Training a Cow Dog

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Tango, Jun 17, 2006.

  1. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    I have a Catahola Leopard Dog (female 13 months) and an American Bulldog (male 30 months) and I may be getting a Catahoula x Pitbull pup. Both the houla and the AB show instinct around my cows but they have not been trained for them. What I would like for them to do is bring them back on command, for instance when its time to milk. Can someone give me some training advice? I take them with me when I walk the cows back and they know the cow names, but they haven't made the connection yet.
     
  2. kgchis

    kgchis Well-Known Member

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    I am currently working on training my Australian Cattle dog to do much the same. Have you currently started any of them on basic obedience?

    How dog broke do you think the cattle are?
     

  3. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    None of my dogs will be trained in basic obedience. They know their names and know "No!".At times when I speak to them it seems they either sense my tone or demeanor and react accordingly. I'm a dogobedience junkie burn out, from a former HIGH dog obedience relationship... so no basic obedience here.

    The cows, most were sold due to medical bills but will be buying a couple more soon, don't pay attention to the dogs :shrug: could that be a problem?
     
  4. kgchis

    kgchis Well-Known Member

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    Well I am a novice, but I have been reading up on herding since I want to train my dog. Most books advise you to wait until they are about 18 months old before putting them on cattle. That way most of the puppy is out of them and they don't get easily distracted (which very dangerous for them).

    So they need to learn basic commands such as sit, down, and stay.

    Once they get those down well, then teach them to do those commands while away from you. In other words if they are on the other side of the field and you say sit, they sit where they are until you say move. This is the point I am at with my dog.

    This is for their safety.

    I think if you started working with them while you didn't have cattle that would be ideal. This way they dont' get bad habits by trying to herd them on their own when their interest does peak.
     
  5. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

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    what I dont understand is how you teach a dog to go out the the back 40, find the cows, and herd them back to the barn. Anything I have taught my dog I have had my hands right on her. She would follow me to go get the cows, and she might chase them with me, but how do you get them to go out on thier own, and get them?
     
  6. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    That is exactly what I'm trying to get at michiganfarmer. I won't drive the cows and won't be doing anything special. Just want them to come up at milking time or to make sure they're out of trouble. The American Bulldog has a legacy of bringing the cows home, but my boy just stays with me when I go get them :shrug: :)
     
  7. Rick Allen

    Rick Allen Well-Known Member

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    We have an English Shephard that pushes our two cows to the barn and he really loves it. He is about a year old and at first he would just run the cows out of our top field when he saw them. I didn't use him to bring them up until he knew how to sit, stay- this means walk with or beside me. When I first took him out he knew I was the boss and he would do as told. This is the key to quick and enjoyable training. He quickly learned the "go get em" command, this means to flush them and get them moving. His problem is that he wants to chase them all the way to the barn and this just upsets the cows and the milking. When I tell him to go get em he bears down hard and has to get a nip or grab a tail before he'll stop when I command him to stay or sit. The two things he needs to learn next is to move the cattle without running them. He seems quite bored with this when we do it and I have to constantly say stay, stay. The second, after he learns the first, is to bring them up on his own. I'm now giving him a treat when we get them to the barn with the hope that he will figure out that that was our goal all along. One interesting link is http://stockmanship.com/dogs5.htm#HowtoStartaStockDog
     
  8. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the link :) I had a break through a couple of weeks ago. My Jersey went, as she is prone to do, to my neighbor's pasture to spend the day munching that greener grass and chatting with the beef girls. I took the Catahoula with me for the mile long walk there. When she saw the Jersey, she went right to her. Then we both noticed a coyote hanging out with the herd, Phoenix took off after the coyote and came back, flushed the cows out of the tree line, and got them all moving. Granted that was not what I had intended. I just wanted my Jersey back without the herd. But I think it is working with her. With my last Catahoula, the first time she saw cows, it all clicked. It was wonderful. With this one, it will take a little longer, maybe due to her breeding, but I think it will click for her to. I am going to let her take care of my bottle calves.
     
  9. linn

    linn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We have found that some of our dogs are just natural herders. They have to learn the basics such as no and come. My husband usually just takes a pup with him and teaches them through experience. Some of the best dogs we have ever had were crossbred Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mixes. We have a mongeral now that has Aussie blood. He is doing pretty well. The dog, Charlie helps me. He watches while I point to a cow and when I say "Yuh," he cuts them out. I do have trouble getting him to stop. He wants to take them all the way to the barn. He minds DH better than me. I guess he recognizes the voice of authority. :)
    We have never been able to just send the dog for the cows without us being there. In fact we have to keep our dogs contained while we are not around the barn or they will try to herd the livestock on their own.
     
  10. Lynne

    Lynne Well-Known Member

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    I think I just got lucky but my red heeler at about 2 years of age just started on his own to go bring in the horses that at the barn yet when I was ready to feed. Of course he had almost 2 years of following me out into the pasture and bringing them in myself. Come to think of it I did start to just walk so far then "send" him out to the other side of the horses, that didn't seem to work for a long while. Maybe it just clicked for him one day? :shrug:
    He did know, sit, stay, down, come, no, out and a whole lot of other cutesy stuff before I tried that.
    Herding is not common around here and what I've found on training is not that informative.
     
  11. TedH71

    TedH71 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You'll have to do, at least, basic obedience so that way you can call the dog off. A lot of catahoula people use the crack of a bullwhip or a bb gun or even a .22 rifle to call their dogs off because they become deaf when working, lol. Some of them have had to resort to shooting their dogs with bb pellets to teach them to come OFF on command! Mainly bec they didn't do obedience training in the first place. Catahoulas learn best by watching other dogs do cattle work. It would be best if you came to see some of the American Catahoula Association's events to see the cows being worked by the dogs and understand that the catahoula isn't bred to push cattle but mainly bred to bay up the cattle into a tight bunch and you PUSH from behind and the dogs keep the cattle bunched up together while you either walk or ride a horse from behind. I'm a lifetime member of this association and have learned greatly from the old timers and feel that the long drives to just see the actions were worth it!
     
  12. michiganfarmer

    michiganfarmer Max Supporter

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  13. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    Hi Marcia, I have an ES who helps me out around here. When she was small, I taught her to fetch a ball. I'd pick up the ball and chatter, using the word "ball" a lot. When I threw it, I'd say, "Bring the ball." I'd point at a chicken and say, "chicken." Same with the other animals. I did this a lot. Eventually, I'd say, "Bring the chicken." If she didn't get it right off, I'd go fetch the chicken. She saw what I was trying to do and understood the connection. She's gotten pretty good at it. A month or so ago, there were a chicken and duck at the bottom of the hill. I told her to bring the chicken. She did. Then I told her to bring the duck, which she also did. I've now got turkeys, but to her, they're "chickens" too.

    We don't spend a lot of time where my cows are, but when we were up there once, my yearling calf had gotten into the neighbors pasture because the fence was shorted. I pointed and said, "Bring the cow." She did. It's amazing what dogs can learn.

    Also, for herding, you really should do at least "come," "stay," and a command for laying down. Actually, two of those are nice. One where they wait for release, and one where they don't have to. I use "drop" when they need to stay put, and "lay down" when it's up to them. Here's why. When you see an animal after yours, or your dog is being too hard on a animal, you need to have them come when they're called. This way, you don't have to be yelling, "NO!" "No" can discourage a herding dog in a big way. When you want the animal to learn to guard a gate or something like that, "stay" can come in very handy for getting the idea across. The drop command will get your dog off an animal, will save it from running into that hot wire, will help you teach it to leave a little distance between itself and the animal it's herding (the "easy" command for me), and many other things.

    I used to do heavy obedience, too. Reliably heeling off lead on hand signals, etc. The current repertoire are those commands above. Of course, they've been expanded into lots of other tasks by now, but it isn't rigorous.