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Lisa Smith

question

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I've got a 4 1/2 month old BC pup and some sheep...but my pasture is about an acre/acre and a half in size. When first starting a pup on sheep how big of an area should I start out in? She has been introduced to the sheep both via on a leash and off...but my pasture is much too big for me to keep up with her! I'd like to get the smaller area paddock installed this spring so it will be ready.

Thanks!

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I'm sure other will have more ideas, but I like a 100 x 100 ft enclosure - with rounded corners if possible. Some people start in a smaller round pen and then go to something larger, but if I only had the ability to build one small enclosure, the 100x100 is small enough to "get there" but large enough to start some actual wearing, flanking (casting) and short fetches. Also, I hope you are going to use "dog broke" sheep for your pup's first training exposure. If your sheep aren't maybe you could find somone with a trained dog to work them some first, or someone with dog broke sheep to loan you some. If this is new for you, as well, you would be better off finding a trainer to help you start the pup and avoid any disasters.

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I second finding a good trainer. It's SO easy to make many mistakes on your own. It's much harder to fix mistakes than to do things right the first time.

 

Best wishes!

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As far as "dog broke" sheep...does this mean they have been herded with dogs before or that they are very used to dogs? My sheep are very friendly (they come to me on their own for petting) and are used to dogs being around and don't panic.

I do plan on getting a trainer/take lessons this summer...I just want to get prepared. My pup really "turns on" when I do chores (I take her with me on a leash) but I want to get her commands down better before I really try to start working her. We are starting a good manners class this weekend at the local Humane Society. She needs to start to listen to me a lot more before I really start her with herding.

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I'm certainly not an expert, but I consider "dog broke" to mean sheep who have been worked by experienced dogs enough to not panic or fight when they see a dog approaching. I would also say that very people-oriented sheep who are used to dogs (but aren't afraid of them) might be hard to start a pup with. IMO, that kind of sheep may challenge or turn on an inexperienced dog, or just refuse to cooperate.

You have plenty of time to find someone since your pup's young, so I think I'd look for someone to help you start your pup locally, and maybe they can evaluate your sheep for training purposes, too.

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Dog-broke sheep are (in my limited understanding) sheep that are relatively calm around dogs, and will move away from the dog and go to the human when the dog works them. That's why sheep that are especially appropriate for young/new dogs are called "puppy sheep" or "knee-knockers".

 

As Laurie pointed out, sheep that aren't dog-broke may be very resistant to the dog (and may provide a bad experience for a new/young dog by fighting it instead of responding "appropriately" and walking away from the dog's pressure).

 

I second her suggestion to contact a trainer for starting your "sheepdogging". A trainer might also be able to dog-break your sheep so they will be suitable for your youngster.

 

As for training prior to beginning work with sheep, some folks limit that to the dog knowing its name, having a good recall, and being generally socialized. Others want a dog with a down and with generally obedient manners.

 

Remember that all prior training *may* go right out the window when your dog is first released to work sheep, especially in a new place and on new stock.

 

Best wishes (and I have sheep-envy)!

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Hey Lisa,

 

There are LOTS of very good handlers in your part of the world. The Northeastern Border Collie Association should be a good resource for you.

 

Here's their website...

 

http://www.nebca.net

 

There's a Kathy Knox clinic next month, could be a great opportunity for you to spectate and see what this is all about.

 

Have fun!

 

Colin

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Wow, Kathy Knox! If you could enter the clinic with your pup, that would be a fabulous start, but your pup might be too young. If you could only go and audit, it would be extremely worthwhile anyway.

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Wow, Kathy. May I come? I hear Jack learned everything he knows from her . . . :rolleyes:

 

Seriously, auditing such a clinic would be a fantastic way to get set mentally for the training your pup is almost certainly too young to start anyway.

 

Isn't Carol Campion up that way? I love to read her training insights here on the Boards. Colin is right, lots of great trainers up there.

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Isn't Carol Campion up that way? I love to read her training insights here on the Boards. Colin is right, lots of great trainers up there.
The clinic is at Carol's farm....I got in touch with her last night and she said the class was full but that I could still go and audit the class for $25...It's a couple of hour drive from here so not sure if I can do both days.

Thanks for suggestions!

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Terrific! If you go you'll meet lots of great local people in addition to learning a lot.

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Lisa - I would guess that, if there's any way you could swing going (cheap motel or sleep in your car/tent overnight), you wouldn't regret it one moment.

 

Learning from Kathy Knox (and Carol Campion) would be well worth your time and effort. That said, I know what it's like to not be able to do all you'd like to do but if there's any way you could manage this one, take it!

 

Best wishes!

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