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Caesar, a Rottie and herding?


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It is too bad this is what goes out to the world as " herding". the disclaimer about the sheep not being hurt isn't fooling anyone. The whole thing is unfortunate. I have seen this trainer at a trial. the dogs he brought (supposedly Border Collies) acted much like that Rottie. At a trial.

 

Sigh.....

 

Then if you tell them they don't really seem to know some of the basic foundations of stock dog work, you are labeled as a snob, or elitist.

 

Poor sheep deserve better.

 

It is not about dogs " burning energy" or whatever, it is about stockmanship. Sad.

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I have seen other videos from that place - stockmanship is certainly not understood and not a goal, from any video I've seen. It is a shame that someone who is widely watched and admired (whether or not you agree with him) should give a positive public spin on a facility such as this.

 

I have seen a sensible Rottweiler (sp?) under good and experienced handling, do a reasonably credible job in a basic, small-scale gather and fetch. At this facility, "herding" appears to be more of a case of "divide and conquer" and that's just not good animal husbandry.

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A few years ago, my boyfriend Bob and I attended a small herding trial held at an Amherst Junction, WI dog kennel/training facility. Besides the usual border collies entered, was one Rottie. I remember Bob asking "What gives with the Rottie?" and me telling him that obviously the owner and dog must have had prior training to be allowed to enter.

 

While the dog was very obedient outside the arena, and waited for the signal to go when inside, everything went downhill from there. Looked like the beginning of a decent run, but then you could almost see something click in the dog and it turned into a chasing and lunging at the sheep mess. Owner couldn't get the dog to even acknowledge her. Whistle blew when the Rott grabbed for a sheep's neck, and I remember a bunch of folks jumping in to separate the dog from the sheep.

 

What really suprised me was the reaction of the other (Border Collie) contestants in the trial. No disparaging remarks (at least in public), and a lot of "Oh well, better luck NEXT TIME?" Apparently this dog has been in quite a few other trials and did OK for it's training level. There were a few horrified looks and plenty of comments coming from the general public spectators though.

 

I have some photos of this dog and the beginning of it's run lost somewhere in the thousands of pics I have on my computer. I'll try to find and post them.

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I think I know which Rottie you saw RuthBelle, seen it at a trial at the MN state Fair and also up at another fair trial up in MN. Handler we sincerely ticked when someone jumped into the arena calling her run to save a ewe just before it took it to the ground. (ETA: seen your photo, different handler, same outcome)

 

There are lots of trainers encouraging and allowing such work and dogs, recently had a newspaper reporter here for an interview about our dogs after Wayne's finish at National Finals and also our parade entry, she had been to a ASCA earlier in the week before coming and seeing Jake in the parade, her main comment about what she was saw at the trial "disturbing".

 

Last Saturday there was a show on Pet.tv, showed a Boxer getting instinct tested along with demonstrations of "top work", just a bunch of chasing and splitting. Shook my head thinking of all the uneducated people that saw that show and know think that banging around on sheep that fly back to the trainer as if they were attached by bungee cords is what it is suppose to look like.

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I thought he said "drain itself" but yeah, a lot of mis-information there. The rottie did exactly what the 1 rottie I got talked into letting come out to work my sheep (I was talked into it by a decent border collie handler but she had seen him when he was younger and softer I guess). The difference was this dog wouldn't let go. His "thumbs" left a six inch gash in one of my best ewes. As soon as I caught the dog and got him off the ewe, I handed the leash to the owner and said "No way.".

 

That being said, that rottie wasn't as bad as the Bouvier segment Caesar had.

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Okay, while I disagree with the "herding takes 15 minutes" crap, I didn't see anything in that video that was any different than many dogs' first time (and I do believe it was stated that was the dog's first exposure, unless I misheard) on sheep. In fact, I was glad to see that both Cesar and Jerry Stewart (I know his name from the AKC herding list) were quick to react and stop the dog from doing damage. And honestly, I've seen border collies hang on worse and do worse damage. Not saying that damaging is okay by any means, but it's not as if the folks in the video were encouraging chasing; it seemed that they were trying to encourage him to go around.

 

I don't agree with the premise that "herding" is an appropriate activity for dogs who simply need "an outlet for excess energy," which is what Cesar seemed to be saying, but I didn't find this video to be as awful as some I've seen.

 

J.

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CM: "Sheep herding takes 15 minutes for the dog to train himself".

 

I had to rewind and listen a couple of times but is sounded like he said drain not train, he was talking about releasing energy.

 

One of the things that was shown in the video that I like to see is that no one was placing extra pressure on the dog, and when they did stepped in to block the dog they actually stopped the dog vs. turning it into a chase game.

 

There were some upsides, but I don't know if I agree with setting a dog loose on sheep for the sole purpose of energy release, though if it is done once with a purpose such as to see if the dog will let go and relex or for a evaluation purpose to verify relationship and reactions I can't fault it, no different then the first time out with a dog you know nothing about.

 

Now, if it is continued with no intentions of either the dog or the handler actually learning how to handle the livestock in a quiet effective manner, I have a problem with it.

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I thought he said "drain itself"

 

Oh, I think you're right. :lol: Don't I feel silly now! But hey, it seemed like something he might say...

 

ETA: Julie, I thought the same thing. But since I'm uh, not experienced, I wasn't going to go there. ;)

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Oh, I think you're right. :lol: Don't I feel silly now! But hey, it seemed like something he might say...

 

ETA: Julie, I thought the same thing. But since I'm uh, not experienced, I wasn't going to go there. ;)

 

What really peeves me about these snippets is that they never show properly trained dogs doing actual herding so they give the public the impression this is what herding is. Gives it a bad impression in my view. BTW - I personally know the trainer in So Cal and in fact almost used him as my fiorst trainer simply do to being close. Very happy I made a different choice.

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RuthBelle,

The trial you went to was an akc trial. Nice facilities and I've met the owner who seems very nice. They host at least 2 a year. Before I knew better about akc, I took my first border collie to a fun trial there, which was many years ago. I was the only one with a bc, all the rest were belgians, an aussie and a shepherd. After the trial they invited anyone who wanted to work their dogs. I stood by and watched and was very put off seeing what went on. A lady had an aussie in a small square pen and it looked like they were trying to get the dog to go around the sheep, but the handler was in the wrong position to help the dog. I could see the poor sheep becoming more and more afraid, huddled in the corner while people were hanging on the cattle panels watching. One sheep finally had it and broke through the fence, in the process a lady that had been resting her chin on the panel got a nice fat lip and everyone panicked when the sheep got out into the open where there wasn't any fencing. Needless to say I wasn't impressed by how the sheep were treated and it was super sad to see that no one there had a dog that could gather up the sheep and put them back in. My dog ended up doing that and sadly no one there could have cared what nice job my Annie did, they went back to talking about their show wins and bla bla bla.

I know they now have a border collie trainer giving lessons there now, so maybe the sheep end of things has gotten better.

 

If you want to see some actual trialing go to the wisconsin working stockdog associations annual labor day trial down in Portage.

 

Samantha

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A couple of points...

 

First, while I am not a regular student at Camp Bandy (near Stevens Point, WI), I have visited the place to work sheep. I can only recommend it. Although it is an all-breed facility, the instructor is an active USBCHA open handler. He trains using traditional methods. There is a round pen, a couple of arenas, and a medium sized field. It is a nice place to get started, to work a young dog or to practice in a smaller setting.

 

Second, I've seen a number of Rottweilers who were very good workers, within their scope. If I were in some bizarre world where I had to do AHBA trials with an upright breed, I'd likely make a bee line for a Rottweiler with the right background.

 

Third, as far as Caesar is concerned, I've noticed that he uses a lot of pressure in his training, although I'm not sure he has a clue what it is. When he's talking about "energy", sometimes he's actually referring to what we'd call pressure. It's one concern I have about his methods. Pressure is the best way to train a dog, but it isn't terribly accessible to most pet people. Inappropriately used, I fear it could be confusing or even dangerous for some of his students. I think he's aware of all the pressure/energy that occurs when a dog works sheep, and that's what fascinates him about it (and who can blame him?)

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I've seen one rottie years ago who appeared to be a "natural".

 

I don't know anything about the training center shown here or their methods, but I have seen some clips of dogs, non-border collies trained by Tony McCallum which impressed me. I read that he likes to start other breeds besides border collies on livestock. The extent of this interest, I don't know, but here he with with his boerboel, another breed I kinda like, on cattle.

 

 

 

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Tony can perform mMagic when it comes to working dogs, he was here at our place last winter working with our ACD's. He went out into our oval pasture with a dog, handled the dog for a bit on lead just working on getting the dog to respond just a certain way to him and then sent the dog to the livestock. The dog proceeded to work in a fashion that we had never seen nor have been able to repeat. The way that dog handled the livestock was awesome and was comparable to the style of work that our young border collies offer us.

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I am working with a Rottie now. He has had about 10 lessons so far. He can do a short gather, lift and fast fetch. We are still in the roud pen. What I am teaching him to do is slow down. He does have the concept but goes too fast. He finaly learned to lift slowly. Now we are working on the fetch. His owner realizes that his dog in not gong to be superb but he at least tries. What he lacks in natural work, we are pattern training him.

 

The sheep are fine with him. Despite his size, he is very kind to stock and never laid a tooth on any. He will push if needed but never showed any inclination to grip. His owner is committed to working him twice a week and we see a slow progress.

 

It is nothing like what is in that video.

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There's a rottweiler near me that does daily farm chores very nicely. He gathers, moves the sheep to different fields and brings them to the barn. He does his daily tasks quite nicely, and she's happy with her "help". This women had border collies in the past, but prefers her rotties now. Much slower, and don't need as much work. Plus, can come in handy as a guard dog. Never have her dogs attacked the sheep or even ran them around the field for a grip. I'm just sayin... That's all I know, which isn't much!

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I certainly don't mind the idea of a Rottie herding. I think it's great when a dog has the ability to be such a valuable helper. What bugs me is the herding as the flavor of the week activity mentality - "It's there so lets try it out and wear the dog out".

 

The average person watching that clip thinks "wow, cool that dog is working" when in fact the trainer and the well dogged sheep are setting the dog up for any success it may have - as it is for the majority of dogs that are just starting with stockwork. You don't know how well the dog can actually work until it settles down into a working mode. That clip is giving a pretty unrealistic view of herding to the public.

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^^Exactly. It's not the fact of a Rottweiler herding (especially since they apparently did perform that function at one time), but as Mara says, the mentality that it's okay to let a dog burn off steam in such a manner a la going to the dog park, going for a run, etc. We've all seen videos of "trainers" and "handlers" who don't even begin to come close to making sure the livestock aren't being unduly stressed. As I said in my earlier post, at least Cesar and Jerry intervened quickly when things went wrong. There are no guarantees that people seeing such videos and deciding to take Fluffy herding will be able to find a trainer who is willing and able to make sure that the dog has a fighting chance to learn to do it right, let alone make sure the stock are protected.

 

The whole idea that the dog can "train itself" in 15 minutes and it's a great activity to release excess energy in the dog is the bone I have to pick with the particular video posted by the OP.

 

J.

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As someone else has already said, I think what Milan said was that the dog would "drain itself" in 15 minutes. As in wear himself out.

 

But what I came away with was a picture of people grinning ear to ear and saying "Good boy!" to a dog that was chivvying and attempting to maul a group of sheep in a hot, dusty arena. Where I grew up, dogs were quickly and legally shot for doing that.

 

It was even worse than years ago in the movie "Challenge to Lassie, "where at the beginning of the movie Lassie is supposed to be a sheepdog, and goes galloping through the middle of the sheep, head up and tail flying - sending them in all directions and barking "her" head off. Even when I was ten it didn't look very much like sheep herding... But at least Lassie didn't grab the sheep by the butt.

 

I don't think Caesar Milan is evil. Wrong about a lot of things, but not evil. But the fact that he is endorsed by the National Geographic Society makes his methods unassailable to thousands of people who don't know any better. That is what's depressing to me.

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