herding dogs

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Unregistered-1427815803, Jun 3, 2004.

  1. I have a eight month old blue heeler that is by far the smartest dog that I have ever owned. she has a natural herding instinct but I cant seem to put any direction to it. I know its a failure on my part to show her what I want done. right now we're practicing on chickens but we'll have goats to work with very soon and I'd like for her to know what I want her to do. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. thanks in advance.
  2. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

    May 12, 2002
    In beautiful downtown Sticks, near Belleview, Fl.
    During a 'play' session that changes to a 'work' session introduce silent hand signals that parallel standard voice signals, you must establish gaining the dogs attention through the dog viewing you. A smart dog will enjoy this varation on the game and will start viewing you for instructions, this is when you take over the action, keep the hand signals allways the same. At the same time you must assume the alpha dogs position in the pack action, basically you must show the dog what to do via physical actions. Each move or action must be connected to the hand and voice signals until the voice signals are phased out.

    I have 5 3months old cur/chow pups learning how to herd cows, I have noticed dogs tend to be 'herders' or 'pushers', in cow herding the most important move that must be obeyed is 'come out or come behind', which seperated the dogs action from the activity. Any dog that is too agressive must be culled. It takes time, rewards, patience, praise, team orientation; once you have established a learned dog that dog can teach younger ones via actions. Trained herd dogs here are worth up to $1,500.00 each.

  3. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2003
    i have been told that heelers do not gain the maturity needed to start working on herding until they are 12 months old. the first year should be spent laying a solid foundation of basic obedience and commands that will be used in herding...come, down, get out, etc.

    that's just what i heard.

  4. kabri

    kabri Almst livin the good life

    May 14, 2002
    W. Washington State
    I would agree with Jena, don't expect a herding dog under a year old to show a lot of instinct and work! Basic obedience, teaching the dog how to learn and work as a team with you first is going to pay big dividends in the end.

    Also, I would NOT start a dog on chickens! Chickens do not flock well, when pushed, they tend to scatter, rather than group together. Ducks are a better choice, dog-broke sheep are the best! Cattle can be too intimidating and have greater risk of injury to a young dog. Goats don't flock or move as easily as sheep.

    Your pup will get very frustrated on chickens if you are asking him/her to gather them.... its just too difficult. Frustration can lead to biting and chickens can be easily injured. The best possible thing you could do is find a herding dog trainer and take a few lessons.

    When you say your dog shows a lot of instinct, is that to gather the chickens, or to follow them, pushing them away from you? Heelers tend to like staying behind and "driving" the livestock. Most BC and aussies prefer to circle and gather the stock into a group, we refer to it as "going to head", controling the flock by controling their heads.

    Well, good luck with your pup! The more time you spend with it doing the same chores with you, the more it will learn what you want and what is helpful for your particular farm/set up.
  5. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Aug 10, 2003
    Alberta, Canada
    I agree with Jena, we don't start ours on any livstock until they are mature enough to give us their undivided attention and they have a really solid grasp of essential basic commands. I find that heelers don't mature all that quickly and we don't push. If they're seem bored with life before they are fully mature, we'll teach them amusing pet tricks, not because they need them but it gives them something to challenge their minds. They are great dogs but you do have to have a special mindset to train them.
  6. westbrook

    westbrook In Remembrance

    May 10, 2002
    I don't have herding dogs but do have livestock guardian dogs (Anatolians) I have my dogs also trained to hand signals, down, stay, sit, stand, leave-it and come. Hand signals has worked so well for us.

    Here is a link for people with herding dogs;