Keeping 'Em Happy: Collies Who Don't Herd
Herding dogs — such as collies, border collies, corgis or sheepdogs — come from a long line of dogs that spent their days running and moving large flocks of farm animals. As a result, physical exercise, mental challenges and the satisfaction of pleasing their owner remain important to these dogs. Without an outlet for these talents, today's herding dog may find ways to use them at home, such as gently nipping their human's heels or issuing a warning bark when a family member wanders. But don't despair; there are plenty of ways to satisfy your herding dog's instincts, while having fun together.
Enjoy Organized Sports
Their knack for thinking and accomplishing a task makes herding dogs perfect participants in organized dog sports. There are many popular choices today, such as agility, which has your dog running an obstacle course, or flyball, a team sport where your dog navigates hurdles in hot pursuit of a tennis ball. For the herding breed, Treibbal may be a great fit. This fairly new dog sport has canines manipulate large, oversized balls, somewhat similar to the way they'd round up a herd.
In some areas, classes are available for these activities, but you can experience the fun in your own backyard or at a park, too. Purchase a large, oversize ball and read up on Treibbal, or, buy home agility equipment to teach your dog some basic tricks. You can even use common objects, such as teaching your pooch to jump over small logs or through a hula-hoop.
Your herding dog naturally loves to run and chase a target, such as a ball or a flying disc. But don't be surprised if she runs for the toy, but doesn't bring it back to you. While chasing is instinctive, many herders aren't born retrievers. But they are eager learners and relish the opportunity to master a new game or skill. Begin by tossing a toy a short distance and encouraging her to catch it and come to you. Gradually, increase the distance of the toss.
In addition to helping your dog satisfy her itch to chase, the act of learning and mastering a new task provides the mental challenge your dog craves.
Become Workout Buddies
From the highly athletic border collie to the perky corgi, all herding dogs need outlets for their energy. Specific requirements vary by breed, but daily walks are a must, and most breeds need a more intense workout, at least periodically. If you enjoy outdoor sports, bringing your four-legged companion on your adventures can be a fun way to get your exercise fix together. Whether you enjoy biking, jogging, hiking or even cross country skiing, let your dog come along.
Whatever the sport, be sure to read up on dog safety while participating, and purchase any necessary gear, such as a breakaway harness for biking, a collapsible water bowl to keep your dog hydrated or a fluorescent vest for any activities at dawn or dusk.
Keep Him Thinking
It takes serious problem-solving skills for one dog to command a large flock of farm animals, so these breeds have proven mental abilities. While today's dogs don't face similarly complicated tasks in their modern homes, it's important to find ways to exercise their smarts. One way is with daily jobs — such as picking up dropped items for you, bringing in the newspaper, or rounding up his toys at bedtime. He'll also enjoy small opportunities to showcase his skills, such as sitting or shaking a paw before receiving his dinner bowl, or practicing "wait" before heading out for his leashed walk.
Show Your Love
Historically, herding dogs worked hard to satisfy their farmers, and today's dogs remain eager to please their human companions. Whether it's relaxing together after a busy day, or giving a reward for sitting quietly when the doorbell rings, regular praise and attention will keep your dog happy.
Athleticism, brainpower and family dedication: Your herding dog has all the traits to make the perfect companion! Do you share your home with a herding dog? How do you keep her connected with her instinctive skills?
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