How to train and activate a Leonberger!
Even if a Leonberger is a big dog, they not only can but they should, be activated. And you can activate a Leonberger in so many ways! Leonberger is regarded as a working dog in Germany, where this breed originates from, so if you thought that a Leonberger just want to plod slowly forward in life and spend a lot of time sleeping, you should think again! The Leonberger is easily learned, hardworking and resilient.
All dogs needs, besides daily exercise, to do a bit of work with their brain. What they do and to what extent vary between the breeds. But all dogs need to get some activity. To activate your dog is a great way to prevent misbehavior.
During the dogs first year it is enough with everyday obedience. During this time you can also learn what motivates your dog and get to know this lovely breed and their lovely properties.
As the Leonberger also have a superior composure which means that the breed sometimes can get the idea to decide things for itself, a good everyday obedience is vital in order to continue with other activities. But in everything you do with your Leonberger, remember that even if they are big they are also delicate. And since they are so easily learned there is no need to be hard with them. Treating them hard will only result in them losing confident in you, and that will spoil the goal; to have fun with your best friend! The best way of training is to apply positive reinforcement, that's combined with unrestricted praise and treats.
What activities can a Leonberger do?
According to the Swedish Leonberger breed club is the Leonberger used in most activity areas for dogs. They can be service dogs, and many are competing successfully in both tracks and search all the way up to elite level. And of course you can practice obedience with success too.
Personally I found my Leonberger to be very easy to learn new things, he understood almost instantly what I wanted him to do. The everyday obedience was never a problem; he loved the practice and the treats. I even did practice retrieving dummies with him, and it was no problem to get him to retrieve the dummy, the difficult part was to motivate him to fetch it over and over again. That is an example of their ability to learn quickly, but since they sometimes have a mind of their own, they see no point in repeating something that easy. They need to be motivated in those cases.
Many Leonberger have a lot of energy, and despite their size they are a very agile dog which easily forces the most difficult obstacles. They are strong and durable and can therefore be used for towing, provided that they are perfectly healthy in their joints. But make sure your Leonberger is over a year before trying to get the dog to pull heavier things.
There are even those who practice agility with Leonberger despite their size! Agility means that you should take the dog around an obstacle track as quickly as possible, with as few errors as possible. The obstacle consists of jumping obstacles, long jumps, tunnels, balance barrier, table and slalom. Note that a dog should be over a two years before you start training agility. And of course it must be perfectly healthy. A dog that is not fully grown can not stand the strain of many jumps and climbing over balance obstacles. The legs and the back can be damaged.
But the one thing almost every Leonberger love is Water work! The Leonberger just loves water! It is a legacy they have from the Newfoundlanddog. They have webbed feet, making them excellent swimmers. And swimming is a suitable exercise for all ages. Water trial fits the Leonberger perfectly; they can both swim and work at the same time!
If you notice that your dog loves to swim, likes people and to drag both people and tings up on land, then you should really try water work. The only negative would be to prevent them from rescue everybody who swims along the beach, when they are not supposed to work! I had some difficulty with my dog, as he wanted to rescue our family all the time. I could tell him not to, but I noticed that he was a bit stressed by the fact that we where in the water. He became especially stressed when our daughter and her friends played in the water. Water work is an odd, but ever so funny and I highly recommend it. It is a wet sport to get involved with as a handler, but the dogs have fun. Make sure you can cope with big wet dogs!