Our main reason for having dogs is because we love taking them out on ‘proper’ walks!
We are fortunate to live in an area of the East Midlands where we are a short car journeys ride from many excellent ‘off leash’ walks. We have forest trails, where our dogs may meet up to 20 dogs and their owners during a walk, heathland areas for roaming at full speed and tracking scents, areas that have lakes for swimming and cooling off, plus various bridleways and fields.
Vallhunds do vary in their energy levels, but it is our experience that a ‘proper’ walk of anything from one to two hours (for adult dogs) makes for a contented, relaxed dog at home. Vallhunds are after all, a ‘working breed’. Our dogs are never ‘road walked’, and a trot around our local park just doesn’t ‘count’ as a walk as far as they are concerned!
Some Vallhunds have a strong ‘chase’ instinct, as part of their Cattle Herding ancestry. We regularly walk where cyclists, runners, horses & livestock all provide temptation for ‘inappropriate herding’! However with good recall training, a firm ‘stop’ command and some bribery, a sensible approach means that these tendencies are very manageable.
Indeed, because all 3 have had considerable Herding Training, we could reliably take each one into a field of livestock, knowing that they will stick right by us if told to do so!
Having owned Jack Russell terriers, we often marvel at the fact that none of our Vallhunds have ever run off on a walk, they will go a reasonable distance from us, before returning to ‘check’ on us. If we don’t know where they are, they are right behind us!
The ‘power of the pack’ is a wonderful way to produce a ‘grounded’, social dog.
We like to regularly walk all our dogs, (sometimes together, but also individually) with a variety of different breeds and ‘types’ of dog - often in groups of ten or more dogs.
As with all dogs, early socialisation with as many breeds and types of dogs is vital to a Vallhunds well-being. Like any breed of dog, not all Vallhunds immediately take to all other dogs! It depends on the dog, and their experience.
For example Megan adores Buhunds & Salukis, but is initially a little wary of GSD’s ever since one pinned her down when she was a pup.
Loki is extremely deferential to a regularly walking companion who is a beautiful GSD, and will cross a ploughed field to play with terriers, but sometimes initially mistakes big hairy dogs for ‘livestock’, which must therefore be barked at if they invade ‘his space’.
Tilly greets large dogs that she hasn’t met before by jumping vertically in the air as if on a pogo stick, waggling her tail and bottom and barking, a greeting which is totally lost on sober Labradors, but adored as an invitation for ‘ruff’ play with her friends Dylan & Angus, the Staffie Bulls!
We find that, once they get to ‘know’ their walking companions, the power of the pack takes over and results in a sociable and very enjoyable walk, for dogs and humans alike.
In the Snow
A lot of breeds of dogs love snow, but to Swedish Vallhunds it is as if they have returned ‘home’!
Their warm under coats and waterproof top coats make them ideally suited, and I have never known ours to suffer from the ‘ice balls’ between the pads that plague other breeds in freezing conditions.
So if it’s snowing…….. Bring it on!!
Sea and Swimming
Like any breed of dog, some Vallhunds (Loki and Tilly) love to swim, others (Megan) consider it a dirty habit and are content to paddle in the shallows, and then steal whatever the ‘swimmers’ have retrieved off them!
Once a year since 2010, my friend Sharon Sibley and I organise a Vallhund Camping weekend in Norfolk, in which Vallhunds and their owners get together to enjoy the big open spaces of miles of sand dunes and the sea – quite a sight to behold!
Click the Video below to see Loki teaching Tilly to swim in the Irish Sea, off the Isle of Skye.
Agility comes under the category of our ‘To Do!’ List!
So we are making NO claims to have experience of Agility Training, but wanted to point out that Vallhunds CAN make excellent Agility dogs, being both fast and quick on the turn, and responsive to their handlers.
Our Vallhunds had a lot of fun on our ‘Jumping Fences’ Photo-shoot!