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    sheep, dogs, wildlife

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  1. Brilliant..Well done to both of you..all the best for the rest of your sheepdoging journey.
  2. Personally.. I find the observations made in the OP article about leadership in wolves/humans & about dogs in Julie Hill's book interesting & yes as I have said before I consider that the similarities intriguing... but one is a general newspaper article and the other is from a book on sheepdog training. .and of course neither should be considered a rigorously reviewed scientific article (lazy or otherwise).
  3. Talking about deer...these days, when someone mentions the possibility of dog-walking in Richmond park.. my mind always seem to flip back to . Lazhar - All the best for you and your pup
  4. Tommy - I didn't view your comments as confrontational...I think that some of the disparity in views has been partially caused by how (generic) you define 'pack' and what traits are actually required to make a good leader. I find the comments in the OP article about wolves interesting.. especially when read directly alongside Julie Hill's observations about her own dogs. Mr. McCaig, although you may not remember when a 'sheepdogger' last talked about 'alpha' etc, Julie Hill does use this term in her book that was published last year (this 2nd edit has clearly been completely overhauled and rewritten when directly compared to the earlier version) - see excerpt I quoted in post #9.
  5. Judith ( Juju) thank you for sharing your story. I fully appreciate that things have been very difficult for you. To me, I think your story is truly inspirational and may well act as an example to provide some additional options to owners who are struggling with their own reactive dog. I hope River continues to do well - she has an awesome owner to help her. I wish you both all the best
  6. yes.... It is a relatively common problem that individuals commenting on scientific literature (and even the scientists themselves) may confuse the observations (actual results) with the conclusions (hypothesis/ theory/guess) that may explain those observations. ..and then of course there may be issues with the way the study (experiment) was designed and what parameters were measured. ..the joy of science.
  7. Ha, I kinda knew as I was quoting from Ms Hills book that I would get this comment in response. FWIW my own thoughts are as follows. Yes, I completely agree that there are some academic papers published suggesting that dogs do not form hierarchical packs (for example ... - van Kerkhove W A fresh look at the wolf-pack theory of companion-animal dog social behavior J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2004;7(4):279-85 - Bradshaw J, Blackwell, E and Casey R Dominance in domestic dogsuseful construct or bad habit? Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research Volume 4, Issue 3, MayJune 2009, Pages 135144). and yes..some of these academics are noted dog behaviouralists who seem to have made their reputation in part from disproving the hierarchical pack theory. But IMO, this does not mean that (generic) you should just blindly ignore Ms Hills observations. I get the distinct impression from reading her book that she has spent many years (over 30) carefully observing her dogs behaviour and closely watching how intact, non-neutered dogs interact with each other in a stable set-up (I wont say pack, in case this riles some people). Yes, Ms Hill may not have any formal academic training, but this does not stop her using her eyes. In fact, there are definite examples of 'unqualified' individuals who have provided us with profound ground-breaking insights into animal behaviour. Take the eminent animal behaviouralist Jane Goodall.- She was a young woman without formal academic qualifications when she started watching the Gombe chimpanzees - Indeed, her close observations of chimps using tools (and hunting) combined with her belief that the chimps had distinct personalities went against several of the academic notions of the time. IMO one of the main issues underlying the 'dominance/hierarchy' debate is purely down to the semantics that are used to describe/define "a pack". Unfortunately, there seems to be a common pre- (or mis-) conception that the dominant animal has to be aggressive. However, this is probably wrong and in fact in the bit of Ms Hill's book that I quoted, she suggests that within her pack (or whatever you want to call it), dogs with very different behavioural traits can become 'Alphas' - and even when a dog that has a short fuse with other adult dogs becomes 'the leader', Ms Hill notes that this dog still wants to roll over and play with pups. (ETA perhaps similar to 'wolf21' described in the OP article??) So my question would actually be so if (10-20) un-neutered dogs can live together in harmony, and if there is some sort of subtle hierarchy (that could easily be missed by someone who is not closely embedded with her dogs)...and if individuals with very different natures can step up to become 'the leader', then what traits actually make a particular dog become the Alpha? -From what Ms Hill describes, it seems to relate to a calm, assertive, self confidence - similar to what is now being described in wolves in the article that Mr McCaig started this thread with... ..and so perhaps un-neutered dogs (living in largish stable canine communities (packs)), aren't so different from wolves I know these ramblings go against the grain with several people who read these boards and obviously this is JMO YMMV
  8. Interesting read. With regard to dogs, Julie Hill in her book, The Natural Way (2nd Edit) repeatedly writes that being dominant is not the same as being aggressive. From living with a pack of 10-20 unneutered working border collies for 30 years, she says the following about how different dogs behave when they are 'leader of the pack' "Over the years, I have come to realise that different dominant dogs actually have very different natures and ways of leading the pack. So when Bill was the dominant Alpha, he projected a calm, firm, quiet dignified, assertive manner. In contrast, when Tig took over he was more obviously a dictator: he had a very short fuse and would tolerate less from lower ranking members. He would often growl his displeasure and if not checked by Bobby [Henderson, her partner] or me, would discipline lower ranking members much more severely. Despite this manner and attitude torwards lower ranking adults, he would still happily nurture and play with pups, letting them climb over him to build their confidence. He took an active role in teaching them how to fit into the pack and was always fair and tolerant with them. He also accepted the position of Kim, the Alpha female, who would sometimes show her annoyance with him and check his overbearing ways (just like a marriage!). Similar to the opposite natures of Bill and Tig, Tess when she was the Alpha female controlled the pack in a different way from stubborn Kim. I find that pack runs smoother with the calmer, fairer leadership of Bill and Tess and so I also rule in this manner"
  9. Fantastic news. Hope Bett goes from strength to strength. It must also be such a relief for you. All the best for the rest of her recovery
  10. Oh boy...Sorry to hear about the Max's reaction to your aid...hope your bruising settles quickly. ..but as you know, things could have so easily turned out much worse for either/both of you, so I guess in someways the dice rolled the right way for you...and forewarned is forearmed. What are you going to do to try to make sure it doesn't happen again? .next time there may be much more significant consequences -I''ve seen a working dog wrecked from ripping his hind tendon when his leg was caught while attempting to jump a high tensile wire fence.
  11. Congratulations. How exciting. Enjoy your new venture
  12. Brilliant...well done to you both.
  13. Chris, IMO the sheep in your video are heavily 'dogged' rather than tired..As you noted they are 'used to unruly dogs' and have learnt the best thing to do is stay near the handler and not to move too much. In many ways they have become resigned to the situation. If your trainer regularly instructs complete beginners, then she may prefer to use stock like this..Anything less dogged risks being significantly stressed or injured partly because the novice would not know where to position him/her-self and partly because they would not have sufficient experience to pre- empt an overexcited dog from rushing in/chasing and gripping. Personally, I prefer much freer-moving sheep for my youngsters, but my training set-up seems a bit different from what is shown in your video ...and there is also the important fact that I wouldn't let a complete novice start their dog on my stock (though I am exceptionally grateful to those trainers who did let me do this when I was starting out!)
  14. But that is almost always the issue. These days a number of larger farms in the UK are using RFID equipment and associated software (electronic ID is compulsory in the UK). Something like this http://www.shearwell.co.uk/p/112/shearwell-stock-recorder . I,ve seen some demos of this and have been on a couple of farms where this sort of system is used. One (over 1000 ewes) bought into the whole Shearwell system - RFID weight crates etc - and it certainly made his record keeping much easier . Another (approx 350 sheep) had just a scanner and associated software ( - different brand/software but I can't remember what it was). I think he found it useful for tracking animal movements on/off farm, but too much work for collating additional info and still kept paper records as Ben described. From my perspective - as a small flock owner - buying into RFID technology is just too expensive to justify...maybe one day. So I''m also very interested in identifying software that is not only easy/quick to input all the data but also intuitive and informative to interrogate afterwards , Thanks Lynn for starting the thread. Deb's suggestion looks interesting,
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