THE PERFORMANCE SKYE TERRIER
Sabrina in agility.
by ELAINE HERSEY
S kye Terriers are among the old- est of terrier breeds. Th ough not high in popularity rankings today, the Skye was the most widely known of all the terriers down to the end of the 19th century. Queen Vic- toria’s early interest and Sir Edwin Land- seer’s paintings featuring the breed helped attract attention. Th e Skye Terrier was first registered with the AKC in 1887 and was one of the most important breeds at American bench shows before the turn of the century. Other than somewhat of an increase in size, they look pretty much the same today as they did hundreds of years ago. Skye Terriers were bred to take care of farm vermin in their native land, the Isle of Skye o ff the coast of Scotland. Anyone who has the opportunity to share their
life with a Skye is fortunate and the breed currently enjoys a small but passionately devoted following. Conventional belief is that Skyes are independent by nature and not easily taught. In reality, Skyes are very devoted and fiercely loyal to those they love and are very trainable. Given the chance and with creative instruction, Skyes very suc- cessfully participate in competitive Obe- dience, Agility, Rally and Tracking, as well as being great Th erapy dogs. Skye Terrier owners must understand that the breed is sensitive to correction and, while needing firm guidance, must be treated fairly. Skyes tend to be reserved by nature and require ongoing socialization from birth to ensure a happy and outgoing per- sonality. We have found that competing
in performance events is one way to help achieve this. Skyes are not necessarily easy to train, but if they are convinced there’s a reason to do something they are happy to com- ply. Th ey are also very smart and easily bored once they learn an activity. Drilling a Skye with too much repetition is usually counter-productive, as is having sessions run beyond a certain point. Patience and positive reinforcement is necessary, with an abundance of praise. For any level, find- ing an instructor with experience working with terriers can be a challenge, so own- ers need to advocate for what they think is best for their dog. Skyes enjoy putting their own spin on things, so sometimes the finer points of an obedience exercise is lost on them.
“...SKYES VERY SUCCESSFULLY PARTICIPATE IN COMPETITIVE OBEDIENCE, AGILITY, RALLY, AND TRACKING, AS WELL AS BEING GREAT THERAPY DOGS.”
Brian holding a dumbbell.
254 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , A PRIL 2015
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