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Bit the bullet... herding


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So I decided to start trying herding. I would like to get a versatile title on my border collies and since Cressa will most likely be getting her 2nd MACH this year, plus she is already a national champion... shrug that and the last time Cressa was on sheep she was the "best" one of all of our dogs. Thought hey let's give it a try again. I also tried Troy since we had nothing to loose. He isn't crazy for agility like Cressa. Plus I was kind of hoping maybe herding would open Troys eyes to what it means to be a border collie since he is doesn't have the mannerism of any of the rest of our other border collies.

 

So anyways after a ton of searches and emails I find someone I was interested in checking. Side note I am surprised by how many herding people are actually semi close to me.

 

Pack my dogs up and head out to their place. Get there and there is already a group of people there and about 6-7 dogs tied to the fence attached to the small sheep pen.

 

1st dog in is Cressa. The trainer take Cressa from me and walks her into the pen. Cressa doesn't look at the sheep or guy. She doesn't do anything but stares at me. Finally I go into the pen and she starts sniffing around but still isn't really interested in the sheep. A couple of times she would give a little chase then break off of them. (Normally it was when she was close to the side where all the dogs were tied or if she got too close to the guy). I kind of feel bad since I wasn't sure what to say since when ever she would start to look at the sheep the trainer would make a Shh type noise an I normally used tsk type noise as a correction. So anyways after about 10minute we let her out. About the time she was asking to be done.

 

Next it was Troy boys turn. Troy I don't think it even dawn on him there were anything in the pen to work. Sure there was interesting smells and another person and even a dog but nothing else. He did see them but... nothing.

 

At this point I am told especially at their age and their history(agility) they might NOT turn on. :( but you never know since who knows maybe the next couple session they could just turn on.

 

So we waited a bit and watch them working their dogs. They ended up putting a group of sheep in the pen next to the other pen we were working in. And those sheep were watching the dogs work their counterparts. Wasn't what I had expected but was told they were mostly was young dogs. When they were trying to get a dog to grip that got Cressa interest. So once that dog was done we went back in.

 

Cressa definitely was more interested in the sheep but she would loose focus when going to the side where the dogs were tied and now also where the sheep were staring. It broke my heart seeing her nervous(ears would fall back, avoiding eye contact, licking lips). :( but she was definitely showing more interest then last time. So yay?!

 

Next it was Troy turn again. Brought him in and he sat at my feet staring at me. Whenever I stop moving he would sit and watch me. Was told stop watching my dog and chase the sheep. So spent the next couple of minute chasing sheep. It worked Troy finally realized there was sheeps out there. He was in 7th heaven. While I was told he was just in chase mode I was still secretly impressed by how he was behaving. When one sheep would try to split off and run the other direction Troy would chase it down and turn it back. On the other I didn't like seeing/encourage that chase without thinking. But I am told that is positive sign.

 

Am hoping to trying it again. Not sure when since its always a challenge getting time/day off along with spare $$. :) ended up calling a herding person to make sure our experience was norm and nothing abnormal or concerning.

 

Herding isn't what I expected that is for sure... not sure what to think but i am intrigued.

 

ETA: while Cressa will play agility for anyone. Once its over she is looking for me and yes had to practice her staying in the ring after running for another person. Everything else needs a relationship with you to work for you. I just thought the sheep would of distracted her or something... not sure what I was thinking actually. :(

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AKC dog in what way? Cressa comes from ABCA lines and has ABCA papers. Her mom has from what j am told good dogs in her pedigree and if her dad side is accurate also good lines from him. :) Both parents worked sheep and her sister is a good farm dog.

We just do agility with AKC and USDAA.

 

Maybe I am just naive but I am pretty sure Cressa will get into herding just not with that much pressure on her. Maybe once she has a better concept of what is expected but not when she is still new to it.

 

When the sheep would go pass the dog side of the pen some of the dogs would jump up on the fence and other had their heads sticking through the fence...

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I think I would try to find another trainer, if possible. Working sheep in a pen with dogs tied all around the outside doesn't make much sense to me. And why were they trying to *get* a dog to grip? That sounds like one of those all-breed trainer situations.

 

Anyhow, I agree, I think it was way too much pressure for her. I'd say Cressa needs a much quieter, one-on-one type situation with more room for her to move. If it were me doing her testing, I'd pick some nice quiet sheep and a field of at least an acre, and just walk around with the sheep following me, maybe get a quiet dog to help move the sheep with me, and let her watch until it started getting interesting.

 

Per Troy chasing sheep, that could mean yes or no. If his tail was way up and playful, that's just chase. You'll know he's got some actual work in him when the tail starts to drop and his movements become more thoughtful. How is he bred?

 

~ Gloria

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Troy's mama side is good working dogs. Aled Owens dogs and ... other nice dogs(I don't have breeders name). His sire side isn't much to look at despite any titles earn. :) his tail wasn't flagging but it also wasn't between his legs low. I guess you could say it was half staff?! 8-/

 

This was just an informal meet up to see if my dogs were interested. So multiple people at different levels and their dogs were also there. The other people actual knew what they were doing and would get feedback and suggestions for different problems.

 

ETA: troy mom side goes back to Pip the int Irish driving Ch, Sam1998 8th placed at supreme int ch, scott a good trial dog from the UK.

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To get a "versatile" title you would have to do ACK herding, wouldn't you? Just curiously, what's the value or purpose of a " versatile" title?

 

I could do AKC, ahba or usbcha herding.

No value other then all of its requirements was everything I already wanted to do so figured why not go for it. It also shows you are willing to and the dogs ability to excel at different sports. I also figure it was way to test the waters at these different venues/it encourage you to try your hand at other sports you might not otherwise want to try. :) I blame my friend! Who we were looking at how to get his breed club working title so I started looking at bcsa... and one thing led to another and I decided to try herding.

 

Not that it matter but the trainers and the other people were right off the bat saying don't bother with AKC herding. So am pretty sure they aren't AKC trainers/competitors. :)

 

 

ETA: I probably should say. Before I dig myself into my own grave! I would like to get that title. I first have to see if my dogs have that type of potential to work let alone to the level of trialing. I am NOT looking for AKC herding titles. I would rather have earn the title in 5+ years and have a dog who can actually work then have a earn a title based off of how well the sheep knows their "places". Hope that makes sense. On the flip side if after a few session I am told I have nice pet but they will never amount to much I will just stick to agility. :) but I am not going to give up after 1 bad session I want to actually give it a try.

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Apologies first. This was not written to hurt or criticize. But I can’t say I don’t think one or the other might not result. It was written as a heads-up.

 

bite the bullet

Sl. to accept something difficult and try to live with it.

bite the bullet

to make yourself do something or accept something difficult or unpleasant

 

See, what this series of posts looks like to me is analogous to smearing one’s self with gravy and stepping into a cage full of hungry bears.

 

I’m cringing and waiting for the carnage to begin.

 

Just to cut down on the nails-on-a-chalkboard factor; try doing a search/replace and substitute the word herding with the words stock work. This will cut down on the “gravy-suit” factor.

 

The USBCHA does not offer titles. They are not interested in whether a dog is “versatile” or not, (unless versatile means equally good with newborn lambs and stroppy heifers.)

 

The title you gave this thread combined with the posts you have made so far suggests that taking your dogs to sheep was a necessary evil to get through to get a desired title. Maybe that isn’t true at all. But for many people here, a versatility title is something that tries to take the Border Collie’s work – stock work – and place it on an equal footing with a Border Collie’s play – agility, flyball, dock-diving, etc.

 

This is seen by many as not only undesirable, but fatal to the breed. I’d like to hear more about why you are taking your dogs to sheep. And I reckon you might quickly scan the “Read This First” sticky at the top of the forums again before replying.

 

Good luck to you in your foray into stock work.

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geonni you have it right but should we discourage people who want to 'test the waters' to see how well they like stock work or should they be discouraged? Most of the trashing of the OP is going on else where (doesn't it always when people mention'touchy subjects"?)

 

I think that if more are exposed tot he right attitudes towards stock work and given good guidance they will learn to appreciate just what a real Border Collie is and learn the value of proper breeding and the importance of selecting for stockwork.

 

As for the AKC route, well it is what it is and we can't fix the AKC, but perhaps with encouragement we can fix some who can learn that a proper Border Collie is bred for stock work and the only way to know which dogs should be bred is throught the work. Not all Border Collie owners have access to stock and do other sports-that is simply a fact. IMO it is better to educate one willing to learn than to discourage them. People will put up resistance and do just the opposite if negatively pushed by one group

 

To the OP, Hope you enjoyed your venture into the wonderful world of the real Border Collie. I hope you are able to continue and learn why so many on these boards are against the AKC route for Border Collies.

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Nope wasn't supposed to be anything like that. I was reading the other thread about their exposure to sheep and thought it was probably a good idea if for anything just for input or a way to see in improvement. Didn't realize it would get down to "who is your daddy" type thread. When I was talking to another member neither of my dogs had that bad or odd experience being their first or being new to the field seeing that both are over 4. And I know there is no title in USBCHA...

 

Bit the bullet was more from I had said before in other older threads that I wasn't interested in it. At the moment I am seeing if my dogs 1. Are interested in herding (I hesitate to say work since Cressa does agility and so far that is her job, that and I don't know if it will be a job my dogs will take to), 2. Have the potential to do a good job and 3. If it is plausible for us to pick up.

 

I would love to find a hobby both of my dog love and pursue it.

 

Ot: but I also didn't say working since I don't consider my dogs reactions as working. It in my mind would almost be insulting to call that session as work. They are still in that area before they are even in training.

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...but should we discourage people who want to 'test the waters' to see how well they like stock work or should they be discouraged?

I'm on the fence on this one. My dog will never go to sheep, because if she "turned on" big time it would be a "disaster" because I have not the wherewithal to continue with her. This is something I think too few people seriously consider. Border Collies are passionate about their work - whatever it is. I would hate to see that light bulb go on in a dog's head and then see the dog taken away from the work that is its birthright because the owner, like me, couldn't keep on with it, or because a title had been achieved and there was no longer any motivation for the owner to continue with stock work.

 

I'm all for people getting into stock work for the right reasons and with the proper respect for the stock and the work.

 

Another thing that concerns me here is that sheep could be potentially seen as nothing more that wooly little weave-poles or scent-discrimination dumbbells - something to be used in the pursuit of a ribbon or a scrap of paper.

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I don't believe a border collie is going to be scarred for life, or affected in any negative way, by being taken to stock once or just occasionally. I just don't buy that it's going to wake up some deep desire in the dog, and make them suddenly unsatisfied with the life they had prior to meeting sheep. Maybe others with more experience can tell me otherwise, but I kind of think that's the human emotion taking over with that thought process. (I hope that made sense, kinda hard to express what I mean)

 

Anyway, I agree with Pam. If we want more people to become interested in stock work, and understand just why breeding for work is so important, then I can't understand discouraging anyone from trying. With my usual caveat that stock are treated well by all, of course.

 

To the OP, I wouldn't get too discouraged. Many dogs don't turn on the first time, and as Gloria said, maybe this trainer, or this set up wasn't good for them. Find someone who is experienced in training border collies and give them both another go if this is truly something you are interested in, and want to learn more about. As long as the stock is being treated well by both handlers and dogs, I don't see anything wrong with giving it a try, to see what happens next time, or the time after.

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Ot: but I also didn't say working since I don't consider my dogs reactions as working. It in my mind would almost be insulting to call that session as work. They are still in that area before they are even in training.

I'm probably a hopeless romantic, but to me, the first time a 12 week old puppy sees sheep, drops into a crouch or circles intently, tail down - that pup is working.

Maybe your dogs will never take to stock work. Maybe they will. I envy you the experience of taking your dog to sheep. Call it what it is - stock work. Be aware of what a gift it is. And good luck to the three of you! :)

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I'm probably a hopeless romantic, but to me, the first time a 12 week old puppy sees sheep, drops into a crouch or circles intently, tail down - that pup is working.

Maybe your dogs will never take to stock work. Maybe they will. I envy you the experience of taking your dog to sheep. Call it what it is - stock work. Be aware of what a gift it is. And good luck to the three of you! :)

 

:) if that was their reaction I would of said working. I hope my next pup will be started off and be like that. :)

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My apologies, I didn't mean to make it a "who's your daddy" turn. Sorry! B) I only asked because I was curious about Troy's breeding, nothing more.

 

Am I correct in reading that your dogs are both 4 years old or over? Again, just curious! And asking because I wonder if a less pressured setup and environment might bring out a better response in your dogs. I got my old guy, Jesse, (who's now 13-1/2) at 2 years old, as a rescue. I wasn't even going to keep him, as we already had dogs, but I thought I'd try him on sheep just for the heck of it. That breaker switched almost instantly, and within 60 seconds of watching him go around those sheep, I knew he'd found his forever home - with me!

 

But the setup was very low-key, a quiet group of sheep in a quiet arena, just a couple folks watching from the fence. There were no other dogs nearby, no other sheep across the fence, none of that - and I think that was important, because for the first year, I did encounter various "rescue issues" in Jesse, where he'd quit work under pressure or otherwise react negatively to stress. But with good environment and thoughtful training, he blossomed and had a terrific life and career as a good farm dog and a stellar AHBA ranch-trial dog.

 

So, I hope your dogs' next try on sheep will not be so chaotic or filled with distractions and pressures. Best of luck!

 

~ Gloria

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I'll admit that the whole "bit the bullet" thing kind of gave me the impression that you were doing something you really didn't want to do or had no interest in only because you want to get a versatility title. That's not the best reason to take your dogs to stock, IMO. That said, if you're genuinely interested in learning about stock and stockwork, I'd take the time to help you.

 

If you've read other threads where people talk about first introducing their dogs to stock then surely you remember the numerous times that experienced stock people have said that you can't necessarily tell much about a dog's potential after just one exposure (or even a few exposures) to stock.

 

Give them a few chances. It can take more than one experience for a dog to turn on. Your own attitude can play a major role if your dogs are especially attuned to you.

 

Depending on your goals, it might be that neither Cressa nor Troy will suit, but you don't know that unless you try. It's also possible that they might make useful low-level farm dogs, or you might have real superstars. You will just need to put in the time and effort to find out.

 

There is an active sheepdog trialing community in PA. I don't know how near those folks are to you, but you should have access to experienced and helpful trainers and mentors.

 

Just remember that unlike with agility, stock training involves a third element: the sheep. They are living creatures who experience fear, stress, and pain. They would prefer to spend their days grazing, hanging out in family groups, and chewing their cud. If you (and this means anyone thinking of trying their dog on stock) can keep that in perspective (ie., while it may be fun for you and your dog, it's probably not fun for the sheep), then you'll do just fine.

 

J.

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Oh! OH! I know this one! Ask me! <jumps up and down enthusiastically>

 

The Border Collie Society of America has a program that offers a versatility award. Here's the worksheet. You get 3 points for finishing a Nov/Nov course with 50% of points in each element, for example. Placing in 5 Open trials gets you 10 points. I think you need 7 points across 3 activities for a versatility title. Oh, and someone should tell them it's HOBBES, not HOBBLES. In a ridiculous worksheet, that was my favourite. smile.gif

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:lol: Is it terribly bad to admit that I even knew what she was talking about before I even read her first post? B)

Based on her previous posts? I think it is very cool that you took your dogs. Not being able to at all judge the folks you went with, we all have to start somewhere. And sometimes we move on from there and other times we get lucky right away! :P

 

Silly me, I thought the sticking point about the whole AKC thing was, not to BREED on AKC titles and sport? When was it bad to take a Border Collie and show AKC or UKC or any other KC (if that is what floats your boat!)?

 

When my dogs work, they are happy. When they don't, they bug the heck out of me and are happy as well. Which makes them happy and me not so much!!! Give them a choice between sheep or frisbee....not even close! Yet, if I throw the frisbee while the sheep are in their pen eating, my dogs don't pay any mind to them...not time to work. And they know and are quite ok with it! I want it that way!

 

So many years ago, when someone gave me my first Border Collie, I was a kid with her first dog. I was thankfully unaware of any "controversies" (plus I honestly don't think there were as many) and simply wanted to learn about the working Border Collie. I simply went. I was not worried about what others thought, or if I was good enough in anyone's eyes others than my dog. I stumbled across a true working dog trainer that took his time with me and showed me sooo much. Every so patient! I got lucky finding him! And it did nothing but make me fall in love with these dogs so much more.

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Silly me, I thought the sticking point about the whole AKC thing was, not to BREED on AKC titles and sport? When was it bad to take a Border Collie and show AKC or UKC or any other KC (if that is what floats your boat!)?

I think it's the same argument that's been made here forever: Why give money to an organization whose philosophies encourage the breeding practices that have led to the ruination of many a useful breed. You're right that participating in AKC events isn't the same as breeding and conformation showing KC dogs, but it's still putting money into the machine so to speak. But I think you've been on this forum long enough to already know this answer.

 

J.

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Cressa is 7.5 and Troy is 4&3/4.

 

I know my goals but I also know that most time goals and reality don't always match when you start adding in variables. So I am will to do as much herding/working with livestock that my dogs allow. If that's only 5x so be it. If I am able to do more AWESOME.

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I would give my eye teeth (with caps) just to be able to sit and watch a sheepdog trainer, periodically, train a dog over the span of time it takes from the first introduction to sheep to the first [per Sue, correct acronym (pun intended): USBCC USBCHA] trial. I am toying with the idea of paying the spectator fees for each day in November that Patrick Shannahan has his clinics in Ellicott City. I'll sit real still, keep quiet and take notes. Why bother? Who knows. I will admit it; I am an armchair admirer. I feel no shame whatsoever in that.

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"Auditing" is a great way to listen and learn, and many clinicians will freely encourage auditors to ask questions. There's nothing wrong with watching, listening, and learning about something like this, even if you never do it yourself.

 

And it's USBCHA trials, not USBCC (which is the club that maintains these boards). I expect that was a typo and you knew that!

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Oh! OH! I know this one! Ask me! <jumps up and down enthusiastically>

 

The Border Collie Society of America has a program that offers a versatility award. Here's the worksheet. You get 3 points for finishing a Nov/Nov course with 50% of points in each element, for example. Placing in 5 Open trials gets you 10 points. I think you need 7 points across 3 activities for a versatility title. Oh, and someone should tell them it's HOBBES, not HOBBLES. In a ridiculous worksheet, that was my favourite. smile.gif

 

"Hobbles". :lol:

 

Thanks for the explanation.

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