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First time on sheep--is she even a border collie?


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Yesterday I took my little red dog to sheep for the first time with a noted trainer and judge, who also judges AHBA events as well as Border Collie trials. She's a four-year-old rescue and has been a handful since I got her. We've made much progress in basic manners, but after much reading and consideration, I decided the best thing I could do for us both was to give her a chance to do what the breed is meant to do--herd sheep. And I sorta got the BC sheepherding bug from all the reading and viewing I was doing.

 

The results of her time with this trainer were: She was interested but moving like an Aussie, showing no eye or presence; she lost interest fairly quickly. And this trainer said she wasn't a Border Collie but an Aussie/Rough Collie cross most likely, "Nice little dog, though." I don't know her parentage; she came from a farm around here, owned by a family who neglected her, rescued by a neighbor and given to me. Understood to be a Border Collie! Every dog person we know (admittedly no other BC owners) believes she looks and acts like a Border Collie.

 

So I'm sort of sad. I will take her to a local Border Collie trainer for further attempts to see if any herding instinct emerges. From what I've read in these and other forums, if she IS a Border Collie, she could nevertheless lack the instinct, or it could kick in later. And if she's not, I could still train her to herd (but I've always thought that Border Collies are the gold standard for herding beauty and performance).

 

The bottom line is I love her, she's smart and has lots of energy, gets into a lot of trouble, and I want to find work for her that really turns her on.

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The bottom line is I love her, she's smart and has lots of energy, gets into a lot of trouble, and I want to find work for her that really turns her on.

I'm sorry it's not working out (so far) the way you'd like, but your bottom line is the most important line of all, and it seems you have your priorities straight.

 

Very best wishes!

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I think that you are making a good move by taking her to a BC specific trainer. It can't hurt. And it is true that not all BCs have a true nack for stock work. My Daisy is an example. She will move sheep around but you can tell she is "playing" more than working. I still work with her from time to time because I know she wants to work and maybe one day, I will be a better handler and can help her more. So, I do understand your disappointment in that....

 

But as you commented, the most important thing is that you love her. :rolleyes:

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Obviously we can't venture a guess as to whether she's a border collie or not without pictures or video, but I also don't think it matters, really. Whether she's a full BC or not, she may still eventually show enough instinct to work, and if so, hopefully the trainer would be willing to work with her. Mostly, I think that you can't tell much from the first and only time, so I would definitely try a few more times if you can go to the BC trainer, and see where that leads you! :rolleyes:

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I think that you are making a good move by taking her to a BC specific trainer. It can't hurt. And it is true that not all BCs have a true nack for stock work. My Daisy is an example. She will move sheep around but you can tell she is "playing" more than working. I still work with her from time to time because I know she wants to work and maybe one day, I will be a better handler and can help her more. So, I do understand your disappointment in that....

 

But as you commented, the most important thing is that you love her. :rolleyes:

 

 

What DaisyDoodle said - My Bandit is an example

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My old dog, an ABCA-registered, very well bred, "working" Border Collie, was fairly useless around sheep. He had a great outrun & gather, but from then on, he just gave up. He's much happier now that he's just a farm pet. (He's also going on 13, and retired from everything). His father was either first or second in the USBHCA finals one year... poor Mac just didn't get the right genes.

 

So, you may still have a Border Collie. Try again, too. Sometimes, they take a few times to get that they're supposed to move the sheep.

 

If she never turns on to sheep, there are a zillion other things to do that will satisfy that Border Collie need to DO something- agility, SAR, etc, etc.

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One exposure is nothing to get discouraged about. A lot of dogs get keener with more exposure. Maybe on your 4th or 5th visit

that little light bulb will flick on and away we go! Just get out there and have fun. I always get a kick out of it when you take your dog

to sheep and suddenly one day they get that look in their eye and you know they are thinking: Wow, I can make these things move

wherever I want to and I don't even have to chase or use teeth. The tail goes down, the ears come up and BOING the brain starts working.

Enjoy her, I bet she surprises you.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Update to my first message. First, THANKS for your comments. I appreciate them so much. Rose and I did visit a local Border Collie person. Rose maintained her interest this time, but was still running after the sheep mostly. But as Samantha and I were talking afterwards, we'd catch Rose crouching and moving toward the sheep. I took it as a good sign. Rose was also doing some other good things--listening to the trainer, and wasn't afraid to get between the sheep and the fence.

 

 

Next time we go, I'll go in the fence with Rose. Will also look for opportunities to let her watch other dogs work with sheep. Samantha also recommended this.

 

Wish us luck!smile.gif

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Mary,

 

I agree some dogs turn on watching other dogs work. It is also helpful for some dogs to 'work' with a trained dog moving sheep. One word of caution - if she is watching or working with another dog you need to be careful of any 'corrections' given to another dog while she is around. Some dogs even outside of the fence take those corrections to heart and feel like They are getting corrected. You sure do not want that if you are trying to encourage her and spark her interest. Keep an eye on her reactions, if she is turning her head away or turning her back to the 'action' make sure you take her away. Good luck

 

Denice

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