Are you looking for a hard-working, devoted furry best friend? Well, a dog from the herding group may be the perfect choice for you.
If you desire a herding dog, you should educate yourself on the breed group and ensure a herding dog will fit your lifestyle. You might be wondering what these remarkable dogs have to offer?
Well, this post will guide you about everything you need to know about herding dogs.
Let’s begin our ride!
General characteristics of herding dogs
Herding dogs are typically highly energetic, industrious, athletic, loyal, focused, highly intelligent, and fast learners. These characteristics describe dogs who require daily exercise, both physical and mental, for their well-being. Herding dogs may get bored and develop problematic behaviors if left to their own devices. Challenging and fun activities should be included in their daily routine so they get the mental stimulation and exercise they need.
Kim Brophey in “Meet Your Dog” describes herding dogs as the ‘Working Wingmen’ who are attentive, responsible, and a Robin to your Batman. (pp. 213)
Herding dogs share an instinctual ability to control the movement of other animals. Their herding instinct is so strong that they have been known to gently herd their owners, especially the kids of the family. These smart dogs make excellent companions and respond beautifully to training.
Herding dog breeds
Herding dogs come in all shapes and sizes, from small to big. Below are the dogs within the AKC herding classification.
- Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler)
- Australian Kelpie
- Australian Shepherd
- Bearded Collie
- Belgian Groenendael
- Belgian Laekenois
- Belgian Malinois
- Belgian Sheepdog
- Belgian Tervuren
- Bergamasco Sheepdog
- Berger Picard
- Border Collie
- Bouvier des Flandres
- Canaan Dog
- Cardigan Welsh Corgi
- Entlebucher Mountain Dog
- Finnish Lapphund
- German Shepherd
- Icelandic Sheepdog
- Norwegian Buhund
- Old English Sheepdog
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- Polish Lowland Sheepdog
- Pyrenean Shepherd
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Spanish Water Dog
- Standard Collie
- Swedish Vallhund
Temperament of herding dogs
Herding dogs have varying appearances and personalities, but they also have a lot in common.
- Affectionate: Herding dogs are affectionate with all members of the household and are especially good with children. This makes them good family dogs.
- Courageous: Herding dogs are very courageous and territorial. They’ll defend their ‘patch’ vigorously.
- Loyal: Herding dogs are extremely loyal to the family. They’ll remain by your side and are always ready to rescue you in difficult situations.
- Smart: Herding dogs are very intelligent due to the complexity of herding and the diverse skill set it requires. They learn things very quickly and are highly trainable. Herding dogs have a good memory and can read and understand human voice gestures and commands.
- Workaholic: Herding dogs are not content to laze about the house or farm. Their mental and physical ambition can make them overwhelming and exhausting at times, especially if you’ve a quiet indoor lifestyle.
- Strong chase instinct: Herding dogs have a strong chase instinct and will chase passing small animals. Just the sound, scent or sight of a moving object can trigger the prey drive in herding dogs.
All herding dogs need early socialization and exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences during puppyhood. Socialization helps ensure that your herding dog will be a friendly and well-rounded dog. Many behavioral problems with this breed have a root in a dog’s early upbringing where limits have not been set.
Kim Brophey in “Meet Your Dog” recommends educating yourself about herding dogs and seek professional help if your dog is: (pp. 214)
- Chasing any moving objects
- Controlling behavior toward other family members or other pets in the house.
- possibly manifesting as threats or aggression
- Hypersensitive to lights, shadows, sounds, and motion
- Barking excessively at events, at her environment, and at people
- and animals
- Nipping the feet or legs of people and animals
- Over protective of territory and social members
- Threatening or exhibiting aggressive behavior toward visitors
- Hyperactive or showing restless behavior
- Over excited or appear aggressive toward other animals, people, bikes, cars, etc.
- Exhibiting repetitive and obsessive behaviors such as spinning, tail-chasing, retrieving, and barking
How to take care of herding dogs
Taking care of your herding dog involves a lot of things including feeding, training, and exercises. Herding dogs’ intelligence and athleticism mean they require a mix of mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy and healthy.
Feeding your herding dog:
If you want your herding dogs to be in a good physical condition and full of energy, it is essential to feed them properly. They are active and athletic dogs and their diet should be healthy and include all nutrients. If your dog is on commercial dog food, it must be safe, affordable, and made with high-quality ingredients.
The food requirements of a puppy changes as they grow up. Their diet should be appropriate to the herding dog’s age, gender, metabolism, and physical activity. Clean and fresh water should be available to herding dogs at all times.
Socialize, socialize, and socialize
Herding dogs are highly energetic, but sometimes they get a little too excited. They are also very sensitive to sound and movement, and can be reactive without proper socialization. Socialization is key to helping your herding dog use her energy, stamina, and herding powers for good. Socialization provides positive experiences with all kinds of people, other dogs and pets.
Training your herding dog:
Herding dogs are active, intelligent, and easy to train dogs. They can fairly understand your commands and enjoy learning new things. These
workaholic dogs crave a sense of accomplishment and a supervisor.
Kim Kim Brophey in “Meet Your Dog” recommends “never stop teaching
her new things, adding to her list of critical responsibilities as the little
worker bee she is.”
Consistency and reward-based training methods work best for herding dogs. They are extremely sensitive, so punishments and harsh behavior will make them stubborn and damage their personality. Start training as early as possible, ideally when the dog is between 8-12 weeks of age. With proper training, your herding dog should be able to:
- Walk calmly on leash
- Be comfortable in a variety of environments
- Greet everyone politely
Here are some of the training that you need to do with herding dogs:
- Leash training
- Crate training
- Housebreaking and potty training
- Basic obedience training
Exercise requirements of herding dogs:
Herding dogs are bred for work and do not miss anything. You should expect to participate in daily exercise sessions with your fur buddy otherwise, they may develop behavior issues.
Kim Brophey in “Meet Your Dog” clarifies that herding dogs aren’t picky about the kind of work they do, as long as it’s interesting. The more complex the task, the better. Herding dogs definitely have their “preferences for chasing anything that moves quickly, regulating anything out of the ordinary, or barking sharply and running circles around disorganized
groups of people or animals.”
Participating in exercise is fun and rewarding for both herding dog and owner. Here’s how you can meet your herding dog’s exercise requirements:
- Taking them for a walk.
- Play fetch games
- Play frisbee toss
- Giving them a safe area to run around and play
- Go for jogging or hiking
- Backyard agility
- Make use of a treadmill
- Give them lots of interactive toys to keep them occupied.
Parting shot at herding dogs
Before bringing home your herding dog, it is important to understand that as a pet parent you are responsible for the care and wellbeing of your dog. You must take a look at your lifestyle and how accommodating it would be for the herding dog.
Now that you know more about herding dogs, let us know about yours!