10 fun ways to channel your working breed dog’s energy in a City


Working breed dogs were bred with a job in mind. That might be herding, retrieving, guarding, or even pulling. 

While your working breed dog may live his/her life as a pet rather than working in the field, his natural instincts still remain. 

When we don’t give our dogs jobs to do that tap into those natural instincts, they often find their own work to do, which can be problematic! 

Let’s look at some fun activities you can do with your working dog in a City to keep them out of mischief! 

Flirt poles

Flirt poles are brilliant for our sighthounds and herding breeds who were bred to chase. As their name suggests, sighthounds hunt by sight rather than scent, so giving them an outlet for these chasing instincts is a lot of fun for them…. And can potentially help dissuade them from chasing other things!

Flirt poles are also brilliant for herding breeds such as Collies, Shepherds, and Malamutes. They are driven by movement, so they often enjoy a good game of chase with a flirt pole. 

A flirt pole is essentially a pole or a stick with a toy or fleece ribbons on the end for your dog to chase. You can make your own or buy one like this one with a squeaker for maximum chasing pleasure! 

Retrieve a toy by name

This one is great for golden retrievers, labrador retrievers, and spaniels. Retrievers were bred to return items to their handlers without damaging them, and our spaniels were bred to hunt, point and retrieve. They love to please, so this is a game they will enjoy immensely. 

Start by teaching your dog the name of a few toys. Spend a training session on each item and take your time to perfect each toy before moving on to another. 

Puzzle feeders

Interactive puzzle feeders are a really simple way to help engage your dog’s brain and give them the mental stimulation they crave. Simply ditch the bowl for breakfast or dinner and fill up your chosen puzzle feeder with their meal.

For maximum brain work, you can split their food between 2 or 3 different puzzle feeders to explore. This will also show you your dog’s preference so you can choose more activities that meet your dog’s every desire! 

Check out this blog for three of our favourite puzzle feeders for City dogs. 

Find it

‘Find it’ is a brilliant game for dogs who were bred to use their noses. Most dogs enjoy this game since their noses are so powerful. It’s particularly great for scenthounds such as Beagles, Bassetts, and Dachshunds. 

This game is also a really useful and easy tool to use if your dog is overexcited or nervous, as the process of sniffing and working on a scent helps calm your dog down. 

You can also play this game with your dog’s most loved toy. Put your dog in a stay and hide the toy in different places each time. Just like with the treats, start easy and slowly increase the difficulty. 

Scentwork classes

If your dog enjoys playing ‘find it’, then you may enjoy taking a scentwork class together. In scentwork classes, your dog will learn how to identify specific smells and seek them out. They are a lot of fun and help increase the bond you have with your dog. 

Plus, it’s pretty remarkable to see our dogs put their natural instincts to work. They really are incredible animals. 

Find a scentwork class near you with a qualified instructor below: 

UK – https://scentworkuk.com/

US – https://webapps.akc.org/club-search/#/scent-work


Great for herding breeds, Treibball (pronounced (‘Try ball’) originated in Germany as an activity for herding breeds to hone their skills! But it can be played by any breed of dog.  

It’s a fun dog sport that essentially teaches your dog to herd giant balls into a goal. Typically the balls used should be about level with your dog’s shoulders, and if you’re playing competitively, they use eight balls that all need to be successfully ‘herded’ into a goal. 

This is typically taught using clicker training to help guide your dog towards the target with the ball. First, you will need to teach a solid stay, come and go to ‘place’ as you will be working with your dog at a distance. 

To train competitively, find a local treibball trainer, or if you just want to do it as a low-key fun activity with your dog, this book teaches you all the basics.



Canicross is a running activity to do with your dog that is brilliant for dogs who were bred to pull, like Bernese Mountain dogs, Huskies, and Malamutes. But honestly, it’s a lot of fun for any dog over the age of 12 months who loves to run!

Canicross started as a means to train sledding dogs when there was no snow. It’s now enjoyed by many runners and their dogs as both a recreational activity and competitively. 

What you need: a harness, a running belt, and a bungee line to connect you both 

In Canicross, your dog is attached to you with a bungee lead which absorbs shock and allows your dog to safely run in front, leading the way and pulling you forwards! The lead must be attached to a well-fitting harness to avoid damage to your dog, and your dog must be fully grown and in good physical condition to partake.

Learn more about Canicross for beginners here.

Dog Parkour

Dog Parkour is a bit of a combination of agility and human parkour. You’re teaching your dog to balance on items in your environment, which can be brilliant for your dog’s focus and core strength. 

It’s a great activity for nervous or reactive dogs as it gives them something positive to focus on in their environment and helps to increase confidence.  

Parkour is perfect for City dogs as half of the fun is getting creative and spotting opportunities to train in your natural environment. Benches, walls, and fallen trees all provide a chance to get those paws up and partake in a spot of Parkour. 

Dog Parkour is a lot of fun, but it’s a good idea to find a qualified instructor to teach you the basics so you can do it safely.

Dogs of any age, breed, and fitness level can enjoy Parkour. It’s not all about leaping off giant objects. In fact, most parkour instructors would discourage that due to the risk of injury. 

Learn more about Dog Parkour here. 

Gundog Training

Gundog training classes exist for pet owners. Your dog does not have to be trained to go to work in the field and actively hunt and retrieve animals. Instead, you can have fun learning the skills with training dummies. 

Gundog training teaches your dog to focus on you, respond to your commands, and to perfect their impulse control. It’s a brilliant activity for spaniels and labradors, but really any breed who likes to retrieve can enjoy and benefit from gundog training. 

Search for’ gundog training for pet owners’ near you and give it a try! 

Trick Training

Trick training can be a lot of fun to teach your dog. It’s something you can easily do at home and will increase your connection with your dog and give you some cool tricks to show off! 

Trick training helps your dog get the mental stimulation they need without being hugely time consuming for you. Just 5 minutes of trick training a few times a week will aid your dog’s concentration, confidence and mood.  

This video from Kikopup teaches 20 fun tricks to choose from, including look left and right, leg weaving, and cover your nose! 

Will you be giving any of these activities a try with your dog? Or do you have another favourite activity that keeps your working dog entertained?

Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you. 

City Dog Expert

City Dog ExpertCity Dog Expert is Europe’s number one resource for urban dogs.

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