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I really was not sure where this type of question should be posted, so I thought general would work.

 

I am a complete novice in sheep herding and new to these boards. I have an 11 month old border collie that I am training with two patient herding instructors and it is going very well. Both of them have suggested that I purchase a second dog - one that is trained for the open level - so that I can learn from him/her and this would make me a better trainer and handler for my novice dog. This is what helped both of them as well as several friends/fellow trainers/students. They also say that I will learn a lot having to work two dogs, plus it will give me an open level dog while my current dog matures.

 

So my question is this: I have been looking and think I found a potential dog. I have spoken with the owner and he will be getting me a video of the dog on sheep so that I can see him work sheep. I am planning on sharing it with my instructors for their thoughts as well as going to meet both the owner and the dog if I continue to be interested. But when I talk with the owner, I am finding myself unsure of what questions I should be asking - afraid of my own inexperience I guess.

 

I would really appreciate some advice from those that have purchased an open level dog on what I should be asking the owner about - be it from a health, herding, training/trialing, general life with the dog aspect.

 

Thank you all very much!

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I think you should have your mentors go with you to check out the dog. A good handler can make a dog look great and being green you really won't know what to look for.

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What Kristen said!

 

Also, an alternative would be taking on a retiring Open-level dog. Many good handlers who are limited in the number of dogs they can keep are happy to find a good, permanent retirement home for an older Open-level dog - and that dog still has some years to teach you and work with you, and years of experience to share with you.

 

Just another thought.

 

PS - Welcome!

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Oops! Sorry, I forgot to mention that at least one of my mentors is going to see the dog with me. It is pretty hard for me to coordinate the three of us as well as the owner (why do we have to work again?), so I know at least one is going. The other has actually met the dog before - she helped do some of his initial training when the owner couldn't figure some things out.

 

As to a retired open dog, that would have been an option except that I had not found one. It took me some time to find this one. Others that I had found (and there weren't many) did not seem to fit me or there was something about the dog that I (or my mentors) did not like or think would work for me. In all honesty, this is the first dog that we have liked enough for me to go and look at. Now, does that mean I will buy the dog - no, not definately, but he is the first. If you or anyone knows of an open dog for sale (retired or otherwise) please do let me know as I would be open to it.

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I bought Lou from a person I knew a bit already, and she was very patient with my questions. I had seen him at trials so I knew (as much as someone who knows nothing about herding could know!) that I liked how he worked. He seemed quiet, the sheep were calm around him, and there wasn't a lot of yelling.

 

My questions to his owner largely revolved around how she thought he would adapt to a pet home. At the time, I lived in a condo in a big city, and the idea of making him an urban pet was bit daunting. She told me how Lou was travelling, and how he had been to lots of different places, and nothing much fizzed on him. We decided that it might be a good fit, so I bought him.

 

As this picture shows, Lou took to life as a house pet rather well. smile.gif

lou_frog.jpg

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my advice to novices wanting to buy a trained dog is shut your eyes and open your ears. If there are tons of commands then run away! You, a novice cannot handler that dog!Once you've heard few commands then open your eyes and see how the dog works. Having an experienced person is a big help, but often trialers are immune to the constant whistles so watch with your ears first.

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I think you need to know yourself a little bit before you know what questions to ask. I am not one that likes to fight a dog, so I absolutely would want to know if the dog is more or less biddable (more biddable being my preference because I don't want to knock heads all the time). Likewise, consider that a harder dog may be more likely to run all over a novice handler; such a dog may cause frustration rather than create learning opportunities. So I'd certainly make my number one question something along the lines of "Is this an honest dog who will do the right thing DESPITE MY mistakes?" I'd also ask to work the dog (with the owner present) to get a feel of whether I'd be comfortable working with the dog. Maybe even have your mentor work the dog to see if the dog is amenable to working with someone else. I have a dog here who will work for only select people, and others who will work for anyone.

 

Because my dogs are house dogs, I'd want to know if the dog gets along with other dogs (cats, chickens, etc.).

 

Also, you might not actually need an open dog. You could probably find a started/mostly trained dog for less money and still get what you need experience-wise from it.

 

My first open dog was given to me as a retiree. She was still relatively young (6), but her owner had two other open dogs (and usually that's the most you can run at a trial) and Jill was her least consistent performer of the three, although she did her share of winning. Winning didn't matter to me; being able to go out and trust the dog to do the right thing while I learned to handle an open course was what really counted. And the price was certainly right! Of course I had seen Jill run and had liked her. I had even called her owner once or twice before when I had heard she might be for sale. So I knew from seeing her at trials that I liked her. My young dog at the time was out of the same lines on one side, so I knew I I liked the dogs (how they worked) from that particular breeder.

 

Just remember that open dogs can drop down to your level pretty easily if allowed, so if you buy such a dog make sure your mentors are available to help you keep the dog working at a level that will allow you to actually progress more quickly.

 

Pam's advice is good too. You're new to it all, but you might already know what tendencies you have as a handler. If you haven't been to some trials, you might want to do that too, so you can watch a bunch of different dogs and handlers and perhaps get an idea of the *type* (working wise) of dog that most appeals to you. I don't like to micromanage and so wouldn't be happy with a dog that requires a constant stream of commands (I have one of those now, and I don't like him as much as my other dogs for that very reason--he *wants* to be told what to do and he wants to please, but he wants to please by doing exactly what he's told. He'd make someone a great trial dog, especially someone who likes to micromanage, but he would not be my first choice simply because he's really not my style, if you know what I mean. That said, he's mine, so I work with him, but I would not have chosen him as an already-trained adult). I don't like to drill, so wouldn't be happy with a dog that requires constant drilling to stay up to snuff. I remember a friend telling me once that she likes a dog that can take drilling because that's how she trains. These are larger pictures things that will be harder for you to judge as a newbie, but they are very important to the overall success of a partnership you might try to create with a trained dog.

 

J.

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Thanks for the advice! I have been making a list of questions to ask and just needed some more input! The trainer would like me to do a few lessons with him if I choose to purchase him - which I am very happy with since he knows the dog best and I would love the opportunity to work with yet another handler. The dog is also being sold with a 30 day trial period so I can take some time to evaluate him and see how we work together.

 

I definitely prefer a more biddable dog - I do not like micromanaging. My mentors have had me work a few of their open level dogs so I could get a feel for it. One had a dog that required more commands, the other's retired dog was like power steering - barely any commands what so ever. Granted, this was not working them on an open level, just some basics so I could understand what we needed my dog to do better. On the one video I have seen of the dog (working cattle, which I am even less able to comprehend), the dog did not seem to require a ton of commands - even my mentor who was watching it with me said she liked how quietly the dog and handler worked.

 

Julie, I had looked at a couple of started dogs, but they weren't that far along in their training. I have had quite a time finding any dog with training up for sale. My mentors are more than happy to help me keep his level up - they will probably be doing some extra training with him and working to keep him polished while I am learning with him. I hope that someday, the two of us will work open together, but until that time they are more than happy to help out.

 

I am awaiting the video of the dog working sheep. Then, if I still like him, we move forward to a meet and trial period. Has anyone ever had a trial period with a dog, and if so, is there anything I should know or think about during this time? I know I am worried about the potential harm to the dog while in my care without me owning the dog... what do you guys think and is this common place?

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Some people do sell dogs on trial. When I bought Kat, I had a 30-day trial period. Of course I loved her and would never have given her up anyway (and I was informed of her training holes before I bought her), but like you mention, the big fear is the dog getting hurt or similar. Just be careful what you do with the dog during that period, and of course it only really matters if you aren't getting along with the dog.....

 

P.S. I hope your mentors (at least one of them) are open handlers.

 

J.

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It all sounds good. While waiting for my 5mos.old pup to grow up, my mentor was returned and offered me a 2 yr.old started/running N/N dog that she had bred. 100% win/win situation. I ran him in a couple N/N trials with success and moved to P/N a few mos. later. We had some success and some disaster but also moved up to Open the next year. My 'WonderDog' is now 10 and still running well. He taught me everything. The pup proved a trial wash-out lacking some confidence combined with my beginner handling mistakes. However he is an awesome farm/chore/set-out dog.

Hope it works out for you, if you are keen and have the time/money to train/trial, this dog could be a dream come true. It was for me.

cheers Lani

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I just added a trained boy to my bunch. But not anywhere near open level.

Either way, the above advice is very well thought out and presented. The biggest thing I want to echo is the fact that you have to be sure that above all, you like and respect that individual dog.

I made sure my boy never left my sight. I had him micro chipped (with permission of course) before I made the final payment. He wore an i d collar at all times. Plus, I would have assumed any expenses should something have happened.

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I just recently bought an Open dog. I had a short trial period as well as a lesson with her before the owner left. If something happened to her during the trial period, I was to pay the dog price. Not an issue. If she didn't work out, then I had to pay her flight back. of course, I had been drooling over this dog for years and we just clicked. BUT, I will tell you the guy that sold her to me, knew exactly what would and would NOT work for me and fit the dog to me. It was a great fit. He told me of her holes (not much) and then told me of my holes and how to fix them to run this dog. I have asked him about other dogs he had for sale and he told me that they wouldn't suit me. I had been looking for a Open dog for about a year. I wanted a female that would be a housedog and had some push.

 

She has settled in and acts like she has been here all her life. we just did a practice session at a trial field and one Open handler who saw her, remarked how well we clicked and we were working as a team.

 

You have to have the right fit.

 

Will the dog suit You?

Will you suit the dog?

 

Do your style mesh?

What is your expectations of this dog?

 

And further more, it takes about a year for a dog and new handler to really team up. Some may take shorter but that is the yardstick that I use. It took Nan well over two years and Maid, about five months.

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What makes me wonder is what kind of money are we talking about?

I realize its´s an "it depends" question, but could anyone give a ballpark figure for an "Open dog"?

Here in Iceland I heard figures for a "trained" dog (not open, I´d call it "started")of between 300 to 400 thousand isk.

I figure an open dog to go for a lot more than that.

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everything said here i think is very great advice. i would also ask, why are you selling this open dog?

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Asking why someone would be selling an open dog is a good question; don't assume that because someone is selling an open dog that there is something wrong with the dog.

 

 

The dog is being sold because the owner just purchased an open level dog he had long since admired, has at least one other open level dog, a nursery dog, and a few dogs in training.

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I have sold some Open dogs. One of the reason was one of my best frineds was looking for an Open dog and she had run my Lucy. I had three Open dogs and part of the decision was that most of the trials around here limit you to TWO dogs per class. So she got Lucy. Then I sold Roo and then I needed an Open dog. Then I got Maid. She was a top quality Open dog. She was sold because he wanted a good home for her and has upcoming Open dogs. Not all Open dogs that are for sale are sold because there is something wrong with them

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What makes me wonder is what kind of money are we talking about?

I realize its´s an "it depends" question, but could anyone give a ballpark figure for an "Open dog"?

Here in Iceland I heard figures for a "trained" dog (not open, I´d call it "started")of between 300 to 400 thousand isk.

I figure an open dog to go for a lot more than that.

It really depends. I bought an open dog 8 or 9 years ago (wow, hard to believe it's been that long) for $2,500 because she didn't shed well. For that price I was willing to deal with/work on the shed.

 

Normally, though, I think you could expect to pay around $5,000 or more for a fully trained open dog. But I haven't priced any in a while, so I may be off.

 

J.

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Thanks Julia for putting a bit of perspective on things.

(I started wondering if I had embarrassed myself for mentioning the "M" word ;) ).

Highest price I heard of here was for the winner of last years Icelandic Nationals, Karven Taff, imported from Wales, 1,2 million isk, which is about 9500 usd.

I was there, and saw him run, he looks like he was worth it. Expecting to see a lot of his offspring in the near future.

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Smalahundur,

Dogs have gone for quite a bit more than that at places like the Red Bluff bull sale, as well as at some of the auctions in the UK (where of course you get the bidder effect helping to achieve higher prices), but in general I think the price I quoted is in the ballpark of what you'd expect to pay for an open dog.

 

J.

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Last year's top price for a dog was £6300.

 

This dog -

 

 

Our own BC that looks very similar to those in the photos cost £50 but with a neutering voucher worth £49 effectively it was only £1 - some might say we were robbed at that. :lol:

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I was inquiring about a Welsh dog who is coming off a very successful nursery year. His asking price is about $14,000 USD. Young dog, loads of promise, fully-trained and lots of miles on him.

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I talked to a guy who got a nice Nursery bitch for $12,000 from the UK. He told me the prices are $8000 and up for Nursery dogs.

 

I had inquired about a trained bitch, not run in a trial but looked quite nice. $8,500...a pass for me

 

Diane

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