One of the things that get herding breed dogs into trouble is not having a REAL job to do every day.
A real job like grazing the sheep. Or bringing the cows home. Or putting the chickens and ducks to bed each night.
You might be doing a great job of providing plenty of exercise to your herding dog … but if you’re not also providing MENTAL work … you’re not meeting the needs of your herding dog.
Herding dogs not only require serious physical activity every single day, but they need serious mental activity too. Thinking is one of the things herding dogs are great at, and they’re not truly happy without daily mental exercise.
So, if you don’t have sheep, cows or chickens, what to do?
Play interesting games that provide physical AND mental exercise!
What provides mental exercise for a smart herding dog, you might be wondering.
Games that include these important life skills are perfect for exercising herding dogs AND they utilize their natural herding instincts and qualities:
- Taking Turns (Learning Patience)
- Staying Focused (Learning Impulse Control)
- Being Attentive (Learning to be Responsive to You)
- Search/Find (Learning Dedication to Complete a Task)
- Retrieve (Learning to Bring YOU Valuable Things)
You can be creative with inventing games that include these skills … one of my favorites is Fetch.
I teach my dogs to retrieve, and we have a blast with a soft frisbee. A ball will work just a well…mix it up! When played with the intention of incorporating important life skills, fetch is a super way to provide physical and mental exercise and to engage in social time with your herding dog.
Playing frisbee with two or more dogs makes it really interesting for you and your dogs.
Click the play button to watch a video demonstrating some serious learning, and mental exercise while I play with two of my border collies.
You’ll notice that my dogs are not ‘frenzied’ or freakishly/obsessively offering behaviors they think I might want. They are alert, eager, fast, fun, calm, mindful, attentive and fully understand their jobs.
Can you imagine how this ‘way of being’ would be useful in anything you do with your herding dogs? Not just in every day life and play…but for herding, agility, obedience, rally, conformation…anything you do where you need an eager, attentive dog. That’s all the time, right? 🙂