well, teeter totters, platforms to climb on, slides to slide down, lots of fun things there.

With my dog I work on obedience during all activities. Yesterday, for a change we practiced remaining in a down while I threw her ball. Normally I just point and say GO and she'll run out where I point knowing the ball will appear shortly. I send her out different directions, so that she has to look at me first. Yesterday was only the second or third time I have asked to to hold a down when I threw the ball. Same game, different rules. I mention this because it is always good to mix things up...

Enjoy your pup!
Thanks man, super informative post!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Agility is also lots of fun, but jumping is hard on a young puppy's joints, so I skipped the equipment that required jumping until my dog was full grown.
A long drop is jarring on the joints, especially young ones.
i have been avoiding jumping for this reason. At what age do you guys think it’s acceptable to practice stuff like that?
 

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Their growth plates close at around 18 months, so high jumping or anything repetitive should wait until then.

I had my puppy jumping through a hoop and occasionally over an agility tunnel at 12 months and it didn't seem to bother her at all.
 

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I want to second or third the "nosework/tracking/hide and seek" idea.
It has become my dog's favorite! I leave house and hide around corner or down street (radius is getting bigger) and husband brings him out to find me. He LOVES tracking/finding me** and is overjoyed. It is maybe more mental work than physical, but it's a natural instinctive skill of theirs that they enjoy using. ( Wouldn't it be cool if I could get it up to a half-mile or so? That would be hard...)

Anyway, sounds like your dog has a good life! :)

**He used to track me to the edge of the curb where I had gotten into the car, and then cast around and be disappointed. So this "new game" is more rewarding ...
 
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