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"Herd Mentality"

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Like Julie, my problem with the instinct test is when it's used to justify "you can do it all" breeding programs. I don't have a problem with an owner wanting to see if their dog is interested in working (because it is pretty cool to see your dog turn on), but I don't understand why you get a title for showing a bit of interest. I know some people here who will "instinct test" your dog but there's no certificate, just an assessment as to whether the dog shows potential for stockdog training. I have no problem with that.

 

Yes, this.

 

And what an awesome pup!

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That is a nice pup. Just as a point of discussion, I think once I was actually doing some training on it, I'd want to keep him on his feet more, simply because he likes to go to balance and lie down (at least I didn't hear him being told to lie down) and that could translate into a bit of clappiness later (ask me how I know this; are you listening Larky?).

 

J.

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Well, that pup is in Canada now and he hasn't laid down since he got here apparently! I was a bit worried he'd be clappy but i think he was just being a bit unsure. He'll be a year old in a few weeks and I understand he's doing well, though he's bit of a handful. He's by Dewi Tweed out of a bitch who is a full sister to Kevin Evans's Greg, so he's nicely bred.

 

It was interesting (to me, anyway) that in Wales, almost no one wanted their dog to lie down as in belly on the ground. It was all about the stand. I've never asked for a position - just a stop. Do you have a different command if you want your dog on his feet versus on his belly?

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Just my approach, a little different, I wouldn't worry about the stop but instead look toward helping him find the right distance from the sheep at any place, he was coming in too tight on the top side and I believe that was triggering his stop when he got around in front. He was beginning to discover that he needed to be off a bit more at the top on his own. The more he causes motion the harder his stop will probably get and the stickier he will get.

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I thought that might be Richard Millichap in the video? Couldn't get a good look at his face. I have a lie down and stand on Twist and Lark. I put the stand on Lark after she showed signs of getting clappy (she is clappy). I want a dog to know what lie down means, but I also try to start my dogs so that they learn to feel and adjust themselves, and they can choose to stand or lie down depending on the situation. With Ranger, who has no eye, I insist on a lie down. So for me, it really depends on the dog.

 

I would never start out by pushing a youngster out. I've had dogs that are too wide, and I've found that, in general (paying attention to the genetic propensity of course) most dogs will widen some as they age. I wouldn't want to set up a situation where I pushed a dog out and then regretted it later. Again, for me it has to do with letting the youngster learn to develop feel and figure out where the correct distance is (it can be very trying while they're doing this though).

 

For this pup in particular, the switch from the lighter sheep he was on to something heavier could put a stop to any thought of clappiness (I have no idea what he's working in Canada obviously). It's really hard to judge what they'll ultimately be when they're that young.

 

J.

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Thanks, Julie. It's not Millichap, it's a youngish shepherd and shearer (also named Rich) who lives in a lovely forested area. Incidentally, young Rich can crutch 800 ewes in one day - can you imagine? When we were there, it was the tail-end of lambing - I think there are 1,500 ewes up on those hills behind the paddock. It really is a different world!

 

I think any sheep in Canada have to be heavier than the Welsh Improved. Oh my are those things light! I think they're really pretty, and when they run through you, you can barely feel them. Not a bad training sheep, those little things. smile.gif

 

Anyway, Moss is with a friend of mine in Alberta, and he has Katahdhins and Barbs. The pup has moderate eye and he sounds like he's pretty nice for his age. I agree with the pushing out thing - I've seen those dogs that get wiiiiiddde as they hit 5 or 6. Much easier to kick a dog out than beg him in.

 

I've been told to keep Lou on his feet because he is such a big dog that when he gets up from a down, it creates a lot of motion that can unsettle the sheep. He generally stops on his feet anyway. If I let him lie down for too long, he'll definitely eye up, so I do have to keep that in mind when we're working. I try not to set with him before our run, for example. Rex is better when he's on his feet as he's always coming forward, and it seems smoother when he does it from a stand. There are times, though, when I really need him on his belly, so I was thinking that perhaps I need to differentiate between 'stop' and 'get your belly on the ground'. May I ask how you teach a stand?

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May I ask how you teach a stand?

You don't want to know, lol! Twist actually will often do the opposite of what I ask (it's a running joke around here, or was when she and I were both youinger/greener). So if I say "Stand" she lies down and if I say "Lie down," she stands. That's largely because I accepted a stop for my lie down, and she has right much eye and always had a great feel for her sheep, so I didn't need to tell her what to do, she'd just do what was right (is there any wonder why I'd like another one like her, minus the wideness?).

 

Anyway, I didn't try to put a stand on Lark till she was already pretty much trained. It pretty much just went as the following sequence:

Me: Stand.

Lark: Lies down.

Me: Get up (a commonly used command for clappy dogs, lol!)

Lark: Up and walking forward.

Me: Stand (the second she starts forward, which with her is the first step, because "get up" means move forward, not just stand up).

Lark: Lies down

Repeat a few more times. Each time I'd say get up, I'd immediately say "Stand" and move slightly toward her to put some pressure on to stop her and then instantly step back, to avoid the lie down, when she complied and then let her walk on. It was tricky with her because of the clappiness. I think it would be easier to train into a dog who prefers to stay on his feet anyway. Interestingly, she got the concept of stand a whole lot quicker on the drive than on the fetch. I still have trouble getting her to stand on the fetch. (Too bad I don't have a video--it would show it much easier than I can explain it). Oh, and even though Lark is trained to open, we did all of these exercises up close where I could influence her with my body pressure. I also used sheep that wouldn't try to race off, as that brings out the "race to the pressure point and clap" thing and what I wanted was for the sheep to let me work on a stand with Lark, so I used pretty broke sheep, but not puppy sheep, to do this.

 

I think when starting a youngster now, I'd use the pup's desire not to lie down to teach the stand from the start. I'd mix it up and sometimes ask for a down and sometimes a stand, but if you do that you have to be absolutely consistent in getting a down when you say lie down and a stand when you say stand; otherwise you end up with a dog who will either be confused or just take both commands to mean stop however you want to.

 

I've not thought about putting the two on different whistles. That's something to think about. But usually if I'm asking for a stand it's when we're doing close work anyway, like shedding or penning.

 

J.

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Hmm, well, that sounds like it would be interesting to try. It sometimes is a bad idea to ask Rex to get up. Currently, his walk-up command is "Youtakeyourtimenowsteadythere!!". So once again, it will come down to my somewhat sketchy timing. Oh, I smell a fail!! But thanks, we'll give it a try!

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Interestingly, she got the concept of stand a whole lot quicker on the drive than on the fetch. I still have trouble getting her to stand on the fetch.

I have the same thing with Bonnie and I always thought that in drive I am behind her so I put less pressure on her with my overwhelming presence she has to face on fetch, poor tyke.

 

Perhaps I did it all wrong, but I was told to keep Bonnie on her feet so what I did was set up a drive with me next to the dog. I say walk, stand. She tries to lie down and before she would do that, I hold her under her belly, stand her up and repeat 'stand'. At first she seemed surprised that we are herding and I am touching her, but then she also noticed what a good idea it was because it gave her a lot more push on the sheep.

 

She caught on within a couple of days. And then I never had to train it with her that way. Now I can see when I am too forceful in handling her because she lies down on "stand". And I can see when I am perfectly balanced in handling because she stands on "lie down" :lol: (which is fine for me, I like standing dogs).

 

I hope it wasn't some terrible stock work heresy I did with the "stand" training :), but it worked.

 

Maja

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Yes. Do they have Obedience tested certificates where a dog can earn a piece of paper sitting on command? Or demonstrates sustained focus at the handler (after all that is prt of OB basics)

 

Do they have Agility tested where the dog gets a certificate for jumping up on a table?

 

How about field tested where the dog demonstrates the ability to retrieve a ball or bumper?

 

No they don't. And I have an idea that those would be a bit laughable.

 

People are so far removed from the basics of stock work, that any sort of prey drive will get the dog a title and prove to people that the dog "has what it takes" when in fact all it really proves is that the dog will chase moving objects.

 

This is a really good way to put it.

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Or is the concept of 'instinct test' laughable in the first place?

 

 

Yes.

 

It's a scam to separate the gullible from their money.

 

You can't tell anything from a dog's first couple of times on sheep. Some are super keen and turn out to have no talent. Some are super shy and turn out OK once they turn on.. It's highly variable, age-dependent etc etc etc.

 

What a dog looks like at a year and a half or two after some decent training and sufficient work experience is all that matters.

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Hi Pearse.

 

First, I agree with you wholeheartedly; "instinct test" makes me cringe.

 

Having said that, I have from time to time had the good fortune to stand with some gifted handlers/trainers when I first put some of my young dogs on sheep. All I ever see is 5-10 minutes of chaos. These fine trainers, seeing the same thing, would make some tentative suggestions as to the amount of eye present and amount of presence. Over the next year or two I would come to see that they were always spot on with their initial estimate. It never fails to amaze me how some of us can be so talented that way.

 

charlie

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But you can't beat seeing your young pup that's just a few months old bend out into a perfect outrun and bring a flock in like a grown, fully trained dog. Takes your breath away. :D I've got one like that right now. She is just old enough to start real training and I can't wait to see how she turns out.

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But you can't beat seeing your young pup that's just a few months old bend out into a perfect outrun and bring a flock in like a grown, fully trained dog

 

Hey, sounds just like my Patty...or are you talking about her relative??

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Hey, sounds just like my Patty...or are you talking about her relative??

 

Nope, my Hazel. Most natural pup I've ever worked with. Just a handful of times on stock and I could use her for chores. She would be the type of dog a farmer would want. No training needed for basic work, just plug and play.

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Yes. Do they have Obedience tested certificates where a dog can earn a piece of paper sitting on command? Or demonstrates sustained focus at the handler (after all that is prt of OB basics)

 

Do they have Agility tested where the dog gets a certificate for jumping up on a table?

 

How about field tested where the dog demonstrates the ability to retrieve a ball or bumper?

 

No they don't. And I have an idea that those would be a bit laughable.

 

People are so far removed from the basics of stock work, that any sort of prey drive will get the dog a title and prove to people that the dog "has what it takes" when in fact all it really proves is that the dog will chase moving objects.

 

I know the posts have gone on from here and I haven't read the whole thread, but, Mara, this is the most excellent response to the issue of instinct tests I've ever read. I'm going to steal it next time I get the chance.

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The latest post was: "Herding Instinct is now finished. Out of 21 entries, we had 12 pass! Congrats all!!"

 

For those of you who have never seen a "herding instinct test" ... this is all that is required.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiTSLG9VmAU

 

So only half of them had this much interest? Sad, sad, sad. But they know how to build the better dog, right?

 

This seems so unfair to the dog to send her in with a novice handler who wouldn't even let go of the rope and kept pulling her into the sheep while the onlookers are saying "get 'im get 'im" <shaking head>. And I agree, I was thinking the same thing when I saw the post that only about half of the AKC dogs passed the instinct test. Very sad. The instinct test tells you nothing about working ability I know, but it really says something that most of the dogs weren't even interested.

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OK, we all agree. The instinct test is garbage.

 

But what would a stellar performance look like? It seems that they don't all look so swell as the smooth 5 monther in the later video.

 

Even I could see that the first dog was hopeless. And neither dog had a crouch or anything looking like a working demeanor, but at least the second dog was interested in the sheep (if only to try and eat them) and its tail wasn't doing the Indy 500 checkered flag thing.

 

But I do hear folks here referring to an "upright worker." I understand that crouching is a signature working Border Collie posture. But is it not true that not all good working Border Collies crouch, and a dog that does crouch when say, stalking a tennis ball, may be a crappy stockdog?

 

I'm not trying to make a case for the alleged AKC working Collie. But if I as the owner of "CH Rufflebutt of Sunnybank CDX" went to a herding trial, or saw someone working a good 'un, and I could see what a truly promising youngster looked like on stock, I might begin to look at Border Collies in a different way. (And then get CH Rufflebutt neutered and go do agility or dock diving with him instead, while I saved up for a proper stock dog.)

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But I do hear folks here referring to an "upright worker." I understand that crouching is a signature working Border Collie posture. But is it not true that not all good working Border Collies crouch, and a dog that does crouch when say, stalking a tennis ball, may be a crappy stockdog?

 

 

My old retired boy, Jesse, is/was an example of a good upright worker. He never crouched and only dropped his head and sometimes slightly lowered his shoulders. I didn't know enough, 10 years ago, to train him to Pro Novice or beyond, but he was a terrific ranch dog and I rarely found a job he couldn't do. Jesse is also loose-eyed, which seems to go with the more upright workers, but that said nothing about his ability on sheep.

 

Now, I don't know if anyone has any anecdotal evidence regarding loose-eyed, upright BCs versus the more stylish types, when it comes to Open and upper level work. Maybe it would prove out that the upright dogs don't attain the higher levels, maybe not. But they darned sure can turn in a good day's work. :)

 

And I've seen some pet dogs who crouched and eyed their toys and never saw livestock. Don't know how those dogs might have been if they'd ever been put to sheep, though...

 

~ Gloria

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OK, we all agree. The instinct test is garbage.

 

But what would a stellar performance look like? It seems that they don't all look so swell as the smooth 5 monther in the later video.

 

Someone here have any video to share? ;)

 

In my humble view, I would consider a stellar performance to be a pup that naturally circles the sheep, stops on balance when the sheep halt, and demonstrates something of a natural sense of rate or pace. He will be keenly yet sensibly engaged, and move instinctively to cover the sheep when they shift this way or that. He will drop all chase or play to address his sheep in a serious and workmanlike manner.

 

When the raw instinct reveals the sort of ability that makes you go, "Wow"... that's stellar. :)

 

~ Gloria

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Yes. Do they have Obedience tested certificates where a dog can earn a piece of paper sitting on command? Or demonstrates sustained focus at the handler (after all that is prt of OB basics) [...] No they don't. And I have an idea that those would be a bit laughable.

Just so there is no confusion where I stand - I don't care for instinct tests and I am not defending them.

 

BUT herding is largely based on instinct as the name of the test would indicate, while obedience is not. Obedience is an arbitrary behavior, hence you cannot test the raw untrained behavior, hence there are nor obedience instinct tests. However, being oriented towards people and willingness to work with humans (important for obedience) is genetic to a large extent, and it is tested, you can test it e.g. at 6-7 weeks, or later too , but it's a different test. I'm sure you know that. Also instinctive work like predisposition for sniffing work can be tested and is tested on small puppies.

 

Maja

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My old dog Cap is upright and loose eyed.

 

 

 

I guess I don't mind that in work as long as they can get the job done and are brave.

 

 

 

But it seems you gotta help them get in the right spot more.

 

 

Gloria- the Pup you descibe is Swifty, the one that I sold to Caitlin for cattle. Sheez! I couldn't believe it the first time she was on sheep.

 

I need to film stiuff more. I'll try to get a video of her. We are not training yet as the pups are still young.

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Stellar would be awesome. I bet Liz's Hazel had a stellar "instinct test". (and by that I really just mean first time on sheep) But isn't the whole point that the first time or two doesn't really show anything? Honestly, I'm sure *most* of the time, a dog that has a great first time out, will end up to be a good or great worker. 100% of the time? No. There could always be something to come out later that makes the dog not as excellent as the first glimpse would have indicated.

 

Likewise, while everyone is getting down on a young dog who ate sheep poo and had a flag for a tail, couldn't that dog very well turn it on the next time, or the time after? Isn't that the whole point? (I'm kind of asking that in regards to someone calling one of the dogs hopeless).

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