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What do people hope to gain from this? Is there any reason to take any random breed for a herding experience? Can most non-herding breeds even hope to do much except chase the sheep around a pen?

 

I hear about people excited to try out herding with random dogs (retriever breeds, mini breeds, etc) but is there really any point to it besides owner satisfaction?

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Presumably for the same reason that I play fetch with my non-retriever dogs. I am just interacting with my dogs. The fact that they aren't the premier retrieving breed isn't a factor in it. Herding, especially the more mechanical "do what I say" type, can be yet another training exercise, and certainly a learning exercise for the handler. I also have done dock diving with my non-retriever breeds and lure coursing with my non sighthounds.

 

Now, if someone is letting dogs chase sheep around terrorizing them, or using them as dog toys, that's another issue. But, in that case, it doesn't matter whether it's a border collie or a bichon frisse. Its bad care of your stock.

 

JMHO

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I disagree. Fetching (retrieving) is a trick. Along with dock diving, course luring and agility. They are all things that can be taught to any dog that enjoys water or chasing things. I don't have sight hound but do have a dog that has made it her life mission to erradicate the earth of anything small and fuzzy. I didn't have to teach her this either. She does NOT herd for the safety of the sheep.

 

Herding is a job that requires thought and desision making to be done well. I guess it could be taught as a trick as long as it wasn't putting the animals (sheep, ducks, whatever) in harms way. There are plenty of BC's out there that shouldn't herd any more than a min-pin should.

 

Teaching a dog to go left or right and stopping on command at balance is just another trick without the understanding of why he/she is doing it. I don't believe you should put a dog out there to do it just because they obey a command. They can get hurt without the understanding of how to get out of the way of a pissed off ewe.

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Presumably for the same reason that I play fetch with my non-retriever dogs. I am just interacting with my dogs. The fact that they aren't the premier retrieving breed isn't a factor in it. Herding, especially the more mechanical "do what I say" type, can be yet another training exercise, and certainly a learning exercise for the handler. I also have done dock diving with my non-retriever breeds and lure coursing with my non sighthounds.

 

Now, if someone is letting dogs chase sheep around terrorizing them, or using them as dog toys, that's another issue. But, in that case, it doesn't matter whether it's a border collie or a bichon frisse. Its bad care of your stock.

 

JMHO

 

Anyone who is "herding" sheep with a non-herding breeed, or a herding breed with zero instinct for stockwork is using the stock as dog toys.

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Then, for the purposes of discussion:

 

Isn't hobby herding using sheep as dog toys?

 

Isn't training for trials if you don't already own a sheep ranch with enough stock to require using dogs using sheep as dog toys?

 

Isn't trialing itself using them as dog toys?

 

Since I have raised sheep without ever using dogs on them, and so have many people, isn't using dogs to work sheep at all treating them as dog toys?

 

I don't agree with the last, myself, but it seems to logically follow, to me.

 

Yes, when people teach mechanical herding to dogs that have little instinct except prey drive, it is a "trick." But, it is also a tool they use to improve their relationship with their dogs, to improve the dog's confidence, to simply learn and spend time with their dogs; just as when I teach my dogs to dock dive, agility, flyball, roll over, pick up all the toys in a room and any of the other tricks I teach my dogs to do.

 

The difference, of course, is that sheep are living beings and worthy of respect. Some people treat their sheep well. They tend them properly, protect them from being pointlessly harassed, and provide a proper, decent life for them. Others don't. They cram them in a small corral, feed them with the cheapest feed, disregard needs for water, don't have the skill to adequately protect them and control the situation with green dogs, don't provide shelter and shade, and the sheep have a pretty sucky life. That, to me, is the distinction between dog toys and well treated animals. It has less to do with the breed of the dogs being trained and more to do with the knowledge, compassion, and ethics of the stockowner.

 

However, I can certainly understand a viewpoint that says my training my border collies to herd is treating sheep as dog toys, as I no longer own sheep, or even that any trialing is treating sheep as dog toys. It's certainly something I think about and wrestle with. I do have trouble following the logic that says that the fact that they are border collies makes it any more justified for me to train my dogs on sheep than if they were some other breed, considering it's hobby herding either way.

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What do people hope to gain from this?
I don't think that they hope to gain anything, just something to do and try.

 

Is there any reason to take any random breed for a herding experience?
I'm sure the person that is doing it can give atleast two reasons, because they want to and because they can.

 

Can most non-herding breeds even hope to do much except chase the sheep around a pen?

I don't even know that most non herding breeds would do that much. Most that I have seen have little to no interest or desire, they may play chase with the owner, but nothing sustained. I was told of a Brittney that was used to gather cattle, she would even heel. Whether or not it was true, no idea but I'm willing to believe it is possible.

 

I hear about people excited to try out herding with random dogs (retriever breeds, mini breeds, etc) but is there really any point to it besides owner satisfaction?
IMO, no, just something to do. We discourage it. We even discourage people that have herding breeds with no purpose or intent to go beyond the first introduction. IMO, if the only reason to do it is to see if the dog would do it or to allow the dog to expirence what it was "bred to do", it's not reason enough to stress my stock, even that to me is treating the sheep as dog toys. I look at it more as a discipline, master the discipline and we can compete in a sport and also have a very useful working stockdog.
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From the point of view of someone who has never owned a head of stock...

 

I decided some time ago that I would not be taking my Border Collie to sheep. If she took to it and was good at it she would be in for a disappointment because I don't have the wherewithal to take her at meaningful intervals and provide her with a suitable trainer. If she didn't take to it I would be wasting my money and pushing a bunch of sheep around clumsily and for no good reason.

 

I don't think it's any different with a non-Border Collie (or other legitimate working herding breed). There are plenty of other ways to interact with a dog without involving livestock.

 

I think that there is a purpose to trialing IF the person trialing has a use for and/or intends to breed working stock dogs. Anyone else is just looking for something to brag about. JMO

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Then, for the purposes of discussion:

Isn't hobby herding using sheep as dog toys?

Yes, to some degree I think it is, if by "toys" we mean entertainment.

 

Isn't training for trials if you don't already own a sheep ranch with enough stock to require using dogs using sheep as dog toys?

Yep, again depending on the situation, to some extent it often is.

 

Isn't trialing itself using them as dog toys?

That depends. Trialling was originally intended both as entertainment for farmers and shepherds, but also as a means of testing their dogs to assess the qualities that would make them useful as work dogs and as breeding dogs to produce more good work dogs. Good dogs can make sheepwork easier and more time/cost efficient for humans and sheep alike. And trialling increases knowledge and skills in dog handlers, too. So trialling can be an aid to the production and use of dogs as tools for good stock management.

 

If the endpoint for the activity is producing good work dogs, then I think the stress and risk to sheep can be justified. This also applies to "hobby herders" and purely recreational triallers who buy their dogs from working breeders- because if they test them in the right way, working these dogs can provide useful information to their breeders about the traits they are producing, and can therefore assist them to produce dogs for working situations. If every dog a breeder produces goes to a hobby or trialling-only home, then this obviously doesn't apply.

 

So while "hobby herding" or "trialling-only" or "keeping sheep for dogs" are to some extent using sheep as entertainment for both dogs and people, these situations may also be assisting in the continued production of working dogs.

 

Since I have raised sheep without ever using dogs on them, and so have many people, isn't using dogs to work sheep at all treating them as dog toys?

This depends, as well. If someone has 20 sheep on small acreage, then no, probably they don't need a dog. They might enjoy working their dog on their sheep, in which case the dogs/sheep may be partly people toys, but then they might also save time sometimes getting sheep into yards or whatever, and as above, they may be training for trials and/or testing their dogs for breeding purposes (theirs or other people's), with the ultimate aim of producing work dogs.

 

But dogs are very useful tools for most commercial sheep operations, so just because someone may be able to produce sheep without dogs doesn't mean those who use them are doing it mostly for entertainment. We manage to crop without a variety of equipment that others use, but that equipment for them is purely a tool, not a toy.

 

So it's up to the individual humans involved to reconcile what they're doing with their own ethical stance on using animals like sheep for entertainment. Personally, I think whether it is okay or not depends on how the sheep are treated, balanced against how much it's actually contributing to producing dogs that are needed for stockwork. A dog from non-working breeding being trained on a quiet group of conditioned, fit sheep, under experienced careful supervision- probably not a problem, even it is purely for entertainment (dogs and humans). Overall, I don't really see much difference between a poodle or a non-working-bred border collie being trained on sheep purely for recreational purposes.

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Ms/Mr Demon Puppy wrote (in part): "Since I have raised sheep without ever using dogs on them, and so have many people, isn't using dogs to work sheep at all treating them as dog toys?"

 

We had sheep before we had sheepdogs and it can be done - clumsily. I know purebreed breeders with small flocks (less than 50 ewes) who manage with grain buckets and extensive handling facilities but I have never met a commercial sheepman (makes 50% of his/her living from meat/wool/replacements) who didn't use sheepdogs.

 

When we held a little trial at the county fair, the local sheep farmers would cheer every dog - no matter how inept - because even the worst sheepdog was better than gathering the wife/kids/cousins to run up and down the hills shouting and waving their hats to bring in the ewes and lambs for weaning.

 

Donald McCaig

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IMHO

 

Training dogs to work livestock is stressful for the livestock. I allow and manage this stress with the knowledge that a fully trained dog will allow us to manage our sheep with less stress than without the trained dog. Training a dog where the owner has little desire to progress or the dog has little ability to progress is stressful for the livestock with no long term benefit for the livestock.

 

My attitude on this topic has changed over the years. We started with sheep as a dog training tool. Our attitude towards sheep changed once we owned our own, the sheep were now viewed as more than a tool. We were working towards have our sheep pay for themselves but we probably didn't need a dog to manage our sheep on two 3 acre fields. Once we moved to our current farm we now really see the utility of fully trained dogs for managing and reducing the stress on our sheep when we need to move them. I cannot imagine the two of us trying to gather 40 ewes plus lambs off the ca. 50 acres (with porous cross fencing) that they have access to graze; how stressful that would be for the sheep and us. Now our sheep need to contribute more than paying for themselves and how we manage them (and their stress) affects how well they can contribute.

 

 

 

BTW We have an arraignment with family members of the previous owner of the farm where we share pastures with their cows (rotationally grazing). Every time they need to gather their cows they have to call other family members and friends to come out. Occasionally, they need to put off the job (working, vaccinations, etc) because some of the cows refused to be gathered by the 4-5 people on foot and on 4-wheelers.

 

Mark

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I have no idea why people with non-herding breed dogs have a desire to try and work their dogs on stock when there are so many other activities that allow for relationship building with their dogs that are most likely more accessible to them, too.

 

Also, I wanted to just note, that while I am still a complete novice in the world of working stock, not only am I learning to train my dog but I am also learning quite a bit about sheep in the process. I do plan on having a small flock on a hobby farm hopefully some time soon, so our lessons do serve a dual purpose. I have a great deal of respect for the sheep and for those that are helping me learn.

 

So, I guess it depends on one's goals and attitude.

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Then, for the purposes of discussion:

 

Isn't hobby herding using sheep as dog toys?

 

Maybe. But, even "hobby herders" with herding breeds, dogs with some aptitude and training, are helping to keep the gene pool strong by bringing working dogs along. Chasing stock with non-herding breeds serves no purpose.

 

Isn't training for trials if you don't already own a sheep ranch with enough stock to require using dogs using sheep as dog toys?

 

Isn't trialing itself using them as dog toys?

 

Only if it is done with no regard for the livestock. Again, the purpose of sheepdog trials is to put the breeding of working dogs to the test. The value of trials (the word means "test" and is used deliberately rather than "competition") is that they put dogs together on a strange field, on strange sheep. Done properly, they show up the holes in a dog's abilities and training. If you watch something like the Bluegrass or Meeker, or most of the big western trials, you'll see this pretty clearly.

 

 

Since I have raised sheep without ever using dogs on them, and so have many people, isn't using dogs to work sheep at all treating them as dog toys?

 

In some cases, it is possible and practical to raise sheep without dogs and many do. In other cases, it's impossible. If your setup is small, fenced paddocks, you can train sheep to come to grain. If you are grazing thousands of acres in the Dakotas, not so much. Even on small holdings, a good dog will often get the job done quicker, easier, with less strain on the shepherd and the sheep.

 

I've never had more than 60 sheep at any given time but I graze them where there are few fences. I use electronet a lot. Sometimes (like yesterday) we get high wind storms and the electronet gets blown down and the sheep disperse into the woods. With dogs, they are back in the pen in fifteen minutes. Without dogs, it could be 24 hours or more because I've tried moving them out of the woods without dogs myself and it doesn't work.

 

 

Yes, when people teach mechanical herding to dogs that have little instinct except prey drive, it is a "trick." But, it is also a tool they use to improve their relationship with their dogs, to improve the dog's confidence, to simply learn and spend time with their dogs; just as when I teach my dogs to dock dive, agility, flyball, roll over, pick up all the toys in a room and any of the other tricks I teach my dogs to do.

 

The difference, of course, is that sheep are living beings and worthy of respect. Some people treat their sheep well. They tend them properly, protect them from being pointlessly harassed, and provide a proper, decent life for them. Others don't. They cram them in a small corral, feed them with the cheapest feed, disregard needs for water, don't have the skill to adequately protect them and control the situation with green dogs, don't provide shelter and shade, and the sheep have a pretty sucky life. That, to me, is the distinction between dog toys and well treated animals. It has less to do with the breed of the dogs being trained and more to do with the knowledge, compassion, and ethics of the stockowner.

 

However, I can certainly understand a viewpoint that says my training my border collies to herd is treating sheep as dog toys,

 

 

Except that we weren't talking about Border Collies, but non-herding breeds, in which case it is a "trick" which serves no useful purpose and needlessly subjects other living creatures to stress. I completely disagree with the attitude that "this is OK because it builds my relationship with my dog and makes him happy". Throwing a ball for my dog in the yard strengthens my relationship with him and makes him happy. No other living creatures are involved.

 

"herding" with non-herding breeds, or with Border Collies with zero aptitude for stockwork has nothing to do with the dogs or the stock. It's all about the humans.

 

 

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Since I am not a herding person I would say that someone may want to try their non-traditional herding breed because they want to try different things with their dog. I won't say a non-herding breed would ever truly compete against a herding breed but you could find that one in a million non-herding breed that would do ok and hold their own.

 

Yes I tried herding with all my dogs except the rescue acd.

 

My acd from working lines failed. I think it was my fault since I waited to late in life for her and totally refused to allow her to do things as a pup and probably created a different bond that did not allow for her to herd.

 

My bc mix at the time was a rescue. She also failed. She thought sheep should be lunch so once I caught her I refused to let her back in with the sheep. I did not appreciate her treatment of them.

 

My toy poodle at the time actually did the best. Yes it was just a game to see what would happen since I had him with me. And yes there was a time that poodles were used for some herding. He had a nice outrun and would take the sheep off the fence without issue. When a ram attempted to ram him my poodle gripped. The ram no longer attempted that and the sheep actually respected him and he was only about 6 lbs at the time. Do I consider what he did really herding? No I do not. For him it was a game but a game he may have done well with in time.

 

I have since tried my borderjack to see what would happen. He failed.

 

I tried my border collie a couple times as this was a requirement. She failed. She has temperament issues which could have lead to inability to work sheep. She was also still young and I should have tried again with her but haven't done so.

 

So yeah I can see why someone would want to try herding with a non-traditional breed but I doubt many would do well but see nothing wrong with trying. You never know what you may get.

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Well I have a small set up, and since the move, the smallest flock I've had in ages. I suppose I could train the sheep to a bucket, but honestly I prefer not to be mobbed by sheep that want their grain. I use my dogs to keep the sheep *away* from me when I'm putting out feed. Since I don't have a choice, my ram is running with the flock right now. As he's turned 3, he's also decided that maybe he'd like to go after me. I don't go into the sheep pasture without a dog so I have protection from the ram. If I need to get to the barn, I have to go through the pasture. Since I don't want the sheep to come over and join me in the barn, I use a dog to keep them away. Since I don't have a lot of fencing up yet, but there's grass getting rather tall in the unfenced areas, I use a dog so that I can graze the sheep without fences. Since I don't have a management system and my sheep aren't bucket trained, if I want to worm them or otherwise treat them, I use a dog to hold them in a corner of the fence while I do what I need to do. I honestly don't know how people manage sheep easily without a dog. IME, even in a small space, if a sheep doesn't want to be caught, you're not going to catch it, but I sure can with the help of a dog. Granted my sheep aren't pets, and maybe if they were, they'd allow themselves to be caught when I needed to do so, but I don't need to make pets out of them to be able to manage them, thanks to the dogs. And since I sell them for meat, I'd rather not make pets out of them anyway.

 

As others have said, trials are the means by which we test the results of our breeding decisions. At least open trials are. Novice classes are out there because newcomers have to start somewhere, but that's where the hobby herder and dog toy comments may come closest to home. Someone who perpetually runs in novice is not doing anything toward proving out breeding decisions. Such people need to decide whether they are doing the ethical thing when they choose to use trialing for reasons other than assessing dogs and breeding programs, and no, you can't really assess dogs in the novice-novice class.

 

As I mentioned in another thread with a similar subject, money is a big driver for non-herding breeds working stock. If I can charge someone $40-50 to give their dog a spin in the round pen, then from an income standpoint it makes sense to encourage people with any kind of dog to give it a whirl. I have more respect for my poor sheep than that, but others don't, and if it's a good source of income for them, they're not going to worry about the dog toy aspect. I had a student who used to come out with a dog she said was a border collie. It neither looked nor acted like a border collie to me. She had no interest in learning to work the dog herself. For her it was a fun time for the dog, equivalent of going to the dog park (which was her choice if I couldn't give the dog a lesson on a particular day). I'm not interested in doing that sort of thing, so I stopped her from coming.

 

It never would have crossed my mind to take a non-herding breed dog out to work stock. As a stock raiser, I don't mind stressing my animals for the sake of training a dog to help manage my own stock, to assess its potential and the prove out a breeding, but just doing it for fun makes no sense to me. And so I don't do it, and I don't offer lessons for that sort of thing. Even though it cuts me out of income, I won't hesitate to tell someone that I don't think their dog is suited for working. But there are plenty of folks who don't feel the same way. In those case, yes, I think it is sheep/stock as dog toys. And I don't particularly like it. I see nothing wrong with pursuing activities other than those your particular breed might have originally been bred to do, but when another living, sentient being is involved, then it makes sense to me to limit the stress or bad experiences that that other being might have, especially since it has no choice in the matter.

 

Lure coursing is about chasing a plastic bag. Retrievers can retrieve dummies instead of living birds. Working stock is one of the few cases one type of animal is pressed into service for the fun of another type of animal. Considering that it's a predator-prey relationship and the relationship in and of itself can cause stress to the prey side of things, and I think folks who want to have fun with their dogs should be cognizant of what it really means for the prey species, fit or not, and used to dogs or not.

 

J.

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Since I am not a herding person I would say that someone may want to try their non-traditional herding breed because they want to try different things with their dog.

 

But, when "trying different things" involves a dog who will never work sheep properly running sheep around it's not OK.

 

My wife's a veterinarian. I think that's cool. It would strengthen our relationship (actually, it would probably not) and be fun for me, if she let me do the odd surgery on client animals once in a while. I don't have any surgical training, and being a bit of a Klutz, probably not much aptitude for it, but hell I'd enjoy it. It would make me happy.

 

I occasionally do IT consulting for big companies with complex server and network installations. My eight year old nephew thinks that's pretty cool, all the flashing lights and cool computers. I'd be his favorite uncle for ever, and he'd have fun, if I just let him play with the computers and other gear in the data centers of a client (funny, but I did have to clean up after someone did just this).

 

Not everything is OK just because someone wants to do it and thinks it would be fun.

 

Seriously folks. There is a purpose behind stockwork. There are dogs bred to do it. Done properly, stock does not get abused. Failure to keep those three things in mind will make it increasingly difficult to train, work, and trial stockdogs.

 

 

 

 

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Seriously folks. There is a purpose behind stockwork. There are dogs bred to do it. Done properly, stock does not get abused. Failure to keep those three things in mind will make it increasingly difficult to train, work, and trial stockdogs.

 

 

 

Unfortunately it appears as if there are fewer and fewer that keep all three of those things in mind or do not have a clear picture of what they look like. Lots of slashing and trashing that is being touted as acceptable and they way it is done, no group is exempt.

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Seriously folks. There is a purpose behind stockwork. There are dogs bred to do it. Done properly, stock does not get abused. Failure to keep those three things in mind will make it increasingly difficult to train, work, and trial stockdogs.

I totally agree with this. A few years back there was a stockdog clinic near me with a variety of breeds. The clinic was held at a private horse farm. There was some bad chasing and gripping going on from some of the inexperienced , untrained dogs. The local paper was there , with pictures and a write up. To make it short the picture was of a grippy aussie, in hot pursuit of obviously stressed sheep. The write up reflected the picture and the horse farm would not allow another clinic on their property. This does affect the whole stockdog community. Even if some of these random breeds had enough prey drive to chase sheep, they would not be able to do real farm work. The other thing I notice about dogs who have no talent/breeding behind them is that they do not treat the sheep right. They don't read the sheep, the owner typically does not read the sheep right either, so it does become hard on the sheep.

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Again, the purpose of sheepdog trials is to put the breeding of working dogs to the test. The value of trials (the word means "test" and is used deliberately rather than "competition")...............

 

The only "tests" that I have been involved in with dogs, are with gun dogs (pointers). These "tests" were done on a pass fail basis. These tests were, as mentioned above, designed to test the working ability of the dogs. There were no placements, no winners, no prize money, no "national finals". They were....a test. Adding placements and prizes, makes the test a "competition". There is nothing wrong with competition, just call it what it is.

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The only "tests" that I have been involved in with dogs, are with gun dogs (pointers). These "tests" were done on a pass fail basis. These tests were, as mentioned above, designed to test the working ability of the dogs. There were no placements, no winners, no prize money, no "national finals". They were....a test. Adding placements and prizes, makes the test a "competition". There is nothing wrong with competition, just call it what it is.

 

Sheepdog trials are designed to test a variety of abilities, and no two dogs work exactly the same way. A pass/fail test as a basis for determining breeding decisions would be completely meaningless.

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Sheepdog trials are designed to test a variety of abilities, and no two dogs work exactly the same way. A pass/fail test as a basis for determining breeding decisions would be completely meaningless.

 

In the tests we ran, the dog had to have a minimum score in each of a variety of categories. Failing any one category failed the test. The dog either had it or didn't. Test were done in three different levels of difficulty with the top requiring the dog to perform all functions, locate, point, honor, steady to wing and shot, find and retrieve etc. This is where my breeding decisions came from, not how high did they place or how many competitions did they win as so much of that was the training and handling not the breeding.

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In the tests we ran, the dog had to have a minimum score in each of a variety of categories. Failing any one category failed the test. The dog either had it or didn't. Test were done in three different levels of difficulty with the top requiring the dog to perform all functions, locate, point, honor, steady to wing and shot, find and retrieve etc. This is where my breeding decisions came from, not how high did they place or how many competitions did they win as so much of that was the training and handling not the breeding.

 

But sheepdog trials test the abilities of different dogs doing complex tasks that change due to multiple varying conditions to show what the dog has in an effort to combine the strengths and mitigate the weaknesses of the dogs in question. The course is judged on the outrun, lift, fetch, drive, shed, and pen, but what is really being judged is the dog's style, desire to partner up with the handler, courage, tension, come forward, feel for the sheep, decision-making and judgment, eye, response to pressure, grit, treatment of sheep and sheep's response to the dog, and numerous other attributes that may combine in different ways with the similar and dissimilar traits of other dogs. A pass/fail score tells you none of these things, but sheepdog trials test all of them.

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alright, alright, i have re-decided. i was going to go to a herding clinic next month with my border collie given by a well known and respected trainer. after much soul searching and in-head arguements, i'm going to decline. at best, i'm a hobbist at herding. i have no sheep and probably never will. my dog was started by a pro, so she does not harrass the sheep, but we will probably never surpass hobbist status. as much as i enjoy the time with my dog and trying to do something very challenging, and as much as she enjoys it-and she does, will will give it up. we will pursue our other hobby of agility. it was my aim when i adopted her and she is well suited to it. i will miss herding, and probably so will she, but we'll not be scaring the livestock. by the way, she is spayed so we're not taking anything out of the gene pool.

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With all due respect to the field-trial dog and its handler, there simply is no way to compare hunt/retriever to the working sheepdog. It's not better/worse it's apples/oranges. Different kinds of tests for different kinds of work. The field-trial dog must be keen and well-trained. The working sheepdog must be those things too, but the frame of mind of the dead bird presented to the hunter is not an issue. It does not have to be persuaded to do what the dog/handler wants. It does not have to arrive without physical harm or un-flustered. The sheep do. And that requires more than training and keenness. Yes, a field-trial dog needs to be "birdy", but it is expected to follow directions as they are given. A sheepdog must make its own decisions about the animals he is working and make choices that may or may not run contrary to the directions he is given. He must know when to coax and when to bluff. There is interaction between the dog and the sheep as well as interaction between the dog and the handler.

All dead birds behave in precisely the same way. They lie on the ground and bleed. All sheep behave differently - the same sheep behaves differently on different days. The dog must be able to read this behavior and adjust his actions accordingly - with or without the direction of the handler.

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alright, alright, i have re-decided. i was going to go to a herding clinic next month with my border collie given by a well known and respected trainer. after much soul searching and in-head arguements, i'm going to decline. at best, i'm a hobbist at herding. i have no sheep and probably never will. my dog was started by a pro, so she does not harrass the sheep, but we will probably never surpass hobbist status. as much as i enjoy the time with my dog and trying to do something very challenging, and as much as she enjoys it-and she does, will will give it up. we will pursue our other hobby of agility. it was my aim when i adopted her and she is well suited to it. i will miss herding, and probably so will she, but we'll not be scaring the livestock. by the way, she is spayed so we're not taking anything out of the gene pool.

 

I hope you're not serious.

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