I trust all my US friends had a good Labor Day weekend? I started thinking about working dogs this weekend, since I was home working on leather and wood – I have a fun side business – and my “working” dogs were lounging around the house begging treats. Brats.
There are a ton of different types of working dogs, but today I’m only touching on one type. My babies, Australian shepherds, are classed as working, or herding, dogs. Aussies, collies, border collies, a whole slew of similar canines, need jobs to do, or they get bored. And idle paws are the devil’s workshop, no?
Let’s look at what an active, intelligent herding dog needs to stay happy and not neurotic.
Not all herding dogs can actually BE herding dogs, right? Most working dogs are simply pets. If they don’t have a job to do, they’ll chew, dig, destroy. Let’s give them jobs …
Agility training – y’all have not lived until you’ve been to an agility trial. We didn’t agility train Flash and Patches, but I wish we had. It’s a great opportunity to bond with your dog, to keep yourself in shape, and to make your dog deliriously happy. Seriously. Head here and take a look at some of what agility training involves. Then look for an agility trial near you. Dogs aside, the owners and trainers you’ll meet are wonderful.
Maybe agility training isn’t for you. But how about a little game of Frisbee? Soft-sided dog Frisbees are great! Or maybe your dog has what it takes to catch the original plastic flying disc. Training the dog to catch in mid-air will be a little work, walking over to pick up the disc (maybe teach fetch first), but at some point the dog will bring the disc back nearly every time and you just stand in one spot and throw. You can do that. I know you can.
For any and all dogs, regardless of breed, I’ll always recommend an obedience class when they’re pups. While there, you can ask the trainer about agility, tricks your breed would enjoy, breed-specific training. Local trainers are an excellent resource for finding exactly what you need for your dog.
Regardless of what I’ve said about my own backyard flock, the move toward backyard chickens has grown overnight. With a little training, your herding dog can learn to round up a handful of chickens in your backyard. Ours probably would love to herd the girls, but we have an alpha-male duck that the dogs are terrified of. Heh. Jim is such a card.
Keep your dog busy! Give her a job to do! Then reward her with a Jones Natural Chew, why doncha?
Until I write again …