A Boerboel does not require a lot of fysical training. It’s breeding history has produced a breed that is capable of fysical vigorous effort, but it is contend if it may guard it’s home. Due to the breeds heavy body one should be cautious with fysical training, since this can cause repetitive strain injuries on joints and ligaments. It is very important to successive increase the intesity of the work out slowly and long term, to be very particular with massaging and streching the dog after work out and to use dietary supplements.
When can I start training my dog?
Untill the age of 18 months all fysical should be avoided. This means if you are planning on cykling with your dog, if your dog is supposed to carry bags, if you are intrested in weight pull or if you are planning on fysically training your dog in other ways you should wait untill your dog has turned at least 18 months. Also, you should have done all x-rays as described in the [health chapter] prior to starting up your dog for the planned work out. A dog diagnosed with dysplasia must be trained with a lot more caution and with a lot less fysical stress than a dog that is completly healthy! If you start at an earlyer age, the risks for dysplasia, repetitive strain injuries and ligament injuries is much larger.
However, the fact that you cannot exercise your dog fysically before the age of 18 months doesn’t mean that you cannot expose your dog to fysical activity at all. A walk in the woods, on or off the leash, going to a lake letting the dog have som fun around the water and/or swim and similar activities are excellent opportunities for your puppy to build a healthy skeleton, muscles and tendons. Furthermore the puppy gets to know it’s body, gets stimulated and gets enviromental training. Even playing with other dogs is good fysical activity as long as the other dog isn’t too rough, since this can stress the joints very much. A puppy in the same age and size for example is a perfect play mate. Even throwing balls and sticks should be avoided due to the big fysical stress the sudden stop creates on the joints as the dog stops in the sprint in order to pick up the tossed toy. However, teaching your dog to retrieve items properly as one would train a hunting dog is a very meaningful excercise.
A puppy is full of energy and most of the times some playtime and a long walk in the woods just isn’t enough for the puppy to be satisfied at the end of the day. Untill the puppy is mature enough for more serious fysical excercises, mental training does the trick. During the entire upbringing of your puppy, training obedience should be the center stone of your every day routine. Please do take in consideration the puppy’s [mental development] during it’s differend ages. Start with short sessions and excercise several times a day instead. After a while you can start to increase the length of each session and start to demand more from your puppy within reason. Do not forget that large breeds need longer time to develop mentally than a smaller breed does, wich means that the dog only can concentrate during shorter sessions the first 1,5 – 2 years of it’s live. Keep that in mind when training obedience, tracking or other mental excercises.
Tracking in all it’s forms is a remarkable way to train your dog mentally and drain it’s energy at the same time. Prepare short tracks indoors by draging a bit of sausage over the floor and hide it for the puppy to find, prepare short blood tracks in the forrest or over a field or let your puppy search for small pieces of treats in a certain area in high grass. This way your dog gets to know and learns to use it’s sense of smell. You can start competing in all the differend types of tracking a long time before your dog is old enough to start fysical work out. What you train depends on your and your dog’s intrest. If you like to hunt, you might like to train tracking with and/or without blood in the trail. Otherwise maybe tracking and searching people might be a fun alternative?
The dog must never fail! This is essential with every training untill the dog turns 2 years, but should be thought of no matter what you train or how old your dog is. If you have planned an obedience session and the training doesn’t go as expected finish off with a very simple task the dog surely will get right. If you are in the woods tracking the dog should always find the end of the trail, preferably by itself or by subtile help. If the dog has trouble finding the end of the trail, start over with shorter/easier trails sessions to come untill the dog gets it right by itself. The same principle applys on fysical training. Always demand tasks from your dog you know the dog can manage. A good dog handler will learn the way his dog works and can therefore plan the training sessions in a way that prevent failure.
Excercising is supposed to be fun! The dog will require a lot of encouragement and credit, do not demand too much in the beginning and vary the training, both fysically and mentally. During you dog’s upbringing you surely have had time too look up different classes at your local dog club or private dog trainer’s. Something should have caught your intrest, if you already hadn’t decided the day you brought your puppy home. Below we will describe some excercises that build strength and fitness. These are meant as complementary excercises in combination with other forms of work out.
Complementary fysical excercises
Spring Pole is a great excercise helping the dog to release excess energy and is a fun change. This excercise will train the muscles in the neck, back, belly and hind legs. This excercise is very apriciated by APBT- and AmStaff owners, but even a Boerboel enjois a session with the spring pole.
There are differend ways of using a spring pole. You could let your dog use it as in this [movie]. However, it is better to build the spring pole in a way that enables the dog to stand on it’s hind legs and work. The dog is supposed to grab a piece of leather or fire hose, avoid letting your dog use a tire as prey as seen very often. The steel threads in the tire can hurt the dog. Let the dog win the prey from time to time in order to prevent it losing intrest.
Even if spring pole isn’t some kind of “fight training” as many believe, one should avoid letting several dogs train at the spring pole at the same time. They easily start a brawl over the fun toy and that doesn’t promote the training purpose. A simple spring pole is made by tying a rope on a brach that flexes slightly. Ty a bit of leather or fire hose onto that rope. If you don’t have a flexing branch, attach a spring (hence: spring pole) between the rope and your garage roof for example. Instead for a rope a tube from a bicycle can be used. Always make shure that there is enough space for the dog to work and clear away anything the dog could slam into or knock over. Make shure that the dog doesn’t risk to slam into a wall.
If you are planning on cycling with your dog we highly recommend a so called [“springer”] that is attached on your bike and smoothes out any jerks. Do not cycle too long distances or too often with your Boerboel.
Weight Pull and Drag Weight
Weight Pull and Drag Weight builds muscle strength and confidence. The dog powers himself out nicely and learns to really work. If you have a weight pull club close to where you live it can be a good idea to step by and test. Sometimes you may lend some equipment, good weight pull harnesses don’t come cheap and it is unnecessary to spend the money only to discover a lack of intrest in the sport. Otherwise, it is fully possible to excercise at home. It is extremly important to read and educate yourself about both training forms prior to start up. Wrong performed training increases the risk for injuries and failure.
Carrying back packs
Letting the dog carry back packs for dogs is a nice way to train your dog fysically, especially if you are a little short on time sometimes. One can pack the bags with weights, sandfilled bags or food and milk cartons on the way home from the store and let the dog carry those. Make shure that no hard or sharp edges make the work out uncomfortable for the dog. Weights for example can be wrapped in towels. As with all work out start with light weights and short distances and increase the weight and length of the way gradually. As with all fysical work out the dog should’t work out on maximal stress every time, then the training becomes boring. If you are in a hurry carrying bags can be combined with a walk. That way the dog gets walked and worked at the same time. Letting the dog carry bags once or twice per week is enough.
Weight collars are expensive, but carrying one can be a good work out for a Boerboel. Instead for weight collars weight bands used by joggers can be a cheap alternative. The dog should wear those in front of the collar. Start with light weights and increase gradually. Vary weights to prevent injuries.