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Everything posted by Maxi

  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,
  15. Well done to you, Tio and Juno... It sounds like you all had a Grand Day Out did it meet/exceed your expectations? will you get the opportunity to do more?
  16. Because I tend to help out some others, my dogs get the opportunity to work a range of different sheep from Shetland and Soay (both light who tend to scatter rather than flock) to stroppy Jacobs and more commercial Mules and Suffolk Crosses and the numbers vary from a handful to over 200, My own flock is 50 Hebrideans. These are very hardy sheep, good mothers, relatively light but flock together, tend not to sour when worked with a dog and in the UK, they are increasingly used for conservation grazing.. I start training my youngsters on 4 - 8 hoggs. Rather than keeping these separate, I let them run with the rest and then shed them off as needed (additional practice for my 2 year old 'apprentice dog).
  17. really enjoying this thread.. lots of common themes (very reassuring to hear others have similar issues) combined with good advice. My additional 2 cents are - Definitely get to know your land and the prevailing weather patterns.. water.. great if you have natural springs/streams as drinking supply.. but it's also helpful to have contingency plans ready in case they dry up in a draught or get contaminated. Wet,Boggy ground..unless you specifically want wetland areas, consider putting in a few drainage ditches. I have kept a large pile of gravel/hardcore on site and when a gate entrance has got particularly bad.. then I just dump some in that area to firm things up. My sheep seem to also like using it as 'environmental enrichment' .. so it's important not to have the main pile too near the fence line (or else I'm sure they'll work out they can use it as an escape route) Wind.. If you don't have natural wind breaks (terrrain contours/trees/hedges old walls etc) in all your fields then consider putting up some wind breaks near areas where the stock tend to settle down. I have found the up-ended pallets put over fence posts are highly appreciated my sheep (being a primitive breed, they are not interested in using covered field shelters) They also use them to shelter from the sun. Stock.. try to choose a breed that really suit your terrain/conditions. Even if you get your animals from someone you trust, still try to quarantine them for at least 2 weeks (pref longer) and consider preventative treatments for footrot, worms, scab etc before you let them out into your clean pasture. ..As well as using your vet for when an animal gets sick.. sort out a healthy flock/herd plan.. In addition to vaccination/worming schedule.. consider whether your 'nice-looking' pasture/soil may mask nutrient and/or mineral-trace element deficiences. I have found that managing these with drenches or long acting boluses has lead to fitter sheep and faster growing lambs than just relying on the sheep using a mineral lick. With worming, do Fecal egg counts and Fecal egg count reduction tests to check whether your actually need to treat (and then whether your wormer is effective). Although it may seem a bit of hassle at the time, it can end up saving a fair bit of money (using less ineffectual wormer) and time (don't need to worm as often). As others have said, good perimeter fencing is a must.. as well as high enough, if your ground is uneven, make sure there are no lamb-sized gaps at the bottom. Plus fully agree that with gates..make sure they are large enough and think carefully about their position (both for your ease as well as whether the stock can be herded through them easily). Get a handling system from the start.. this doesn't need to be expensive.. you can quickly build a very sturdy race with a few posts and planks. When buying hurdles etc, check the quality of the welds as well as whether the struts themselves are robust enough to cope with being climbed over or animals being pressed against them. IME 'budget priced' hurdles tend to buckle quickly and break easily, so you end up spending more in the long term. Like Mark says, galvanised is good. However boring..try to keep some basic records..either in a desk diary or electronic calender.. these don't have to be detailed but noting things like weather patterns (snow, floods, draught) grass sward length plus when and how many sheep you put in a particular field for how long can really help you work out a sensible grazing rotation plus also help you budget feed costs in future years.
  18. perhaps you could smear a very small amount of petroleum jelly on his ear just prior to making the pin prick? It should help the blood 'bead,' into a proper drop. Also may help if the ear is warm. Good luck and all the best for Bam Bam
  19. Well..to me the 2 words have a slightly different meaning To me, the way 'tough' is used in the main content of the artlcle implies that the successful applicant will need to have the confidence, determination and resilience to deal with difficult situations (both physical and emotional). However, if a man/woman were described as 'hard' then I would perceive this to imply a more extreme individual who may also lacked sympathy in his/her approach to life (...perhaps even approaching a level of callousness in their attitude towards things). I admit that the nuance between the 2 words may be very subtle...and perhaps the distinction is lost in translation across the Atlantic (or even between differenty parts of the UK!) JMO YMMV
  20. Agreed.. Blame the Telegraph headline writer (though he/she may have had been limited by the number of characters he/she could use)
  21. Well maybe...but It's a very popular tourist area, so the Natural Trust (who own the land) build these paths to restrict soil erosion from human boots. Without them, the whole hillside will be destroyed. Some may consider that dealing with the public plus their dogs and litter on National Trust land requires an additional level of skill that many other shepherds (who also work in challenging terrains) don't have to cope with..
  22. Maybe not helpful, but my advice is try to go with no expectations...., either good or bad. Many pups need time to mature before they show whether they have potential to work stock..and IMO 6 months is too young for your instructor to give you a definitive answer to this question.. But if you are asking how Juno may behave now.. Well, diffent pups behave in different ways. Some are not interested and/or very uncertain..others are very excited, barking and chasing .... Some others maybe completely transfixed to the stock with his eye to such an extent that they completely freeze. (In my limited experience this is less common in a young pup)....Any indication that he is thinking about what to do and also trying to get behind them, hold them together as a group and balance them towards you (...in a calm, focused manner with his tail down) is great, but as said, I certainly would not be worried if any 6 month old pup did not manage this. If it is also your first time with sheep, my best recommendation would be to see if your instructor will spend time with you, without Juno, showing how his dog(s) works with stock. Ask him/her to point out different aspects of sheep behaviour and to demonstrate how these alter depending on how humans and dogs behave.. If possible try to move the stock yourself without a dog. This will all give some indication of what the dog has to do. Enjoy your session and let us know how you get on.
  23. Fully agree with the others. Too much pressure/training at a young age can sour a BC... Also remember BCs are very sensitive to human body language/energy Similar to what Mr McCaig says, if you use pressure-release techniques, then proper release of pressure is just as (or maybe even more) important. If you are enforcing obedience, perhaps your body language is giving off unintentional 'negative vibes' which are stopping your dog wanting to be too close. Perhaps he is picking up on your frustration. Don't expect too much too soon.Instead, spend time building a strong bond with your youngster and just develop his basic manners rather than enforced drill obedience training.. Gve him time him to mature. If you develop a strong partnership and if your dog trusts you...then you will find it easier to train him later on. However, if your dog feels uncertain about you, then you may find you always need to 'fight' with him to get him to do what you want..
  24. HUGE question.. Check out http://www.doggenetics.co.uk. The information on this website doesn't just relate to border collies, but it may help explain why there are so many different colours. ( several of the coat colour genes can work together to produce yet more colours). Several of the alleles for the different genes that cause the variation in coat colour/pattern are recessive. This means that when a dog carries only one copy, they do not produce any alteration in the coat colour of the dog itself.. In addition, If this 1 copy does not have an effect on working ability or health of the dog AND even if working ability is the main (only) criteria for breeding BCs.... then these different coat colour alleles will remain 'hidden' within the population because there is no real reason to select against dogs who carry them. But if this carrier dog is mated with another dog that also has a similar recessive allele then some of the pups may be homozygous for that gene mutation and these pups will show the different coat colours. So in theory, producing an occasional 'odd' coloured dog in a litter should not be an issue (though in some cases.. having 2 copies of the altered coat colour allele can have consequences for health..Merle is often cited as an example here) However, if you decide that your breeding strategy is to put colour first and make working ability of the parents less important...then you increase the risk of producing pups who do not contain the right combination of genes to have the potential to become excellent working dogs. Hope this makes sense.. I'm sure others will be able to explain it much more clearly and also expand on things like 'spontaneous mutations', 'popular sires' 'founder effects', 'epigenetics' and 'mosaicism'... All of which will also play a role in producing the multitude of coat colour and patterns seen.
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