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The Top 24 Best Hiking Dogs By Category

Are you considering getting a dog that can go hiking with you? We give you a rundown of the most active dogs that also make a good hiking buddies!

We grouped dogs into categories that should help you find the best type of hiking dog that matches your lifestyle and hiking preferences.

This guide should help you narrow down which hiking dog to get.

Have kids? Get a dog for active families. Do a lot of backcountry hiking? You’ll need a dog that is reliable off-leash and can adventure with you off the beaten path. Go on a lot of challenging, rough terrain, want a smaller companion, or live in a cold area? We have dog recommendations for you too.

Here is our list for the best hiking and trail dogs.

Choose a dog that matches your own hiking preferences. How long do you hike and at what level? In what weather and terrain conditions? With whom?


FOR ACTIVE FAMILIES

 

Golden Retriever

Golden Retrievers love to be with a family and are great with kids. They will be happiest walking with the family and in an area where they can play near the water. Golden retrievers have strong retrieval instincts, so bring along a toy for them to fetch on your outing. These dogs are obedient and have great agility. Retrievers are prone to hip dysplasia when they get older which will severely limit how much they can hike.

Bernese Mountain Dog

Bernese Mountain Dogs were bred as a farm dog in Switzerland. They are large and gentle dogs that need a lot of space to roam. As a mountain dog, they are comfortable on rough rocky terrain but hikes should be shorter. Otherwise, take frequent breaks as these dogs may not have high endurance. The Bernese Mountain Dog loves to be social and make friends so they are great in an area with a lot of families and smaller children. Lessen your load by giving them a pack to carry. They can carry a lot!

Brittany Spaniel

Brittany Spaniels are actually one of the smallest bred hunting dogs, so they are a great off-leash dog that love to work with humans. Socialized Brittany Spaniels are well mannered even with strangers, kids and other dogs. These dogs don’t need a commanding owner. Just guide them along and they’ll be eager to follow you wherever you go. Don’t confuse compliance with being mellow. Brittany Spaniels need exercise and are very athletic. Otherwise, they are prone to separation anxiety and hyperactivity. They can keep up with you and your active family easily, even on a run.

Dalmation

Dalmations have superb endurance. They used to protect horses that pulled stagecoaches, so they make great biking companions who can keep up with you for a long distance. You’ll need to take a Dalmation out pretty regularly, otherwise they will become destructive. This is probably not the dog for a first time owner as they need a firm hand. Dalmations can be stubborn without proper guidance and exercise. At the same time, these dogs can be very loving and playful to their family members.

Weimaraner

Weimaraners are another affectionate dog who is great for the active family. They are a great companion dog for short or long walks in any type of terrain. A short coat makes them easy to care for on the trail. It’s easy to train these dogs, but they do need an owner that can be committed to training them and giving them attention. They also need constant exercise. Otherwise, Weimaraners can become stubborn and disobedient.


ADD WATER PLEASE

 

Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers love to swim in water. They make a great companion for any family with young kids that likes to camp and hike. They will be anyone’s best pal since. Labs are friendly towards anyone, even strangers, and other dogs. It’s no wonder that these dogs are consistently rated one of America’s most popular dogs. Labradors do need constant exercise, or will become overweight. Like golden retrievers, they are prone to hip dysplasia so that may limit how much hiking they can do in senior years.

Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog actually has webbed feet, so they make great swimmers that love to play in the water. They are tireless in any outdoor adventure and great off-leash on a long walk as they like to be near their owner. Portuguese Water Dogs need constant exercise or can become independent and strong-willed. Those with allergies should consider this dog as they are hypoallergenic with a curly to wavy coat.

Poodle

Poodles are extremely smart, obedient dogs that can do well off-leash on a long hike. They are highly trainable, loyal, and just love to play. Being sociable, poodles are highly tolerant with kids. Compared to the Portuguese Water Dog, Poodles are leggier, graceful and have tight, curly hair. Poodles do need constant companionship or attention, otherwise become prone to separation anxiety. They also bark a lot to demand attention, so perhaps not the best dog for standard campsites or in the backcountry.


SMALL AND COMPACT

 

Pembroke Welsh Corgi

The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a small to medium sized dog that just loves to play, a perfect fit for an active owner with kids. Corgis are natural herders and bark a lot. You will do well on a long, flat trail as these dogs have short leg but can keep up with you. Corgis can hike a 5-6 miles with you without a problem, but will have to build up their endurance for day-long hikes.

Jack Russell Terrier

Jack Russell Terriers are one of the most lively, high-strung dogs out there. Bred to hunt foxes, they are fast on a run and can tear it up on the trail. They are also jokesters and will always make you laugh. Jack Russells are highly trainable so they are good as a trick dog and will do well in sports such a flyball or agility. These dogs need constant activity and love to chew, bark, and chase so they need an owner who can keep up with that. These dogs are great for those that like to run or bike on the trail where they always need to keep up with you. Otherwise, they need to be on leash as they have high prey drive. Early socialization is key to reduce aggression towards other dogs.

Patterdale Terrier

Since Carmella is honorary pup of Pawtivity, we couldn’t help but not list the Patterdale Terrier! Patterdales are very active, smart, and strong willed dogs that are fiercely loyal and affectionate to their family. They love to smell and explore, so need an owner who loves the outdoors or has a large field to play in. Patterdales have high prey drive and were bred to hunt foxes, rabbits and rats. They are best kept hiking on leash. Unlike Jack Russells, Patterdales don’t bark much which make them a great companion camping or backcountry hiking. Early socialization and training is key as Patterdales can be intense and perceived as aggressive to other dogs.

Dachshund

Daschunds are a little dog with big personality. They have high stamina and can go a long distance despite their short, muscular legs. This loyal dog loves to play with his family and do everything with them. If something is amiss they will alert you with a loud bark. Watch out if your Daschund is off-leash as they love to sniff around. It’s part of their breed instincts for sniffing out badgers. Just make sure they are not poking their noses in the wrong place! Daschunds are prone to disk problems so it may not do so well on stairs or steep climbs.

Norwegian Lundehund

The Norwegian Lundehund was bred to hunt puffin eggs and live puffins on cliffs, so they are a small dog that is nimble and surefooted on their paws. Having six toes on each paw helps! Take this dog on a mountain hike and they will be at ease navigating rocky terrain. They will also love swimming in a mountain stream. You may want to keep them on leash while on a hike as these dogs are curious by nature and love to explore small passageways. Early socialization will help reduce shyness.

Source: Lundtola – Rosa – Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.


BACKCOUNTRY HIKERS

 

German Shepherd

German Shepherds are known for being service dogs to the police and military. They are highly trainable and excel at obedience. A trained German Shepherd would be a great dog to take with you for some off leash hiking or backpacking. They are also protective when needed and can navigate through rough terrain. You’ll find a loyal sidekick with this dog, but without adequate exercise and attention you’ll have one destructive pup instead.

Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd is an extremely intelligent and easy to train dog. They are agile and make a great hiking partner for long hikes in tough terrain. You won’t ever find yourself having to carry or motivate an Australian Shepherd as these dogs are always ready to go. These dogs are devoted to their owner and you won’t have to worry about them straying too far. They will bark to alert you of any pending danger and protect their family. Bring a brush on your walk since debris is likely to get in their fur.

German Shorthaired Pointer

The German Shorthaired Pointer is known for having a great nose. They were trained to find and retrieve waterfowl. German Shorthaired Pointers are highly trainable and sure footed for rough terrain. They have a flat water-resistant coat that helps the regular temperature and repel dirt. Webbed feet make them great swimmers. Don’t worry about losing track of this dog. He will likely find you and hates being away from people. German Shorthaired Pointers can be reserved with strangers and will bark if they come across anyone or anything unfamiliar to them.


CAN HANDLE THE HEAT

 

Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Rhodesian Ridgeback was bred to hunt lions in Africa, so they are naturally comfortable in hot temperatures and have high endurance to get through a lot. If you live in a hot area or a desert area, this dog will be comfortable adventuring by your side. Rhodesian Ridgebacks have very high prey drive, so probably not a dog to leave off-leash. They are affectionate with their family, but can be guarded with strangers. You’ll need to give them firm, consistent training and early socialization.

Vizsla

The Vizsla is known to be a fast dog that can run long distances. Their short, thin coat make them a great dog for hot weather. They never like to stray too far from their owner, so are a great off-leash companion as well. Vizslas are gentle and affectionate but always ready to go. Don’t get a Vizsla if you will be away a lot and can’t give them at least 2 hours of daily exercise. They are prone to separation anxiety and can become destructive.

Airedale Terrier

The Airedale Terrier is the largest of the terrier family. Their coats are wiry. When temperatures rise, just strip down their coats. These dogs are smart, easy to train and outgoing. They are also playful which make them such a fun dog to have around on any adventure, especially with kids. The Airedale Terrier is an independent dog, so you’ll have to provide consistent training and playtime.


COLD WINTER TROOPERS

 

Siberian Husky

Known for dog sled racing, Siberian Huskies were made to run and hike in the snow. Their warm double coat protects them from the cold. Combined with endurance, power, and speed these dogs will challenge you in any winter outing. Siberian Huskies are very friendly dogs with a pack mentality so make sure you include them in family gatherings. These dogs are not the easiest to train, so not a great candidate for a first time dog owner. You’ll want to keep your dog on leash.

Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute also has a double coat that protects them from the cold. They are much larger and stronger than a Siberian Husky, but have the same friendly demeanor. Good training is a must with this dog as they can be stubborn, independent and hard to control due to their size. If you live in a cold area, this dog will feel right at home.


THE ALL-AROUND HIKING BUDDY

 

Border Collie

There is little wonder why you see Border Collie excel in so many dog sports, including agility and disc dog. They are one of the most intelligent dog breeds which make them very trainable. They also follow directions well and have a good tireless and positive temperament. Border Collies don’t have high prey drive so this makes them better for off leash outdoor activities. These dogs are active, so owners need to be able to commit to giving them enough exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy.

Australian Cattle Dog

Another all-around adventurer is the Australian Cattle Dog, also known as the Queensland, Blue, or Red Heeler. These dogs are great for backpackers and 14er hikers as they can navigate through any terrain. They also are a loyal companions that will make you smile while on the trail. Being highly trainable, they are reliable off leash and will take direction from you easily.

Mixed Breed

You know your dog best. Mixed dogs often have the best traits from multiple breeds. Sometimes, shelter dogs become the most loyal and loving companion as they truly appreciate the bond they have with their owner.


Let us know what type of dog you end up choosing! What hiking adventures do you go on?

 

Is there a great dog-friendly activity or event missing from our list? Contact us so we can share it with the community!


Join the Pawtivity Community. Meet Other Adventurers That Do What You Love To Do.
Sign up TODAY!

 

Related Pawtivity / Event: Hiking
Activities: Hiking, Walking, Backpacking, Biking, Running

Puppy Sprawl

Puppy Sprawl / Superman

Puppies love to lay on their bellies with their legs all the way out. Also known as the “Superman” pose, we like how Dogtime explained this in their article about doggy sleeping positions – “Dogs that sleep in this position don’t want to miss a chance to be in the action, even while they’re napping. It’s the position of choice for high-energy pups or pups who get sleepy during play and just want to plop down where they’re standing.”

Of course! Our pups just want to be ready for action. We don’t know if this explanation is correct, but either way – the position is adorable.

Snap a photo and share with us!

 

Help a fellow dog owner! Do you have an adventure story? Contact us and we will link it to this pawtivity or event! Where did you go? What did you do? Please include any useful tips and advice that would help others!

Activities: Just For Fun, Photo, Puppy

Top 10 Ways To Cure Dog Boredom

Dog Bored? Top 10 Ways To Cure Dog Boredom

My dog looks up to me a lot. So, it always makes me feel guilty whenever she sprawls out on the floor with a thud, gives a big sigh, and then stares me down with those sad, bored puppy eyes. All she wants to do is play! Maybe I’m overthinking it, but she would get up in a heartbeat if she saw me with a toy in hand!

So, how do you cure dog boredom?

Dogs need a lot of physical exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction. Otherwise, they will look for something to take their frustration and boredom out on, such as chewing up your living room couch, digging out all your new outdoor plants, or barking at anything with legs.

Our dogs have become lazy, or rather we have allowed them to become lazy. Dogs used to work a lot! Many were bred to retrieve prey or herd livestock alongside their humans. All dogs have a natural instinct for scavenging for food.

We simply need to do more with our dogs and give them (and yourself) an active lifestyle! I’m always looking for a fresh way to keep my dog busy and avoid destructive behavior in dogs. Here are some quick tips to keep your dog entertained, happy, active, and challenged.

 

TOP 10 WAYS TO RELIEVE DOG BOREDOM

~As they say, a tired dog is a happy dog.

  1. Walk Somewhere New: Like humans, dogs love a little variety and challenge in their walks or hike. Take them somewhere that has new scents, sounds, and experiences.
  1. Go Out On Errands: Dogs love the car ride too. If you can’t walk, take your dog along with you when you run errands! Crack open the window and let them sniff something new in the air! Never leave your dog in the car if it is too hot outside! Not only will another dog owner give you the stare down, but worse, your dog may have get heatstroke or sustain brain damage.
  1. Sign up for a Pawtivity or Event: Find new ideas to keep your dog active and happy on Pawtivity! Sign up to do something with your dog! Try a new activity you’ve never done before. We love fetch, disc dog / frisbee, and tug. Agility is also a great form of mental and physical exercise that boosts your dog’s confidence and makes them more obedient all-around – it truly is an overlooked form of play for dogs! 15 minutes of disc, agility, or other form of active play at a time truly does wonders – keep your dog wanting to do more and looking to you to play more.
  1. Go To The Dog Park: The dog park is a great way for your dog to socialize with other dogs. Better yet, it’s often free!
  1. Make Your Dog Work For Food: Since dogs used to scavenge for food, why not scatter your dog’s food in the yard and make them find their food? Or lay out small piles of food around the house for them to find. Every time you feed your dog or take your dog on a walk, make them do puppy situps (sit, down, sit, come/touch, look). Practice puppy situps at a farther distance each time. This is great training for better recall and obedience, useful for when your your dog is off leash.
  1. Get a Chew Toy: Dogs love to chew, so get a good assortment of soft and hard chew toys to try out! Carmella can bite through black Kongs, so we love edible dental bones and antler bones. Antler bones last a long time and do double-duty to fight boredom and clean teeth. Note of caution: Find the best chew toy for your dog – start with a soft one. Antler bones should be taken away if you see chipping or breakage. Chew toys that are too hard can fracture your dog’s teeth. We never had a problem with antler bones, but this has to do with they way Carmella works at the bone, she doesn’t just bite down. Tennis balls are not the best chew toys as they can wear down your dog’s teeth enamel and fall apart in pieces large enough to get stuck in your dog’s throat. In all, supervise your dog with their chew toy before deciding which one is best for them.
  1. Invest in Treat Dispensing and Smart Toys: Dogs naturally have a keen sense of smell.  Why not challenge them to use their natural instincts by giving them a puzzle for them to solve?  Treat dispensing and smart toys often involve the use of treats and require supervision. They also come in varying levels of difficulty.
  1. Create Distractions When You are Away: Keep a safe treat dispensing toy around, put on the tv or radio, and keep a chew toy or two around for your dog to play with when you are out.  You can also try giving them frozen treats that will melt over time or put toys in a huge ice mold to leave outside.
  1. Rotate Your Dog’s Toys: This shakes things up a bit and gives more mileage to your dog toys. Dog are like kids – they love the new toy and all want the new toy.
  1. Attend a Basic Dog Training Class:  How will your dog know what you want them to do? Dog owners need the proper training to communicate effectively with their canine companions. Basic commands such as sit, stay, leave it, give, or come serve as building blocks to help you play more with your dog.

 

What are other ways that you can keep a dog busy? We hate to see a dog that is bored. Include a comment below or email us and we will add your suggestion as a pawtivity!

Carol & Carmella
President & Pup, Pawtivity

 


Is Your Dog An Amazing Pup? 

Is your dog amazing? Contact us to be considered as one of Pawtivity’s featured amazing pups! We may feature you on Pawtivity.com or on our instagram accounts @pawtivity and @myamazingpup. Send us a photo of your dog and tell us why they are so amazing!

 


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New Puppy

New Puppy

Did you just get a new puppy! Introduce them to the world on Pawtivity as a new #pawtivitypup!

Take a memorable photo of your new puppy for everyone to see! Meet some new friends and explore your new world together.

 

Help a fellow dog owner! Do you have an adventure story? Contact us and we will link it to this pawtivity or event! Where did you go? What did you do? Please include any useful tips and advice that would help others!

Activities: Puppy, Photo

Excited Puppy

Puppy’s First Hike

Take a photo of your puppy’s first hike! It’s a great opportunity to get them socialized, but do respect other dog owners’ space and choose a location with an easy trail and flat terrain.

Where did you go? Did they like the hike?

 

Help a fellow dog owner! Do you have an adventure story? Contact us and we will link it to this pawtivity or event! Where did you go? What did you do? Please include any useful tips and advice that would help others!

Activities: Puppy, Hiking, Walking

President & Pup of Pawtivity.com

Carmella Is One Crazy Pup!

DAD: I’m allergic to cats.

MOM: I’m allergic to dogs.

KID ME: …What?! Really??? Do we have to get another bird?
In hindsight I probably would have been right there with my parents – no dog. Why would I want to take care of a dog on top of 4 annoying kids? No way. Still, I had always wanted a dog and by the time I got my own place, my first purchase for my new home was the perfect dog. I had waited three whole decades! It was time.

I don’t know what people expect when they buy a dog. I think many, if not all, see a dog as a fun companion and big stress reliever. They just make you happy and they’re so stinkin’ cute! Dogs teach us how to be carefree and get us out there to do more. We have one life to live, so make the most of it!

I knew I wanted a dog who would enjoy the outdoors with me. I love hiking, camping and going to the beach – all the more fun with a silly, furry sidekick at your heel to make the outing more enjoyable! I also wanted to find a dog that I could do some solo runs with and not feel creeped out being on the trail by myself. The forest can be a dark, dark place you know?!? My dog also had to be able to stand up on its own so I could worry less if we were outside. I think part of me also saw a dog as a stress reliever, something far removed away from the work world, to make me feel grounded and as a constant reminder to stop and to take it all in. We need that in our lives.

Finding a dog is hard! It also takes a long time! You know you should start considering the type of qualities, behaviors, or care requirements of a dog or breed of dog. My first choice was to get the classic Southern California choice of dog – the labrador, a chocolate one. It would have certainly fit my Southern Californian lifestyle, but my apartment would not permit larger dogs.

And now, all I have to say is… there’s just too many photos of cute puppies online to get distracted by! That’s how I came across the Patterdale Terrier. They kind of look like a chocolate lab… oh so cute, so cute… yep sucked right in. This is completely the wrong way to pick a dog, but it was that easy of a choice for me. All reason went out the window. Enter, Carmella.

 

 

Carmella Is One Cute Patterdale Terrier!

CARMELLA IS ONE CUTE PATTERDALE TERRIER!

It was love at first sight. I drove 2 hours to go see a litter of newborn chocolate patterdale pups and was surprised to see them starting back at me with the most incredible blue eyes. Sadly, I don’t have a picture of this. I learned later that the litter was born on my birthday on October 5th – so it must be destiny right? I just had to take one home! … yep sucked right in again. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.

Each day was a new discovery into who Carmella was and what she liked to do. A few things were very clear – she never seemed to tire and always wanted to play! Always! I remember thinking how much she reminded me of a proud little deer as a puppy because she zoomed around everywhere and had this hop hop hop about her as she pranced around my feet and darted across the room. Carmella was sure a boundless little furball of energy! She never tires, even now at 5 years old!

The first few months were rather rough. Puppy teeth are sharp and puppy frenzy was sometimes at it’s worst. She’d make these crazy wild dashes around the room or spin around and then jump all over the place. She loved to chase after everything and always had a ball next to her to play with. I still love to watch her on her back pawing and mouthing away at a ball. I knew apartment life was not for her when I came home one day to find a 4 foot section of carpet ripped down to the sponge padding. All this from a 10 inch long cuddly monster I could pick up with one hand. The damage was done and we left apartment life for the better. I needed to find better outlets for her to play and help her be the dog she truly is.

The video below gives you a glimpse of her puppy energy. Here she is chasing another dog, Nala, 3 years older than her. Carmella sure is one crazy pup! And I love her for it. The video isn’t the best as Carmella clearly attacks the video taker huddled in the corner of the sofa…. watch and enjoy! Poor Nala… she tries so hard to “babysit” Carmella while mommy is away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carmella is by far the best little boost of daily motivation for me. She’s always eager to see you and ready to play. When I wake up in the morning or come home, she’s always there to greet me. Shortly after, she’s off looking for a toy for us to play with. People say that dogs “mellow” out. Well…. maybe, but Carmella can still run like there’s no tomorrow.  She still drags me along sometimes when we do run. I don’t mind the extra motivation at all when we are going up a steep slope!

I’m glad I never got that chocolate lab because I couldn’t imagine anything more perfect than my little snuggle monster! I pick her up all the time and hug her to pieces! Yeah… she hates that, but will tolerate it just for me. Snoozing on the sofa? She’s there right next to you – ahhhhh.

Carmella is my amazing pup, my motivational cheerleader when I need to get my butt up and do something, and my partner in crime in enjoying life to its fullest.

If I say “park” or “hike” she always perks up and looks at me. Then, off she goes running toward the door ready for our adventure. When she looks back at me from the door, I always think she says, “Let’s go already!”  I reply, “Ok, Ok girl. Let’s Go!”

And so, on to our adventures!

Life is perfect with my little dog at my side. I love you Carmella!

Carol & Carmella
President & Pup, Pawtivity

 


Is Your Dog An Amazing Pup? 

Is your dog amazing? Contact us to be considered as one of Pawtivity’s featured amazing pups! We may feature you on Pawtivity.com or on our instagram accounts @pawtivity and @myamazingpup. Send us a photo of your dog and tell us why they are so amazing!

 


Join the Pawtivity Community. Meet Other Adventurers That Do What You Love To Do.
Sign up TODAY!

Girl Playing Chase With Dog On The Beach

Chase

Teach your dog to follow your lead by playing chase with him – and make training fun! If your dog is reluctant to follow you, jump around to get his attention and use treats or a favorite toy to lure him. Always be in command of your dog! When your dog catches up to you, ask him to sit and then reward with a treat or toy. Why not reinforce other basic commands such as stay, come / touch, and down while playing chase? These are useful commands for running or hiking with your dog, especially if you are off-leash. Challenge your dog further by zig-zagging or introducing commands such as left, right, stop, or go to make the game even more interesting.

Take a photo or video of your dog chasing you. And stop when you take the photo – you don’t want to run into anything! Better yet, have someone snap an in-motion shot of your dog!

 

Help a fellow dog owner! Do you have an adventure story? Contact us and we will link it to this pawtivity or event! Where did you go? What did you do? Please include any useful tips and advice that would help others!

Activities: Running, Games, Puppy

Learn To Play Frisbee or Disc With Your Dog

Learn to Play Disc With Your Dog

Disc, Frisbee, Disc, Frisbee… 

Is it called a disc or frisbee? A frisbee is actually one kind of flying disc as well a registered trademark of the toy company, Wham-O!, that first popularized the flying disc. Disc is the term used in the dog world, and thus the sport is called disc dog.

What Is Disc Dog?

Disc dog is a popular dog sport that anyone can teach to their dog. Dog handlers must train their dog to catch a frisbee, either at a short distance, long distance or in a freestyle jump.

The best thing about disc dog is that you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment or spend a lot to on some starter discs. You can also go pretty much anywhere you want to play with your dog.

Dogs That Will Love Disc

Dogs are not picky. Most will love playing with a disc, to chase, tug or chew up. No matter what they will be happy.

However, dogs that love balls or have a strong herding instinct or prey drive will love this sport the most! They already love the chase and will have no problem going after a flying disc. They’ll go by instincts.

How To Get Started

It is best to get at least 2 discs for your dog. We recommend discs made specifically for dogs, such as those made by Hyperflite or Hero Disc USA. Puppies or dogs just getting into disc dog should learn to fetch and retrieve with a soft toy or soft disc. The last thing you would want to do is to hit your dog with a hard frisbee and turn them off the sport altogether. For more advanced play, you can get a vest so your dog can jump off you while doing tricks.

 


TEACH YOUR DOG TO PLAY FRISBEE OR DISC

 

  1. Comfort First.

Before you begin, make sure your dog is comfortable with the disc. Place the disc on the ground and let your dog sniff the disc. Hold and waive the disc around to make it fun and interesting. Then, slide the disc on the ground to make it even more interesting. Reward your dog with treats or praise every time he goes after or touches the disc. You want to let him know that it’s good to go after a disc!

 

  1. Love the Chase.

Now that your dog is comfortable with a moving disc, teach him to chase it. With disc in hand, lure your dog around you and reward when he goes after the disc. You may have to hold and waive the disc again to make it interesting and fun.  Repeat this exercise a few times.

Next, try tossing the disc a few feet away from you with the flat side down (edges curled up). Give your dog a command word such as “take it” or “get it” and reward him when he goes after the disc. You can use any command but be clear and consistent in its use. You can also try rolling the disc on the floor if that will excite your dog more. The goal is simply to get your dog to love the chase and not to discourage him.

Since your dog is still getting used to a disc, you really want to make playtime interesting. Keep sessions at 5-10 minutes so you keep your dog wanting to play more! When your dog “loves the chase” add in a sit before you allow your dog to go after something.

 

  1. Fetch & Retrieve.

Roll the disc on the ground like a wheel and reward your dog when he goes after and picks up the disc with his mouth. Don’t forget to use your command word for him to go after the disc. Once your dog has the disc in his mouth, enthusiastically call him over to you by saying “come” or “touch” and reward with a treat.

Practice alternating between disc rolls and short disc tosses with the flat side down.  Encourage your dog to go after the disc and then reward him when he comes back to you.

If your dog is not treat motivated, you may want to use a second disc to entice your dog to come to you and drop the first disc. You may also want to use a long leash if your dog has trouble with recall or practice more recall exercises at a short distance.

 

  1. Drop & Reward.

By now, your dog should love to fetch and retrieve the disc. You may be running into a problem in that he does not freely drop the disc when he comes back to you.

It’s important to make your dog realize that you will not continue to play until he drops the first disc. Play will only continue when he gives you the first disc, but in exchange for the second.

When your dog has a disc in his mouth, lure your dog with a second disc and ask him to “drop” or “give” his disc to you.  If you hold the first disc do so gently so that you do not tug. As soon as your dog drops his disc, say “good” or “yes” and give him the second disc.

Now, let your dog play for awhile with the second disc and exchange discs again. If your dog does not give you the disc, try waiving the second disc around or make some noise to get your dog’s attention. You want to make yourself and the second disc interesting. Always remember to say your command and reward immediately after.

Stop play and turn away if your dog does not drop the first item and continue again in a short while. This signals to your dog that you will only play with him if he gives you the disc in exchange for the second. You have to be patient in this step and keep sessions short. Instead of a second disc, you can also use a rewarding treat and slowly phase that out into a second disc.

 

  1. Grab & Catch

In order for your dog to catch a disc, he needs to learn to jump and grab the disc with his mouth.

Ask your dog to sit. Hold the disc out level to your dog’s mouth and ask him to “take” or “get” the disc. Once your dog grabs the disc tell him “yes” and let him play with the disc. Now, ask your dog to drop the disc and take the disc back.

Slowly increase the difficulty of grabbing by raising the disc higher up until your dog has to jump to catch the disc. Then, walk and lure your dog to take the disc as your are walking so he has to jump and catch in motion.

 

  1. Throw & Catch

Not every dog will catch a disc the first time. Learning the foundations above will help your dog catch a disc but it does take a lot of practice until your dog really masters this. There are a few exercises that you can practice with your dog. Don’t forget to use your command words to have your dog “take” or “get” the disc.

  • Hold a disc with your dog at one side and lure him halfway around you. Then, throw the disc for your dog to catch.
  • You can practice throwing the disc, food, balls, and other toys a short distance in front of your dog’s face. Increase the speed and make your dog learn to focus and catch.
  • If you have a lot of discs, you can alternate holding discs from your right and left hands. I may be easier to be kneeling or sitting while you do this. Hold out a disc in your right hand and have your dog “take” the disc. While your dog goes for the disc, grab a disc from your stack in your left hand and ask your dog to drop the first disc and go for the second disc.  When your dog is comfortable with this, start throwing the disc a short distance for him to catch.

 

Over time, you should increase the distance of your throw when your dog is consistently catching the disc. You can also increase the height of the throws over time. Make it even more interesting by adding in your own tricks and freestyle moves!
Related Pawtivities: Play Frisbee, Disc Roller, Running Catch (Disc), Ultimate Frisbee
Is there a great dog-friendly activity or event missing from our list? Contact us so we can share it with the community!

 


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