They tell me that Belgian Shepherds are a difficult breed to train. I’ve been to websites that list Belgians in the top 50 hardest to work with breeds. As I read these descriptions on why these dogs are so difficult, I can’t help but smile. Many of the reasons that these websites provide are the exact traits that I find so endearing in my Belgians.
They say that Belgians are a “high energy” breed. They are dogs that like plenty of exercise and are not shy about letting you know they would like something to do. This “high energy” can turn into mischief if you don’t give them enough to do. Surprisingly, this is almost more an issue of mental stimulation than it is just flat out running. You can’t just put this kind of dog on a treadmill for an hour and assume that is enough for them.
We enjoy our dogs and so training with them had become something of a game for us. Anytime we do something with our dogs, it’s a game of “What will they ask for this time?” Time to go out? Maybe it will be a sit or a down. Maybe even a few different tricks like spin then down then touch your nose to my hand. The key is to keep changing it up. It’s never the same game twice.
The same is true when we go of to the park to play. Before I throw the ball for my dogs, they might be asked for a down or to go behind me. Sometimes they have to wait to be released from a stay before chasing the ball. Again, it’s never the same game twice in a row. Always keep them guessing.
This isn’t just mental simulation for my busy-minded breed. It is a game that has lots of practical value. We get to practice tricks and behaviors they know and it is also a chance to reward our dogs for their focus and attention. It’s simple and I can do it any time I interact with my dog.
It’s a fun way to work and play with your dog no matter what their breed.