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So Mojo brought up a question and I thought I would test my novice mind out at answering the question. The best way to learn is to teach right? :rolleyes:

 

Hello, I just wanted to chime in because I think I am *still* confused about this, and thus would like to ask very respectfully:

 

I understand that many of you are of the opinion that the AKC herding tests mean "nothing." I accept this.....but then, what WOULD be an indication of herding ability? Doesn't every dog who has never seen stock have to start somewhere? Although the HCT may not be proof of working ability, can we not say that being able to achieve an AKC HCT means that at least the dog has the bare minimum requirements in order to begin pursuing stock work in earnest? Please note that I am staying FAR CLEAR of any type of breeding discussion--I am solely interested in learning more about herding behavior.

 

To elaborate on my questions: if having his tail up and "chasing" is normal for a dog's first time, how many more times would he be allowed to chase (in the spirit of a post I have made previously--i.e., how many times in the same day, or over multiple days/weeks/months) before one could reasonably conclude that there is no herding ability (and only prey drive), or that there IS herding ability--what would be the change or changes in the dog's behavior that would indicate properly "turning on" to someone with experience? Thank you in advance, as always, for any replies.

 

**ETA2: From what people have posted on the Board since I joined, I think I am starting to understand what is NOT herding, and also what is CLEARLY herding (after having watched videos of Open dogs running, etc). My confusion lies in the GREY area, such as when a working-bred pup is not yet "turned on." What behaviors would that pup be exhibiting that would convince its owner/handler to continue pursuing stock work (and not give up on him/her), and then what changes would indeed indicate that the pup has turned on?

 

**ETA: Sassy Girl, I think your dog is adorable! I think she looks much more like a BC than a JRT, as well! Thanks for posting those pics...I really, really wish I had video of Mojo's first instinct test so that I could go over it again, as my memories of it are so fuzzy now...

 

I would think that there is a little bit of a difference when it comes to starting a pup and starting an older dog (other far more experienced people are more than welcome to correct me if I'm wrong) But here is my shot at trying to help clarify this as I am pretty much a novice at herding still :D

 

If you are taking a well-bred pup to sheep the first time and the pup is still young, if there is interest the pup will show you right off the bat either very enthusiastically or kind of half heartedly "chasing/following" the stock. The tail may be up or it may be down. I tend to think of the tail as not so much of instinct coming out but rather is that dogs brain turned on while its working its stock. Tail up = No brain engaged, Tail down = Some thought happening. If the puppy shows no interest there will be no interest or even notice of the stock in the pen. At that point, from what I've heard is, take the pup out and put it up for a month or so, then try again. If there is interest in the stock and there is chasing going on (not thinking, tail is up) the I would give the pup a few minutes to work things out. If the tail doesn't drop, I would try back in a couple of weeks. If the tail drops well then the pup is ready for small bits of thinking.

 

For the older dog. Pretty much the same only I wouldn't wait the month or so I would with a pup to see if the adult is going to turn on. I would try back maybe a week later and give the dog one more try (I don't have the patients to constantly try to get my dog to do something it doesn't want/know how to do) If there is no interest still or there is still mindless chasing, I'll call it a day and find something else my dog enjoys more.

 

As far as mixed go, well I don't think that the tail is a fair item to pass judgment, because you never know if the mixed part is making the tail carriage different from that of a true border collie. I would say that if you can tell (in person or a video, still pictures are hard. I can make a crazy dog working sheep look like its being sensible in a still picture) there is some thought going on and the dog isn't just in there for the whoohoo part of it then I would take it as far as that dogs abilities would let me. If it's just chasing though and its an older mix chances of that dog really settling in and working are slim.

 

So yeah, I just didn't want to high-jack the thread at my attempts to explain how I see things from a learners point of view. More experienced answers are always welcomed :D

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There's two concepts at work here.

 

First, there's the decision one has to make on whether to go forward with training on a dog just starting out (whether young or not). The problem with formal instinct tests is that they give very little information about a dog's potential to "go the distance."

 

Second, there's the decision about whether a particular dog is worthy of breeding. Again, instinct tests tell nothing about a dog's working ability and what abilities it has to pass on to the next generation.

 

The only real way to get a complete picture of a dog's abilities, is to train the dog, and train the dog to an advanced level. Up to the level of true usefulness, in fact, where you are depending on the dog in life-or-death situations (or financial risk situations).

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Although the HCT may not be proof of working ability, can we not say that being able to achieve an AKC HCT means that at least the dog has the bare minimum requirements in order to begin pursuing stock work in earnest?

 

Only in the sense that having at least three paws means that the dog has the bare minimum requirements in order to begin pursuing stock work in earnest. Really, it does not tell you any more than that about whether he will become a useful dog, and that -- a useful dog -- is the standard and the point of it all. A dog that's herding is doing something useful. Just being in motion with livestock isn't "herding." The key thing that experienced people know which inexperienced people do not, it seems to me, is that you can't tell anything for sure in these early stages. The novice wants to hear a judgment on whether his/her dog "has it" or not way before an experienced person would feel there was a basis for such a judgment. Reserving judgment -- not drawing a conclusion about the dog while its tail is still up, so to speak -- is a sign of experience, and that's why the very idea of these titles is so exasperatingly stupid.

 

To elaborate on my questions: if having his tail up and "chasing" is normal for a dog's first time, how many more times would he be allowed to chase (in the spirit of a post I have made previously--i.e., how many times in the same day, or over multiple days/weeks/months) before one could reasonably conclude that there is no herding ability (and only prey drive), or that there IS herding ability--what would be the change or changes in the dog's behavior that would indicate properly "turning on" to someone with experience?

 

It depends on your patience, but within a few sessions you should be able to FEEL the dog beginning to respond to you and to move with purpose -- not the purpose of chasing or splitting up sheep or grabbing one, but the purpose of balancing your movements so as to keep the sheep contained between you. When the dog starts responding that way to your movements, it is showing some potential. That doesn't mean it will for sure become a good dog, but it gives you something to work with. After that, you would want to see gradual progress -- not necessarily quick progress, but gradual improvement in self-control and in grasping the needed skills. That is enough to keep you going on with the dog; that is not enough to say it's a great dog. Really, you can't tell that until it has become a great dog. But the more experience you have, the more basis you have for appreciating that the dog is progressing at a rate and to an extent that is typical of dogs who have gone on to be useful dogs, and therefore that there is reason for optimism.

 

BTW, not that it matters, but the HCT is an AHBA title, not an AKC title. The comparable AKC titles, I believe, would be HT or PT.

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Well, I'll take a stab at this and add to Danielle's post. When taken in for a first time, for me, the first question does have to do with "sustained interest." If the dog keeps wanting to interact with the stock, and is not at all distracted or off task, good so far. Then skip down to question #2. If the dog's attention is on again/off again, then the question has to do with is it really wanting to interact but is unsure that that's allowed to do so (or does it think it might get in trouble for doing so)? If its body language says it really wants to, but is unsure if it's OK, then we do things to give it permission and see if we can build from there. If the attention deficit is more that the dog is not really wanting to engage the stock, but is randomly curious, or the dog chases for a minute, but then the novelty of the chase wears off, or if it dives in for a cheap shot, then leaves, then comes back for another shark attack, then leaves, and so on, or just wanders off its task, then, more often than not, you saw a bit of prey drive, but not work ethic. I might give it another go, but dogs that do not show some kind of sustained interest after going in several times that first day (I usually take them in 2-3 times that first day) generally do not build on the interest they first show; in fact, the interest usually wanes a bit in subsequent tries.

 

Question #2: so the dog showed "sustained interest" that first time in--stayed totally focused on the stock the whole time. Now the question becomes: is it merely chasing and playing, or does it really want to *work*? Sometimes this can take a while (a handful of times at least) to discern. Some dogs will chase all day, but when you try to *direct* that chase, and turn it into *work* and on YOUR terms, the dog tells you that it's really not that interested, thank you. So, if this is the case, you have seen some prey drive, and the dog's having a hell of a good time, but you do not have work ethic. Chances of training this dog up are not terribly great. The dogs who are so keen to work that they will do it on ANY terms, just get me to the stock, PLEEZE, are the ones that are going to be trainable.

 

A well-bred pup (bred from both parents who work to a high level consistently on different stock) and a mixed breed dog (or any of the other "herding breeds" for that matter) are (or at least CAN BE) two completely different things as far as "turning on." A well-bred pup generally will not do the sorts of random on again/off again, shark attack, then disengage kinds of behaviors a mixed breed dog will do. Generally, they are either turned on or not. When turned on (and mature), they are ready to start to do some training, although you never know *for sure* how far you can go with any dog (but if you know the breeding and so forth, you generally have a pretty good idea). With a well-bred pup, you can be pretty darn sure that it will, sooner or later, barring any traumatic stock-related events at an early age, turn on and be trainable to some degree. With a mixed breed dog, you cannot say that it really will "turn on"--it might; it might not. It's much less clear cut. You might just have some prey drive chasey moments, and that's all there is.

 

It's past my bedtime, not sure if this is making any sense...

 

A

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One little point I would like to make, is just because the pup is "well bred", that does not guarantee that your dog will have what it takes to be useful- much more likely, for sure, but not guaranteeed. Some well bred dogs may be too soft to take the corrections needed to allow the dog to take on trial training. Some well bred dogs may have good biddability, but also grip grip grip, or just can't seem to cover. There are really a myriad of qualities you need to go far with a good dog. Biddability, loads of built in instinct, ability to handle lots of pressure- all those things, plus more, no doubt that I have missed (no coffee yet), are needed to see if you have a dog that can "make it". Becca, I don't think for this conversation we are talking about breeding, clearly- this the dog in question is a border-jack... I think for this conversation it is more about is this dog worth trying to progress with? Maybe- maybe not, but there is no way to tell on one exposure to stock. As for tails up- I think Jacks pretty much ARE tail up dogs, no?

I think so much more is elucidated by bringing a dog to a good trainer, who is honest about your dog's abilities, and has no interest in titles. Titles just set the bar lower- they say my dog got the amount needed to pass this test, as opposed to my dog works sheep effectively, calmly and smoothly. Sheepherding, imo, isn't about the incremental improvements, as much as the whole picture, and it is constantly ebbing and flowing- a good good dog, ain't there for a long time- unless, of course you are very lucky. So, my message is, see what your dog can do with sheep with good trainers, who view sheepherding as a journey, not a destination.

 

Time for COFFEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Here's Celt at just one year of age (his birthday happened at that clinic) at his first real exposure to stock -

 

Celtawaytomeoncalves.jpg

 

He was super easy to start but his issues have popped up later on. I should have realized something was missing when he was so easy. Still a wonderful dog for a first dog.

 

As he grew up on our small cattle farm, I am sure things might have been a bit different if he hadn't been familiar with seeing livestock from a young age.

 

And Bute at his first exposure at 10 months of age -

 

th100_0487.jpg

 

Not easy like Celt, harder to start, but coming along.

 

Some pups can be piranhas and turn out to be terrific dogs but I'd just be real hesitant to take any one-time exposure as we saw in the other thread as an indication of possible talent or ability. Like Anna says, good breeding makes your chances of getting a talented dog much, much more likely. In my situation, I'll take a useful dog over a trial dog any day but that's because the farm work is my need and the trialling would be the frosting on the cake.

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that does not guarantee that your dog will have what it takes to be useful...Some well bred dogs may be too soft to take the corrections needed to allow the dog to take on trial training.

 

Ahhh, but "useful" and "trial training" are two very completely different things, IMO. A dog that is soft can certainly be useful on the farm/ranch. Once it knows the jobs, and it knows the stock, etc., it can generally get the jobs done. A very grippy dog can be useful--it probably just needs more training, or needs to go to the right place to be useful (like a feedlot full of calves). The point I was trying to make is that a well-bred pup, by the definition generally accepted by this board, is most probably going to work to some degree, and thus, is worthy of continuing some training. The mixed breed--maybe yes, maybe no. Going back to the dog in question, from the photos, it appears to have maintained interest in the stock the entire time it was in there. So far, so good, (regardless of tail position for the moment). Now, with subsequent exposures, does it want to work, or is it merely chasing/playing? No way to know without putting it on stock at least another time or two to see if anything builds, or if what it did that first time is it. But, again, the HCT means nothing.

 

A

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Agreed on the difference between the two :rolleyes:

J

Ahhh, but "useful" and "trial training" are two very completely different things, IMO. A dog that is soft can certainly be useful on the farm/ranch. Once it knows the jobs, and it knows the stock, etc., it can generally get the jobs done. A very grippy dog can be useful--it probably just needs more training, or needs to go to the right place to be useful (like a feedlot full of calves). The point I was trying to make is that a well-bred pup, by the definition generally accepted by this board, is most probably going to work to some degree, and thus, is worthy of continuing some training. The mixed breed--maybe yes, maybe no. Going back to the dog in question, from the photos, it appears to have maintained interest in the stock the entire time it was in there. So far, so good, (regardless of tail position for the moment). Now, with subsequent exposures, does it want to work, or is it merely chasing/playing? No way to know without putting it on stock at least another time or two to see if anything builds, or if what it did that first time is it. But, again, the HCT means nothing.

 

A

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Sue

Even though I don't farm- I would also prefer a useful dog. Just makes sense. Why is the pic so small of Bute? Love his colouring!

Here's Celt at just one year of age (his birthday happened at that clinic) at his first real exposure to stock -

 

Celtawaytomeoncalves.jpg

 

He was super easy to start but his issues have popped up later on. I should have realized something was missing when he was so easy. Still a wonderful dog for a first dog.

 

As he grew up on our small cattle farm, I am sure things might have been a bit different if he hadn't been familiar with seeing livestock from a young age.

 

And Bute at his first exposure at 10 months of age -

 

th100_0487.jpg

 

Not easy like Celt, harder to start, but coming along.

 

Some pups can be piranhas and turn out to be terrific dogs but I'd just be real hesitant to take any one-time exposure as we saw in the other thread as an indication of possible talent or ability. Like Anna says, good breeding makes your chances of getting a talented dog much, much more likely. In my situation, I'll take a useful dog over a trial dog any day but that's because the farm work is my need and the trialling would be the frosting on the cake.

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I copied it from Laura Carson's Photobucket album to my computer and then back to Photobucket and then to here. I should have just done it directly:

 

100_0487.jpg

 

He's not as black as my Skye was but I enjoy his darkness as much as I love Celt's white-factoring. He's a very slinky little dog.

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He was super easy to start but his issues have popped up later on. I should have realized something was missing when he was so easy.

Sue,

Twist was extremely easy to start and yet had me running (and doing well) in open before she was three. Ease of starting being indicative of some lack of ability/usefulness later on is a misconception in my opinion. Lark was also pretty easy to start, and so far I don't see anything really missing in her either.

 

J.

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^^^ What she said...Riddle and Tikkle were both extremely easy to start and train, and so far, I see no holes in either of them...

 

A

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Julie and Anna - Thank you both for correcting me.

 

I feel I am often hearing that many really good dogs are not easy to start because of intensity of drive or strength of will, and have made the erroneous conclusion that maybe that was a reason why he was so easy. My mistake, and I'm glad to know that.

 

I feel really grateful that I had an easy one for my first dog, even if he and I have not gotten very far along together. Of course, we don't know how much of his problems are due to genetics, to me, or to training methods (all of which I think contributed to the issues).

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Yet another example of how the dog's starting point is no good indication of true potential! There's really no way to make generalizations about what's inside any dog until you "train it up." There's so much that goes into being a good stockdog, that has to do with being able to juggle the pressures of what we need, and what is required to maintain control of the stock.

 

There's no way you could look at a kid playing bumper cars, and judge whether he or she has got what it takes to pilot jet fighters eventually.

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Have you had hard dogs (to start) and when in your sheepherding tenure did they appear, and how far have you gotten with them?

 

I would say that Trubble would have been considered "hard" to most people. She was just so extremely focused, single-minded about working that it was a bit of a pain in the ass. For example, I knew that she knew what "that'll do" meant. Solidly. When I would have her out with me in the pasture, working on the trailer, feeding the horse, whatever, I expected her to not go after the stock. I'd keep an eye on her for a bit, but then get busy with whatever I was doing, and kind of forget her. Next thing you know, she's at the far end, working the calves. She knew enough to go to them, but not enough to just gather them and bring them to me (she was like, 5 months old then). Now, my dogs never wear collars at home. I can't tell you how many times I ran to the far end, I could get her to lie down, but she just wouldn't leave the stock, so I would have to carry a 20+ lb. puppy all the way to the other end of the pasture (20 acres). I finally realized I needed her to be tied out. Duh. At first, she seemed defiant, and at one point, I claimed she was "possessed." When I would work her, she had a great "lie down" until it was time to collect her up to leave. You know the routine. One day, I got really frustrated (OK, pissed off), and happened to have my keys in my hand. I threw them at her when I told her to "lie down" one more time. The look on her face was amazing--she didn't get scared--the effect was that she seemed to say, "oh, so that got you angry, did it? Hmmm, I'll have to remember how to push your buttons for next time." My keys were lost never to be found, and I realized that getting angry or forcing this dog to comply was not the answer. I realized that she was not really being defiant, and she wasn't TRYING to be bad or to disobey me--she simply *couldn't resist temptation.* That became my new mantra. I needed to be smarter that she, not stronger or angrier. So, I began what I referred to as my "Chinese water torture plan"--I had to think through every thing she might do, expect it, and have a plan. I had to slowly wear away at her "strong will"-not try to break or bend it. Within a very short time, she was the most compliant, eager to please dog ever. But she thought it was all her idea. I trained her up to Open (she was running very successfully), then had to sell her due to bitch conflicts in the home.

 

I have another one in for training right now, whom most would consider extremely hard. He's cattle-bred, and had a bit of a start in Texas, where he came from. Unfortunately, his start was of the "get ahead, get ahold" school, which encouraged a LOT of unnecessary biting. This dog doesn't just bite--he body slams the calves. He has been severely stomped, kicked, rolled, etc. so many times that I am amazed he is still alive and sound. He knows darn well what "lie down" means, and also "get back" (to widen out on a flank or gather). But he STILL will slice in, especially on the away side, to have physical contact with the stock. Now, my gut reaction is to say, "what a stupid SOB...he doesn't ever seem to get it!!" I mean, how many dogs like to continually get that thrashed by calves? How stupid can you get? And that's the easy answer--he's just a HARD dog. So hard = maybe untrainable. Usual solution--get after him in a big way--get on his case, throw stuff at him, scruff shake, whomp him with the crook, whatever your preferred method is. Of course, none of that works at all (tempting though it may be). So I have to ask, "why in God's name does this dog seem so thick-headed, why doesn't he get it??!" It has to do with his level of confidence--although he SEEMS very brave, after all, how many dogs would take this kind of physical abuse from the stock over and over, and still come back for more, BUT, it really has to do with the fact that he is extremely nervous/uncomfortable with the pressure from the stock. So, in his mind, the best defense is a really strong offense. The solution? Keep things as relaxed as possible, and put him in situations where he HAS to begin to feel his stock, and deal with their pressure. We switched back to sheep for a while, but he was so rough on them, I had to put him back on calves. I had some really dog-broke calves at the time, and he handled them pretty nicely most of the time. Then it was time to get fresh calves (every 7-8 weeks), and I discovered that *their* energy--nervous, flighty, etc.--was too much for him. So we went back to school sheep in the round pen, where there is no escape from the pressure of the stock. He started to calm down again, meanwhile, the new calves got a bit dog-broke by the level-headed dogs, so now he is back on the calves again. He turned a year old Wednesday, this is his third month here, and he is slowly but surely getting more comfortable. He's learning to drive, kinda knows his flanks, has a decent gather as long as I am in the right position to "help" him to be right, etc. I fully expect him to train up to be a useful cowdog (without the gratuitous biting), and his owner hopes to trial him later this summer. He should be fine.

 

So, this dog has made me wonder, exactly what is a "hard" dog? I'm sure they exist, but I have begun to think lately that it might really have more to do with trying to understand where the individual dog is coming from, and WHY it's presenting as "hard."

 

A

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Anna and Julie

Have you had hard dogs (to start) and when in your sheepherding tenure did they appear, and how far have you gotten with them?

Julie.

After, um, okay I won't say how many glasses of wine, I think it's best if I wait till tomorrow to try to answer your question (wow, that took longer than usual to type....).

 

J.

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I had hard dogs as my first two "real" dogs. I got Ben up to Nov-nov and eventually (like, now) he would do a ranch course (if he weren't twelve I could train him to shed but none of it is pretty).

 

Rick of course was an Open dog. I didn't train him, largely, but I had to get a handle on him in my own right, every time he came back from the trainer.

 

From these two dogs, and from others I've had, I think part of what we perceive as "hardness" is an attitude that to some extent the handler is more something to be tolerated than a team member. You'll see most dogs labeled as "hard" made to work by being put in the position where they have a choice between working with a person, or not working at all. They dislike "fiddling" though they are often dogs that also are so keen that they will accept what they dislike, and even learn to like it. Once Rick learned the "game", he was the kind of dog you could move an inch, or three hundred yards, with a half a breath, and he loved it.

 

I've come to this conclusion by watching people breed "hard" to "hard" thinking they are breeding keenness to keenness, and being surprised when they end up with pups that seem "soft." I think this happens (and I've discussed this with very experienced trainers/breeders who agree with me), when that tendency to dislike interference, is focused to the point that the dog will actually choose not to work, rather than work on your terms.

 

The most successful and influencial dogs in our breed's history tended to be crosses of very malleable trial type dogs, and tough, hill dogs with minimal formal training (usually studs on hill bitches).

 

ETA: So, Julie, did the girl's stay over and y'all have that mini-GNO? Sorry I couldn't stay, I wanted to get home and use that BoSE! Thanks again, by the way - and it was great fun watching your purple dog get his haircut!

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Julie,

Your question is somewhat difficult to answer without a very specific definition of "hard to start." But if I were to compare Twist with her two pups I kept, I would say that they were definitely harder to start than she was. Whereas Twist had a natural outrun and natural feel for her sheep and was trialing successfully before she was a year old, the pups started out as bowling balls with teeth, especially Pip, and I can't say we've had much in the way of successful trials even yet (to be fair, I haven't worked as consistently with the pups as I did with Twist, nor have a made a huge effort to get them out trialing). Twist is a bit over 6 now, and the pups won't be two till mid-July, so I guess I got the harder to train pups somewhere between my fourth and fifth years of doing this. Lark is six months older and about a year ahead of the two pups trainingwise and was more like Twist with respect to starting (natural outrun), but she was pushier and had less feel for her sheep at the start.

 

I was able to start Lark on my non-dog-broke rams and wethers just using Twist as a "fence" to keep them in one area of a small (~2-3 acre) field. I couldn't even begin to do the same with Pip and Phoebe, though I tried at first. It was just too much of a rodeo and nothing was getting accomplished. I soon realized that it wasn't working and put them up until more appropriate training sheep could be found (this is where Robin's well-broke sheep, bought from her by Laura came in handy). For me it made no sense to keep plugging away with sheep that weren't appropriate, since it was just allowing/teaching the youngsters bad habits and annoying me. This is one reason they are further behind on the training curve than Lark.

 

Pip is still a bit of a hardhead and takes a lot more correction than Phoebe. I think he's got a lot of natural talent, but he's going to try me often as well. I had him on cattle (calves) a couple of weeks ago and was really pleased with how well he worked (Lark, too, who worked well enough for me to go ahead and enter her in a cattle trial next month).

 

So in answer to how far I have gotten with the harder to start dogs, both Pip and Phoebe can do a decent P/N course at home, and in fact can cross drive as well, though inside flanks are still shaky, more so for Pip than Phoebe. In Pip's case this is because he tends to get so involved in what he's doing that he tunes me out. To get the inside flank with him right now, I have to stop him first and he doesn't always want to stop. If I try to flank him on the fly, it's likely to be ugly, so I first have to insist on the stop, which he doesn't want to give because it means "giving up" his sheep. By comparison, Lark has routinely placed well in trials at P/N and could probably run a ranch/nursery course right now and do pretty well. At a trial in December, I did a noncompete open run with her, and aside from some wobbliness at the end of the cross-drive, she did a really nice job, including taking a single on sheep who weren't easy to shed. At that same trial, I had to leave the post with both Pip and Phoebe to have any success at the drive. But again, it's difficult to make comparisons simply because I have not put as much time into P&P either. Since the Jack Knox clinic in January, I have worked them maybe a handful of times (with a finger or two left over), so of course our progress is going to be a bit slower. Right now I'm in the middle of lambing and have almost nothing I can work, so we're a bit limited for that reason as well. I expect that both dogs (all three if you include Lark) will make it to open. I might not get there as quickly as I did with Twist, but since I have Twist and Kat running in open now, there's no real hurry for me to get there with any of my youngsters because generally you're allowed to run just two open dogs at most trials anyway, so until one of my open dogs begins to "wind down" or one of the youngsters surpasses the current open dogs, there's no need to rush.

 

With respect to hard dogs in general, I don't particularly want to work with a dog that I have to constantly butt heads with. I don't mind the kind of testing Pip gives me (and Phoebe too on occasion) because I think he's just young and keen and thinks he knows better, but I wouldn't really want a dog that I had to fight constantly. That just doesn't mesh well with my preferred training and working style.

 

I don't know if that adequately answered your question....

 

Becca,

No real GNO--Darci went home, and Laura just came over to Mary's for dinner, where I availed myself of Mary and Tony's wine "collection." We didn't get water back till this morning.... And I'm still thinking we need to plan an IHOP GNO soon! And as for the "purple dog," Darci's lovely job paid off tremendously just this morning. After all the rain last night, Farleigh went out and ran laps in the mud and yet still came in the house almost as clean as he was when he went out in the first place! When I commented on that very fact to Jimmy, he said maybe we should shave them all. :rolleyes:

 

J.

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Thanks guys for your posts. Every dog is different, and I guess when you get a few of them under your belt, with regard to training up, you can progress even with hard ones- because you have experience too. To me, that is what I love to see- someone walk out to the field, do consistently well with every dog they bring out there- no, maybe not perfect, but at the top 10. To me there is no better stamp of worth of a trainer, than dogs coming up through the ranks being very good representatives of what they are expected to be, and it wasn't done after lots of buying and selling to get there. Just a good dog to start, with solid training.

 

That said, I saw some work the other day by a dog who I really love. She isn't flashy, but she practically reads her handler's mind, and she is no nonsense. I think sometimes, the only thing her handler has to do is look at her and maybe the sheep. Can I please have that dog????

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I know v little about herding but I thought I would add this little story - shows how even a natural ability from a well bred pup does not always a good sheepdog make

 

My friends bought a pup from a sheperd on the borders - from his best working dogs at the time

The farmer was keeping one pup from the litter for himself

 

When the dogs were still young - under a year - I cant rem

We went back to the farm to walk their dog and see the bitch the farmer had kept - he hadnt really started much training with her yet

He was more than happy for us to walk the dogs off the lead in all the fields including the ones with sheep

Off we went on a lovely walk

Came into a field with sheep - zoom - both dogs off like a shot nicely round the outside of the sheep

Next thing we know - the whole field of sheep is running straight at us driven by 2 happy pups

Thankfully the sheep veered off and we grabbed the dogs

Told the farmer on the way back and he looked all thoughtfull and then when we were leaving we saw him walking his bitch back to the field with sheep

 

A few months later my friends were back with their dog and the farmer offered them a chance to put thier dog ina pen with a few sheep to see what he did

Ran about a bit and leaped into the middle to split them with the best grin on his face

But when he was out of the pen and the farmer was talking about how he did they looked round and the dog was gone - chasing rabbits! no interest in the sheep at all

 

Few more months later and the farmer asks my friends if they want to take the bitch

She has not worked out at all on the sheep

He took her and some other dogs up to do some work, left the bitch by the quad bike and worked the others

when he went back for her she was gone

Found that she had gone all the way back home and was in the garden playing football with herself - thats when he decided that a pet home would be better for her

 

So 2 really good well bred dogs - who would have easily passed a interest in sheep test but after they were about 18 months old just really no interest in sheep

 

 

and that dog looks all border jack to me!! sleek frame and the JRT head

Would love to give Ben a shot on sheep just to see but I think he would be v barky and bouncy

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