Jump to content
BC Boards

The "right" amount of eye


Recommended Posts

Please forgive me if I posted this under the wrong category; I could seem to find one that fit.

 

I'm rather new to the world of working border collies- having read and studied and audited clinics (without having a border collie to work with) for a few years now. I am looking for a trained dog and am excited about the possibilities- and have a few good leads. I'm lucky to have a few mentors that are helping to guide me through the process.

 

Oddly, I find myself confused about the right amount of eye that is desirable in a dog. I've seen very successful dogs (from a trial and practical perspective) described as having "very little eye", as if that is a good thing. Although I have also seen dogs with too much eye, it seems like those dogs are far less common. I would think that some eye is desirable; it is one of the hallmarks of the breed and it looks very stylish, too.

 

So what is it about the eye? Is it a matter of personal preference?

 

I have also heard that eye gets stronger as the dog matures, but a few other people have told me that is an old wives' tale.

Link to post
Share on other sites

a lot depends on how successful the dog is, a dog with a lot of eye has to also have courage, confidence and a understanding of what he/she is trying to accomplish to back it up. Eye will hold livestock, eye will attract livestock, especially undogged livestock or livestock that has been offended by dogs.

 

I think most importantly is that a dog with a lot of eye needs to learn when to use it and when to not use it, and that is learned over time by leaning the job along with all the tools that the dog has been given to accomplish the job. In some cases a dog with little eye will be more effective moving livestock simply because they are not accidently stopping the stock with their eye. But, that same dog may not have the same power and control over the mind of the livestock.

 

It's kinda a hard thing to describe, more of something that over time working with dogs you begin to see the pros and the cons and how eye and the ability to control and relate with livestock with the eye can be a gift but used incorrectly can be a liability to the point where some want little to none in their dogs.

 

I feel that eye can get stronger and develop as the dog matures, especially if the handler/trainer values the use of eye to relate and control the livestock, as the dogs has success stopping and move stock with his eye he will build confidence and as time goes on develop more eye, but a dog naturally lacking courage that avoids eye contact is not likely to develop eye

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dave, I wouldn't consider either of those dogs loose eyed. I like how Tip worked ;)

 

I think eye comes down to personal preference, like Dave mentioned. It also depends on the type of livestock you're working. A dog with a lot of eye that can almost become "sticky" (becomes almost mexmorized by the stock and doesn't move freely) on sheep will probably present with less eye on cattle. And vice versa, a dog that seems to have little eye on cattle might be more stylish on sheep.

 

The eye can also vary with different types of sheep as well. Heavy sheep can bring out more eye in a dog that seems to be loose eyed on lighter sheep. My dog can range anywhere from loose eyed to relatively stronger eyed depending on the pressure he is reading from his stock. If the pressure is heavy and the point easy to pick out, he gets very stylish, if the pressure point takes a little more finese in finding, he has a hard time with it and tends to wear and work with less eye. As he's matured Chesney uses his eye more, but I think that the amount of eye has been there the whole time. Which is how I feel about all dogs, they are programmed with the amount of eye they will have and I think as they get older, they learn to use it more, whether for the better or worse.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I personally do think it is a matter of personal preference and the kind of stock you will encounter. I like a bit looser eyed dog. But that is also because I got extremely lucky with mine that where.

I much rather direct than beg. So to me a lot is also dependent on your personal working style?

Link to post
Share on other sites

....I have also heard that eye gets stronger as the dog matures, but a few other people have told me that is an old wives' tale.

 

Some dogs learn through experience to manage their eye for particular circumstances. An alarmist ewe in the rear of the packet will sometimes stop to face a dog who may have bumped her flight/fight bubble a little too hard, and the remainder of the packet will pause, as well. This ewe will make prolonged eye-to-eye contact with the dog as if to say, "Hey, back-off a little, and we'll be fine". A dog who can read this behavior (and realize this sheep is not about to make a run at it), can learn to turn its head for just a moment to the side, breaking eye contact, which tells the ewe to pivot around to the others, and there will be no trouble. Can save an abrupt movement on the dog's part (and no telling how the sheep will respond) and/or a grip. There are other strategies to handle a stand-off like that, but it's nice when the dog manages it peacefully him/herself. I like that quality. -- Kind regards, TEC

Link to post
Share on other sites

I should know better than to enter these conversations by now, but, I can't let this one pass. I don't want any dog of mine to EVER turn its head to the side and look away from the stock. When the dog does this, that tells the stock that the dog is weak, and the stock will then take advantage of the dog. I want my dogs to stand there, holding their ground AND their gaze, until the stock decide to turn and move off. No "abrupt movement" necessary; no grip necessary. Just balls of steel.

 

But then, I'm not sure what any of that has to do with the amount of EYE a dog has or does not have.

 

Personally, I happen to like quite a bit of eye. And I find that a lot of eye does not equal slow to move. I had a bitch that was faster than lightening with everything she did, but still had what I would describe as more than average eye,

A

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yup, glancing away is negotiating and we view it as weakness, if the dog waits to release until after the ewe or cow gives first that is fine, the dog rewards the livestock. Our oldest dog Jake turns his head away if pressure gets to high, he hopes the stock with give which typically ends up bringing the fight right to him. I hadn't noticed it happening until a well known trainer and breeder pointed it out to us at a trial down in Arkansas, he explained that it was weakness and was the cause of the conflict. Went home and worked on it, he's not as bad about it now, holds pressure better and is more effective.

Link to post
Share on other sites

set the situation up in a controlled environment, watched for him to look away and when he did encouraged him to maintain pressure. He will still do it on tougher cattle, will actually swallow hard and look away, and then he gets some courage and makes the cow a believer if he needs to. He also has a bark that comes out on tougher cattle, same deal, he can't take the pressure so releases it that way.

 

 

He is plenty useful, our go to dog and give everything he has and can.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you watch this slide show you can see places where he takes pressure off and that draws the cow back, these were unbroken cattle. He takes pressure off by turning his head, going down in the front and lying down and sometimes moving his front end sideways.

 

He is the first dog in the slide show. The second dog, our younger one holds pressure but then instead of tracking the head he will chicken out and go for a front foot or slide over and hit a heel.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a fruitful conversation for me. Robin is a very strong eyed dog but I've seen him, in tousles with one particular sheep, turn his head away and sometimes even circle around to come at the sheep from a different angle - I won't call it a full out retreat but I did consider it a fault as I thought the sheep deserved a nip on the nose. Brodie would have done that (and has) and he's a much looser eyed dog. Now I understand why Robin does it. I still want him to go at the sheep - but maybe he does know best as the sheep does fall in line for him when he does this. Thanks for the food for thought.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear Sheepdoggers,

 

I can't help thinking that "style" has a lot to do with what we think is too much or too little eye. 30 years ago, strong eyed often clappy dogs were more admired here and in the Uk. In 1991 Dorrance Eikamp's Rex clapped his way around the course to win the Sheridan National Finals.

 

Now, with most eastern trialing done on light Kathadins, upstanding looseeyed dogs are preferred - in part because they tend to be more biddable. More man/less dog.

 

My June, who had a better trial career than she might have - given her handler - was sold to me as "too strong eyed". What that meant in practice was she could bring a ewe and single to the barn one hour after birth without fuss or my help but occasionally at trials I'd have to ask twice for her to get up.

 

Different dogs develop different methods of moving difficult stock. If their method brings stock economically, I am content.

 

Donald McCaig

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...