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"Track dog"

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Hey, all. Instead of working, I was checking out Youtube and came across some videos of dogs that appeared to just be moving (chasing) sheep around and around in a circular fenced enclosure. The title was "***** on track" and the info said "***** is an excellent track dog".

 

I assume a track dog is one who chases the sheep around the circle, but why? What's the point?

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Build muscle for show I believe. The sheep, not the dog.

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Becca's right. It's a way to muscle up sheep for show. I remember this coming up in a thread whose topic was unrelated to the actual use of track dogs and the like, and it was a pretty interesting discussion back then, but I don't know how easy it would be to find.

 

J.

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If you go to Jimmy Walker's website in Texas he describes how to train the dogs, etc.

 

http://www.jimmywalkerbordercollies.com/Running%20Dogs.htm

 

Not rocket science but apparently there is a big market for track dogs to fit sheep. They basically build a fenced in 'race track, and the dogs are trained to push sheep around and around the track. I think all you need is a walk up and a whoa. :rolleyes:

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If you read the description of how you "train" the lamb for this at the linked website, you will (I hope) be disgusted. This is another example of the lengths that people will go to win ribbons, the sham that much of the show ring truly is for many species, the lack of "stockmanship" that is often found in "showmanship", and that we are teaching our children that winning trumps other considerations.

 

If you search on "track dog" on these boards, you will find several previous topics.

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Just another way to teach kids that cheating is ok. We all know that the farmer who buys ram lambs from such show lines will be exercising all their offspring so that they have better muscles for market. He knows that he will need to sic the dog on those lambies or they'll be weak and mushy!

 

oh wait...farmers don't buy show stock. They know better. So what exactly is the industry about again? Oh yes...ribbons, money....oh, silly me, it's about the "children". <singing ensues, gentle chorus about the little ones and teaching values and kindness>.

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I like the part about teaching kids showmanship and how to handle themselves in public, but why would i buy a lamb that would not survive real life on my place. Then i would need to feed it all sorts of things that i would never feed my lambs. Not to mention teaching kids that lambs are worth 14 times what they are in real life.

 

I would rather have my kids start their own starter flock, and run it like a real business. Lana

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Wow, another example of how children are taught to disrespect livestock and not learn anything about proper, humane treatment of animals. Way to go Jimmy Walker and all the show families out there who follow these practices. This is just the sort of practice the animal rights folks could have a field day with. And you're right, Sue, it truly is disgusting.

 

J.

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Not that I condone tracking lambs because I don't! BUT, I have met Jimmy Walker and he is one of the nicest people you could meet! He also produces some very nice working dogs IMO. He's not on these boards to speak his "side" so its probably inappropriate to bash him.

 

Jennifer

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Guest herbertholmes

I would think that myself and most dog trialers should think about the saying that has to do with glass houses and rocks before we go too far into treatment of livestock and teaching good sportsmanship, Herbert Holmes

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I'm sorry if anyone is offended by my comments, but you know if you put practices up iin a public venue, then surely it's fair game for comment. I didn't call Jimmy Walker names--I stated that I consider the practices he describes as being inhumane. I stand by that comment. There's a reason I have absolutely no involvement with the whole 4-H lamb show industry and this is just one more example of that. We are all concerned about animal rights movements, and the practices described are just the sort of thing those folks could latch on to. I don't see anything wrong with pointing that out.

 

J.

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What is that supposed to mean? That if its a "trialer" who does this stuff it's ok?

 

I'm getting darn tired of "names" being a golden pass to do everything from overbreeding to abusing. I don't know Walker, he may be the nicest guy on the planet, but on the website he ain't looking so nice. In fact its the kind of website that makes a lot of other people in livestock and dogs look bad by being associated with it.

 

If he doesn't want to be discussed on the web, then he needs to get that off the web. Period.

 

 

I would think that myself and most dog trialers should think about the saying that has to do with glass houses and rocks before we go too far into treatment of livestock and teaching good sportsmanship, Herbert Holmes

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I certainly am a person with many faults of my own and, as such, I guess I should not be criticizing anyone or what they choose to do. But I do have two major objections to the use of "track dogs".

 

One is that running lambs is part of the package of "skills" that are utilized by people who are competitively showing livestock. These "skills" (or "tricks" if you prefer) include such things as withholding water for better muscle definition, withholding food to reduce gut fill, feeding substances (for want of a better word) that are not a part of a reasonable or healthy diet but which produce certain "qualities" desireable in the show ring, and unnatural exercising in a manner to develop muscling. The whole point of these "skills" is to produce show winning livestock, not to produce or demonstrate economically viable or commercially better quality livestock.

 

The point of showing livestock should be the same as the point of sheepdog/cattledog trialing - to help prove and demonstrate the best quality stock (or dogs), bloodlines, and so on, for the long-term betterment of the breed (whether it's production animals or stockworking dogs). It should not simply be a venue to win ribbons and prestige for animals that do not represent real-world, practical livestock (or truly useful dogs).

 

My other objection to this particular practice is the concept that it is a practice that is based, according to the linked website, on pain and fear. There are ways to exercise a lamb that I am sure do not require causing pain and fear (both words prominently advocated in the training description) in an animal, although those methods might require more time and effort on the part of the trainer.

 

The prior time this was discussed with reference to practices on this website, it was done with quotes and with no website address, as directly criticizing an individual person was not and should not be the point of the discussion.

 

I believe that teaching children (who show a lot of the lambs and other livestock via 4-H, county fairs, and state fairs) that producing non-commercially viable livestock, raising it in unrealistic production methods, and utilizing "tricks of the trade" (like the methods alluded to here) to make those animals show-winners, is teaching the children a very unreal and, to me, rather unethical approach to animal husbandry and livestock production. Sure, I am sure that those children who are raised on production farms will know the difference - but what then is the point of the unreality of the club lamb experience, and using practices to produce winners that seem rather inhumane and misleading?

 

Shouldn't the show ring (and the trial field) be a demonstration of the best that good breeding and sensible, humane, economic production can produce?

 

I don't mean to offend my betters, but I would be much less than honest if I were to ignore this discussion.

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When I had show cattle for 4-H many of my competitors would tie mutiples up to the tractor or the back of the pick-up and take them for long walks/trots (this was after they were tied to the donkey for a week or so to learn how to lead), to help condition them for the fair. My steer ran with the horse, the horse was always chasing him around and had pasture access so he did not need extra conditioning. The cattle/sheep have to have genetics to be able to carry the muscle, I don't think you want to see sloppy fat sheep or cattle at the fair, people want to see the best rips in the county or state (rips = well muscled and impressive). As soon as the ice melts we being futurity bull conditioning, Wayne and Johnny will start trotting the bucking bulls up and down the hills on horseback assisted by the dogs, if they don't move the bulls just standing in the lot getting sloppy fat and won't perform well come futurity time. Spectators don't want to pay money to see bulls that are to fat to buck being ridden by bull riders.

 

As far as Herbert's comment, one way I read it as a warning that there are many people out there that question the treatment of the sheep and cattle when being used to train trial dogs, it's not like they are being moved just for the purpose of necessity or work, they are being moved to train the dog to enhance the dogs ability to be shown. It could be considered having a dog fetching the same sheep up the same field time after time just to improve the dogs ability to fetch as mistreatment of the sheep just for the purpose of show, especially to a person that raises sheep and does everything they can to not stress them and not work weight off of them. Stockmenship is a matter or personal opinion, if we as trialers allow our dogs to handle stock in a fashion that a real life shepherd or cattle rancher would not dream, then in their mind we might be considered poor stockmen, especially since is done just for show.

 

Atleast with the track dog deal or our bull conditioning, the dog is working to help get the stock to a place, albeit condition rather then location, vs. the sheep working to get the dog to the place.

 

Deb

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What is that supposed to mean? That if its a "trialer" who does this stuff it's ok?

 

I'm getting darn tired of "names" being a golden pass to do everything from overbreeding to abusing. I don't know Walker, he may be the nicest guy on the planet, but on the website he ain't looking so nice. In fact its the kind of website that makes a lot of other people in livestock and dogs look bad by being associated with it.

 

If he doesn't want to be discussed on the web, then he needs to get that off the web. Period.

 

Although Herbert is capable of speaking for himself, I'll tell you what it means if you can't figure it out. All you "trialers" need to be a bit more introspective before trashing someone else. What do you think it is that makes sheep move away from a dog? It's not "respect", at least not in the anthropomorphic sense of the word that is so popular here. It's "fear" of what may happen if they don't move off, and what a good dog does (which virtually all of you "trialers" endorse) when they don't move off. Now, getting a dog to the level at which it can trial effectively also involves "fear", and often, especially when a relatively inexperienced or ham-handed "trainer" is part of the picture, involves pain, especially when it comes to the sheep.

 

And, while I'm at it, if you don't trial, but still use a well, or not-so-well, trained dog in your sheep operation, you are also using fear, and sometimes pain, in that operation.

 

It's a long fall of a high horse, so most of us need to operate a little closer to the ground. I hope I don't have to explain that as well.

 

Regards

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Shouldn't the show ring (and the trial field) be a demonstration of the best that good breeding and sensible, humane, economic production can produce?

 

I guess it's a matter of what your looking for, draft horses for one, many fairs have a "Farm Class" the horses are shown in work harness rather then all the studs and shine, the horses themselves are often times way smaller (don't make sense feeding those monsters), they do not have their tails docked, no pretty ribbons or head dresses and they don't have that "Ripped" look to them...oh yeah and they draw less attention, but alot of the farmers are there watching. Bring out the Anheiser Busch Clydesdales and watch the people flock in, those horses are not a sample of the old work horses, those draft size show ponies.

 

Deb

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Although Herbert is capable of speaking for himself, I'll tell you what it means if you can't figure it out. All you "trialers" need to be a bit more introspective before trashing someone else. What do you think it is that makes sheep move away from a dog? It's not "respect", at least not in the anthropomorphic sense of the word that is so popular here. It's "fear" of what may happen if they don't move off, and what a good dog does (which virtually all of you "trialers" endorse) when they don't move off. Now, getting a dog to the level at which it can trial effectively also involves "fear", and often, especially when a relatively inexperienced or ham-handed "trainer" is part of the picture, involves pain, especially when it comes to the sheep.

 

And, while I'm at it, if you don't trial, but still use a well, or not-so-well, trained dog in your sheep operation, you are also using fear, and sometimes pain, in that operation.

 

It's a long fall of a high horse, so most of us need to operate a little closer to the ground. I hope I don't have to explain that as well.

 

Regards

I do think that there is a difference between the level of fear that farm stock experience under good husbandry, compared to the level of fear described in the website as the necessary ("bug-eyed") level to accomplish the training "job". Sheep and other stock worked well should not be "bug-eyed" with fear of pain (described as necessary in the website) and they are not, and neither are they held in a position where they are defenseless while shocked with the prod or a dog is encouraged to be aggressive to them (as described in the website). In the training of the young dog, there will be instances of work that is not desireable but is part of the training process.

 

I also believe that the use and training of dogs for necessary farm or ranch work is quite a different situation from utilizing fear and pain to condition an animal for a winning appearance in the show ring. And I don't believe that's a case of "the end justifies the means". I believe that's a case of reasonable and necessary livestock husbandry versus a "winning justifies the means" mentality.

 

I ride a short horse - it makes it all the easier considering the number of times that I fall on my butt.

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I too was bothered by the descriptions used- not sure if actually doing what is described is so bad- once the sheep are trained to respect/fear the dog, it sounds like they just go around the track as easily as dog broke sheep start running on a fetch.

 

Not condoning it at all, but I might be willing to give the person that wrote what he wrote in the "Training" section, about how some cow dogs are Alligators, all bite and no actual stock sense some benefit of the doubt. If you haven't read that section, I found it very interesting and common sense approach to training dogs.

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And perhaps it was his very blunt way of putting things that bothered me but I still don't see that producing animals to win shows justifies those methods (and many others of similar questionability) of what it takes to produce a winner. Maybe it is just my anti-showring mentality that is coloring my perceptions.

 

Shouldn't the show ring be a place to demonstrate the kind of quality market and/or breeding animal that can be produced under realistic conditions (plus the first-class grooming and handling)? If not, then what really is the benefit of the show ring toward improving breeds? Or is it only towards improving show animal lines and their necessary-to-win conditioning techniques?

 

My husband and I have a just small farm and a small cow-calf herd. We produce quality steers for a preconditioned and graded feeder calf pool, and our own replacement heifers, as well as heifers that go to other producers. We started with auction cows and have bred up with production=tested bulls. We have a few less-than-well-bred dogs to help out (and a really well-bred, good puppy on the way). We're just small beans, so maybe I shouldn't have an opinion but I couldn't be comfortable teaching my grandchildren to handle lambs (or other livestock) in the fashion described.

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I couldn't have said it any better than Sue.

 

"Trashing" by the way, has not happened here yet. We are discussing the blantent use fear and pain to manage animals for the winning of prizes and ribbons. The "AKC" of livestock.

 

Incidentally even AKC doesn't stoop to sell itself nationally as an industry to be for the benefit of teaching morals, values, responsibility, and business skills in children....

 

If you can't tell the difference between using pressure and release to teach a dog to back off stock so that both species calm down and the job gets done with control - ala Bev Lambart, Jack Knox, Elvin Kopp, etc ; and using a savagely biting dog and a cattle prod on a sheep that can't escape with the intent to make it "bug eyed" and adrenline pumped on purpose.....well I just don't know what to say.

 

Maybe nothing. Maybe the fact that you can't tell the difference says everything.

 

I like my short horse. I objected out loud when Sue mentioned questioning her "betters". I thought, this is about stockmanship, not feudalism and a "master speaks, peon listens". Wrong again.

 

 

I do think that there is a difference between the level of fear that farm stock experience under good husbandry, compared to the level of fear described in the website as the necessary ("bug-eyed") level to accomplish the training "job". Sheep and other stock worked well should not be "bug-eyed" with fear of pain (described as necessary in the website) and they are not, and neither are they held in a position where they are defenseless while shocked with the prod or a dog is encouraged to be aggressive to them (as described in the website). In the training of the young dog, there will be instances of work that is not desireable but is part of the training process.

 

I also believe that the use and training of dogs for necessary farm or ranch work is quite a different situation from utilizing fear and pain to condition an animal for a winning appearance in the show ring. And I don't believe that's a case of "the end justifies the means". I believe that's a case of reasonable and necessary livestock husbandry versus a "winning justifies the means" mentality.

 

I ride a short horse - it makes it all the easier considering the number of times that I fall on my butt.

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For the record, I too like Jimmy Walker, he is a VERY nice man, great handler, and has some really nice dogs. Having said that, I must say I did cringe reading the 'how to train a track dog'. I believe I read an earlier or abreviated version, as I don't recall the one I read to have been this lengthy. I think there are two issues here. One is the abuse of livestock, and I agree with others that this constitutes abuse (IMHO) when you are using hotshots, encouraging the dog to bite, on an animal that is restrained, literally using bells and whistles ;-( and the reason you're doing this? To treat a sick animal? To trim feet, to shear? No, you're doing all of this to get a lamb or goat 'fitted' for some contrived sheep beauty contest. hmmm, sounds kind of like the AKC eh? The second issue it seems to me would be the show sheep themselves, and the folks that promote them. Seems like most of the real stockmen and women, real shepherds, abhor the 4-H programs, and what they have turned into. Where and who, are the folks that should be standing up and saying enough? Any of you seen a Quarter Horse Halter horse lately? Pretty sickening eh? Same with these show sheep. YOu have an animal, its bred for a certain purpose, it does its job, and does it well, yet for some strange reason, humans are compelled to inflict some artificial standard. Let's see...we'll make them have really big butts, or really tiny feet, little bitty mouths...and then of course that can all change at the whim of the judge...whatever look happens to be en vogue. It's curious that as adamant as most are, about the stewardsip of the Border Collie, you'd think more noise would be made about the plight of their sheep counterparts ;-)

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Guest herbertholmes

I am not condoning nor defending anything from that anyone in particular does. Just stating that we, as a group, need to be above reproach in regards to treatment of all livestock in our efforts to train and participate in dog trials. I am not defending Mr Walker in particular and I am not leaving anyone out of the before mentioned cast no stone analogy. We have all done, even the big hats you mentioned, things that are not acceptable to good animal husbandry practices in efforts to train a dog. Herbert

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There is a lot that we don't understand. I didn't understand why the fashion of destroying low weight baby pigs was acceptable at the hog confinement, until I realized how expensive other means would be and we would not be able to enjoy the amount of pork available nor the price it is at. Cattle prods, why do we need them, we don't, but if we don't have them how do we get the cows to load up onto the semi and then on to market, we can't train them ahead of time, it will cut into our rate of gain, we could wait for them to decide to load, but that not an efficient use of time or man power. I guess we could do it the old fashion way, whipping spurring, choking down and dragging, hmm that hot shot all of a sudden seems less inhumane. As long as the show animals can influence the genetics of the working animal things will stay in sinc, it's when the show animal is useless to the working animal, as in the case of the quarter horses, the show animal is now it's own breed. In the case of the double muscled club lamb, can the pioneering of the genetics of that lamb help to improve carcass weight and condition of the commercial lambs, yes, so things are still in sinc.

 

What went wrong in the quarter horse world, people decided to start breeding, training and buying to try to produce another world champion and the decisions were left to those that "Knew what they were doing" as opposed to using horse people looking to the world champion to improve their own blood lines to help produce an even better using horse, now we have a bunch of useless show horses. Breeding went out of vogue, why raise it when you could buy better then you could raise, besides those that "Knew what they were doing" made gobs of money setting buyers up with the "Flavor of the Day". It's a vicious circle, and it's pretty easy to be supporting the beginning of the end without even realizing it.

 

Deb

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Although Herbert is capable of speaking for himself, I'll tell you what it means if you can't figure it out. All you "trialers" need to be a bit more introspective before trashing someone else.

 

I'm pretty introspective, I think, but I still don't get it. Are you saying that we should never criticize any conduct as inhumane if there's a chance that someone might think that what we ourselves are doing is inhumane? That can't be right. After all, the USBCHA has rules prohibiting inhumane treatment of dogs and stock at trials, and in the enforcement of those rules necessarily criticizes the conduct of those who violate them. If someone hung and beat a dog, would you say that everyone who sometimes yells at a dog or jerks its leash should keep silent, because those measures inflict pain and fear too?

 

I think with a little introspection you can make distinctions between justifiable and unjustifiable ways of treating animals. For example, I think there is a big difference between a dog gathering sheep in a field, even if done more times than is necessary to get the sheep where you want them (as Deb mentioned), and a dog chasing sheep who have been conditioned through the infliction of pain to panic and run from him. I'm sure there are folks at PETA who would see no difference, but I would be much more comfortable defending that difference in the court of public opinion than trying to justify the latter practice.

 

I've noticed that the top trainers I admire most are very careful and effective in protecting the sheep they're using in training from pain and injury. They insist the dog respect the sheep -- not in your anthropomorphic sense, but in the sense of recognizing that they must work in a controlled way and not chase and panic them. That is the polar opposite of deliberately creating a state of panic in the sheep, as in the track dog training discussed.

 

I can well understand stockmen wanting to disassociate themselves from track dog training and use. There was an interesting, fuller discussion of the subject in a previous thread here.

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