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What do you do with dog-hating, stubborn sheep?


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Help! I'll be the first to admit that Blaze doesn't have the training (on or off stock) that he should have - and it's my fault, but what do I do with sheep that flat out refuse to be worked? I'm down to about 15 brood ewes (some with lambs) that would rather eat a dog than look at it. Some stomp, some even charge (lambs or not), and as a group, I've seen a couple look up when he does an out-run, then go back to grazing. Doesn't matter how fast or slow, how close, or anything else that Blaze does, he can't budge them. If they do bolt, he can head them and stop them, but only if something gets them moving (occasionally, he manages to startle them into motion).


He'll be 1-yr-old Dec. 5, so while I'd love to have stock-broke sheep, that just isn't possible (don't have any or have room/money for if I could find some). I also don't have an older dog, or know of anyone that has one that can come put some respect into these old girls. They move for me, but of course, he heads them when I come around to get them moving - and I fear what damage I'm doing when I push them past him to try to get them where I want. I don't correct him for heading them, but still cringe when I have to move them past him. If they're moving, he does help direct them once he figures out where I want them, but he doesn't want to bring them to me. I figure that's a combo of being young with un-cooperative sheep. I even tried sneaking out to put feed in for them tonight, then sent Blaze out for them as I called them in to eat. Would you believe not one of those bleepity-bleep sheep even looked my way? Changing sheep isn't an option (except in a few cases) because they're the reason I have a B.C. - I raise and show registered ewes, so I can't trade sheep to suit the dog.


Anyone out there have a trained dog that needs a challenge? These are big, Rambouillet ewes that like to hold their ground and deserve to be taught a lesson.


Thanks for any help, advice, or encouragement.

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Can you borrow a dog from someone? Lease? You really need a dog that will teach those girls some respect! I feel your pain - I had a similiar problem (not quite that bad) until I sent one dog away for training and borrowed an old trial dog meantime.


My sheep are Dorset/Rambo/Suffolk plus a couple Border Leisters so I know what you're talking about.




Brook Cove Farm, NC

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Guest Charles Torre

Been there.


I just got some Navajo churros. Completely wild; fresh off the range. A couple of the ewes are fighters. I don't think I'd put a young dog into too many situations like that unless the situation was very carefully managed. And even then I'm not so sure. In my case, we have worked things out pretty well, but it did take a few grips to get the rules established with these ewes. For my dogs, who are a little more seasoned than yours is I guess, it's been a good experience. Now when they meet other sheep that are generally cooperative, the dogs really seem to work in a more relaxed confident manner since they have figured out how to handle the more troublesome situations.


That reminds me of something amusing that happened recently. I have two dogs, one who is 3 and I trained myself, and I have a 5 year old I just bought who is almost fully trained. (Working the former is like driving your beat up old car. You know the car well, its limitations and strengths, and you know how to get things done. But the car has lots of little problems. Working the latter trained dog, on the other hand, is like driving a new Cadillac. But I digress.) Anyway, I was moving about 10 of these churros out of the home pasture into a bigger field for training. At first I had both dogs out there; they were just pushing them toward the gate. One of those ewes turned to challenge my young "Yugo" dog. In the past I have worked so hard to keep this dog from gripping that she normally will not use that method to turn the ewe around. (Ahh. Hindsight.) Instead she just dodges the attack and then swings back into position until the ewe finally gives up. The other "Cadillac dog" was further away, lying down, not really in contact. When the ewe charged my 3 year old, my older dog ran over, gave that ewe a nice, quick shot, and then ran back to where she was and laid down. I could almost hear her say, "Watch and learn, youngster."




P.S. That "Cadillac" dog, Wink, got her initial training from Red Oliver, I think. She is the grandaughter of Amanda Milliken's Eucher, who placed 16th in this year's National Finals. I'm getting quite an education from Wink.



[This message has been edited by Charles Torre (edited 11-26-2002).]

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Hi there,


If you can't get an experienced dog to dog-break your sheep, there is a another way. When we started working dogs, there was no one in the county that worked dogs. Everything we learned was from videos, books and clinics when we could afford to travel 6 hours or more to get to one. We used to have to lasso (I'm serious) sheep, one by one, put them in a horse trailer and take them 1/4 mile to the arena so we could train our dogs- none of whom at the time could do a simple wear. Kristine (Decentls) used to bring hay or grain and taught her sheep to follow her. They got really really broke to that and once the sheep were with the program, it was ten times easier to work the dogs. Of course now we have timing and experience, and old dogs to start pups properly, but when you live in a stockdog wasteland, you do alot of improvising. Can you break up the ewes in small groups, especially the ewes that seem to be the leaders, and get them conditioned? Once you have at least half of the group conditioned to follow the handler, the rest will be alot easier to convince.




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Guest PrairieFire

Jaime has some good advice, as does Charlie...


I'd loan you Roy, but he likes to crawl in my lap and he'd miss me...but he'd probably give that up to school a few reluctant ewes...especially Ramboulliets...he likes that big chunk of leg, it's an easy target...


The seperating them out, a few at a time, helps - as does avoiding putting unnecessary pressure on them until they get a bit more dog wary.


Have you tried just working, say 3 at a time, out away from most of the normal draws? And if you have, what happened?


Sometimes working with the dog can help dog break a bit as well...Rambos (in the midwest)can be REAL stupid about dogs unless they've been schooled..and working up close with the dog can help.





Bill Gary

Kensmuir, Working Stockdog Center

River Falls, WI



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Thanks everyone for the advice. Normally, I don't separate the ewes out (sometimes we work our way down to smaller numbers as we manage to get a few into the barn (or wherever) bit by bit, but I haven't just cut out a few to work. It is a good idea I'll have to try.

As for getting them to follow - well, almost every one of these old girls is a retired show sheep - and they know every trick in the books and then some (all of us that show swear that the sheep get together in the barns at night and trade secrets on how to irritate your owner). They know if I come past the feeder with the feed bucket that I want something and it can't be good - that's when they turn into psycho sheep. Over the years, I've sold off the biggest nut cases, but someone just as crazy always seems to surface to take their place. And yes, I too have considered using a lasso - just never have - yet. Catching some of them with a crook can be quite a roller-coaster ride (cheaper than the carnival, too).

We'll keep plugging - I have several books and tapes, too. I do know some herding people - just they all live 2-1/2 hours or more away and probably wouldn't want to come break sheep. In the spring, I might look into trying to find some dog-broke sheep. I know of some people that may have some that if nothing else, maybe they'd trade some lambs for them. Thanks again everyone.

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