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Shedding question


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I watched the last three competitors in the finals yesterday. My first trial viewing - and it was dandy.

 

My question is: Are the handlers allowed to touch the sheep in the shedding ring? I almost went nuts watching the next to the last guy as the clock was ticking down to zero - too much suspense for me! But I heard the commentator say that since the sheep were grazing, it was hard to see which ones wore collars. Is it forbidden to pull on a sheep, for instance to cause it to lift its head? Or to physically move them over to separate them?

 

I know it's supposed to be stock work - a team effort between the dog and the handler - and I can see how the dog does its part by preventing the sheep from leaving the ring or from coming back in once they've been shed. But if this were not a trial, and the sheep were at home being separated for, say some kind of medicine or whatever, would the shepherd not just push them around a bit to help the dog?

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In USBCHA trials, the handler is forbidden from touching the sheep. That includes at the pen or the shedding ring. The handler is allowed to stomp, wave, jump up and down, etc at the sheep, but you can not touch them.

 

Yes, at home, I will indeed nudge sheep with the crook to move them along or get them to lift their head so I can read an eartag.

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In USBCHA trials, the handler is forbidden from touching the sheep. That includes at the pen or the shedding ring. The handler is allowed to stomp, wave, jump up and down, etc at the sheep, but you can not touch them.

 

Yes, at home, I will indeed nudge sheep with the crook to move them along or get them to lift their head so I can read an eartag.

 

Boy, that must be frustrating! And the dog... What must it think? (Why doesn't mom/ dad just shove that silly bugger over here? I'd have it on its way!) I imagine if the dog is a farm or ranch worker, it must seem a bit odd to them - sort of arbitrary - when the obviously stressed owner is there desperately trying to will the sheep to move into a more fortunate arrangement!

 

But then, my Doberman knew that her rules were changing when I put on her training collar. (Oh, now we do all that silly patterned nonsense mom is so crazy about.)

 

Do working stockdogs get a "trialing collar" for working "trial-style?" Or is it only the handler who has to behave differently at trials. I know dogs are penalized for biting a stroppy (or any other kind of) sheep at a trial. But is not a well-timed nip considered appropriate for dealing with a contentious ram or crabby ewe with a new baby at home?

 

PS. Thanks for your answer!

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Boy, that must be frustrating! And the dog... What must it think? (Why doesn't mom/ dad just shove that silly bugger over here? I'd have it on its way!) I imagine if the dog is a farm or ranch worker, it must seem a bit odd to them - sort of arbitrary - when the obviously stressed owner is there desperately trying to will the sheep to move into a more fortunate arrangement!

 

I'm not sure the dog thinks any differently. If I'm shedding sheep out in the field, say, to leave a few ewes w/ young lambs behind, I generally don't touch the sheep. When I'm up close enough to actually poke or prod a sheep, it's usually when I've already got the sheep in a small pen or held in a corner. I think to Nick, sheep are sheep, and work is work. He DOES know when people are clapping for him, though, but he loves attention anytime we're not working.

 

But then, my Doberman knew that her rules were changing when I put on her training collar. (Oh, now we do all that silly patterned nonsense mom is so crazy about.)

 

Do working stockdogs get a "trialing collar" for working "trial-style?" Or is it only the handler who has to behave differently at trials. I know dogs are penalized for biting a stroppy (or any other kind of) sheep at a trial. But is not a well-timed nip considered appropriate for dealing with a contentious ram or crabby ewe with a new baby at home?

 

PS. Thanks for your answer!

 

Nick pretty much never wears a collar, so no different equipment. I suppose maybe he knows we're doing something other than practical work when I'm standing at a post and we're only moving 5 sheep, but maybe not.

 

As for gripping, I have seen some judges let appropriate grips (ie, a sheep facing down a dog) go in the lower classes (Nov-Nov or Pro-Nov). I'm not sure if a judge would allow a grip in Open at all, though. And yes, again, in farm work, an appropriate grip is allowable (at least it is by me. I have some ewes who are such PITAs to pen, etc that I don't mind when Nick grips). I do not tolerate cheap shots on the flank, etc that are not warranted, though. Lots of dogs have a "take hold" command, too. Trialing is kind of the ultimate perfection, so you're held to a higher standard.

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I'm not sure the dog thinks any differently. If I'm shedding sheep out in the field, say, to leave a few ewes w/ young lambs behind, I generally don't touch the sheep. When I'm up close enough to actually poke or prod a sheep, it's usually when I've already got the sheep in a small pen or held in a corner. I think to Nick, sheep are sheep, and work is work. He DOES know when people are clapping for him, though, but he loves attention anytime we're not working.

Nick pretty much never wears a collar, so no different equipment. I suppose maybe he knows we're doing something other than practical work when I'm standing at a post and we're only moving 5 sheep, but maybe not.

 

As for gripping, I have seen some judges let appropriate grips (ie, a sheep facing down a dog) go in the lower classes (Nov-Nov or Pro-Nov). I'm not sure if a judge would allow a grip in Open at all, though. And yes, again, in farm work, an appropriate grip is allowable (at least it is by me. I have some ewes who are such PITAs to pen, etc that I don't mind when Nick grips). I do not tolerate cheap shots on the flank, etc that are not warranted, though. Lots of dogs have a "take hold" command, too. Trialing is kind of the ultimate perfection, so you're held to a higher standard.

 

I reckon a dog that is accustomed to working cows will be more apt to grip... Cows can be pretty ornery.

 

Thanks for your help understanding. Can't wait to go to my first trial in person!

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Geonni,

I imagine most of us at home touch sheep, push them, etc., but since a trial is supposed to showcase the best work and to showcase the work the dogs do, it makes sense to not allow the handler to touch the sheep (especially at the pen, where the handler and dog should work together to get the sheep in--that is, the handler shouldnn't be shoving them in with the gate as that only shows the handler's strength at shoving sheep with a gate). The dog does know its job when shedding. The international shed that you were watching is different from the regular sheds/splits/singles seen in the preliminary rounds. For the latter you make one cut and the dog comes in and holds the sheep you indicate. For the international shed, the dog and handler work on oppposite sides of the sheep more like a gate. The dog's job is to stay on its side and allow the sheep the handler wants to release to go, while preventing the sheep the handler wants held from leaving to join the released sheep, preferably without coming directly in front of the group of sheep still being worked in the ring.

 

One thing that's neat about these dogs is that they do learn the shed, and know when you're working a shed and will work to help you. I love the fact that at least two of my open dogs will work the shed with me, with me having to give only minimal commands. Same at the pen. That's why I always tout practical work as well--dogs learn jobs and it doesn't matter if that job is at home or at a trial, they will do their part if they have learned what their part is.

 

If I'm in a hurry at home, I wouldn't even bother about shedding in an open field; I'd gate sort, and with gate sorting, you're doing plenty of touching of the sheep, lol!

 

There is no special collar the dog wears to tell him he's at a trial. I think the dogs clearly know there's something different (trial atmosphere is different), but it's also just work to them.

 

J.

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As for gripping, I have seen some judges let appropriate grips (ie, a sheep facing down a dog) go in the lower classes (Nov-Nov or Pro-Nov). I'm not sure if a judge would allow a grip in Open at all, though.

Appropriate grips are allowed in open. If you followed Heather's tweets at the finals, some grips were allowed and others were DQed. Scott's dog Don at the end was clearly gripping out of frustration and had caught the sheep on the side and was rightfully DQed. But for the runs where the dogs backed the sheep into the pen (Wendy and Tommy), had any of those ewes charged/jumped at the dog, then a grip and release to the sheep's nose likely would have been allowed. It really is a judgment call for the judge.

 

I had Bobby Dalziel tell me at a trial one time that he let my dog's grip go because the ewe we drew in our run had faced off dog after dog and won. She did it to my dog, who tried to stare her down to no avail and then hit her once quickly on the nose and let go. The ewe turned and we continued on the course. The stand off ate up enough time that we timed out in the shedding ring, but Bobby made a point of telling me he had not DQed us because the ewe had challenged the dog (and clearly had been challenging every dog that got her in a packet, so the challenge wasn't the fault of the dog for being too pushy or harrassing the ewe), the dog had tried to move the sheep by walking in on her, and then the dog had chosen to grip properly (i.e, I didn't tell her to do it).

 

J.

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Dear Sheepdoggers,

 

The justified grip is rare; extremely rare if the sheep are sound and numerous enough they aren't "over-run". Julie's Bobby Daziel example seems like such an (all=too-common, alas) occasion. With a dog good enough to reach the Finals, most grips are frustration.

 

Re collars: the dogs that travel/trial with me wear their collars even at home on the farm. I have seen collars hung on the gate into the field for a dog who never wears one at home.

 

I have seen Scottish dogs beside their handlers on loops of baling twine. It pleases me that some sheepdogs spend their lives without wearing a collar.

 

Donald McCaig

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I have seen Scottish dogs beside their handlers on loops of baling twine.

Baling twine is the Rogz among the the working BCs :rolleyes:.

 

When I watched the Supreme Champion there was a couple of times where the question was whether it was a grip. A couple of dogs snapped during the pen, but the judges decided there was no contact - hence no grip. That's how I understood it. The snapping of the jaws was very clear in the vid, and then the announcer would say it wasn't a grip.

 

I am not sure if I am doing right, but I try to make as many things as possible the same at home and "ona visit" - a clinic, or training. So I make sure that collar is the same and the leash.

 

Maja

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