Schipperkes are intelligent, alert, and energetic. They were often used as watchdogs on canal boats, and continue to be good companions for boaters. Even though the Schipperke is a small breed, they are usually quite smart and can participate in a variety of dog sports such as agility, flyball, herding, musical freestyle, and obedience as sport that provide physical and mental challenges as well as bonding with their family. Schipperkes have also been used as animal-assisted therapy dogs. The Schipperke is considered a watchdog because it tends to defend itself, but socialization can lessen any fear-based defensive aggression. The Schipperke's small size lets it be more easily intimidated by other dogs, when it may bark to defend itself by trying to appear fearless. This barking could result in confrontations with other dogs that lead to injury.