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RoseAmy
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It probably works for many breeds of dog whose herding instincts have been bred out of them in favor of other things, like looks.

 

J.

 

But isn´t the question if this "dry work" could be beneficial in training dogs with (even good) natural herding instincts?

 

As you know, I am a total novice at this, my feeling ( and what I have read and been thaught) is that herding commands should be trained on stock, the dog should learn the relevance for the command in connection to the reaction of the sheep

(Also I think frishbees don´t flock very well :rolleyes: ).

 

That said, a friend of mine has to bc´s and has used a ball to train directional commands (away/come by) with some success.

It´s a hard plastic ball (used on fishing nets), the dogs push it around with their noses. He stops the dogs, pushes the ball with his foot, gives the command, the dog moves in an "outrun" around the ball, stops it and pushes it back.

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Thanks for the link, RoseAmy. I found this sentence to be especially interesting:

 

"Livestock can be a major distraction when trying to teach a dog to perform stops and to take flanking commands."

 

Oh, brother!!!

 

nancy

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Thanks for the link, RoseAmy. I found this sentence to be especially interesting:

 

"Livestock can be a major distraction when trying to teach a dog to perform stops and to take flanking commands."

 

Oh, brother!!!

 

nancy

 

Well, I bet my dog would listen to and comply with every single thing I tell him to do if I worked him out in the field with no annoying livestock to distract him. In fact, I bet we could work just as well in my living room!

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Thanks for the link, RoseAmy. I found this sentence to be especially interesting:

 

"Livestock can be a major distraction when trying to teach a dog to perform stops and to take flanking commands."

 

Oh, brother!!!

 

nancy

 

Why "oh brother", the expert on this forum has stressed on more than one occasion teaching the dog a stop before introducing it to stock, that would be "dry work".

It´s easy to dismiss non conventional, but I like to keep an open mind and still wonder, could aspects of these kind of training have a place in herding training, or are there good arguments against it, also see my post above this one.

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Smalahundur, my "oh brother" is because the primary goal in training a dog to work stock is to have the dog use its natural ability to read and control the stock. The sentence I quoted stated that "livestock can be a major distraction" when teaching stops and flanks, but when properly utilized, it is the stock that teaches the dog the reason for stops and flanks. Most trainers utilize the movement of the stock to help teach commands to the dog, simply by adding the command to what the dog is doing naturally.

 

Using dry work, you could teach ANY dog to stop, go right, go left, and walk up, but that wouldn't make it a stockdog. However, that dog may be able to move a few well-dogged sheep around a novice trial field. For dogs with minimal talent and ability, commands taught using dry work would allow the dog to accomplish something on stock. But, if a handler needs to tell the dog every move to make, that dog would be fairly useless for real stockwork.

 

Regards,

nancy

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It's not clicker training and I doubt they'd use any of the methods in that article, but dry training is quite common in NZ, among professional stockmen with working bred dogs. A couple of the triallers in the top 17 at the last World Trial were Kiwis who (I understand) do a fair bit of dry training.

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Why "oh brother", the expert on this forum has stressed on more than one occasion teaching the dog a stop before introducing it to stock, that would be "dry work".

It´s easy to dismiss non conventional, but I like to keep an open mind and still wonder, could aspects of these kind of training have a place in herding training, or are there good arguments against it, also see my post above this one.

 

There's no doubt you can teach directional commands off stock.

 

Opinion among top trainers seems to be divided on whether or not teaching a stop off stock before taking a dog to stock is necessary or even a good idea. Some trainers want a good stop and recall on young dogs before taking them to sheep. Some don't, preferring to teach the stop after they have the dog working.

 

My guess is that, as with most things stockdog related, the really good trainers can teach a dog to work sheep without a stop because they can read dogs and sheep like a nursery book. For the rest of us, a good stop is a necessary crutch and that is why some trainers require it as a first step. For some people, it would appear, sheep are an unnecessary distraction.

 

You can teach directional commands off stock. It won't do any good the first time you take a dog to sheep if the dog has any level of keenness at all.

 

Conversely, you don't need a dog to know side commands (come-bye, away-to-me) to have it work sheep for the first couple of weeks. If the dog has any talent, just you moving off the balance point causes the dog to move in the direction you want to come back to balance. Once that is working, putting a command to it, or a whistle, is easy. So, while you can teach directional commands off sheep, you aren't gaining much by doing so.

 

Dogs' learning is contextual so if you teach a dog that "come-bye" means "move clockwise to get the toy I just threw to you" you will still have to teach the dog that "come-bye" also means "go clockwise around the sheep keeping enough distance between you and the sheep so as not to disturb them and don't stop until you are on balance or until I tell you to" because even though the direction of travel is the same, the actual behaviors are completely different. There is no "balance point" with a toy, and the object is to fetch the toy, whereas with stock the object to a flank is to not move the stock while changing position.

 

Obedience to commands is only part of the training for stock work, and a smaller part. The greater part is teaching the dog a feel for sheep, something the dog can only learn by doing, and by making mistakes. It's a necessary part of training for young dogs to run around until they wear themselves out busting up the sheep. By doing so, they learn that this is an ineffective way of controlling livestock.

 

I went out to train my dogs last week. I worked the younger dog on some driving with a group of 20 or so ewes and lambs. When we were finished, I had him drive the sheep through a forested dry creek bed, up and over a hill, and leave them there to graze. I got the older dog, who didn't see where the sheep were put, and took him about 500 yards from the sheep. He couldn't see them. I couldn't see them. I sent him on the gather. He went through the trees, kicked out looking, kept going over the hill. I saw him bring the sheep over the hill and on a direct line to my feet but they dropped out of sight in the trees. It was taking a very long time, longer than it ought to. Just as I was about to give up and go see where he was, the sheep came out of the trees with the dog way behind. I gave the first flank I had given and he didn't take it. He sat down (not lay down but sat). I knew what that meant because he'd done it before. I walked over there and, sure enough, there was a lamb lying in the long grass. He was marking the spot by sitting (nothing he'd been taught). So, the reason he took so long on the fetch was that he was babying this lamb along while keeping the rest of the sheep on line. This is because he has a good sense of pace and feel for livestock. You cannot teach that off stock. It develops from day 1 with stockwork.

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I don't think the type of dry training for teaching flanks described at: http://www.clickertr...dingDrywork.htm would be very useful for stockdog training. However,

 

dry training is quite common in NZ, among professional stockmen with working bred dogs. A couple of the triallers in the top 17 at the last World Trial were Kiwis who (I understand) do a fair bit of dry training.

 

In the past we've been acquainted with actual stockmen from Down Under who used dry work for starting young dogs effectively. A lot of bird dog trainers also use dry training for teaching certain skills to their hunting dogs.

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WOW !! That's great !!! I can't wait on the next lessons: "How to teach the outrun using meatballs." !!! LOL

 

"Dry Work" is great to work on recall and down at a distance.

 

In my opinion what makes stockdog work different from obedience is that a dog HAS to use it's brains and natural instincts. If you take that away it's no more than obedience with livestock.

 

 

Wow the things you can "learn" while bored surfing the internet!

http://www.clickertraining.biz/herdingDrywork.htm

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I don't think the type of dry training for teaching flanks described at: http://www.clickertraining.biz/herdingDrywork.htm would be very useful for stockdog training. However,

In the past we've been acquainted with actual stockmen from Down Under who used dry work for starting young dogs with great success. A lot of bird dog trainers also use dry training for teaching certain skills to their hunting dogs.

 

 

I'd be interested in learning what exactly they are teaching off stock. Not that I doubt that they do, just haven't seen it done by any stockmen over here and it would be interesting to see how it works.

 

Bird dog trainers can train with dummies to teach retrieval and hand signals as I understand it from the few conversations I've had with hunters who've trained their own dogs. A lot of them use shock collars ( sorry "e-collars") for training too. I think it's too different to apply to stockdogs.

 

Sure you can teach a down and a recall at a distance off stock, but that's not really stockwork. That's obedience training.

 

I live in the city. I like to take my dogs out off leash. A reliable down and recall are essential to them not getting hit by cars or me getting tickets from the park police, so they learn that as puppies. In my personal experience, that reliable down and recall go out the window the first few times on stock and need to be retaught. Even a dog that will lie down 10/10 times off stock will ignore that command on stock the first few times if the stock are moving and if he is any kind of a decent dog.

 

Pearse

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Hello everyone,

 

Dave wrote, "In my opinion what makes stockdog work different from obedience is that a dog HAS to use it's brains and natural instincts. If you take that away it's no more than obedience with livestock."

 

Good one, Dave, "obedience with livestock". And, that is exactly what I have seen when watching some novice handlers with dogs that have little natural talent.

 

Regards,

nancy

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Good one, Dave, "obedience with livestock". And, that is exactly what I have seen when watching some novice handlers with dogs that have little natural talent.

 

Regards,

nancy

I think you can see some fairly "successful" handlers with dogs that have little talent or drive, but great obedience - when their handlers can put them in the right place and the sheep cooperate. When you see (particularly) folks whose dogs excel at the AKC venue when they are barely treading water in the lower level (Eastern Nov/Nov, Pro-Nov, or maybe Ranch) ISDS-style trials, it makes you wonder what is being proven "successful" - the handler or the dog, obedience, or the venue?

 

That said, I'm the last person who should criticize anyone else's methods and/or successes, having little of either of my own.

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Hi Sue,

 

Your post is very well-stated, and I imagine that it all comes down to how one defines "success". For me, success is definitely not defined by having an obedient dog that needs to be told every move to make in order to earn titles at non-ISDS style herding events.

 

Regards,

nancy

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I'd be interested in learning what exactly they are teaching off stock. Not that I doubt that they do, just haven't seen it done by any stockmen over here and it would be interesting to see how it works.

They teach most of the basic work- stops, directions, steady, walk up and reverse.

 

At the clinic I went to with a NZ handler, we were shown how to start with the dog on a leash facing us, and using body movement and a short stick/plastic bag/small branch to get the dog to stop, reverse, walk forwards and move both ways. In that training method they train the dog to move left and right rather than clockwise/anticlockwise. So if the dog is running clockwise and you want them to kick out, you give them a left command, and if you want to bring them in, you give a right command. To continue on their path, you use a "run" command.

 

You start them on sheep once they have some of those basics, in a small field/large yard, but then advanced training involves the use of a long line strung around poles (almost like a sort of pulley system) to get the dog taking its side commands (left and right). This sort of training method is used for both heading dogs (border collie types) and huntaways, even though the work they do is very different.

 

It isn't very common in Australia- I know a few trainers who teach stops dry, and reversing is best taught dry, but most people here train just on stock from the start. NZ trainers seem to use dry training much more, and very successfully. From what I've been told, most of the NZ dogs (and the Australian rep dogs, run by a former Kiwi) at the last World trial were dry trained this way.

 

I don't disagree that much of what a sheepdog needs to know must be learnt by time on stock (preferably actually working, rather than just training), but this isn't mutually exclusive with dry training.

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I'd be interested in learning what exactly they are teaching off stock. Not that I doubt that they do, just haven't seen it done by any stockmen over here and it would be interesting to see how it works.

 

The book, Working Dogs: Training for Sheep and Cattle by Colin Seis (page 63) talks about using a mechanical method as an effective way to teach flanking commands. The dog is attached to a large wheel (rotating pole) opposite the trainer. "To use this method to train direction: Attach your dog to the rotating frame, take hold of the opposite end and walk the pole to the 9 o'clock position. While moving give the command for clockwise bye." Admittedly, the author states that some dogs object to being pulled around in that manner. He affirms the better method to teach direction is to use dog’s instinct to balance to teach direction.

 

Even though I grew up working stockdogs I didn't actually start learning how to train until 1967. My first training book was the Purina Farm Dog Book. It illustrated a method of using pulleys to teach directional commands. I tried it, but quickly abandoned the idea. It was very awkward. It wasn't until much later when I met Carl Bradford (featured in the book working his Border Collies) that I learned the training methods described - were not his - but were written by someone else. Fortunately, we met Lewis Pence who taught us how to use a dog’s natural instincts on stock to teach flanks - which I still believe is the ideal and most efficient way.

 

While we have always been privileged to have sheep not everyone is as fortunate. In that scenario I can understand how someone -even though they may prefer to use stock – might try other methods in order to lay some type of groundwork so they can maximize opportunities when they are able to train with stock. One of the best examples is Red Oliver. I first met Red when he attended a clinic I gave in New Mexico. He was just getting started and he didn’t have stock of his own and didn’t have regular access to sheep or cattle. He used some interesting and creative ways to introduce the commands to his dog which he honed when he put him on stock.

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Full disclaimer: Most of what I know about sheep and herding fits into the period at the end of this sentence.

Second disclaimer: The cabernet (just one glass...) that I just finished was very good.

 

But while I do NOT propose that clicker training for herding makes any sense (and I have done some clicker training for OTHER behaviors...) - I find it interesting that herding folk (said with all due respect) "pooh-pooh" the idea of "obedience on stock." While I do understand how instinct plays an important and valuable role in herding....why, then, do "handlers" (why are they called that, in this case?) who do some phenomenal trialing - constantly blow their whistles?? I may be totally missing something here (see disclaimers above) - but it would seem to a non-herding folks type, that the dog is constantly getting information (vs. "commands" ??) -

--slow down

--go left

--walk up

--LIE DOWN!

--walk up

--move right

--move faster

--LIE DOWN! (said with a smiley face of course...)

 

So - and I'm asking this, in order to learn, really I am: what is the difference between the constant whistling, and "obedience on stock?"

 

diane

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Full disclaimer: Most of what I know about sheep and herding fits into the period at the end of this sentence.

Second disclaimer: The cabernet (just one glass...) that I just finished was very good.

 

But while I do NOT propose that clicker training for herding makes any sense (and I have done some clicker training for OTHER behaviors...) - I find it interesting that herding folk (said with all due respect) "pooh-pooh" the idea of "obedience on stock." While I do understand how instinct plays an important and valuable role in herding....why, then, do "handlers" (why are they called that, in this case?) who do some phenomenal trialing - constantly blow their whistles?? I may be totally missing something here (see disclaimers above) - but it would seem to a non-herding folks type, that the dog is constantly getting information (vs. "commands" ??) -

--slow down

--go left

--walk up

--LIE DOWN!

--walk up

--move right

--move faster

--LIE DOWN! (said with a smiley face of course...)

 

So - and I'm asking this, in order to learn, really I am: what is the difference between the constant whistling, and "obedience on stock?"

 

diane

 

Stock people don't pooh-pooh obedience on stock. They require it. Often, what the dog thinks is the right thing is not what you want. The dog must understand that if you blow a come-bye, he needs to take it even if he thinks staying where he is is the best choice. What stock people don't want is a dog that cannot do anything without a command. A dog with no talent can get around an easy trial course if it is obedient as long as the stock are not that tough. Absent the control of the handler though, and that dog is useless on its own. A dog like that is no good for real work where it will have to work on its own. If I have sheep in the woods, I need the dog to go in and fetch all of the sheep. I can't see them therefore I can't give commands. The dog needs to be able to work on his own to gather all of the sheep and bring them out of the woods.

 

At a trial, the dog is constantly getting information because trials are all about precision. The handler and the dog are a team. The team is trying to move livestock around a course without straying off an imaginary line. The dog needs to be told where the imaginary line is. The dog uses his instinct and training to keep the sheep together and keep them moving. The handler tells the dog where the sheep need to be moved to.

 

In daily work, much of the work can be done without commands. I can send a dog to gather 150 sheep in a field and know that he will bring 150 sheep to my feet, more or less in a straight line, without a single command from the time he leaves my feet. I can ask him to drive the sheep away, and he will take them in a straight line, more or less,without a command, until I ask him to stop . If I walk in front of the sheep, he will bring them along behind me without a single command.

 

In daily work, I'll use commands to tell the dog to do things he wouldn't otherwise do by instinct. For example, if I don't want the sheep brought to my feet, but on a 45 degree angle from where he picks them up to a gate into the yard, I'll use commands. If the dog can't see the sheep from where he is, but I can, I'll use commands to direct him on to the sheep.

 

Trialling is a whole different ball game. The team is being judged on keeping the sheep on line, on the pace the sheep are moving at, and at making it through various obstacles. To do that well, requires constant information between the dog and the handler (and yes the dog gives information back to the handler, not through whistles but certainly through body language). That is why trials are so mentally demanding on dogs. You can work a dog all day in the heat doing chores and he'll never need to go to cool off in a stock tank. Ten minutes on a trial course and that same dog is worn out.

 

The difference between team work on stock and obedience on stock is that the dog who has no natural talent needs to be told exactly what to do all of the time. Out of sight of the handler (on a blind fetch) or when dealing with difficult stock, that dog is lost. A good dog can think for himself. He'll work with a human partner, but he'll work without one too and get the job done. I gave one example of that in an earlier post but here's another.

 

There was a great trial in Wisconsin called the Caledonia SDT. The outrun was 750 yards. The last 300 yards of that was down into a valley across the valley bottom, and up the other side. After the lift, the sheep disappeared from sight for close to a minute. The sheep would veer right into the trees given their druthers. An obedient dog would either follow the sheep or lie down and wait for commands but the handler couldn't see dog or sheep. A good dog would know where the last time he heard a whistle from was and would bring the sheep to that spot. The fetch panels were at the top of the hill. If the dog was offline, no way were you making the fetch panels. I saw lots of good dogs put their sheep bang in the middle of the panels. I should also add that there was a fence on the left side of the outrun with a small gate in it. If you sent left, you needed to tell the dog where the gate was. The dog needed to take the bend out whistle to find the gate.

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I couldn't have said it better myself .... great post ...

 

 

Stock people don't pooh-pooh obedience on stock. They require it. Often, what the dog thinks is the right thing is not what you want. The dog must understand that if you blow a come-bye, he needs to take it even if he thinks staying where he is is the best choice. What stock people don't want is a dog that cannot do anything without a command. A......../........ I saw lots of good dogs put their sheep bang in the middle of the panels. I should also add that there was a fence on the left side of the outrun with a small gate in it. If you sent left, you needed to tell the dog where the gate was. The dog needed to take the bend out whistle to find the gate.
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