|By Pete Casale||Discuss This Article at our Sheltie Forums|
Our Shelties have invented some cool dog games to play. Every day, Howard and Piper play the game of "you chase me for a bit, then I'll chase you" (aka YCMFABTICY, pronounced Ya-sim-fab-ticky). It's probably the best game in the world invented by anyone, ever.
If we throw a ball for our Shetland Sheepdogs, they'll rarely retrieve it. That's Shelties for you! So that's when we realized it was time to stop pushing traditional dog games like fetch and just follow their lead...
So here are some of the cool dog games our Shelties have taught us - and how you can adapt them to play with your own pet Sheltie to bond, have fun, and burn off some of their bottomless gas tank!
Howard and Piper play a game of chase
In your dog's eyes, you are his pack leader, the alpha dog, so it's natural that you don't spend as much time playing dog games as he does. But it's nice when a dog realizes you want to take a moment out of your busy schedule of guarding the house from cats to actually play with him.
However, since we're not dogs ourselves, it can be difficult to
find the right game that challenges the dog and engages his interest.
The first thing to understand is that when we go to play with our
Sheltie and he picks up his toy and takes it away, it is not
rejection, it is simply that the dog does not realize you want to play
When a dog is playing a game, he knows he is playing a game. Even if it's just sitting down chewing a stick or destroying a priceless quilt, he knows it's not serious business, just a bit of fun. So my best advice to instigate a cool dog game with your Sheltie is to simply watch what he does by himself and play a game based on that.
To instigate playtime with your Shetland Sheepdog, try this: go down on all fours, so you are standing more or less like a dog. If you want to add effect, you can waggle your rump as if you had a tail as well. Your hands should be more or less underneath your shoulders. Then suddenly sprawl your hands forwards and outwards, and lower your chest towards the ground. For added effect, spread your fingers and tilt your head. Pretend that the ground under your hands is a very unsteady table that you need to stop wobbling using your hands and your chest.
Get down to your Sheltie's level to instigate a cool dog game
The play bow clearly shows your Sheltie that you mean fun!
This move, called the play bow, is the universal signal to a dog
that you are playing a game. If you can perform this bow, your dog
will probably get excited and start to play a cool dog game with you right away. When we bow to our Sheltie Howard, he will usually go find a toy and
bring it back (but hold it slightly out of reach). This is a signal for Howard's favorite game "Who's Got The Stick?" If we play bow to
Piper, he will usually start a game of "Puppy Boxing" immediately, which isn't as inhumane as it sounds. These fun games to play with your dog are described below, taught to us by our very own Shelties.
The game involves you trying to keep possession of a toy or stick for as long as possible WITHOUT using your hands to hold it.
You must keep your fingers pressed into your palms to form a
paw-shape. This is important because with our opposable thumbs we can
grip the stick too easily, making the game frustrating for the dog.
Start with the stick in your possession, and try to bat it along the ground and keep it directly underneath your chest. If you can, try to keep the stick moving at all times. Your dog will try to use his mouth and paws to get the stick off you and carry it away. At that point, it's your job to get the stick back off the dog.
This cool dog game challenges your Shetland Sheepdog both mentally and physically, as it mimics two dogs competing for a bone but without the nastiness of true competition (as when food is involved).
Puppy boxing starts with you very gently putting your hand on the top of
your dog's head and pushing it gently downwards. If you do it quickly,
it mimics a domination pattern that dogs perform on one another when
playing. You must keep your head at a reachable level so that your dog
can try to do it back to you. Feel free to roll, cower, and retaliate
with rapid pitter-pattering to the top of your dog's head and
shoulders. Humans may see this as a childish game of tag but to a dog
this is a game of wrestling, but due to the nature of the repeated
pawing it looks more like boxing.
This game should finish with you on your back trying to defend your face from your dog. Keep your eyes protected at all times as a wayward claw can hurt. If your dog accidentally scratches you, you can do a yelp and stop playing. This is a clear signal to your dog that it hurt and is the best way to stop your dog doing it again. The last thing they want to do is hurt you.
This is the default game that two dogs play when they have room to run
around. Years of meticulous study and analysis from top scientists at
CERN have so far been unsuccessful at determining the exact rules to
this game. The rules appear to follow the pattern of chasing a dog for
a bit, then that dog chases you for a bit. There seems to be no set
rules as to when the exchange takes place.
To play this game, lower your stance and stare at your dog. Creep slowly towards him like a cat burglar. Keep your eyes fixed and lick your lips. Have your hands up in a "ready to pounce" position. This is the stalking phase, which initiates this game of YCMFABTICY. The longer you can draw out the stalking phase, the more effective it is. (We learnt all this from watching Piper stalk Howard.)
If your dog wants to play, he will wait
until you are close enough to touch him - then then dash away suddenly, at which point you should give
chase. Do a few circuits, then stop to sniff something delicious you
might find on the ground (human participation optional). Then try to
run away from your dog for a bit. This should not last long as the dog
will easily catch you, but you can prolong your capture by hiding
behind rocks or trees.
These are just some examples of cool dog games you can play with your Sheltie. The best advice is to keep trying new games with your dog, as each dog will develop his own favorite kind of game. Some of these games you may find difficult to understand - but remember it's for your dog, not for you. The alpha dog gains love and respect
from his pack by engaging in games now and then. It keeps the troops happy. Try it right now; find your Shetland Sheepdog, do the play bow and go with the flow!