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"Gathering" and "Holding"


coyotecreek
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This may be a fruitless question without being able to see the dog work in person..but Im going to try..

 

We have a new BC..he has IMMENSE drive, it is really very cool to watch him..

 

I put him on sheep for the first time the other day and, instead of simply "driving" the sheep around the roundpen like Kate does, he gathered them together in a small bunch and held them right in front of me. If I moved, he would move the sheep to being back in front of me. if one broke away, he'd head her off and drive her back to the group.

 

Impressive, but Id like to know if this possibly means he is going to be more of a gatherer versus a driver? Or was this simply the situation he was put in (as we werent out in a huge field where he could drive the sheep back to me.)Are some dogs more naturally inclined to doing one thing over the other? Im still waiting for my books to arrive..so Id love some insight.

 

We did use him on cattle the other day and he was VERY helpful in loading up a very ornery heifer who kept making a break for it..he has no prolems snapping in her face to get her to turn back and then driving her back into the wing for the trailer.

 

I am planning to start herding lessons with him soon, as its started to cool off abit now.

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[quote name='coyotecreek' timestamp='1286563993' post='370309'

I put him on sheep for the first time the other day and, instead of simply "driving" the sheep around the roundpen like Kate does, he gathered them together in a small bunch and held them right in front of me. If I moved, he would move the sheep to being back in front of me. if one broke away, he'd head her off and drive her back to the group.

 

Border Collies are natural gatherers. Bringing them to you in the round pen is what he's supposed to do. You should have moved and had him keep coming. You could then call him off, walk back a ways and send him again.

 

If you're not sure with what you're doing to start with, you're better off waiting until you've got some help or have had a few lessons. It's easier to prevent bad habits (on your part or the dog's) rather than have to fix them.

 

And congratulations on getting a new dog, do you have pictures?

Laura

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Hi Laura

 

I agree 100% on getting help and I do plan to start lessons..he needs abit of tuning up on down with "distractions", so we do have abit of "dry work" before we get into more serious stuff..Ive only trained heelers, this is quite a different experience for me..and even Kate doesnt show the amount of natural drive this dog does. I simply wanted to see what he would do with sheep in front of him, an instinct test of sorts?

 

So, does the gathering go hand and hand with the driving? If I had been further away, he wouldnt have been content unless he gathered and drove the sheep to me..I see alot of people talk about not starting their dogs in the roundpen and prefer to start in the open fields..is this basicaly the reason? Im simply looking for information so I can understand all this better..not to "train my dog over the internet" as Im sure many folks think they can... I have 2 trainers Im debating on going too for lessons and to possibly send him for stockdog training..I want him to be useful. Ive seen so many dogs who are suppossed to "help" who are actually more of a hinderence! I dont want that...just want to learn. I wish they had beginner clinics in my area..Id go to every one!

 

I also have another question. This wonderful dog, Fletcher, definantly shows apptitude for cattle..is it realistic to expect a BC to be able to work sheep AND cattle? Ive been told that some BC's simply cant..they are to passive for cattle or too "gung ho" for sheep...any thoughts?

 

Here is a pic of the new guy..a shelter pull whom I was fostering for a local rescue and decided to adopt..so I have limited info on him..but a great great dog..he fits very well into our lifestyle and family.

 

Fletcher N Kate

 

fletcher

 

the first and only time on sheep

Fletcher N Sheep

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Gathering and driving don't go hand in hand. Some dogs are more natural at the driving, but the gather is instinctive in Border Collies.

 

Your dog can work sheep & cattle. I have several who do and there are lots of others here on the boards who do both, either in everyday work or trialing.

 

I'm glad to hear that you've got a couple of people who are close enough to help you train-Texas is a pretty big place. Watch for clinics & trials that are close by. You can learn from watching others and maybe find other places to train too.

 

Good looking dogs!

Laura

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Hi CC ~

 

Fletcher is a handsome boy. :)

 

He's doing exactly what you want him to do. Personally, I dislike a round pen unless the dog is wild and dashing in, but that's my humble opinion and worth exactly one grain of salt. ;)

 

Is Katy an Aussie? Their working style is quite different from a border collie's. A BC is (generally) more of a gatherer, more rounded in the shape of his movements, and definitely compelled by an urge to gather up the sheep, bring them to you and hold them there.

 

It depends on the border collie whether driving will come naturally or not. My Nick is a powerful gatherer, but it was difficult to get him comfortable with the idea of pushing the sheep away from me. It's counter-intuitive, to him. But his younger sister, Gael, is already learning to drive at just 14 months. So it depends on the individual dog. I don't feel there's any right or wrong time to learn driving, just listen to your trainer and let it come at the dog's natural pace.

 

Also, it depends on the individual dog as to whether they can work both cows and sheep. There are some BC bloodlines that lean towards cattle work and they can be pretty tough dogs. Not always kind to sheep. But there are also BCs who work sheep well and also have a knack for cattle. My old Jesse is/was one of those, and when he matured, he could go straight from the "push" of working cows to the finesse of working sheep with no problem.

 

Some BCs, though, just aren't naturals with cattle. Cows require a much more forward, active style of working, often a judicious grip, and don't respond to eye. That's where some BCs fall short on cattle: they don't want to push in on a cow, don't care to grip, and they get stuck trying to "eye" a cow into moving. A cow will walk right over a dog with too much eye.

 

But if a dog can work both, great! However, for myself, if I plan to work a dog on both sheep and cows, I prefer to get him solid on sheep, before I really put him steady on cows. Sometimes a young dog gets over-excited with cattle and finds it hard to throttle-down for sheep, plus youthful exuberance could get him kicked before he's got his commands and good sense in order. Again, though, listen to your trainers. And above all, make sure you listen to your instincts and gut as to what trainer you go with.

 

Good luck and have fun!

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

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Some BCs, though, just aren't naturals with cattle. Cows require a much more forward, active style of working, often a judicious grip, and don't respond to eye. That's where some BCs fall short on cattle: they don't want to push in on a cow, don't care to grip, and they get stuck trying to "eye" a cow into moving. A cow will walk right over a dog with too much eye.

I disagree. I've found that working cattle can actually free up a dog with too much eye. But I haven't noticed cattle *not* responding to eye.

 

J.

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we werent out in a huge field where he could drive the sheep back to me

 

If I had been further away, he wouldnt have been content unless he gathered and drove the sheep to me.

 

I may be wrong but it sounds like there's a little confusion over terminology, which may be getting you responses that mean something different than what you're asking when you ask about a "gathering" dog versues a "driving" dog. Driving generally means to take the sheep AWAY FROM the handler, or to some spot that isn't the handler (for example, it might mean across a field to get to an open gate). The "gather" includes gathering all the sheep in a designated group or area and includes bringing them back to the handler. The bringing them to the handler part of the gather is generally referred to as the fetch.

 

Or maybe it's just me who's confused (as usual!) and everyone else is on the same page. :P

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Driving generally means to take the sheep AWAY FROM the handler, or to some spot that isn't the handler

Yes, this. And correspondingly, "fetch" generally means to bring the stock toward the handler.

 

I've found that working cattle can actually free up a dog with too much eye.

And this, absolutely! By nature of the way cattle move, they often require the dog to come a bit farther up on the shoulder to affect them; in addition, they don't stick to each other like glue the way sheep can and often do, so the dog needs to be freer moving, a bit flankier, if you will, to get them going and to keep them moving. I have found young dogs with "too much" eye, if worked regularly on cattle, will be much freer moving even on sheep, than if worked solely on sheep (did that sentence make sense?).

A

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It may be that the confusion on fetching vs. driving comes because at least some (well, one for sure) trainers will say that the fetch and the drive are the same thing from the dog's POV (that is, the dog is behind the sheep and pushing them somewhere, and whether that somewhere is toward or away from the handler is immaterial). I'm just noting this because it's been stated numerous times on another list I'm on and so it's entirely possible that whoever CC has worked with in the past has taken the same approach to work. (Note: not saying I agree with this, and to be fair, the trainer who takes this approach trains another breed).

 

In general, if someone were to ask me what border collies are WRT to stock, I would answer "gathering dogs." It's a generalization, but I think it's a fair one. This is the reason that the gather part of the trial course accounts for at least half the points available (or close to it) for the work. It's also the reason that silent gathers used to be (sadly, this seems to have largely gone out of practice) an accepted means of breaking ties in trials.

 

There are dogs who are natural drivers, and generally these dogs are also not natural outrunners (but beware of generalizations of course). I have a youngster right now who loves to drive and started at a very early age, but his outrun needs some work to get him to widen out. Even for dogs who are natural outrunners you will often see, in the beginning, a deterioration of the outrun when you start driving training in earnest.

 

As for CC's specific question about the round pen, certainly there wasn't much space for the dog to do anything more than hold the sheep to you. If it were me and I had a youngster doing what you described Kate doing, I would have been helping her to get around the sheep and bring them to me (in other words, the first thing I work on is getting a young dog to go *around* sheep--not push them along a fence line or hold them to a fence or anything). In a larger space, I'd imagine the dog would still go out and gather the sheep and hold them to you--there would just be more space for the dog to gather from, so I'm not sure I'm understanding your question about a larger space vs. a smaller space. Personally I work/train my dogs in both large and small spaces as I need them to be useful in both situations.

 

J.

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Some BCs, though, just aren't naturals with cattle. Cows require a much more forward, active style of working, often a judicious grip, and don't respond to eye. That's where some BCs fall short on cattle: they don't want to push in on a cow, don't care to grip, and they get stuck trying to "eye" a cow into moving. A cow will walk right over a dog with too much eye.

I found your comments very interesting. We have only cattle although Celt has been worked on both sheep (at training and clinics) and cattle (at home and at clinics). He isn't very pushy, has no grip (he can threaten but has rarely made contact - and I'm not sure who was most surprised when he did), and he uses his eye and can get stuck.

 

But, with our relatively easy cattle who are all dog-broke, his approach is often very effective in terms of calm, low-stress movement of cattle. He's especially good with the stock that have young calves. He puts himself on the edge of the bubble, so to speak, and calmly eyes the cow/calf pair. The cow (or first-calf heifer) watches back a moment or two, and then turns away and takes her calf in the direction Celt and I want her to go. If he gets even a little too close, she'll turn and face him. At that point, he'll release the pressure by lying down or turning his head slightly, and then she can feel comfortable moving off again. In generaly, he inspires trust and that's how we get the job done.

 

Of course, these are our cattle - pretty tame and not very aggressive. This works for us in most situations, but Celt does not have power and so can fall short when that is needed, as in pushing into the working pens (where he tends to flip off the pressure) or stopping a group that is determined to go elsewhere. When that happens, though, he flanks and (when they stop, which they do), he will approach them and turn them back and will get them going where we need them to go.

 

The cattle already realize that Dan is another kind of dog entirely. We'll see where that takes us...

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I disagree. I've found that working cattle can actually free up a dog with too much eye. But I haven't noticed cattle *not* responding to eye.

 

J.

 

 

Hi, Julie ~

 

You are of course absolutely right. I should have thought through my statement and been more clear. What I was thinking of is dogs who show a lot of eye, but who don't have the power to back it up. In such dogs, I've seen when a cow challenges that stare in a weaker dog, the dog can't hold his ground and gives way. The fault then of course is that the dog lacks power, and not with the "eye" itself. Working cattle definitely can free up a strong-eyed dog, as I've seen in the limited times I've had my Nick on cows.

 

My apologies for being careless with my explanation. :)

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

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Oops, it appears my alligator mouth has overridden my hummingbird a**, again. ;)

 

I realize now that, when I was writing my original post, the cows in the back of my mind were range cattle that we saw out on the big Nevada ranches over the years. Those cows weren't really dog-broke, only saw dogs occasionally, and would charge a dog - and mean it - if they got in the mood. And again, I'm speaking only of some dogs.

 

However, we've also been on family ranches where dogs are used all the time, and those cattle learn to respect dog and move off nicely. Soooo ... what's that saying, it's better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt? :blink: Again, my apologies for speaking in generalities and thereby presenting opinion as fact.

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

 

 

I found your comments very interesting. We have only cattle although Celt has been worked on both sheep (at training and clinics) and cattle (at home and at clinics). He isn't very pushy, has no grip (he can threaten but has rarely made contact - and I'm not sure who was most surprised when he did), and he uses his eye and can get stuck.

 

But, with our relatively easy cattle who are all dog-broke, his approach is often very effective in terms of calm, low-stress movement of cattle. He's especially good with the stock that have young calves. He puts himself on the edge of the bubble, so to speak, and calmly eyes the cow/calf pair. The cow (or first-calf heifer) watches back a moment or two, and then turns away and takes her calf in the direction Celt and I want her to go. If he gets even a little too close, she'll turn and face him. At that point, he'll release the pressure by lying down or turning his head slightly, and then she can feel comfortable moving off again. In generaly, he inspires trust and that's how we get the job done.

 

Of course, these are our cattle - pretty tame and not very aggressive. This works for us in most situations, but Celt does not have power and so can fall short when that is needed, as in pushing into the working pens (where he tends to flip off the pressure) or stopping a group that is determined to go elsewhere. When that happens, though, he flanks and (when they stop, which they do), he will approach them and turn them back and will get them going where we need them to go.

 

The cattle already realize that Dan is another kind of dog entirely. We'll see where that takes us...

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Thank you, Thank you!

 

Julie, you are correct in your assumption and this was based on training another breed, who works quite different then a BC...Im still learning proper BC terms, so please bear with me

 

I ask about cattle versus sheep, as in what Ive been told by people with border collies, is that, just as has been mentioned, some BC's are simply stronger on one over the other, as they can present different working styles that are needed. Before I started reasearching, I thought BC's were just used on sheep and ducks..I couldnt imagine a BC trying to eyeball a bull into moving..:)..but now I see there are alot of BC's used on cattle..my friend has one who is a tough dog and is quite competant at handling all types of cattle..I am hopefull Fletcher will be able to work both..cows for my husband and my sheep for me...but I guess only time will tell. a friend of ours has a BC who is very good at working cattle, espc range cattle..but is way to much for smaller stock, like sheep and goats.

 

We've been working alot on "basic commands"..away from stock obviously..getting his recall solid, "out", and "wait"..all things that every dog should know IMO..basic stuff, but stuff that will come in handy when we move onto stockwork. He knows it, but was abit rusty..Im proud to say all of them are coming along nicely..he is quite smart, but I shouldnt expect anything less..LOL

 

Sarah

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Oops, it appears my alligator mouth has overridden my hummingbird a**, again. ;)

 

I realize now that, when I was writing my original post, the cows in the back of my mind were range cattle that we saw out on the big Nevada ranches over the years. Those cows weren't really dog-broke, only saw dogs occasionally, and would charge a dog - and mean it - if they got in the mood. And again, I'm speaking only of some dogs.

 

However, we've also been on family ranches where dogs are used all the time, and those cattle learn to respect dog and move off nicely. Soooo ... what's that saying, it's better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt? :blink: Again, my apologies for speaking in generalities and thereby presenting opinion as fact.

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

Being as you are in Nevada, I didn't have any trouble guessing that the beef cattle you were more familiar with were not at all very like the beef cattle we are familiar with! :D Plus, ours are dog-broke, which can make a world of difference.

 

I would have probably done the same as you, spoken in the generalities with which I am familiar. ;)

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Here is a video with some BC's working cattle. The 2 red dogs are my Spritey's dad & 1/2 sister :D

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbLE72rMgcU

 

Here is a video of her litter brother working cattle in VA.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahptB8cF_OM

 

Sprite is not a hard dog at all. I have never worked her on cattle (I am afraid to get her hurt) but her breeder is very much a "cattledog" breeder, that's his thing. Based on my limited experience it seems like a good border collie would have the ability to work both cattle & sheep or whatever. They probably are better suited to one or the other & may not make both finals (unless they are Gin or Pete (Spritey's uncle??)) but certainly enough to help around the farm.

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her breeder is very much a "cattledog" breeder

Who's the breeder?

A

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Being as you are in Nevada, I didn't have any trouble guessing that the beef cattle you were more familiar with were not at all very like the beef cattle we are familiar with! :D Plus, ours are dog-broke, which can make a world of difference.

 

I would have probably done the same as you, spoken in the generalities with which I am familiar. ;)

 

 

Thanks, Sue. :)

 

But on these boards, I do want to be careful with my choice of words and how I present myself. I'm the farthest thing possible from an expert, where there are people around me who know a helluva lot more. But ... I know just enough to form occasional opinions, which sometimes might be best kept to myself until and unless I'm sure I've said what I meant to. :P

 

In other words, I'd hate to look like an idiot among people I might eventually meet on a trial field!

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

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Seeing a video of someone driving a truck while working a dog scares me way worse than actually working a dog on cattle (from a dog being hurt POV). I don't know how many dogs I've heard about being run over on the farm (one was my Twist's littermate, who worked a dairy farm), and it just makes me cringe to see them doing that.

 

If Pete is an uncle to your dog and the one in the video, then your dogs are related to my dogs, since Pete and Twist are half-sibs.

 

J.

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Seeing a video of someone driving a truck while working a dog scares me way worse than actually working a dog on cattle (from a dog being hurt POV). I don't know how many dogs I've heard about being run over on the farm (one was my Twist's littermate, who worked a dairy farm), and it just makes me cringe to see them doing that.

 

If Pete is an uncle to your dog and the one in the video, then your dogs are related to my dogs, since Pete and Twist are half-sibs.

 

J.

 

Yeah, I remembered why Aldie, VA sounded familiar...it is all over Sprite's pedigree- Tom Forrester & of course Kuykendall too. Her Dad is Sam & I believe he is a litter mate to Pete?? Or...maybe he is just the same breeding cross- what's the lingo?- same way bred? Because Sam just died this year & he was 11 or 12 I think. I would be surprised if Pete ran in the finals (sheep & cattle dog) at 11 or 12 but you never know.

 

I was sad to read on the website that Grizz- Sprite's litter brother- is "semi retired" due to arthritis & old injuries. If his attitude is anything like Sprite she is a no stop kind of dog, go-go-go, even if it on 3 legs. If Grizz is/was like that it would be easy to use him up quick because I have had to be really careful to keep her from hurting herself. Their mother was a bit hard headed like that too I'm told.

 

Did you see the loading bulls in the trailer video? It is 3 parts on youtube... the handler was so patient...I think I would've lost it. I think there are lots of great dogs lost to trucks & ATV on farms all the time. It is very sad for sure.

 

I am still working on getting Gilly's pedigree to see if I recognize any of the names...it's cool, like meeting new 'family" :D

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Cindy, thanks for sharing the videos! Wow, I don't think I've ever seen that many border collies on one herd of cows, as in that first vid! :P That said, though, when working cattle outside I like when there are at least 2 dogs to command the cows' respect.

 

Sprite's brother looks like a very fine fellow. :)

 

Though I agree, the dog dashing through a gate at the same time the truck rolled through kinda made me hold my breath for an instant... I'm pretty vehicle-phobic any more, when it comes to dogs.

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

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Yeah, I remembered why Aldie, VA sounded familiar...it is all over Sprite's pedigree- Tom Forrester & of course Kuykendall too. Her Dad is Sam & I believe he is a litter mate to Pete?? Or...maybe he is just the same breeding cross- what's the lingo?- same way bred? Because Sam just died this year & he was 11 or 12 I think. I would be surprised if Pete ran in the finals (sheep & cattle dog) at 11 or 12 but you never know.

It must be an earlier cross, because Pete should be coming 8 this year I believe (he's a year younger than my Twist). There was a previous cross--the one that produced Tom's Annie (now deceased), so it's likely Sam was from that cross. The connection between Tom's dogs and Henry's dogs is Henry's Imp. Mirk, who was Tom's Bud's sire. Bud is the sire of Pete and Twist and probably Sam?

 

It was interesting watching the video, because Grizz reminded me a lot of Twist.

 

J.

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It was interesting watching the video, because Grizz reminded me a lot of Twist.

 

That was exactly what I thought. :) Very cool! There were a few things about Grizz that reminded me of a certain Noodlehead too. In fact, before I didn't realize how the dog was bred until after I watched the video. As I was watching I thought, this dog MUST be related to Twist.

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It must be an earlier cross, because Pete should be coming 8 this year I believe (he's a year younger than my Twist). There was a previous cross--the one that produced Tom's Annie (now deceased), so it's likely Sam was from that cross. The connection between Tom's dogs and Henry's dogs is Henry's Imp. Mirk, who was Tom's Bud's sire. Bud is the sire of Pete and Twist and probably Sam?

 

It was interesting watching the video, because Grizz reminded me a lot of Twist.

 

J.

 

Grizz reminds me a lot of Sprite too. Which one (in your sig pix)is Twist? Yes, Bud x Maid are behind Sam. I don't like the thought of Sam & Annie being gone already...11 or 12 is not that old! :angry:

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