Activities For Shetland Sheepdogs

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Introduction

Hailing from the beautiful nation of Scotland, the Shetland Sheepdog, otherwise known as the “Sheltie”, is a small but intelligent herding dog. This breed used to be the best friend of Scottish farmers; they kept animals away from the garden and stood guard when someone was approaching the property. Nowadays, the Sheltie is known for being a great household companion and overall pet. However, the breed’s protective nature remains intact; they have the tendency to snap or bark at anything or anyone unfamiliar. Clever, athletic and always aiming to please, Shelties have become more and more popular among dog lovers and enthusiasts. 

Puppy Boxing

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Any Day
Free
Easy
10 - 30 min
Items needed
Treats
Activity description

When talking about “boxing”, what immediately comes to mind is a physical combat sport where participants intend to cause harm or be harmed. You might be thinking, “Why in the world would I want to hurt my dog?” Well, do not fret because this activity does not involve actual boxing. Instead, it is a fun and playful game between you and your pooch. In fact, this activity resembles more of a game of tag or playful wrestling than real boxing. Puppy boxing is a good way for your Sheltie to expend some of their energy. At the same time, this activity is an amusing and unique way to spend some quality time together. 

Step
1
Start the game
To start the game, approach your dog. Then, carefully place your hand on top of your dog’s head while gently pushing it downwards. It is important that you push your dog’s head downwards in a slow and steady manner. Otherwise, your dog will think that this is a form of establishing domination, one that dogs typically do to each other when playing. Also, make sure that your head is at a level that is reachable to your dog. This way, your dog can try and do the act back to you.
Step
2
Go "boxing" with your dog
When your dog understands the game and retaliates, you can start “fighting back” by patting your dog repeatedly on the head or shoulders. You may also cower or roll when your dog retaliates again. This exchange of pats and pawing between you and your dog resembles a boxing match. The game should end with you on your back while protecting your face from your pooch. Make sure that you keep your eyes closed because your dog might accidentally claw them. Additionally, if your dog unintentionally scratches, make a yelping sound and stop being playful. Your dog will understand that you were hurt and will prevent it from happening again.
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Herding Trial

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Any Day
Moderate
Hard
1 - 2 hrs
Items needed
Toy for chasing
Treats (optional)
Activity description

In the early days of the Shetland Sheepdog, one of the breed’s main responsibilities is to work and herd the livestock of farmers. A good activity that taps into the Sheltie’s background as a farm dog is through a herding trial. Major dog clubs such as the American Kennel Club offer herding programs that cater to all herding dogs of all levels. There is a non-competitive herding test for dog owners who simply want to measure their dog’s basic instinct and trainability. On the other hand, there is a competitive herding trial, which is meant to sustain and improve a breed’s natural herding skills. This program also aims to show that herding dogs can perform the practical functions for which they were originally developed. 

Step
1
Request for a rulebook
Similar to most canine sports, participating dogs should have some sort of training before being able to enter tests and trials. For herding trials, in particular, your pooch should have some sort of exposure to livestock before they can participate. As a pet parent, you need to ask for a rulebook from AKC. This will contain the requirements for you and your dog and will also help you get familiar with how herding trials work.
Step
2
Train the basics
Once you know what is expected of you and your pooch, you can get started with training. While prior knowledge is not required, it will be a huge bonus to teach your dog some of the usual commands used in a herding trial. Another useful activity would be playing a game of stop and go with your dog. To do this, simply have your dog chase an item and get them to stop in command. You may choose to reward your dog with a treat as an incentive. This game is a good primer for a herding trial.
Step
3
Enroll in a program
When your dog has the basics to a tee, then you can enroll in a program. The American Kennel Club is one of the most reputable organizations for canine sports. There is also the American Shetland Sheepdog Association, which specifically caters to Shelties and their owners. Contact the organization of your choice and find out how you can enroll your pooch in a herding test or trial.
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Rally Obedience

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Any Day
Moderate
Hard
1 - 2 hrs
Items needed
Treats
Activity description

The Shetland Sheepdog is a dog breed that is made for agility and obedience. Hence, it is no surprise that this particular breed excels in Rally-O, an event that combines elements of the two activities. In the event, the handler leads the dog through a course (usually consisting of 15 to 20 stations, depending on the level) which entail different exercises. There are three levels offered by the American Kennel Club, namely Novice, Advanced and Excellent. Your dog can advance through to the higher levels in the long run. Shelties are a great choice for this activity because they are both athletic and highly trainable. 

Step
1
Get the basics down
The first thing that you need to know about Rally is that it is all about teamwork; you and your pooch work through a course together and at your own pace. While navigating through a course, you will be using different commands to get your dog through a station. Therefore, if you are serious about getting into Rally, you should practice different commands with your dog.
Step
2
Take a class
Even though your dog has enough ample training in the basics, it is still highly recommended to take a class with your local AKC club. If you have doubts about enrolling right away, you and your dog may opt to observe a class beforehand. Here, you can watch how the instructors will handle your pooch during the training course. They will also let you know what you need to do when you practice at home.
Step
3
Join a trial
Once you and your dog complete the training course in herding, you can now test out everything you’ve worked for in your first trial. Find out about a Rally trial near your area and sign up. Complete and submit the requirements and wait for the program, schedule and all necessary information that will be mailed to you.
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More Fun Ideas...

Enjoy a Meal Together

Although the Sheltie is active and seemingly made to take on various canine sports and trials, don’t forget that your dog’s favorite pastime is to bond with you. Prepare a hearty meal for you and your pooch and dine together as a way of bonding with each other. 

Indoor Games

While Shelties are known for being active outdoors, they can also spend some time indoors as long as there is something to occupy them. If you have no time to go out, you can invest in interactive brain games for your dog. These toys come in wide varieties and can be found in almost all pet stores nationwide. 

Obedience Training

One of the top qualities of Shetland Sheepdogs is trainability; they can easily pick up things that are being taught to them. Hence, take advantage of the Sheltie’s cleverness by doing obedience training. Getting your pooch to learn the basics, such as “sit” and “stay”, will go a long way in improving their obedience skills. Moreover, this will prove useful if you eventually decide to participate in a Rally-O. 

Conclusion

When brainstorming for activity ideas for Shetland Sheepdogs, you need to take into account that this breed needs not only exercise but mental stimulation as well. You cannot keep a Sheltie locked in your house or taking on mundane and repetitive activities. To keep a Sheltie happy, you need to incorporate the right mix of activities that will challenge them, both physically and mentally.