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Herding newbie with questions


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Hi everyone.


My pup Lily is nearing 8 months old. In the summer (when she turns a year), I am thinking about getting her evaluated to see if she has any potential in herding. I am very interested in herding, but entirely new to it, so I'm really not sure what to expect at all. What sorts of things would Lily be tested on by the trainer? What sort of personality is necessary for a good herding dog? Are there any signs I might be able to notice beforehand, or is it impossible to know until the dog has been exposed to sheep?


Any info/advice would be great, thanks! :)

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You are in NC - Robin French (Shoofly Farm) is here on these boards. She would be an excellent resource and I am sure that if you are in an area that would not be convenient to visiting with her, she could recommend one or more people you might want to get in contact with for evaluation and training.


A good dog is one that wants to listen to you; that can be focused on the job at hand; and (maybe most important of all) can take a correction without sulking or giving up.


A top clinician says a dog needs three things before being taken to sheep - he/she should know his/her own name; he/she should have a recall; he/she should be able to take a correction.



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Welcome to the boards and to border collies! :)

Sue pretty much said it all. There's not a whole lot one can do to prepare a puppy for work or to quantify any measure of how they will work. The best you can do is just focus on a good relationship with your pup, do NOT over-obedience train her, (because obedience will temporarily go right out the window, once that working instinct switches on) and make sure she's solid on knowing her name and coming when you call her. Make that part fun and rewarding for her.

Otherwise, border collie personalities run the entire spectrum and there is no one personality that's better than another, when it comes to sheep. How a dog behaves socially or at home has little bearing on how they work. A shy, retiring, quiet dog may be an utter hellion on sheep. A big, macho, charismatic playboy may be an utter pussycat on sheep. There's just no way to tell. The working instinct is a thing so varied and diverse, it's hard to measure or predict.

Finally, what the trainer will look for in an instinct test is usually fairly basic. Does the pup want to work? Does it have sustained interest in the sheep? Does it appear mentally ready to take on sheepdog training?

Everything else about the dog will evolve with time, according to its own nature. Every trainer may have a favorite type of dog they prefer to own, but a good one will recognize the worth in many different types of working dogs. Robin French is very well regarded and has seen a bazilion dogs, so if she is not close enough to you, I'm sure she can recommend someone who can help get you going.

Last but not least, whoever you end up taking your dog to ... always, always listen to your gut. If something doesn't feel right or doesn't set well with you, ask questions, pay attention, and never hesitate to say goodbye if a training situation doesn't suit you. Again, Robin should be able to steer you right.

Best of luck! :)

~ Gloria

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