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Hi All,


I finally posted pix of my new pup in the gallery and now I have a question about training her. She's just turned 6 months old and she's had 3 exposures to sheep so far. Nothing crazy just some circling for a couple minutes and stopping on balance in a round pen. I've been told she is too young to start formal training right now so I just want to give her some positive experiences with the stock.


Right now I do have some ducks but no sheep (some friends & I are looking for a pasture to lease). So it is not a good starting situation for a pup. I am not confident in my choice of trainers locally to get her started right with me so I am thinking about sending her to a professional...if for nothing else than to get her daily exposure to sheep.


Can anyone recommend a trainer?? I am in central FL and travel is expected within reason. I have had some suggestions on who to consider & who to avoid but I am getting conflicting info so anything you can tell me will be appreciated (PM's are fine).


Some other questions I have:


-What can I expect to pay for outside training?

-How old should she be before I send her?

-How long should I plan on leaving her?

-I have been told by one trainer that she could be trained to PN level in 2 months. Is that realistic?

-Would there be any benefit to sending her out for just one month? (Cost is a big issue for me).


Any thoughts or experiences would be very appreciated!

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$600 to $1000 a month


Depends on the dog. Some bitches are ready quite young, but most aren't ready for the pressure of serious training until they are over a year old.


How long depends on what you want. A year or more if you want a fully trained and seasoned dog, a few months if you just want the foundation work done.


No problem getting a dog to the PN level *at home* in 2 months. Don't expect to win PN trials with just 2 months training unless the trainer can get your dog out to work on various farms to give her the widest variety of experiences possible.


A month can give your dog a solid foundation, so its worth it if you don't have the experience to provide that foundation training yourself.


Personally, I got the most bang for my buck from a 10 day clinic. I took my 10 month old bitch and learned how to start her.

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I sent my then 14-month-old Hoot off to be started last October. He was with Lee Lumb in British Columbia, Canada for 10+ weeks. A little far for you, but it was the best decision I ever made! I didn't have the experience to start a dog. Hoot came home with an amazing foundation. I brought him home in December, my older dog was laid up in January, and I lambed with Hoot. 18 months old, with 4 months of training, and the foundation Lee put on him got us through lambing season smoothly.


I paid about $500/month, plus I spent three or four days working with Lee and Hoot.


Hoot certainly was not at a PN level after two months, but he's been slow to mature, period. I waited until I thought he was ready to handle the training before I sent him out. He'd been exposed to sheep starting at 7 months or so.


You need to find a trainer whose work you like. I asked about a zillion people who I should send a dog to, and I watched dogs those trainers had started. I think I got in touch with Lee in August- good trainer's spots fill in fast!


I'm not anywhere close to rich. I scraped and saved for Hoot's training because I knew it was so important. He might not ever make a trial dog, but I haven't yet found a job on the farm he can't do.

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Not sure how posting obedience board and train prices is relevant here. The OP is clearly asking about sending her dog out for stockdog training, where prices and services are completely different than what they are for obedience board-and-train services.


And whether it is rare for "sheepdoggers" to send dogs out may depend on region or something. I know more people, ranging from novices to very competitive open handlers, who send dogs out than don't.

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Perhaps Donald is pointing out that with prices being so high for just boarding (albeit probably deluxe boarding compared to most practical stockdog boarding), if a stockdog trainer were to charge enough to cover the cost of boarding plus the value of training, the price to charge would be way more than anyone would pay for the several months it should take to put a foundation on or work with a stockdog.


Prices I have heard quoted range from $300 to $500 or so. Generally minimal but suitable "accomodations". Working the dog daily, sometimes several times a day, depending on the trainer's situation.


A good trainer is worth every penny. A good and solid foundation is, I believe, the most important thing you can do for a dog's training because everything else is built upon it.


As for the OP's individual questions, I'd say:

1. That depends.

2. That depends.

3. That depends.

4. I doubt it but I'm really not in a position to say.

5. That depends.


Whatever you do, make sure you thoroughly research anyone you would consider and, if there's something that doesn't strike you as right, find someone else.

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I think it is an outstanding idea to send the dog away if you are able to afford it. Liz's option of a 10 day clinic is great as well because it will teach you how to handle your dog.


In my experience it is about $500-$700 which is far less than what pet dog training is for board. Granted most of the dogs time is in a kennel, not training for house manner etc


If you buy a started dog it is going to be about $3000 depending on the level of the dog; To send a dog away for 2-3 months (which I would think is minimum) to get it trained is a bargain. But make sure you budget enough to go and take a few days of lessons after the training is complete

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Congrats on your pup!


We've paid between $300-$525 a month. (We provided the dogs' food and hw preventative.) The age of the dog depends on a lot of factors. Personally, I probably wouldn't send a dog out earlier than 10 mos or so (but of course it really depends on the dog's maturity).


I've sent dogs out for anywhere from 1-6 mos. When I sent for 1 mos, it was to someone who I was taking twice weekly lessons with and I sent the dog several times, for a total of about 6 mos of training over the course of maybe 18 mos.


What do you mean by PN level? Competition ready or able to do a 75 yd outrun, lift, fetch, assisted drive/ware, and pen? With the trainer or with you? The dog I sent for 6 mos worked at a Ranch (or Open w/out the shed) level with the trainer (actually placed high at a trial with that trainer). With me, um, not so much.


We all joke that our dogs are most hindered by their handlers, but to some degree that's very true--esp. at the novice level. I don't know your personal circumstances; however, if you don't have much background in this kind of thing, you need to prepare for the long haul--even with sending your dog out (and much longer if you don't)-- and prepare to keep working with a trainer who can teach *you.*


Even highly trained dogs slip very quickly with bad timing, not insisting on proper flanks/stops, etc--all the things that are common when you're learning. A trained dog will help you recognize those things much quicker than an untrained one (that's one of the real benefits of having one that's been trained) and the foundation on the dog will help it not develop poor habits from the start.

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I would like to know which trainers you are all sending dogs to, because what you paid is much less than I've been quoted for sending a dog out!


I did send a dog out for 3 months training at $400 a month, but that was nearly 10 years ago. If people are still charging those same rates they are not valuing their own time very much. Those fees would cover their training time, but not the time it takes to care for the dog over the course of the month.

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I have had both of my dogs sent for training. Lou, whom I bought as trained, spent two months with a trainer to clean up some things. He was about 3. Rex, whom I bought as started (he could do little gathers) was sent to "boarding school" at 13 months and he stayed there for a year. During that year, he was also trialled as a Nursery dog and he ran at both the CBCA and USBCHA Nursery finals. I believe he ran his first trial (Nursery) after 4 months of training (and not by me, by his trainer). Both of these folks charged $500 a month, and I provided food and HW meds.


What do you mean by PN level? Competition ready or able to do a 75 yd outrun, lift, fetch, assisted drive/ware, and pen? With the trainer or with you?

Yes, this. There are folks that are so talented, I think they could get a 2x4 around a PN course. That same dog, in the hands of a different handler, might not look so shiny. And of course, it depends on the dog. Some are just faster learners than others, some are more talented than others, some are able to take more training in a short amount of time than others.


For me, I am a huge fan of sending dogs away for training. For one, I have limited access to sheep, and for another, I don't have the skills to start a dog. I look at it as I could pay $20 to rent sheep maybe twice a week and muddle along as best I could or I could pay someone with experience in starting dogs, and my dog goes to sheep a couple times a day 4 or 5 days a week.


I do agree with Liz P - I think they are vastly undervaluing their service. It would cost me more than $500 a month to board my dog at a regular boarding kennel. Still, that seems to be the going rate around here, and I think it is tremendous value.

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I think the ~$400-$600 range per month is what most trainers are charging these days. The one thing I would like to add, in addition to seeking a trainer you are comfortable with (methods, the way their dogs work, etc.), is to look for someone who is familiar with the lines your dog is from, if possible--parents, siblings, littermates, half siblings, and so on. With many dogs, that may not make much of a difference, but with some dogs (and here I guess I'm referring to dogs with really "big motors" or other family traits that may be difficult or unusual to deal with), having someone train the dog who has trained many like it can be invaluable,


But, it is also very important that you allow some time to work with that trainer and the dog at the end of the training (at the very least), so that you are up to speed with the dog, too,


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There is one trainer who advertises $300 per month, but I would never let him care for my dogs for even 5 minutes.


Most trainer I know are closer to $600 per month. I did call up one a few years ago and was quoted $800 per month and there was a pre screening process before accepting the dog. Several of the more expensive trainers include food and other supplies in their cost.


I really enjoy starting dogs. Time is a big limiting factor for me since I have to work to support my hobby.

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Thanks for the advice.


A little more detail about me for those who asked:


This pup is my 3rd Border Collie. Purchased specifically for herding from a well known handler.


My first dog, Gilly, was a rescue with dreams for a great pet & occasional agility partner. As my circumstances changed I was able to try herding with her but I didn't have good instruction (of course I didn't know that at the time) and she needed someone way more experienced than me to bring any talent she may have had.


My second border Collie, Sprite, was purchased from a local open handler, a real old timer. She was to be my agility dog (I had decided herding just wasn't a good match right then because I didn't have a good trainer within reasonable distance & I was struggling to split my time (and $$$!!) between herding & agility. Sprite probably has EIC and could not tolerate the extreme atmosphere in agility classes(though she did flyball well in a/c??)especially in the FL heat. A friend was starting to give herding lessons and so I got back into it. Sprite is very talented...that's what I have been told by many people. Sadly i wasted much of it tying to make her an agility dog. We are currently running in PN- next month will be our first trial of the season and a test of all our hard work last spring/summer. She is 8 now and showing signs of her age so i don't expect she will ever overcome her handler handicap & bad foundation to make an open dog.


So I really want to do the right thing by Gemma. I realize that sending a dog out for a month or 2 won't be magic but I hope it will give her a good foundation. Things that I failed to teach Sprite in the beginning & we now struggle with... nice square flanks.... a nice lift...PACE!


I have spoken to her breeder & he may be able to take her--he only takes in 1 or 2 dogs a year so it depends on the timing. I have had a couple lessons & a clinic with another handler who will take her but I have been warned not to take her there. I was not alarmed at all by what I saw in his handling or his dogs but apparently his mentor is known for being very hard on his dogs???


So far I have had 1 PM with a recommendation so if anyone else has any others that would be great.


Thanks for the discussion!

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