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Hard to move ram=weird behavior


coyotecreek
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To start, we have been, the past few months, taking stockdog lessons approx once a week-2 weeks. Fletcher is doing well, really well, and I am proud of him. We are at the point of establishing commands now that I have control.

 

I used him this weekend to move some sheep (one ewe and a ram) into a small holding pen and hold them while their gate was open to move some equipment out. Figured this would be a good way for him to test his newfound skills.

 

The ewe is extremly respectful of him..moves immediatly with just eye. the ram on the other hand..is the polar opposite. He is a coming yearling..and really doesnt like Fletcher. He would not move and actually bowed up at Fletcher. What happened next was the weird behavior. Fletcher started jumping around him and actually jumped on his shoulder..like dogs would do in play with one another..his tail was even wagging!

 

It worked though and made the ram move his feet. Ram ended up butting him and, in typical fashion, when Fletcher gets mad, he gets "mean"..he got him moving, then nipped at his flanks and drove him into the holding pen.

 

I called him out. in abit Im ready to move them back out. Ram is extremly respectful now, just eye moves him..no bowing or butting...and Fletcher responded by not "nagging" or "going after" him..worked "normaly"

 

So, in the end, the job got done..but the tail wagging and jumping has me stumped. I talked with one of my great instructors this AM..and she felt Fletcher was just trying "everything he could think of" to move that ram..that when an animal bows up, they warrant a nose bite..espc a ram..that they must respect a dog. She mentioned BC's arent always the strongest in this area. I know Fletcher can, as I saw him do it to a heifer who broke off when being loaded...so Im kinda surprised he didnt resort to it in this situation.

 

So, I guess my questions are follows

 

-have any of you seen your BC's do the behavior I describe above, espc when green?

-How many of your BC's are profeicient at "backing it up" with a bowed up animal (nose bite if needed)?

-and..if this was your situation, would you work this ram more regularly, to establish a level of respect in him for a dog, so when he is fullgrown, hes not a beast?

 

I will answer my own questions and tell me if Im spot on..or way off..:)

-Green dog type behavior

-I think some are..from what Ive seen and been told, you can "train" one to turn it up a notch as well?

-the ram needs to be worked once a week at least so fletcher can establish a level of respect with him and make him easier to handle and work with dogs (he is "fine" with people..right now..that could change)

 

Fletcher is a tough cookie..and is turning into a nice stockdog..IMO and my instructors. He has alot of that cool BC instinct..but the situation above was just completly weird. I know my other BC would have run the other way in the above situation.

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-the ram needs to be worked once a week at least so fletcher can establish a level of respect with him and make him easier to handle and work with dogs (he is "fine" with people..right now..that could change)

 

I think it's imperative that the ram (any ram) respect the dog. It may take you backing the dog up in the beginning, but the ram needs to learn to move off the dog, no matter what. Right now, due to having moved and a consequent lack of space, my ram is in with the ewes who are lambing. I have to go in and check ewes and lambs, and frankly, he has gotten overly friendly. He's even started the head shake thing like he'd like to do a little ramming of his own. Up till now he has always been pretty mellow, but I don't trust any ram. I always make sure to have a dog with me (one I know will back a ram down) when I go in his space (which isn't always convenient if I'm outside, say, collecting eggs and decide I want to check on ewes/lambs and don't have a dog outside with me).

 

But anyway, in answer to your question above, yes, I would continue to work the ram and let him learn respect for the dog. One thing you will need to be careful of is the dog not "taking it out" on the ram if trouble arises. You don't want the ram to decide that he may as well always fight because there's going to be punishment anyway. I have a younger dog who is a bit hot-headed when it comes to stuff like being challenged by a ram. I have to be careful that he doesn't overdo it and teach the ram that it's all about a fight. This dog's mother just walks calmly into the ram's face and bites him only if the ram threatens her. And once she bites, she gives the ram time to make a decision to move away. That's the kind of work I like a dog to give when handling a ram.

 

I suspect the odd behavior (your first question) you saw from your young dog was simply trying to figure out how to make the ram move. In answer to your second question, some of mine have been willing to back it up from the start and others have needed encouragement from me that it's okay to back it up. Still others have needed to be discouraged from being too harsh.

 

J.

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thank you Julie..I dont want to fear for my life when I go in with him..and I dont now..but I know that can change as he matures. My friend keeps her ram with her ewes year round and at this point in the game..that is how I plan to handle my flock as well..so I do need to be prepared. I was wary of working him at first, but so many told me I should..and we worked the rams at my instructor's places as well. They are more respectful of a dog though.

 

I will continue to work him..I saw "improvement" in the ram's respect level of Fletcher at the end..and I was proud Fletcher stood his proverbial ground when being challenged. DH was making a big production of the tail wagging..he thought he was playing with him..

 

Fletcher was mellow til the ram butted him (good by the way) and then he kinda turned it on..I did not get the impression he was taking it out on him..but the act of aggression on the rams part made Fletcher be abit more assertive.

 

I am going for a lesson tomorrow morning..and I am planning to work Fletcher on my own sheep this weekend again..will keep all this in mind.

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OK, worked some ornery nanny goats at our Lesson and Fletcher did well.

 

Weekend got busy, but I do work him abit Sunday night..the ram butted at him again and as I went to wack him across the nose, Fletcher bit him on the nose! :o

 

Ram tried one more time to butt him and Fletcher did the same thing. Ram turned and went off with the ewe. Fletcher still had to be alittle physical with him, nipped at his flanks abit to drive him, but he moved him. :)

 

I was quite proud. :)

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