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Working and Companion Animals From Kittens to Homestead hounds, bring your dog and cat questions here!

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Old 01/07/13, 06:09 PM
hastyreply's Avatar  
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 321
Talking about a farm dog to help with chores over a herding dog. I think there are many breeds that will do this, not all are typical herding breeds. Herding is just prey drive without the kill at the end. Most dogs have this. To have a dog to help around the farm I think the important thing is to have a dog who wants to please you and has a strong connection to you. Moving stock or holding stock is just a use of pressure in the right place. Knowing that applying that pressure behind the animal's eye will make them move forward and catching the eye or in front of the eye will stop them will help. this can be done by any obedient dog.

To many times I've seen someone get a herding puppy and just not have a clue what to do with it or need that much dog. If you do go with a herding breed pick the dog carefully. You probably don't want the best. Sort of like having a race car to drive to the grocery stores and church. Pick a breeder who does what you want to do with his dogs. OR one who has been breeding these particular dogs long enough to be able to direct you to the right pup. Avoid a breeder who says " at don't work them but they are out of working parents" . There is no telling what you will end up with.

Above someone mentioned shelties, I have known some but they tend to be very barkie, insecure and weak when they work. I think you would need to be really into any of the spitz breeds to work them. They just aren't as biddable as other breeds.

I've seen labs and shepherd mixes make good farm dogs. A long time ago I knew of a Dalmatian, but he was an obedience dog first. Some terriers, also poodles. I have a friend who has a papillion who wants to help herd. I have also known a coonhound.

A dog who wants to please you and has good obedience and has some interest in the stock is what you want. Speaking of livestock guardians, I had a GP who'd "imitate" my herding dog when I worked him. He would be just like a little kid "saying, look at me! I can run around the sheep too!" he was very funny. They are just lacking in their biddablity. He only did this when he felt like it didn't want to listen.
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Old 01/07/13, 08:23 PM
wendle's Avatar  
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Illinois
Posts: 3,129
Here is a little clip I put together today showing :
Natural Cast-arcing out to gather the sheep as opposed to straight in.
Natural Balance- Finding that perfect spot behind the sheep, causing them to come directly to me.
After she reached the balance point, I told her to go right to push the sheep over to the fence. Otherwise she would have brought them to me.
Square flanks- natural ability to square off from the sheep instead of directly into them during a direction change.
Driving-moving the sheep in a direction other than to the handler
Biddability-willingness to listen to the handler.
These Natural talents are bred into the dog, complemented, and refined through training. Not all dogs are capable of this kind of work.

In this video I have Greta do a short gather, then ask her to flank to the right pushing the sheep over to the fence.
Next I have her manipulate the sheep a little so they string out along the fence. Next she walks in to put pressure on a few sheep to leave the group(shed). She then leaves the other group, and continues pressuring the 3 to move them to the trailer. As you can see the sheep are not going in if the dog isn't right The first approach one sheep went around because she pushed a little too much at the wrong time.
Usually I would be helping at the trailer(holding the door) and during shedding, but my job was the camera.

Same dog earlier this summer fetching sheep from out in the field(apx 270 yards). This shows where the natural cast, gather, stock read, and balance come in handy as she brings the sheep to me.

Last edited by wendle; 01/08/13 at 05:48 AM.
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Old 03/31/13, 08:14 AM
Ross's Avatar
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Ontario
Posts: 13,055
Moving this to the Working and Companion Animal forum.
Keep an open mind; but, double the guard for who you let in.
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Old 04/17/13, 12:52 AM
ErikaMay's Avatar  
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Oregon
Posts: 952
Before I moved to the farm (or even knew I had one in my future) I got a rescue Aussie shephard mix from the HS. Apperently long long ago she was born onto a farm and works the goats a little...but between some years and trauma she seems to have forgotten.

She really *wants* to help out with moving the sheep, but right now they don't respect her so she usually has to nip them to get them to move. More often than not she drives them the wrong way :eyeroll: Would it be possible to train a 6 year old dog to work...and is it worth the time and money?

shes a healthy girl and will literally run around the farm for hours. Are there steps I can take to start training her myself before I can find a trainer? It would be so nice if she could actually do the work right. She clearly has the instinct and drive to please but......the dork just does it wrong. and gets beat up by the sheep when she's not looking (they will head butt her and now the lambs are trying to do it, too. She won't discourage the sheep unless they are being vicious, but she let the ram lamb hit her yesterday because BABIES ARE CUTE AND WE CANT HURT BABIES)
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