ACTIVITIES WITH XOLOS
Mirka Rautio and Nina Virtanen, Finland
These are some of the activities we have tried with xolos here in Finland.
Therapy dogs or as called in Finland Dog Friends is voluntary work. The goal is to bring
joy and experiences to people’s life. We visit old people’s homes, day care centres,
schools and different institutes. Dog Friend activity is organized by Finnish Kennel Club. It
arranges education for the dog owners and tests for the dogs. The Kennel Club also
rewards Dog Friends once a year in Finnish winner show.
Dog Friends action is suitable for healthy dogs that are very open, friendly and used to
seen different kind of people, places and situations. Dog has to be at minimum 2 year old,
adult dog. The owner needs to commit to voluntary work, have ability to work among
different people and to read her/his own dog and also be responsible and adult.
Influences of pets have been studied a lot and they are proven to have positive both
psychic and physical influence, for example lower blood pressure and less stress.
Mirka’s dogs have been working in a Dog Friends since 2003. Nina’s xolos have visited
teenager’s couple of times and proven to be suitable for such activity. They are going to
join the official action after education period some day.
To start, you need to have cow/pig blood, sponge and some rope to make the trail. For the
dog you need a long leash, harness (or wide collar if required) and a treat at the end of the
trail. We use raw bones etc as a treat.
The trail can be done either to forest or to field. First tie the rope around the sponge. Then
dip the sponge into the cow/pig blood. Make the trail by dragging the sponge behind you.
First make the trail very short and straight, only 50 m or even less. At the end of the trail
leave the treat for the dog. The trail is always made without dog and one hour to one day
before dog is taken to trail. You can mark the trail with different coloured ribbons to see
how closely the dog follows. Be careful not to step on the trail to confuse the dog.
It is natural for dog to trail, but some dogs may think the smell of the blood as unpleasant
or even a little bit frightening. Dogs don’t understand this is a game. As far as they know,
there might be anything at the end of the trail, even carnivore.
In Finland every breed can compete for blood trail and you can achieve champion title.
Finnish association PeMeKa (for Peruvian and Mexican hairless dogs) has organized
blood trailing to members.
We have had our own obedience group for naked dogs for a year. Cold winter times it is
sometimes impossible to gather. We always think of the dogs at first. There are indoor
courses in winter times we sometimes take part, but they are pretty expensive.
Basic obedience movements are lying down, heeling, staying still, sitting. It is suitable to
start training obedience already at the puppy age. Teach each movement by rewarding,
not by forcing. Ignore the behaviour not wanted and reward the right one. Obedience has
to be fun thing for dogs.
It is a challenge to train obedience with xolos since they are not service dogs. But, if the
reward is good enough and activity fun for the dog you can do it. You just have to get
positive mind and enough time and long nerves. Practise often but short times at a time.
In Finland every breed (and mixed breeds) can compete for obedience and have a title of
Canine Freestyle is basically dancing or movements with the dog with music. You can add
any kind of movements (obedience movements, jumps, backing, standing with two legs
etc) and make up the choreography you want to. Register what you dog likes to do and
you can use those movement to get your dog to love it. Always teach by rewarding.
This activity can be trained at home. At long cold winter times we need activities like these
to keep the dogs happy.
Xolos have a good structure for the agility and they are fast. Even if they are not service
dogs this is easy to teach because xolos love to run and jump. We use only positive
In Finland agility is trained by different agility clubs. There is a risk of hurting the dog if you
don’t know how to perform this activity.
You should learn some obedience before starting agility since the dog has to be able to be
without leash in agility field and is easier to lead when listening to you.
In Finland every breed (and mixed breeds) can compete for agility and achieve champion
title. This activity is really popular here.
LURE COURSING/DOG RACING
Xolos love this because they love to chase. In this activity dogs chase an electric bait in a
smooth area like green or field. The result is not judged by how fast the dog goes, but how
exact the dog follows the bait. The dog needs to be interested in chasing the bait and
wanting to catch it.
Xolos have been taking part only unofficial competitions here in Finland. They don’t have
the rights to compete officially (only limited breeds do).