Herding dogs are notorious for "entertaining" themselves in all kinds of destructive ways. Entertain and challenge your highly intelligent herder to learn dog tricks, which provide an outlet for your pup's boredom so that she doesn't renovate your house or yard in ways you don't approve.
Teaching your herding dog, such as a border collie, sheltie or Australian shepherd, to play soccer is a sure-fire way to laugh while giving your four-legged friend good physical and mental exercise. While most herding dogs chase anything that moves, some will need to be introduced a bit more slowly. Find a large, safe open area to kick a size 5 soccer ball. Kick the ball gently and show your dog that the ball moves if it's touched. After a bit of demonstration, give the ball a good kick and watch the fun begin. Your herding dog should take off after it and because the ball is too large to pick up, spend a good chunk of time nosing and shoving it around.
Take a Bow
Most herding dog breeds love to put on a good show. After a fun-filled performance, teach your pup to end it with a well-practiced bow. Sit on the floor next to your dog. With your dog standing, take a treat and move it from your dog's nose to the space just under your dog's chest in a straight line. Your dog should rock back into a bow position with her elbows on the floor and her rear end in the air. Praise your pup enthusiastically and give her the treat. Practice until your dog bows readily with a verbal command or a hand signal.
Natural athletes, herding dogs take readily to the sport of disc dogging. Disc dog tricks can range in difficulty from simply catching the disc to performing intricate flips in the air and vaulting off their handler's body. Begin by teaching your dog to catch the disc. Start by rolling it on the ground, and when your dog is proficient at snatching it while it's moving, start throwing short, easy tosses for your pup to grab out of the air. Gradually increase the distance you throw the disc.
Weaving Between Your Legs
Naturally agile and sure-footed, herding dogs excel at quick changes in direction and moving between and through obstacles. Having your herding dog weave between you legs is a good way to trip and fall if you're not expecting him to do so, but when performed as a trick, it's a flashy way to show off your intelligent dog's skills. Begin by standing with your dog in front of you. Lure your dog with a treat through your legs and around to one side. Reward your dog for following the treat. With another treat, have your dog complete the second half of the figure 8 by coming back through your legs and around the other side. Continue practicing until your dog will complete one or two full figure 8s through your legs. Add an additional challenge by walking with your dog weaving between your legs.
By Kea Grace
About the Author
Since 2001, Kea Grace has published in "Dog Fancy," "Clean Run," "Front and Finish" and an international Czechoslovakian agility enthusiast magazine. Grace is the head trainer for Gimme Grace Dog Training and holds her CPDT-KA and CTDI certifications. She is a member of the APDT and is a recognized CLASS instructor. She's seeking German certification from the Goethe Institut.