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Poor Potential Pup


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I have a pup I rescued last January that is now about six months old. He is from an accidental breeding from a nearby cattle ranch. These are not the best working dogs. There is a long history I won't go into now, but the breeding is "iffy" at best.

 

At any rate, I officially put him on sheep today. I was not impressed.

 

I have started a handful of dogs in the past, and had some success up into trailing in Open. Every pup has had the keys of a good working dog even at a young age. I could see potential that would come with maturity. This pup has me doubting he is going to be worth much,

 

He has no balance. He wants to engage. He even did a couple of nice nose bites. Still unconfident, which is to be expected. But he had no notice of me, or desire to get the sheep to move. When we got them (I should say I got them) moving, he would race in (I expect that) then bark and hold. No desire to balance or find pressure. I was using broke sheep who would happily move off if he was close to asking for it, but he showed no eye, barked at their faces, had no presence and put them in a fighting mood, and was unresponsive to my help. I could neither push nor pull him into the right spot.

 

It is of course hard to describe, no video as I was alone. I know some dogs start slow. I've never experienced one, but I hear it is so. This dog is very interested in the sheep, I would call him keen to work, but he has no balance, no sense of pressure, as well as no teamwork with the human. He is young, but I'm thinking with the combination of what I saw today, as well as poor breeding, he is not ever going to make even a " light " working dog.

 

Does anyone have any experiences with a similar situation ? Was the dog ever able to preform even simple tasks? Is it worth trying to polish this?

 

Anyone in Northern California want a nice agility dog? ( He could do that well)

 

He is only six months. I know time will be his friend, I've just never seen this poor of a start. I've had this guy since he was six weeks and have grown fond of the little evil one. I really want to give him a chance. If he had no desire to work at all, I think I would be more hopeful, calling him a late bloomer. But he wants to work, or at least wants to bark in their faces. Not much else.

 

I wish the perfect home would appear.

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Personally, I would give him until 10 months to a year. I will say that the handful of dogs I had that I wasn't happy with at 6 months didn't become strong dogs in the end but there are plenty of others who have had different outcomes to give him that chance.

 

I have had one dog that was very silly and I had slight doubts at 6 months but would try to go to balance at that age. She turned out to be one of my better dogs. Come to think of it, she is still very silly at 11 :).

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Wow. You are making tons of assumptions based on a 6 mos old pup's first time on sheep. If "every" pup you've started to date showed their winning promise and potential for being good working dogs on their first exposure to sheep, you have had a really special group of pups, or you have some special dog fortune-telling ability that I surely lack. According to your standards, every pup I've owned and trained has been a doomed loser.

 

Hope you find him a good home if you've decided he won't suit your needs.

 

Lori Cunningham

Milton, PA

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I agree with this others on assessing at 6months based upon one or a few exposures to sheep. I would also, IMHO, add that if you don't believe in the dog it might be best for the dog for you to find it another home.

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I would also, IMHO, add that if you don't believe in the dog it might be best for the dog for you to find it another home.

I agree with what the others have said, but I especially I agree with this. If you've already written this pup off, and it seems you have, then he would be better off in a different home where his new owners won't already have a set of expectations that he can't live up to. New owners could be more willing to give him the time and attention he might require to turn into something nice or at least useful, if not for work, then perhaps for sports.

 

J.

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He is way too young to know his full potential. You might be correct that if his parents are no good, he will be better suited as an active pet or sport dog, but at this age you can't make a final judgement. If, knowing the history of his parents, you just don't want to take the chance on him, then find him a home.

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I agree with all the others. If you decide to keep the pup, cut him some slack, he is ONLY 6 months old. Let him grow and just be a happy pup, either with you, or a new home. Perhaps if tried on sheep again in 6 months, or so, it may be a whole different story.

Best of luck to the pup, and you!

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I never intended to keep this pup. I saved him from a date with a .22.

 

What I'm actually asking, since I'm a poor writer and am not making myself clear, is has anyone had a very young pup, that showed no balance at all, as well as no eye, come out to be a decent worker? I was hoping to at least get a gather on him, I don't expect him to be a trial dog. I have started a few dogs, attended clinics with dogs having their first exposure, and worked with friends and their dogs and have never seen this poor of a result. I realize he is very young. I know there are slow starters, but often they show avoidance behavior, or a complete lack of interest. This is not the case here. also most slow starters had some breeding behind them, which I don't think this pup has.

 

The rest of his training ( manners, housebreaking, basci obedience) is coming along great. He is a nice little dog. I'll probably try him once a month or so, as long as he is here. Just wondering if anybody had experiences to share.

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What I'm actually asking, since I'm a poor writer and am not making myself clear, is has anyone had a very young pup, that showed no balance at all, as well as no eye, come out to be a decent worker?

 

Yes, I have had pups who at a young age barked and/or gripped stock but showed no real skill/eye/balance become good working dogs once they were older. Six months is just not mature enough to know whether or not he will be a useful working dog. However, I knew the parents of those pups were good working dogs, so I was confident that their innate talent would eventually come through.

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My accidental breeding on a ranch pup showed almost no interest other than barking at the sheep at a young age. He was 7 months before he really showed any working interest, and 10 months before he was ready to send off for training. At 21 months, he's turning into a pretty nice stockdog. I had heard that several of his littermates also had no interest in sheep, but recently, a couple of them have been taken to sheep again and have "turned on."

 

I was seriously worried the first few times I tried Hoot on sheep! Some dogs just mature slower than others.

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I don't know anything about starting a sheepdog, but you said (paraphrasing) that he doesn't team up with you when working.

 

It seems to me that if you rescued him from being shot by his owners at a very young age (4 to 6 weeks?) he probably got little or nothing in the way of positive interaction with humans until he met you. I would expect such a pup to take longer to "find his feet" in any situation, and especially in the area of cooperative work with a human. I would think it would take extra time to forge a working relationship between you outside of working stock. Have you done much training of any kind with him?

 

I think that his experience in his early days plus his non-brilliant parentage would make for a dog that was more labor-intensive for training but might be worth the effort if you believe in him and bring him along slowly.

His less than stellar parents might have been late maturing to to their work as well, or perhaps their owners were simply not very good at starting dogs. Maybe they didn't have the skills to make good workers of his parents, or they just wanted dogs that would hoik the stock around with little finesse.

 

If I were in your shoes I would get an opinion from a second party who has a good track record with starting pups. Let them see him with stock a time or two. Perhaps they could help to evaluate him. You've come this far with him. If he is given a thumbs-down for potential in stock work by another experienced person then that might be the time to look to getting him into a non-working home.

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If he doesn't have a lot of eye, he might not have as strong a sense of turning in at balance anyway since he doesn't have his eye to pull him in.

 

I have a dog who showed active disinterest in sheep until he was about 14 months old. He's trained up pretty well since, though (and he happens to have very little eye)

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Do you have someone close by to give you a second opinion? Our pup didn't turn on at all until after his 3rd try and he is barely 6 months old. My male Aussie didn't turn on til 2 years old so work on manners around the house and some form of come and down first(instinct trainer's advice from our puppy evaluation). Good luck; you might get the best partner you ever had out of this dog.

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