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keeping sheep away from the feed bunks

Dawn Bailey

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I have a training question for you all!


how do you train a dog to keep sheep off the grain feeders?


I had a dog that just did it before, so I never had to train it. My poor dogs now haven't a clue. I also think my grain and hay bunks are to spread out to let a dog really keep them off.


any suggestions??





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Guest PrairieFire

Hey Dawn -


I view this kinda like my "hold" command at a gate...it takes awhile and it takes "active" work...meaning that while training it, I really can't be doing the chore.


I stand with the dog - say, after filling the bunks and having pushed the stock into a holding area - and simply keep them off - gives the dog a great deal of work as well, keeping these little mobile stomachs off grain - and issue the "hold" command...


Gradually, as the dog responds, I might start walking farther away and doing a few other things - keeping a very close eye on the dog - until I can head off to the machine shed for some tools while the little darling holds an open gate...


I try to use as few commands - flanking, lie down, etc. - as I have to - I guess "hold", to me, should mean "keep the bastards out however you need to".


Make any sense?


I think some dogs are better at this than others - seems to me you need a dog that can focus on the entire bunch and not "track down" a wayward ewe or calf - that knows to just turn 'em rather than focus on 'em...

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I start out by gathering all the sheep up into a coherent bunch, and then asking the dog to drive them away over the crest of a hill so the sheep can't see me putting the feed out. I'll then call the dog back to the crest of the hill, lie it down, and tell it to walk up a little bit every now and then.


If I start to see sheep coming over the hill, I'll go and help the dog push them back down. If it gets too hopeless, I'll just call the dog to my side and ask it to keep the sheep from crushing me while I put out the feed.


I've never done this we a small group of sheep -- it's always been 400 to 600 animals. I think a small group would be very hard to hold in an open field.

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Actually it's not too bad - I use the same technique but my field is smaller so my dog ends up about halfway between me and the sheep to hold them. I let Rick stay on his feet rather than laying him down to give him more leverage when they start sneaking around and leaning on him.


The first few times, I had to stand out there and work the sheep off. Gradually they learned they couldn't win and they're pretty philosophical now - dog's here, we've got to wait out here. I can even go out with my other dogs that they COULD beat and they don't figure it out.

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