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Dabbling in herding, should I keep trying?


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So, I have two border collies. I do flyball and agility with them and they have a blast, and recently I have began dabbling in herding. However, I don't know what I am doing. I am putting this in the general discussion because this isn't real herding, we're just playing around and learning.

 

The puppy does great, goes out, gets the critters off the fence and brings them to me, calls off, seems to get the whole teamwork concept. I have been told that she will be "easy" and a good dog to start off learning with.

 

Then there is Weasel, or Seelie. Weasel is very interested and game to try, at least when I am in the ring with her, but she seems to me to use about ten times the force necessary to move the sheep and she does all sorts of bad stuff, like cuts into the middle, goes to head, etc. It's like using a jet engine to blow the seeds off a dandelion. She doesn't bite or chase one down (yet), but I did hear her growl to herself when leading her to the ring.

 

One theory that was expressed was that she is nervous of the stock.

 

Another was that she may have been from lines bred to work cattle. (She was a shelter dog and I have no information on her breeding)

 

My theory (purely my own, and probably wrong) is that she has been focused on cars from such a young age and developed some bad habits of tracking and chasing cars while riding in the car and breaking out of her leash to flatten herself in front of traffic to try to stare oncoming vehicles down, and has such a history of frustration from that, that she is waaaaaaaaaaay overcompensating with the livestock.

 

Weasel is spooky, and doesn't work for strangers.

 

Weasel is not a dog that takes correction well.

 

So, should I continue trying the herding with her, and hope that more exposure helps her learn to moderate it a bit, or is that likely to just screw her up more?

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Only you can really decide if it's worth it to you (of course keeping in mind the treatment of the livestock). Sometimes those that start hard and fast turn out to be good working dogs, but it would take a skilled trainer to help her get it right and not learn bad habits in the meantime. If she's truly fearful of the stock, you can spend time with her around the stock in a pen where you just sit and read a book or whatever and she learns to stay calm in their presence. In other words, there are approaches you can take to deal with her various issues, but much depends on what your personal goals are and the abilities of your trainer to help you train her.

 

J.

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Hmmmm. . . I kind of wonder if maybe I am just coming into it spoiled, and thinking she should "know it" when I haven't really given her a chance to learn anything? I think I will try, for now, bringing her when I bring the puppy, and having her out, around the stock, and see if that helps her calm down a bit. I just didn't know if that would turn her off completely.

 

I've already started crating her when she rides in the truck so that she can't see and obsess (as much) over the traffic. Honestly, I think the trainer I am working with now is a bit stumped how to deal with my little dingbat when Weasel won't work for her and I am so inept. I think I could learn a lot from working with Weasel, though, as she is so different from Sekhmet. I'll try just taking it really slow, until I get more of an understanding what I am doing.

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I would continue to work with the puppy and bring Weasel with you, but just to get her calm and used to the environment. I will sometimes have dogs that just look for their owners so I'll have the owners in the pen with me. Of course I have to drag them around a lot!

 

See if she'll calm down and start to show an interest outside of actually working with sheep. I've also found that once they start working sheep /livestock they calm down in other aspects of their lives too

 

Good job on the crate

 

Cynthia

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When I was a total beginner, my trainer still rarely worked on my dog, even though she was more than happy to to work with him. When I was clueless he would work together with me, standing next to me with the sheep telling me what to and literally leading my by the hand where to go.

 

"Weasel is not a dog that takes correction well."

I think with many dogs it's a matter of finding which correction works for the dog. With my dog, the stick didn't work, yelling didn't work, and yet she was dying to please me. One day I found out that slapping my leather glove on my thigh works - it was strong enough that she took the correction and light enough that she didn't freak out from stress of displeasing me. Experienced people have always told me that no two dogs are the same and you have to observe ans seek what works with that particular dog. You always have be ready to think outside the box.

 

Best wishes with your training.

 

Maja

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