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Sheep that will not dog-break


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This is now a curiosity question, as I sold the sheep in question yesterday to someone without a dog.


I had a group of Cotswold ewes that WOULD NOT dog-break. My original three ewes were not worked with a dog, but they and all the rest have been dogged for the past five years. The dogs have always been nice to these sheep. But still, the sheep would see the dog from several hundred yards away (even before I'd even sent the dog) and head for the hills. When I'd send the dog, they'd lift WAY early- even if the dog was coming in correct- and just. keep. running. Even if I was moving them to a new field, and I had turned around and left with the dog, the sheep would keep moving. I mean, running, moving, not an ambling trot.


It's really tough to work these sheep correctly, because they move so fast, then the dog, who would actually stay well back of them, would have to flank fast and hard to actually move the sheep before they did something dumb, like run into a road, which makes the sheep move faster... Part of the reason I sold them.


And in my dog's defense, my cross-bred sheep do not act like this! They behave quite normally when being worked.


What gives? Do some sheep just never become dog-broke? Like, at all?

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I have those sheep NOW!

no matter what we do they're headed for the hills (and in our case it's predator laiden mountain), or they challange, and I mean constantly stomp or charge the dog. Horrible for a young dog butttt...as I was hating them I've watched Mick develope into a way better sheep reading dog. He's now more capalbe of reading sheep and knowing how to keep his job as easy as he can. I noticed this transfering to different sheep also. So I've decided to at least keep these darn sheep...even if it kills us. Just don't know if I wanna breed them. Could they throw the same thing?


I've worked allot of sheep in our time but never ran into something like this. Thought it was just us.

I'm courious as to what you get for answers.

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Could it be numbers?


I've seen this often in small groups of sheep <10. I haven't seen in with large flocks >50. Maybe sheep in small groups feel more exposed and figure the best defense is to leg it or fight. In larger groups, you only have to be faster than one other sheep so you can amble around until the dog gets too close.



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Hum, maybe I have an answer.


Take the sheep on a 6 mile hike every day for a few days.


And let them forage for food during the rest stops. (This is the only feed they get.)


Start on narrow trails with two dogs in the back, with about 50- 100 other sheep that know the ropes.


Shepherd on horse in front, with additional dog


Reduce number of broke sheep


repeat till sheep get the idea.


Fast dogs, and onery horse are a plus


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Ya know I think it's the numbers thing. You idea would work Tea but I don't have a big number of sheep, hence the issue.

But I've also had small groups of sheep that I've broken down from larger numbers and they were fine but they got to know the lay of the land with a larger group of sheep.

I missed the part about it being Cotswold. I have North Country Cheviots. I had Northies mixed in with larger numbers of other breeds and they were more challangeing than other sheep but still manageable. I've also worked with big flocks of Northies and they were fine.

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It can be very interesting getting new sheep in of different breeds.


I am doing some brokering right now to help other farmers. And it is challenging.


Yeah, you are right...it is very helpful to work larger flocks with the new guys.


That is where I thank heavens for Gunny. She would not be great on the trail field, uh as she likes the feel of wool between her teeth, but nothing gets away from her.


She is a tough little dog.


But she is definitly a Marine

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A friend of ours had a ewe that always threw lambs that would do nothing but run. When the dog covered their escape in one direction they bolt the other way. In this case it was clearly genetics. The solution that worked in this case was to eliminate the genetics from her flock.



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  • 1 month later...

I'm a shepherd first and dog handler second - not a competitor or trainer either - so please take this in context.


Our dog Lena had been worked and competed with dog broke Cheviots or trial Katahdin sheep. I needed a dog that could "work" our sheep and teach me a thing or two about shepherding. What I learned is that a shepherd has to work with what he's given. We can't just trade in our sheep or get a new dog; we HAVE to make it work.


Our sheep (Corriedale, BFL and Coopworth) live with LGD who are submissive to the flock. That's they way we want them, but the sheep "walk all over" dogs because of it. When we first brought Lena out into the field, the sheep stood their ground and ignored her. I rec'd lots of good advice, give her a chance to acclimate, take your time, etc. etc. but what I learned to do is adapt. With plenty of trial and error, we found what works for us.


The troublesome ringleader had to go - she was trouble in more ways than one. Now the flock pretty much goes where we want them and our pastures are set up to help facilitate this. Lena's job is to follow the flock and keep the strays in line; preventing them from searching for greener pastures, or heading into the trees. Gathering isn't necessary as shepherd = food in this flock's collective brain :D No, I haven't learned as much as I'd hoped about herding, but I have learned a lot about shepherding with Lena's help. So I guess what I'm saying is if you can stick it out and make it work, you and the dog might be better for it in the end.


As a post script, we're only purchasing dog broke BFL the future and when Lena crosses that rainbow bridge (many, many days in the future) ...lookout herding world, here I come :rolleyes:

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