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How Smart are They?


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My dogs haven't seen sheep for at least six months.


Yesterday I felt sorry for them and I took all five of them to Judy Vanderford's.


She has so many sheep and areas to work it was actually easy to work 5 dogs.


Since I hadn't worked them for so long they forgot all my inconsistent incoherent commands and their natural instinct returned.


Toward the end of the day I was moving the sheep from one pen to another and they had to pass the area where they are fed.


The Sheep were hungry, they wanted to eat but I was too lazy to shut the gate to the feeding area.


I wanted to try and command my only trained dog Flint to move them without having to shut the gate.


Judy was amused at my lame attempt to command Flint in time to keep them from breaking into the feeding area and kept telling me to shut the gate.


She noted I was not thinking fast enough to accomplish the task.


It looked impossible and so Judy got her BC and sure enough her dog took the commands and did it beautifully.


I went to try it again and this time I let the dog and sheep settle before I tried giving the commands fast enough when I noticed Flint working them on his own.


Then it hit me, I am standing at the gate, he knows where I want the sheep to go, maybe I should just shut up and see what happens.


You guessed it he got them through the gate without any commands.


His technique was different than Judy's and the geometry he used to keep them from getting into the feeding area was quite impressive.


Why wouldn't he be able to do it?


The dog is not stupid, he sees me at the gate, I don't know how to read sheep, I should just keep quiet and leave him alone.


Next I tried Jeddy and you could see his inexperience.


He knew what I wanted and was working on his own but he kept flanking them and all that did was give them time and space to get to the feeding area.


After three times I could see it wasn't going to happen and then I did something very strange.


I went and got Bart. Bart who displayed incredible talent when he was 9 months and then according to all the experts I ruined him teaching him behaviors: baseball, basketball, agility following a rope, sorting and reading.


I will admit he did quit herding for about 3 months.


Bart got them through the Gate without commands as well.


He used the same technique as Flint, although not as smooth (Flint is an 11 year old fully trained dog by Terry Parrish, Bart is 4, trained by me), but he was successful and forced them to enter the correct gate.


When I do my exhibitions I always start out with "we don't know how smart these dogs are", because our dominant sense is sight and theirs is smell.


I need to add "and because we don't know how smart they are" we under estimate them.


My experience yesterday proves it.


Bart's website http://www.k9baseball.com

Bob also posts political stuff at http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/UserInfo-Robert_Singer.html

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