Herding Dogs

Beekissed

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Can't believe we don't have a herding dog section on BYHs! Anyhoo....in the market for a herding dog so I can eventually have help moving these sheep around and I think I found one. Will go look at him on Wed. evening. Anyone familiar with the Hangin' Tree Cowdog breed? I didn't even know they existed but have been doing some research and reading up this evening. This pup is half HTC/half BC and all beautiful.

Can't wait to have an all-purpose farm dog on hand, just as a companion, work partner and critter gitter. I miss my old Jake, who had to be put down due to pain from old age issues. I'm hoping this pup will fill his shoes nicely.


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Beekissed

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A few pics of the new herding pup...we've named him Dooley Darling. Today was encouraging when he started to hone in on a little duckling but stopped and sat down when given a verbal correction. He has not had official training on the birds yet...I'm trying things a little differently with this one as I don't want to hinder his herding instincts but want to direct it so he doesn't herd the birds on his own.

He also started to herd a hen, as he got going a little faster I gave a verbal correction and he sat down. Good response. I don't mind if he gently moves the birds, but to actively chase one is not going to be encouraged at this time.

These pics show his coloring, which shows the blue merle from his father but also some of the patterns one sees in the catahoula dogs in the mother's genetics. When not herding, he'll be working as protection for the bird flock and general farm help. He's scrappy and confident, while still being smart enough to be cautious in new situations...I like the potential of all of that.

His first herding effort...

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With his buddy, Ruffles, the cat...

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He's the first dog I've ever had that will cock his head when I'm talking to him...as if he's trying to figure out the language. It's kind of cute.
 
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Beekissed

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He GOT it! By Jove, I think he got it! (My Fair Lady....er... Puppy reference) For one, Dooley started herding behavior with the sheep this morning~a first~ and stood down when told to do so! DING!!!! That will DO, Dooley!!!!

He didn't start the herding until I was near the sheep and then he started trying to round them up, hitting them with an open mouth here and there, barking and pouncing....all very lightly done but he definitely had a purpose in mind...he was going to move those sheep. When they faced him and stomped, then he would hit them with the open mouth...not a nip, exactly, but more of a boop with teeth~very fast in and out. It all lasted just a matter of seconds before I called him off with a "that'll do!" but it was definitely an attempt to move the sheep.

Then, when I was dishing out his food, I turned around to find him lying down at a distance from the bowl with his head completely on the ground. Another first!!! Usually he'll sit down and I'll have to push him into lying down for that and then, while lying down, I hadn't started teaching him to put his head down on his paws or the ground also. Just lying down was the next step but I was starting to think he wasn't going to "get it" like my other dogs have done....mostly because he doesn't have an older dog showing him how to get the food quicker, by lying down. But, to have him lying down...ALL the way down...was a good thing...I didn't have to say "down" nor have to make him lie down. He got much praise and loving for that one!

I think things are starting to click for young Dooley! Makes me excited for the possibilities and hoping he continues to impress with learning the skills we need him to learn. I love it that he has an off switch and he also has lightning recall....no matter what he's doing or where he's at, when I call he scrambles to get there. I hope that continues as well.
 

Beekissed

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Let Dooley have a little fun with the sheep this morning...just a little. I wanted to see if he knew what to do with them once he got them moving. He put half the flock into a pen and was holding them there easily, but then I sent him off to get the other half~the older ewes. They were not so easy to pen, so he started getting frustrated and I called him off....took a few calls to get him settled down to come back and get down. He only attempts to herd the sheep if I'm out there and he's showing some good instincts, though doesn't know a bit of what to do with them....that will come later. I just wanted to see what he's working with naturally....I really think he's going to do well with training and that excites me!

It tickled me to see him stand up to our meanest ewe, who tags our LGD every chance she gets for no reason at all other than she's a meany pants. She stomped and lowered her head, he went for her and she tagged him slightly. Didn't phase him a bit, he bounced right back and nipped her side. Then she decided she would just ignore him....but that didn't work, so she moved. I had a grin so big! That was the one sheep I worried about, that she would hurt him and scare him off sheep, but he doesn't have scare in his wheelhouse, apparently.

I called him off and settled him down. He really wanted to get that meany sheep again but Blue came across the fence line and put one big paw on his body, as if to say, "Enough, little guy!" Blue is real good on schooling young pups, but he does it gently, using his paws to hold them down or knock them down. That switched his gears and he started playing with Blue instead.

Just a little episode for our entertainment and it was fun to watch this little pup moving those sheep. Small, but mighty and has plenty of courage.

A little while after that we moved the sheep to a new paddock that was a little distance away and required us to lead and drive, as they can get distracted and want to stop in the paddock in between. I kept Dooley on the long line for that move and kept us both at a trot behind the flock so he would get the idea that we not only bring the sheep, but we drive the sheep. He did great! Easiest move we've ever done to that paddock.

I'm excited about this little dog...I see great potential for helping us here and that fills me with joy!

Dooley and big brother, Blue, our Anatolian LGD.

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Practicing down at the gate....

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Mike CHS

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I introduced them to sheep starting at around 6 months but this was in a small round pen with the dog outside and the human in the pen with the sheep. You keep the sheep moving in the pen so the dog has to constantly change direction to stay on them. As they stop to change direction, you just say the command for the direction they are turning to. That's where they start to get the idea about the Away and Go By commands for direction. You keep the sessions short and stop as soon as they don't do what they are told. You have to have the lie down command down before they get on sheep or you will have a bunch of one step forward and two backwards every time. I originally taught all of my herding dogs the Lie Down command while throwing them a rubber ball. The Stay command is taught at the same time. We also lived in a subdivision at the time so their walks was on a lead and they constantly got the sit and stay commands as I changed direction of walking. One thing that works really fast is to have them on a lead and give the Sit. Have the lead pulled out toward you and if they don't immediately respond, step on the lead forcing them down. It doesn't hurt them but they don't like it and will respond immediately after a time or two. You need them to sit immediately when they are working since it's a fine line between herding and chasing so you have to have control. I had 100% positive response from them on the sit and stay long before they ever saw a sheep.

The way our paddocks are set up I rarely let the dogs in on the sheep unless I want to separate a ram, but Lance (Border Collie) gets to work every time I let the sheep out of the fence to graze on our driveway lane or the bordering neighbors two acres that isn't fenced. That doesn't happen often since I obviously have to be with them the whole time they are out of the fence. He is super aware of what I'm doing and responds to hand signals for directional movement. I just keep sending him either behind the flock to keep them moving or send him past them to stay ahead of them to keep them contained away from the exit to the road.

I'm not sure how much experience you have but from your posts, I know you have quite a bit. There are some good videos going from the first day of training to almost ready to work by a senior gentleman (now deceased) in England that I really enjoyed when I was learning. Those started me but we also had some super mentors for a couple of years that made it easier for us.

I just checked and the videos are on Youtube and a search for Ted Hope Sheep and youtube went right to them. He had a really easy manner and was easy to listen to plus if you don't need any basics, you can go to a video that is more in line with what you need info on.

Another edit - most people that we know won't work a young dog on open fields until they are over a minimum of a year old which is why they get so much time in the training pens.
 
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Mike CHS

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The farm owners where we first started training our dogs are super nice people but no-nonsense when it came to the working dogs. More than a few times I saw them take a look at how dogs behaved when they were introduced to sheep and then tell the dog owners that they need to have the dog "ready' to train before they came back again. She got paid for each dog that was there but she wouldn't waste the time if a dog wasn't ready to start and that meant a solid down and stay at a minimum. Add to that a dog that can't be controlled can do a lot of damage to sheep in their excitement and she wouldn't tolerate that. They didn't make a lot of $ but they loved training the folks to train their dogs.
 

Beekissed

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He went for his first real walk on the leash this morning. Wore his little butt out, which he's been needing. He's growing quickly and getting rambunctious, so needs daily structured work and exercise. Today is the start of Dooley's education...and mine!

He's real good on sitting and staying until I tell him he can eat and these past few days we've transitioned to lying down and waiting for food and he did it automatically this morning. Quickest pup yet to learn that concept without an older dog to show him the way.
 

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I shake the can, calling SHEEP SHEEP SHEEP! and i walk to the pasture i want them to go in. I pour out a little feed and go open their gate. They RUN to the open gate and I just go close it. This works even with pastures that are out of sight of their barn. Evening, I just reverse and pour feed in their pan in the barn. They run to the barn, if there was no feed, they would run back to me, baa, baa, baaing. LOL
Yup, after the first generation of sheep are trained, the rest all learn that they want to be in the barn or night fold at night for their feeding. They get a night feed of hay when their forage is gone, and when we have steady green forage, just a small ration of rolled barley corn.

Training was an effort. I think I wrote about it on my Ridgetop site. The only problem is that if we want to shut them in early, they are no where to be found! They have an inner clock that tells them to come at dusk. Luckily, our Anatolians stay with them if we forget to let them in or are not home at that time. The dogs give us reproachful looks because they are on overtime but don't abandon their sheep when their shift is over! LOL Had an emergency once and got home at midnight. Went out to let in the sheep and found them huddled around the gate, with 3 Anatolians ringing them. The dogs would not let them wander away since it was full dark. Such good dogs - truly thinking workers.

Dooley sounds like he is going to be a thinker too.
 

Mini Horses

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I have been to more than a few dog trials with experienced dog handlers that wound up wanting to sit down and cry since they had well trained dogs that acted like first time puppies. :)

Actually true with most animals. They have their moments! :D

But consistency of words has to come to owner/trainer also. I did horses for so long, my goats know "whoa, stop, back" :lol: It just comes out of your mouth!
 
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