Crazy Canines & Workin’ Dogs: The Ferraris

You know one if you have one.  These dogs are always on the go.  They want to do be doing some­thing and they want to be doing it NOW!  They are busy bod­ies in train­ing classes, a chal­lenge on leash, and can find the con­stant stim­u­la­tion of ken­nels and dog day­cares over­whelm­ing.  It can seem as if these dogs are sim­ply not made for a nine-to-five world.  Your neigh­bors dog who calmly sun bathes while ram­bunc­tious tod­dlers wield­ing ice cream climb all over it is Toy­ota Corolla.  Safe, steady, con­ser­v­a­tive and reli­able.  Your dog is a Ferrari.

Fer­raris are the dog train­ers dream.  They are fast, intel­li­gent, pow­er­ful, and incred­i­bly respon­sive.  I have one myself and she is just about the most fun dog I have every had the plea­sure to work with.  These dogs are also envi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive and high main­te­nance.  They are a lot of dog and things can go wrong quickly.  Here are some things to know should your com­pan­ion be a canine Ferrari.

Struc­ture is cru­cial.  These dogs will make poor choices and think them­selves into a bad place if left to their own devices.  They need to know what to expect and how to oper­ate their envi­ron­ment safely espe­cially when it comes to new places and expe­ri­ences.  A struc­tured envi­ron­ment keeps stress and uncer­tainty at bay.

Learn­ing to set­tle down is a require­ment.  It may seem as if a dog with bound­less energy would require a cor­nu­copia of activ­i­ties to keep them occu­pied; not so.  More than any other dog in the whole world, these dogs des­per­ately need to learn how to relax.  Chew­ing on a Kong, rest­ing qui­etly in a crate, or relax­ing on a park bench ful­fill this require­ment.  They need calm time awake when not receiv­ing con­stant stim­u­la­tion to keep them occupied.

They need to take the edge off.   Some form of exer­cise is required to main­tain san­ity.  There are many dif­fer­ent ways to achieve this and often with­out going off-leash: cani­cross (jior­ing sports), jog­ging, fetch, swim­ming, flirt poles, lure cours­ing, the pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less.  These dogs just need reg­u­lar time to let fly and be a dog.

Engage the brain, not just the body.  The above being said, con­stant phys­i­cal exer­cise alone is only going to morph your dog into some sort of canine super ath­lete.   To wear your dog with­out build­ing the ener­gizer dog, men­tal engage­ment is required.  Incor­po­rat­ing train­ing into exer­cise and pro­vid­ing men­tal enrich­ment with treat dis­pens­ing toys pro­vides a nice balance.

Frus­tra­tion is a fac­tor in any learn­ing expe­ri­ence.  We take advan­tage of our dogs patience with us.  Zoo keep­ers and exotic ani­mal train­ers know this well as a frus­trated ani­mal puts even the best trainer at risk of being seri­ously injured.  While our dogs don’t usu­ally maim us (despite hav­ing the tools to do so), frus­tra­tion still affects learn­ing.  Even the best train­ing meth­ods can be a guess­ing game for our dogs.  Stick with short ses­sions that break behav­iors down into easy-to-learn tasks.  End on a good note.

They are envi­ron­men­tally sen­si­tive.  Throw out the rules for how your dog is sup­posed to act or has acted in the past and read your dog.  These dogs’ reac­tions change depend­ing on how much exer­cise they’ve had, what stres­sors they’re expe­ri­enc­ing, whether they’ve just come out of crate, car, or were on a walk.  To avoid bad expe­ri­ences, it is best to asses their fluid moods on the go than attempt to pre­dict their reactions.

These tips are the foun­da­tion to suc­cess with a high-energy or work­ing dog.  Keep in mind that while these dogs can be chal­leng­ing, they are worth the work if you are up to the chal­lenge.  From pet to all-star agility cham­pion, they will bring their best to the table if you do.

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