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Barking when working, but only on cows


NorthfieldNick
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Nick & I have had more chances to work cows lately since the dairy calves in the back field have decided it's their job to inform me when the hotwire isn't working. Nick loves working cows- he turns on in a way he doesn't on sheep. (I'm told his mother was a good cow dog, but I have no real idea- Marianna Schreeder's Kate?) However, Nick barks when he's working cows. Not constantly, and it seems to come about when he's at their heads turning them back when they're taking off for the hills (well, the shore, in this case). These are young calves, 6-8 weeks old, and they get worked by my friend's dog, as well. Nick has never barked while working sheep. We don't often work cows- I think they're big and scary- so I'm wondering if this is a confidence thing, although Nick doesn't seem to have any trouble with the calves. Any thoughts?

 

Thanks!

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Not much help from me but I've understood that some dogs are more relaxed working cattle as they are not as flighty as many sheep. I do notice that, if Bute is getting in too close and worried, he sometimes barks (which is not, in my mind, an indication of anything good). Celt only makes any noise (grumbly growling) when a cow challenges him or really needs some convincing to move.

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It can be a confidence thing, especially if it occurs when the dog has to come in close contact, like in their faces. When a dog is fairly new to working cattle, it can be just one more tool in its toolbox to make sure the calves do as told, since the dog may not have a ton of experience getting cattle to move. Sometimes the barking will go away after a time of working cattle, and sometimes not. I had a dog who was as strong on cattle as any I've ever seen, and I was told by the setters at trials that as she would come in on the lift, and she approached the calves, she would begin a long, low growl as she got closer, culminating in a firm heel nip to make sure they got going. I never worried about it, as she always got the job done in nice fashion. It would only worry/bother me if the dog were barking all the time. But for some dogs, it's just like an exclamation point to their in-the-face move on cattle--a little extra oomph. Now does the dog who does this possess perhaps not as much confidence as the one who walks up calmly and quietly to the faces and takes a nice grip? That's probably the case, but if the dog is enjoying himself, and getting the job done well, then I would just consider the occasional bark as his style of working cattle,

A

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