Activities For Catalonian Sheepdogs

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Introduction

The Catalonian Sheepdog, also known as the Catalan Sheepdo, is a shaggy, medium-sized dog that was developed in the Spanish Pyrenees mountains. They are courageous dogs who are devoted to protecting their herds who are also known for their skill at ensuring that no members of their herds stray and at driving the herds. These dogs tend to be pleasant and lively in nature, and their above-average intelligence means that they are able to follow complex instructions or to think independently, depending on what the situation calls for.

Treibball

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Sunny Day
Moderate
Normal
30 - 60 min
Items needed
Treibballs
Goal
Activity description

Treibball was initially developed as an outlet for traditional herding dogs who were living as companion animals and had no access to livestock. This activity is both mentally and physically challenging for your canine companion, and it also satisfies an intrinsic desire of herding dogs like the Catalonian Sheepdog. The dog’s handler uses voice and hand commands to instruct their dog to guide several large inflatable balls to a goal within a specified amount of time. While this sport can easily be played in a backyard, the sport is growing in popularity and treibball groups and formal competitions are becoming easier to locate. 

Step
1
Initial training
There are several things that you will need to teach your dog before introducing them to the idea of pushing the balls. They will need to learn a step called the outrun, where they run to a target fifteen feet away, turn to face the handler, and lie down to wait for the command to start. This step should be practiced until the dog is able to do it while ignoring distractions, including loud sounds, other people, and even the treibballs that are out on the field.
Step
2
Next steps
Once your pooch is consistently ignoring the herding balls, it’s time to teach them how to push the ball to the goal which is often accomplished using target training. It is important that they use only their head and nose when moving the treibballs. It can often take several weeks to cement each of the lessons, but taking the time to have a good foundation will make your Catalonian Sheepdog a stronger player.
Step
3
Handler rules
The canine competitors are not the only participants with rules. The handler is not allowed to physically interfere with the dog while they are directing the balls towards the goal, and they must remain within a certain perimeter. While they are allowed to instruct the dog both verbally and with hand motions, intimidation, yelling, and threats of punishment are not allowed and food treats as rewards are generally restricted in some way, although the exact restrictions may vary between organizations.
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Canine Freestyle Dance

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
15 - 45 min
Items needed
Musical Score
Activity description

Canine Freestyle Dance is a performance art in which a human and canine team showcase specialized heelwork or tricks in a routine choreographed to music; a routine which can be dramatic, humorous, simple or complex. It is a relatively new activity, and the first official Canine Freestyle Dance organization was founded in British Columbia as recently as 1991. Not only does this activity improve your dog’s physical condition and provide much needed mental stimulation, but it also improves the communication between the dog and their handler. Catalonian Sheepdogs are very trainable canines, and like many herding breed dogs, they are likely to excel at this entertaining activity. 

Step
1
Health check
Canine Freestyle Dance can be a very physically strenuous activity, and it is a good idea to have your canine’s physical health checked before starting any new exercise routine. An examination by a veterinary professional will help to determine that the dog’s skeletal and cardiovascular system are up to the challenge. Catalonian Sheepdogs are somewhat prone to hip dysplasia and while the early stages of these disorders don’t mean that your dog can’t participate, the choreography should be adjusted to minimize jumping, leaping, and standing on the hind legs.
Step
2
Choreography
Handlers can choose from two different types of choreography. They can choose either freestyling heeling to music, in which the dog remains close to the handler throughout the performance, or musical freestyle, in which specialized heelwork is combined with other tricks, like jumping over or onto things, rolling over, or playing dead. Keep your dog’s limitations in mind, and don’t overcomplicate routines for novice performers.
Step
3
Train and perform
Start by training your dog to each of the steps in the performance one at a time, then string them together with the help of the musical score. It is important to take your time on these steps to ensure that your dog masters each step before moving on to the next. Once you and your pup are confident that you have mastered the routine, you may want to perform for family or friends in order to get feedback and become comfortable with an audience. The major kennel clubs host multiple larger competitions which are performed for a large number of spectators.
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Hide and Seek

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Any Day
Free
Easy
5 - 30 min
Items needed
leash
Activity description

The childhood game of Hide and Seek is an easy game to modify as a pastime for your canine companion as well, allowing them to utilize their attention to detail and powerful sense of smell in a fun and constructive way. It is a game that helps to not only give your dog some needed mental stimulation, but can help cement the bond between you and your pet. Catalonian Sheepdogs are known for their instinctual ability to find livestock that have strayed and this game should come naturally to them. As an added bonus, this specific game doesn’t cost pet parents anything more time and attention. 

Step
1
First steps
To first get your dog interested in the game of hide and seek, start by playing with or paying attention to your Catalonian Sheepdog for a little while, then distract the dog and quickly hide. Initial hiding spots should be fairly close by and easy to spot in order to better set your dog up for success. In most cases, this dog’s natural curiosity will lead them to look for you on their own, but if they don’t, call them quietly from your hiding spot. Shower your dog with positive attention and praise when they find you.
Step
2
Increasing the challenge
Your dog is likely to master the idea of finding you in simple hiding spots fairly quickly, and as they do you can increase the challenge by hiding in progressively harder locations, or by having multiple friends and family hide for your pooch to find. It’s important that you are mindful and don’t hide in areas where your dog has to break the rules to find you, like inside cupboards in rooms that are off limits to your dog.
Step
3
Super seeker
Catalonian Sheepdogs that have mastered locating you in your home or in other territories that are familiar to them may enjoy it if you increase the challenge once again by enlisting a friend or family member to handle your dog’s leash and taking the game somewhere new. You can find places to hide in nearby parks, pet-friendly stores, or even nearby walking paths and trails.
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More Fun Ideas...

Agility Training

These dogs are quick and nimble, making them well suited to dealing with the agility course obstacles, and they are intelligent and independently minded, allowing them to more easily handle the changing nature of the course.

Herding

If you have a livestock herd, this dog is a natural to help you tend to your animal. The Catalonian Sheepdog is a keen herding dog that is excellent at following instructions and locating lost members of the herd. For those who do not have their own livestock, there are several farms and ranches that rent out land and herds in order to allow your dog to indulge in their instinctual need to herd.

Conclusion

These highly intelligent and energetic canines make excellent herding dogs, watchdogs, and family companions. While Catalonian Sheepdogs require a large amount of physical and mental exercise on a regular basis, they are exceptionally trainable and adaptable, and they are likely to enjoy and excel at a number of different canine activities.