Lappies are such an extremely versatile and inquisitive breed which is one of the reasons we love them so much! There is a number of activities that they are able to participate in here in Australia, with more dog sports & activities coming along all the time.
The descriptions below introduce just a few of the many activities that can be enjoyed by us and our companions.
Please click on the heading of each activity you are interested in if you would like more information.
Each ANKC recognised breed has a "breed standard" document which describes how the ideal dog of that breed should look. At a conformation show, dogs are examined to see how well they conform to that ideal, with the dog who, in the judge's opinion, is the most correct, taking out the Best of Breed award.
Because of it’s low impact on growing joints and it’s benefits for other sports, basic obedience is the first thing we teach our dogs, starting our puppies from the day they come home with simple attention exercises and cues like “sit” and “down”. Obedience promotes a working relationship between you and your dog and many of the basic obedience exercises provide a solid base for trainers to build on, once puppies are old enough to begin more high impact sports like agility and flyball.
The dog's ability to track is well known. This ability has been utilised for centuries. Dogs have been a huge help to the hunter to find game and food in the past. Dogs have taken up rolls with police and armed services to hunt criminals and enemy forces, and can be used in search and rescue work to find lost people. Tracking is something that all dogs can do. It is a natural instinct for a dog to use this ability and is necessary from the day the dog is born.
Nosework is a training activity that develops your dog’s natural scenting abilities through fun and games. Nosework utilises every dog’s amazing sense of smell and their love of performing a task. Great for dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages. Nosework has benefits for participants seeking a lower impact canine activity and offers great rewards for both handlers and their dogs. By utilising basic detection dog skills, nosework builds confidence, burns off mental and physical energy, and reinforces the bond between dog and owner. Nosework was developed from working detection dogs (drugs, explosives, customs, AQIS etc.). Dogs find hidden target odours (usually specific essential oils) in a small space such as a room, house or backyard. It is a great activity for people with limited space to train their dog.
Rally - O
Rally Obedience, or Rally O is dog sport, based on obedience, where the handler and their dog perform a course, completing “stations” with the dog in heel position. Each station has a sign which tells the handler what they and their dog must do to complete that part of the course. Handlers start with a perfect score (100) and have marks deducted for any problems with their performance (tight leads, crooked sits, hitting a sign etc). Unlike in traditional obedience, handlers are encouraged to praise their dog while completing the course. There are 50 different signs in the Rally O rule book and many of them are exercises anyone who has done some pet obedience would have seen before!
Agility is a fast, exciting, fun activity for you and your dog. Agility involves competitors directing their dogs around obstacle courses in an attempt to both negotiate the obstacles correctly and ‘beat the clock’. The obstacles comprise various types of jumps, ramps, elevated walks, poles that the dogs weave through, different types of tunnels and a see-saw.
While Lappies were typically bred as reindeer herding dogs it's quite hard to come by reindeer in Australia so we have settled for stock such as sheep, cattle, and ducks. Lappies tend to herd very differently than other herding breeds while becomes very apparent when they first thing they do upon seeing the livestock is bark as much as possible! Even with the very different herding style that Lappies have we are still able to compete with them in ANKC trials with a bit of training and a lot of patience.
Flyball is a relay race between two teams of four dogs. Each dog on the team must jump over four jumps, retrieve a ball by triggering the box and then return over the jumps and past the start/finish line. Flyball is indiscriminate of the breed or size of the dog, with the jumps set at 5 inches below the shoulder height of the smallest dog on the team.
While most people picture sledding as an activity that requires snow, that's not always the case. As access to alpine areas is very restricted for dogs, we conduct "sledding" events on dirt tracks with our dogs pulling scooters or 3-wheeled rigs for larger teams. Sledding has become quite popular in Australia and there are typically events on almost every weekend across the country during winter.
The only equipment needed for backpacking is yourself, your dog, and a dog suitable backpack. Items such as food, drink and clothing can be put into the pack. Training should begin with walking you dog with a lightly loaded pack to get them used to the feel of it and so you can judge the fit of the pack to make sure it is properly adjusted and is not rubbing or uncomfortable for the dog. The weight can be slowly increased as your dog gets used to the amount of weight in the pack and you will eventually be able to go on a full day hike with your best friend sharing the load. Events are run a few times a year for group backpacking hikes, with the dogs carrying 30% of their body weight over a distance of 16 km for a day trip or for an overnight camping trip covering 32 km per day.
Endurance is fantastic for building up a dogs stamina. The endurance test is over a distance of 20kms and is split into three sections, the first being eight kilometres. The second and third are six kilometres. There is a break of 15 minutes between the first and second sections and 20 minutes between the second and third sections. The dog needs to either job alongside you as you jog or ride a bike with them. Training does not have to consist of the entire distance, shorter runs are fantastic for building up the stamina needed to complete the event. A team of vets is on hand to check each dog after the end of each distance as well.