I am the proud mom to a two-year old Australian Shepherd dog. As the owner of any Aussie can attest, she is very high energy. My husband and I knew that when we chose her and usually have no problem keeping up to her needs with daily exercise and mental stimulation, but this winter has proven to be challenging. Ottawa’s winter has been everything from bitterly cold, to mild and icy, to snowy and windy. All of which prove to be a challenge for a dog who likes to run. And run. And run.
Luckily, my Aussie is pretty mild tempered and tends to go with the flow of things, but after a few days of bitter cold even she has had enough. I have found myself searching the internet for activities to keep her happy and not sitting in my office staring at me as if to say “what are we going to do today?” while I am trying to work.
I usually run-walk 5 km or more daily with my dog, but the cold and salt are not kind to her paws (and she refuses to wear those booty things), so our daily exercise regime has been minimized to 15 minute jogs around the block twice a day. Knowing this is not enough I decided to try some new activities, one of which is hanging her rubber ball from a tree. Sounds mean, but Aussies can jump. And my Aussie loves to jump. She can easily jump over our fence, but doesn’t because another great trait of an Aussie is their loyalty – she loves us too much to leave us.
So, one of my new winter activities is hanging my dog’s favourite ball on a tree branch and making her jump for it. Because of this game I have learned she can easily jump over six feet, but if I place the ball higher than she can jump she barks like mad causing neighbours to peek out their windows looking to see where the angry bark is coming from. It’s great fun and my daughter loves watching the dog jump (so do I). I have never known a breed that can jump quite as high or as easily as an Aussie. It is magnificent… and luckily after a dozen or so jumps it begins to tire her out (for a few minutes anyway).
So, if you are blessed to have a smart and energetic dog like me (Australian Shepherds, Cattle Dogs, Border Collies, etc.) , may I suggest the purchase of a rubber ball like the one in the picture and a tree branch in which to hang it from. It will be the source of great entertainment and exercise for your beloved jumping dog all winter long… until the mud comes along and then we have an entirely new problem to deal with.