Activities For Lapponian Herders

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Introduction

Lapponian Herders, also known the Lapinporokoira, are an ancient dog breed that has been helping the Sami people from the northern part of Scandinavia keep their herds of reindeer in check for thousands of years. They are highly intelligent dogs that tend to be more stable if they have some sort of a job to do that provides a good amount of both physical and mental activity. They are also athletic and very trainable, making them suitable candidates for many different kinds of sports and activities.

Skijor

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Cold Day
Moderate
Normal
30 - 90 min
Items needed
Skijor Harness
Skijor Belt
Tether
Dog Booties
Waste Bags
Activity description

Skijor is a Nordic sport in which a person on skis is pulled by a motorized vehicle, horse, or dog in order to increase their speed cross country. Canine Skijor is frequently thought of as a sport specifically for Arctic sled pulling dogs like Huskies, Samoyeds, and Malamutes, however, any breed of dog over thirty-five pounds can enjoy and benefit from this sport. The Lapponian Herder has a thick coat of fur well suited to the cold environment of the reindeer that they herd, and enough speed and stamina to keep up with them, qualities that also translate into an efficient skijor partner. This moderately priced activity can be enjoyed on a regular basis during the colder months of the year and will provide an excellent workout for your Lapponian Herder.

Step
1
Gear up
While your canine companion won’t typically need a great deal in the way of gear other than the specialized harness and towline, you will need to ensure that you have the appropriate gear for skiing, such as properly fitting skis, poles, boots, and bindings as well as the skijor belt that goes around either your waist or hips and attaches to the dog’s towline. Some skijor enthusiasts put booties on their dog's feet as well; if you choose to use booties to protect your dog’s feet, be sure to stop and check the booties frequently for damage as gravel and sticks inside a bootie can cause serious damage to the paws.
Step
2
Train up
Before strapping on skis and pursuing this sport at full speed you will need to learn to communicate certain instructions to your canine companion, training them for commands like hike, to start pulling, on-by or leave-it, to keep your dog moving forward in the face of distraction, and easy, to slow them down. Work with these commands with the harness and towline on but not connected first, your dog is consistently following your commands you can start training while connected. There are many groups and classes that can mentor you when first learning the sport of Skijor.
Step
3
Hit the trail
While elbow pads and helmets are not always required to participate in skijoring, they can protect you in a fall and are an especially good idea when you or your dog is just starting out with this sport. It may also a good idea, in the beginning, to check out the trail in advance, before running it with your canine companion. It’s often advised to either let someone know which route you are taking before embarking on your own, or Skijor with another enthusiast, particularly when Skijoring in remote or wilderness type areas.
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Herding

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Any Day
Expensive
Normal
30 - 60 min
Items needed
Livestock
Activity description

Lapponian Herders have been herding reindeer alongside the Sami for thousands of years. If you have one of these intelligent and athletic animals, but no reindeer for them to herd, you may find that some have such as strong herding instinct that they start herding other things, such as other pets, stuffed animals, and even neighborhood children on occasion. Specialty farms and ranches have recently started teaching companion animals with herding instincts how to herd, as well as providing them with both livestock and room to do so, although these facilities mostly have sheep and cows to herd rather than reindeer. Although this may be an expensive undertaking, the benefits to your dog will be returned tenfold.

Step
1
Health check
Herding can be a high impact activity that requires both stamina and agility, making it crucial that you ensure that your dog is in good enough physical condition to participate. It is a good idea to have a veterinary professional check their cardiovascular system and the health of their joints before attempting herding if they haven’t had a checkup in the last few months. This is not an activity for young pups, and should only be attempted when the dog has reached a certain level of cognitive maturity which they reach around ten months to a year old. Also, your dog must have a rock-solid recall.
Step
2
Research
The idea of renting sheep and cattle to satisfy the herding instinct of companion dogs is fairly new, and while many of them require a drive, there are a few to pick from. It is important to try and choose a facility that is the right fit for you and your dog by researching their methods, checking the reviews, and talking with or visiting the trainers or proprietors of the business. Some places will have more training services than others, and while some facilities only house sheep to farm, others have cattle as well, which may be more appealing to your Lapponian Herder.
Step
3
Evaluation
Many of the rental and training facilities will combine your dog’s first visit with an evaluation of the animal’s herding instinct and drive, as well as their ability to listen to instructions. Dogs with a talent for herding may be able to learn enough to become eligible to enter herding trials as well, earning prizes and official titles.
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Therapy Dog

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Any Day
Moderate
Normal
60 min
Items needed
Training
Certification
Leash
Activity description

 Instead of assisting in the physical or emotional well-being of primarily one person, therapy dogs make visits to schools, hospitals, and nursing homes in order to provide comfort and unconditional love to those who are in need of them. Therapy dogs have even been known to help and comfort those people at the site of tragedies. The Lapponian Herder is generally a friendly breed that responds well to handling, even when the handling is a little rough or clumsy. While a little reserved with strangers they are also docile and patient, making them well-suited to the job of a therapy dog, a title they can often earn within just a few months of training. Training and certification to become a therapy dog can range anywhere from fifty dollars to a few hundred dollars.

Step
1
Socialize
Socialization is particularly important for dogs that are planning to become therapy dogs. While the word socialization is often referred to in regards to new people and new canines, it can also mean becoming familiar with new environments, sights and smells as well. Some things that your dog may need to be socialized to could be the texture of the floors in institutional buildings, the glare of lights off of glass, school bells, and wheelchairs.
Step
2
Training
Dogs who are serving as therapy dogs are expected to demonstrate excellent manners no matter who or where they are visiting. Jumping up uninvited and being overly vocal are not desired behavior for dogs that are visiting to offer comfort and will not typically be tolerated in therapy dog situations. Most dogs start by taking the classes required to earn an AKC Good Citizen award, and must continue on to additional classes that can better prepare them for the work ahead.
Step
3
Register and Visit
Dogs that graduate from the classes and pass the evaluations that are required to become a therapy dog will need to gain registration with one of the several official National Therapy Dog organizations before they can start making any visits. These organizations will typically be able to help you find places to visit, insurances, and additional supports. In many cases, these groups will go with you to supervise the first few visits before your registration is made official.
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More Fun Ideas...

Group Obedience Class

These dogs have both high energy and high intelligence which needs to be channeled, and they often do best if training is started early and continued throughout their lifetime. Without a great deal of socialization they can develop aggression towards other dogs as they mature; enrolling your pup in a group training class can help to socialize your dog in a more controlled environment.

Agility Training

Agility training is a contest of both speed and accuracy. The Lapponian Herders quick mind and easy trainability make them well-suited to this competitive dog sport.

Mushing

Lapponian Herders originated in the northern part of Scandinavia and are well suited to the cold. They are also strong, athletic dogs with impressive drive and stamina, all qualities that are needed for the sport of dog sled racing, also known as mushing.

Conclusion

This breed of dog is still in use in Scandinavia as a herding dog for reindeer herds, although modern Lapponian Herders tend to work alongside snow machines. Their lengthy development has resulted in a breed that is both athletic and intelligent with a strong desire to please the humans that they work and live with. They are excellent working dogs that can also excel at many dog sports, and make pleasant home companions as well.