Herding Airplanes

Submitted by wabniaq-k9 on Mon, 11/12/2018 - 12:31

At a job site some years ago I met someone with two Border Collies who were frantic. They were running around as though they were having an anxiety attack, looking for anything they could make move. The first time I saw them focus on anything was when an airplane flew past. And the dogs tried to herd it, too. The fact that the airplane did not comply with their direction appeared to add to their distress.

I asked the owner what was happening and he replied, "Oh, that's just the way they are, they're a little crazy."

Two factually accurate statements of no explanatory value, two dogs that were having a rough time, and an owner who was doing nothing to help them.

Your dog (any dog) will do better if he or she has a job.  This is even more important if you have a working breed; it is essential for their mental stability. This can be a very simple part of the daily routine, it doesn't have to be anything enormously time consuming or complex, but the dog needs to engage in routine purposeful activity to stay physically and mentally healthy. It might be as simple as sitting and composing himself before he accompanies you to the mailbox at the same time every morning before breakfast and going out every night before bed to make sure the cars are still there and the garage is locked, but it has to be something that the dog knows how to do, requires focus, does with you, and can earn a reward for if he does it right. If you're so inclined, this can go as far as you want to take it, perhaps even competitive dog sports or recreational scent detection games.

We often think of the ideal vacation as sitting on a beach doing nothing, somebody else bringing food and drinks, that is, no pressure. While it might be just the right vacation, it would get boring real quick for most humans if it were every day all day, and for most dogs, especially working dogs, it would be terrible. Working dogs are built to work, and part of that work is accepting and releasing pressure in a healthy goal-directed manner.

Don't just take my word for it, also see this article by Kevin Sheldahl: