Activities For A Croatian Sheepsky

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Introduction

The Croatian Sheepsky is a hardworking companion with high energy levels and a need to please. It's no wonder these pups are compelled to work, as their parent breeds, the Croatian Sheepdog and Siberian Husky, were both bred to work. Originally used by nomadic tribes in Russia hundred of years ago as a sledding dog before making their way into North America in the early 1900s, the Siberian Husky has a long history of workmanship. Known today for their cleverness, independence, and stubborn nature, this breed requires extensive exercise to burn off their excessive energy. 

Likewise, the Croatian Sheepdog is an intelligent and agile breed, bound to keep any handler on their "paws." Their history also dates back hundreds of years, having been used as a herding dog for generations. The combination of the Siberian Husky and Croatian Sheepdog is the Croatian Sheepsky, making for a highly intelligent dog that ranges in size from small to medium, with a weight averaging anywhere between 35 and 50 pounds. This smaller bundle of joy is still highly energized and therefore requires quite a bit of daily physical activity. This can range from activities that challenge both the mind and body, as a bored Croatian Sheepsky can begin to exhibit unwanted behaviors such as destructive behaviors or howling. 

Flyball Training

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Any Day
Moderate
Hard
45 - 60 min
Items needed
Hurdles
Ball
Flyball Box
Activity description

Flyball is a "woof-derful" way to give your pooch a physical workout while testing their wit at the same time! The sport requires your Croatian Sheepsky to work with a team of three other dogs to conquer a jumping obstacle one at a time. Each team member must race down the flyball track, making the appropriate jumps, and at the end, they retrieve a ball from the flybox and race back down the course toward the start/finish line.

The team that finishes first is deemed the winner. Traditionally, if competing, two flyball teams will race side by side so the winner is determined immediately. Though you don't have to compete to play flyball, it is an intriguing opportunity to spend even more time with your pooch. If you're not interested in competing, try the sport for fun at a local training facility or for free in your own backyard. 

Step
1
Deciding your approach
The first thing you need to decide is if you would like to play the sport recreationally with your Croatian Sheepsky or if you would like to train at a facility. Facility training can also be done recreationally, but you have the chance to complete if you take this avenue. Finding a flyball facility in large cities shouldn't be an issue, as the sport is becoming increasingly "pawpular." Building your own course is also an option, and it's not a particularly difficult task.
Step
2
Building your obstacles
In the sport of flyball, dogs run at top speed down a straightaway that's approximately 50 feet in length with four jumps spaced out 10 feet apart. After the fourth jump is a spring-loaded box, where your pooch will release and retrieve a tennis ball before running back through the course. You will need to create four hurdles (the height of which is based on breed size), acquire a spring-loaded flyball box, and set up in an area with 50 continuous feet for running.
Step
3
Mastering the hurdles
With the course ready to go, it's time to teach your pooch the sport. As both parent breeds of the Croatian Sheepsky are agile and intelligent, this should be a quick and easy process. To teach hurdles, have your pooch on a leash and at your side. Approach the barrier and give the command to "jump" and they should naturally leap over. Begin with small hurdles or obstacles to build their confidence. Once they are confident jumping over one, walk them through the course and have them jump over all four simultaneously.
Step
4
Learning the course
Your pup can now learn how to complete this activity fully. Instead of walking, run alongside your Croatian Sheepsky as they sprint the course with their leash on. After the fourth hurdle, encourage them to mount the box and grab the ball, before heading back. Continue repeatedly, practicing using a leash, until they're confident. Then, try removing the leash and still running alongside them, while commanding them through the course.
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Treibball

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Any Day
Cheap
Normal
30 - 60 min
Items needed
Exercise/Pilates balls
Goal Net
Activity description

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to watch your dog play a game of soccer? Well, you have an "oppawtunity" to see something just like it if you decide to try out Treibball with your Croatian Sheepsky. If you're new to the sport, it was actually originally designed to meet the needs of herding dogs who had no livestock to herd! Since then, Treibball has continued to grow in "pawpularity" across North America. 

Treibball requires your pooch to use both their wit and agility to complete. You do need to purchase exercise balls, or Pilates balls approximately the same height as your Croatian Sheepsky's shoulders. Ball sizes range from 13 to 21.5 inches. Generally, medium-sized dogs like the Sheepsky use a ball with a circumference of 17.5 inches. 

Once you have your equipment and learn the rules, you can decide if you wish to play the sport for entertainment only or also for competition! The true sport requires your pooch to obey verbal commands and follow hand signals to move eight exercise balls into a goal. The sport is modifiable to meet your space and equipment availability, though you will need at least one ball to play! 

Step
1
Purchasing the equipment
When starting any new sport, you must first begin by collecting the required equipment. For this sport, you need 8 exercise/Pilates balls, but if you're playing for fun, this isn't necessarily the case. Try asking friends and family before visiting your local sports store for the equipment. You will also need a goal net, which you can purchase, or create if you're crafty!
Step
2
Learning the rules
This game has flexible rules regarding ball sizes. In total, your pooch has seven minutes to follow a series of instructions given by you, their handler, directing them to select the balls in a particular order for scoring. Once all balls are scored and the dog lies down in front of the net, the game is over. If they don't finish after seven minutes, the activity still ends. This sport is rewarding to do at home or within an official training facility. Practice giving commands, without reprimanding your dog while they complete their seven minutes of fame!
Step
3
Training your pooch to play
To train your dog, you will need to begin by introducing them to the ball. If you've played sports like soccer or keep-away with your pooch already, this will be simple. You can show them with your own feet how to hit the ball into the net. They use their body (especially their shoulders) to maneuver the balls into the net. Create a command for when you want them to get the ball and move it toward the net. Practice giving that command and use lots of praise and a few treats to reinforce their successes along the way.
Step
4
Using hand signals
You should also be practicing signing to instruct which ball to get. Having a word to stop them from moving the wrong ball is also recommended. Watch some official competitions online to get an idea of how handlers communicate with their dogs. Communication through body language and concise commands is key to this sport. Remember, the purpose of the game is for your dog to get the balls in the net in the specific order you direct -- pointing is key to indicating which ball to move!
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Urban Sledding

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Any Day
Free
Normal
30 - 60 min
Items needed
Leash
Harness
Wheeled, non-motorized vehicle
Activity description

Urban sledding is one way to increase your Croatian Sheepsky's physical workout while making your own a little easier. This activity actually requires your pooch to do all of the work, aside from you giving commands while sitting back and enjoying your ride. It will appeal the Siberian Husky side of your mixed breed, as Huskies love to pull objects and lead the way of their pack. 

The only things you will need to partake in this activity are an urban sled, which is any non-motorized object with wheels, a harness, and a leash. Some examples of urban sleds include bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and longboards, to name a few. As you're using a wheeled object, avoid this type of mushing in the winter and during thunderstorms! 

Step
1
Picking an urban sled
The first step is deciding how you wish to mush with your Croatian Sheepsky. If you’re a cyclist, use your bike; if not, get creative and pick whatever vehicle interests you. Be sure you’re comfortable with your equipment before introducing it to your pooch. You will also need to purchase a harness and leash if you don’t have these already.
Step
2
Introducing the equipment
Like any new activity, you must introduce your Croatian Sheepsky to the equipment before having them try it out. If a harness is new to them, show it to them, allowing them to sniff and try it on for comfort. You can even let them wear the harness around the house to get used to it. The harness is attached to a leash, which they should be already familiar with, and you will hold the leash while riding your sled of choice. Introduce them to the sled by letting them take a sniff. Show them how it works by moving the object before having them pull.
Step
3
Getting started
Begin by attaching the leash to the harness and holding it in your hand. Give a command of choice (e.g., "mush”) and watch in astonishment as your pooch takes the lead. You may need to walk your Croatian Sheepsky through the activity by doing the moving at first, but it’s likely their sledding “genes” will awaken quite quickly.
Step
4
Following the leader
As your pooch progresses and excels at the activity, it’s time to let them take charge. Of course, while you mush, you must give commands to navigate your pup. Teach them the commands “stop,” “left”, and “right” to make the most of your trip. Having an emergency braking system is a good idea if possible with your urban sledding object (such as bike brakes or scooter brakes).
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More Fun Ideas...

Obedience Classes

This breed's Siberian Husky parent is largely responsible for the stubbornness they can inherit, though the Croatian Sheepdog is known for their mischievous behaviors as well. Begin obedience training at a young age. Practicing obedience training weekly to instill the behaviors they learned as pups is one way to tire out your Croatian Sheepsky's mind!

Running an Open Field

Whether you live close to a baseball field, football field or farmer’s field, there's all sorts of open spaces you can take advantage of when it comes to letting your Croatian Sheepsky run! Look for an open space nearby and let your pup off-leash so they can run and roam. Be sure you have established obedience over your pup before roaming off-leash, as their Siberian Husky parent is known for their tendency to wonder.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, Croatian Sheepskys are intelligent, agile and eager to please any owner. With an abundance of energy awaiting release, this breed requires moderate to extensive exercise daily. Vary your activities to keep your pooch engaged and entertained.

Try out one of the various competitive dog sports including treibball, flyball or agility course training. All three provide ample opportunity for exercise as well as obedience. Playing a sport consistently throughout the week is one activity to add to your exercise routines. 

You could also try exploring your neighborhood from a new perspective by having your Sheepsky pull you along as you mush through your community together. Try exploring large open fields where your pup can run at their own will. Of course, obedience classes will be necessary first to ensure a safe off-leash experience. Grab your Croatian Sheepsky and enhance your time spent together by trying out new and exciting activities you'll both enjoy!