Activities For Your Entlebucher
Entlebuchers love physical activity and they love a mental challenge. Agility brings both of these together to make a very happy dog! Because of the way they are built (longer than they are tall), you need to take special considerations to condition them properly and to keep them lean in order to minimize injuries. Most Entlebuchers are very driven to work and play. Teaching them to be thoughtful about body awareness skills will give you a dog that will thrive in this sport for many years. Duke was my first Entlebucher I trained in agility starting in 1999 when only less than a handful of us were competing in this sport with this breed. I am now on my fourth Entlebucher in training for agility! All my Entlebuchers have competed in a variety of venues (USDAA, NADAC, AKC) at the highest levels they offer in each. Since 2008, I have been teaching agility foundation and competition classes for all breeds of dogs using Susan Garrett’s “Say Yes” methods as well as Susan Salo’s jump training skills. We are now seeing more Entlebuchers competing in agility and they have proven themselves to be excellent partners in this sport.
Entlebuchers have been able to show in conformation for many years in venues such as FCI, IABCI, ARBA, and UKC. My first conformation show was an FCI event in 1999. Since that time, I have shown in all of the other venues. Most of the dogs I have owned have Championship titles from multiple venues. In 2007 Entlebuchers were accepted into the AKC Miscellaneous Group, and in 2011 were fully recognized in the Herding group. There were very few Entlebuchers showing in conformation prior to AKC, and often we would be the only ones in the ring! Now that they have been recognized by the AKC, more people are showing their Entles in conformation. I still enjoy showing my dogs in different venues, as each have their own special flavor. All of my dogs are ‘Owner Handled,’ as I enjoy learning the art of showing my own dogs and showcasing their beautiful attributes.
FREESTYLE & RALLY FREESTYLE
Freestyle is also known as “doggie dancing!” Basically, it is choreographing obedience and tricks to music! It is so much fun and Entlebuchers love the freedom it offers with the variety of things you can do. I love that this sport teaches them to sequence a lot of behaviors together to make it look like you are seamlessly moving in time with the beat of the music. Freestyle offers balance working with the dog on the right side and left side, in front and behind the handler. I got into this sport because there was a moment in time my dog was recovering from an injury, but I needed a lower impact sport than agility. At that time, I started doing Freestyle demos with our Therapy/Service dog group in 2003 and then got into competition when it became available. Starting in 2006, I began to teach classes to many Freestyle lovers as well as continue to compete in this fun sport! Rally Freestyle is a fairly new variation of Freestyle, but it encourages more precision and the routine is already choreographed for you!
What can I say? These are herding dogs! Although, some have stronger instinct than others, they were made to be drovers of cattle. All my Entlebuchers have gone through some type of herding instinct test with sheep or cattle. I have been to a few herding clinics to learn about this sport, but it is an activity we are not able to keep up on a regular basis. The instructors that I have been involved with really love how this breed works livestock and always tell me they wished they would see more of them in this sport. Entlebuchers do very well in herding with an owner that has a confident and trusting relationship with one another.
Entlebuchers excel at nose finding games! They seem to have a natural talent for nosework. Our dogs have competed successfully in this sport by using Denise Fenzi’s method without pairing with food. We use food and toys to reward, but no longer lure them to the odor. I love this method and the results it gives my dogs. The beauty of this sport is that you can start out and practice in your own home! You do not need a lot of space, but eventually you should go to a variety of different locations to practice prior to competition so they get used to different environments to work in. It is a huge confidence building sport for many dogs.
Not all Entlebuchers are cut out to do Therapy, but there are many special Entles out there that are awesome at it! This activity takes a very special dog to become a good, stable therapy dog. There are some Entlebuchers that love all people the moment they see them, but the majority of Entlebuchers can be wary of strangers at first and need a warm up period. For an Entlebucher, it is best if used in conjunction with another fun activity where they can release some of their physical energy. Therapy requires a mentally alert and stable dog with a handler they trust. All of our dogs have been Therapy Certified by either Delta Society or TDI.