Activities With Shelties
Shelties are a real joy. With their intelligence, beauty and desire to please they are a very satisfying breed to own. But most Shelties these days live "couch potato" lives, which is not the best for a breed created for action. We all need exercise to stay healthy and Shelties are no exception. Having active fun with your dog is good for you and your dog's health. So go for it! Here we include a list of the most common activities/sports Sheltie owners enjoy based on Shelties size and natural abilities:
What could be more simple? Take the time to romp with toys of all kinds. Shelties are eager retrievers and love attention. Use treats to encourage behavior and teach commands. Most trainers recommend at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise a day. If your dog is crated for long periods you should exercise even longer. Check out your local pet store or a catalogue for a wide variety of interesting toys. You and your Sheltie will soon find your favorites.
Conformation shows are a complex but ultimately satisfying experience for Sheltie lovers. They are the best way to evaluate a dog's appearance and structure, as each entry is compared to other dogs in the class and the requirements for the breed. As a dog accumulates points, certifying it's quality, it becomes a champion. If you want to show, start by joining the nearest Sheltie Club, as you can benefit from the experience of seasoned exhibitors. It's important to show your breeding dogs as a certification of their correct conformation to the breed standard.
Puppies from champion parents are more desirable for puppy owners who also want to show/breed. Conformation shows can be All Breed or Specialties (Shelties only). Other coveted titles are Best of Breed, Century Club, etc. More info on how shows work all over the world.
Good manners and social behavior are the side benefits of obedience training. Shelties are easy to train and are one of the top award winners in Obedience competitions. AKC has a program that awards the CGC title after a dog passes a basic obedience test. It is called The Canine Good Citizen Program.
There are many other advanced levels of obedience trials for those with continuing interest. The dogs are scored on their ability to perform various obedience tasks of increased difficulty. More info on AKC Obedience events.
Shelties are a natural for high Agility performance due to their intelligence, desire to please their human and "fun loving" nature. Agility trials measure the dog's ability to perform accurately and quickly on a course that includes tunnels, jumps, weaves, etc. Agility is a favorite sport with Sheltie owners.
Flyball is an excellent sport for Shelties to develop speed and endurance. Dogs of similar size compete in teams racing against each other, jumping hurdles and releasing a ball that they will carry to their owners. It's a popular way to bond with your dog and relax in a fun environment. More info on Flyball.
Your dog has a heritage as a working herding dog. Shelties still have the tendency to herd built into their genes even with a hundred years of mostly conformation breeding. AKC has a herding program that measures the dog's ability to move and control small animals, mainly ducks and sheep. The trials are fun and very satisfying for Shelties, as they perform the job they were bred to perform. AKC offers Herding trials and info.
AKC offers several tracking titles. Their website offers an informative guide for getting started in tracking both in urban and natural settings. Tracking allows the dogs to show their skills in following a track laid-out over 440 to 1,000 yards and of varying ages since lain. It's amazing to witness the prowess of these dogs. A practical way to use your dogs tracking skills is to enroll in Search and Rescue, which is not only satisfying for the owner/dog team, but it's a valuable service in times of natural disasters or to find lost people.
Musical Canine Freestyle
This is a rather new dog sport (since 1989) and it is a mixture of obedience, tricks, and dance that allows for creative interaction between dogs and their owners. They perform to music and are judged for their technical ability and their harmonius interaction. Some routines include costumes. More info on Musical Canine Freestyle.
Other dog sports links:
Dogs Sports Magazine Online
Dog Sport title abbreviations and what they mean.
American Kennel Club Events Search page
United Kennel Club Events page
Canadian Kennel Club Events Search page