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afraid of sheep?

Kathy H.

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Hi all,


Becca S. and Julie P. know me but most of you don't. I'm in Iowa, have border collies and bouviers and was set to move myself and my dog up to Open this year when he injured his ACL setting me back considerably. I also have a small flock of sheep to take care of and help a friend who has goats, cattle and sheep.


As part of the regrouping, I took a 2 year old bitch in "on approval" to see if I could get her to "see sheep."


First, I really like this dog. She is a super athletic, fun dog and if I were looking for a "dog", she'd be here for life. But she is dog #6 and 6 dogs is the limit so if she doesn't work I really can't keep her. She is, BTW, a started dog on cattle but was leaving the work on cattle, thus the sheep idea. (she has a down to die for BTW, crates well, gets along with people and dogs and is pretty perfect except .....well keep reading).


At the moment, she's been here about a month and I think it's probably hopeless but I thought I'd write since there is such a wealth of expertise here and see if I'm missing something obvious.


Here's the nutshell version. Ask for more if needed.


She runs very wide and I think (now) off contact.


In a small area that she can't get out of (a round pen type thing), she is very good, goes to the fence, scoops stock out of corners and was even starting to "mix it up" with sheep.


In a slightly more open area (say 100 x 100), she goes to the fence is basically on and off contact.


She has a natural square flank and is a quiet worker so sometimes I've thought "off contact" and been wrong.


Yesterday she actually stood on the pressure with a ewe and then the ewe charged her and chased her all over the field. The same ewe moves pretty easy off my other dogs.


She is just "not happy" on stock. She is very happy elsewhere.


I have not put much pressure on her at all since the guy who trained her told me that he had "to get on her to get her to do things". She does not strike me as particularly manipulative.


I've worked her with other dogs and she scootches down and tries to make herself invisible. She has joined in a bit of "chase" but I really don't need my other dogs to go too far down that road!


I have not tied her out to watch other dogs since correction and loud voices make her cringe (and that will happen at the most inopportune times).


Am I giving up too soon or cutting my losses?





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IMO if you had the time and the space, then you might want to continue on with her, just as something of an experiment, but if you are at your dog limit and you really think she's not happy on stock, then perhaps she just needs to be placed in a non-stock-working home. I guess the best advice I have is to go with your gut instinct on this dog.



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Thanks Julie. I've got her for another few weeks so will see, give her a week off, and then try again.


But I'm also starting to look for a non-stock home for her. I can really see her blossoming with something like clicker training for whatever. If I were still doing agility, I would certainly try her there.


It would be a lot easier if I didn't like her as much as I do :rolleyes:



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A couple I know got a nicely working-bred young bitch puppy (littermate to my Celt) and brought her into their wonderful home...but she was miserable.


She was all excited *outside* the field where the sheep were or outside the yard where the agility equipment was, but totally miserable when asked to come inside and *do* anything.


As this couple has a number of dogs, and he is active in trialing and she in agility and rescue, they considered her unhappiness, and decided to search for another home for her. They made the right decision for her, and found her a perfect home where she is totally content.


Some Border Collies just aren't "cut out" for what stockwork demands, but may make wonderful companions and/or performance dogs for the right family or individual. It's a tough choice but I am sure you will put this dog's best interests first.


Best wishes!

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