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Best type of "eye" for goats?

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Goats work more like cattle than sheep imo. A real strong eyed dog uses less movement and more eye to move stock. I feel this approach works best with light sheep that are more likely to split. The dog can use eye to keep them bunched. A more upright working dog with less eye tends to use more movement to get the stock to move. Cattle and goats need more push and free flowing dog to move them. Best to have a dog stay on its feet also. They are more likely to spread out than sheep. I think a dog needs some eye to give it good balance and to find that sweet spot behind the herd where it is far enough back to see the big picture and be able to effect of the animals on the sides yet enough push to keep everything moving forward. I have worked a couple dogs together on large herds and they almost divide the work out between themselves. Someone pushes and another tucks in the corners, it is cool to see them work it out.

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I agree with Denice. A dog may have eye and work goats or cattle well, but if he doesn't have plenty of come-forward with it, he may not be all that effective.

 

Of course it depends how willing those goats or cows are to just move when a dog shows up, but if the livestock are at all inclined to turn and stare back ... well, the dog better have some other tools in his box. Movement and a willingness to back his intentions up are what generally work well on goats, at least in my exprience. If a dog is prone to "sticking" when his stock don't move off from him, then you may end up with goats that just wander off wherever or turn and walk right up to the dog, "Whatcha doin' there?" And sometimes strong-eyed dogs with a tendency towards stickiness may develop a reluctance to work goats at all.


Just my experience, others' mileage may vary. :)

~ Gloria

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I have fairly strong eyed dogs. They can work cattle, and work sheep and goats regularly (and the one with the most eye also works all types of poultry). It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes animals that don't flock as well can actually free up a strong eyed dog. I don't trial my more clappy dog on sheep, but she works cattle beautifully and even qualified for the cattle finals in both open and nursery without being worked on cattle on a regular basis.

 

I really don't think there are generalizations that work. Probably what the human prefers to work plays just as large a part as how much eye the dog has.

 

Yes, a dog with a lot of eye can stop motion, but that eye can also add a great deal of control when used well. As for really light stock, I think they actually exacerbate the issues of a dog with "too much" eye. Stock that want to run just make the dog want to get on the pressure and stop.

 

So I respectfully disagree with the previous posters regarding whether a dog with a lot of eye is suitable for working goats. In my experience, they can work goats (and cattle) just fine.

 

J.

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Neither of my dogs has what I would call a strong eye, but the one with the stronger eye is definitely the one the goats respect more. Everyone says he has a lot of presence though, so that may make more of a difference.

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And I'll agree with Julie--when I have a pup with really strong eye, cattle are great to teach them to be freer moving. It is because they don't flock so well that the dog has to stay on its feet an do more lateral movement to keep things together,

A

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The basic problem with this type of discussion is everyones description of eye can be different. What one person thinks as too strong of eye might suit someone else just fine. The amount of eye preferred is very subjective. Eye gives a dog balance and can be used to keep together and to move some stock. Some dogs use eye very well, others do not and some get stuck. If eye is combined with some power and push and a dog that naturally works on his feet or is not made to lie down then that dog can potentially learn to work every species. I think we often limit our dogs by training in a certain way and thinking they need to work a certain way. Allowing a dog to figure things out can lead to a dog that has a different approach on different livestock.

 

If the way the dog is using eye is causing him to lie down alot or hang up and not come forward then the dog will have problems with stock that does not flock as closely and respond to eye. A free moving dog with balance and power is hard to beat in my opinion. I also have meet the perfect person or the perfect dog, we all have our strengths and challenges.

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And yet, as described in a previous post, I have just such a dog, and she works goats and cattle just fine. Anyone who sees her work would describe her as clappy. Put her on goats or cattle and she stays on her feet and keeps moving. Although I agree that people define eye differently, I still disagree with you that a dog with a lot of eye (and who is therefore clappy) is not going to be able to work stock that doesn't flock well. My experience is the exact opposite of that. And I prefer dogs with right much eye, so most of my dogs could be described as dogs with a lot of eye. As I mentioned earlier, where I find that to be the greatest impediment is on light, flighty stock that are running toward a strong draw. That sort of stock behavior brings out the worst part of a dog with too much eye, not IME stock that doesn't flock well.

 

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree on this.

 

J.

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I would not say a dog that stays on its feet and keeps moving is clappy or sticky. If the dog readily gets up and moves no matter how you classify the amount of eye then it should be able to work may breeds of livestock with the right exposure and training as I said above. There are some dogs with lots of eye that holds them up and prevents them from being free moving on Anything. Maybe that is caused from training that is not helping the dog learn to use its eye correctly, maybe it is just the dog. A dog that does not get up and push is not going to move cattle well. Maybe your dog prefers cattle and goats.

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Like I said, we will have to agree to disagree. I know my dog; you don't. She is an open-level dog who is happy to work anything. She can move anything (and is, in fact, great on belligerent stock because she is good at pressure and release without any help from me) and she's got a proper grip, which she uses as needed. She has a "get up" command, which means just that because she *is* clappy, She does not readily get up once she claps, period, and especially on very light flighty stock. It's why I don't trial her on east coast hair sheep very often. But she certainly works sheep at home because that's what *I* raise. But when working cattle and goats (the landowner where I live has goats) she is less likely to clap because the stock themselves don't allow it (i.e., if the stock are spreading out, the pressure points are constantly moving, and the dog can't freely clap or it will lose control of the stock, or at least some of them and her natural working instincts inform that). Believe me or not. You may have seen this dog setting sheep at the Bluegrass when last you were there (Texas feedlot lambs aren't inclined to flock well in groups of three either).

 

The point is that your experience apparently isn't the same as my experience. I was told long ago that larger groups and stock that don't group up well will help free up a dog. That has been my experience. YMMV.

 

J.

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I agree with Julie and Anna. Cattle and to a lesser extent goats can really free up a clappy dog. I also use dog broke calves sometimes to get a young pup keened up. That frenetic non-flocking movement is just more exciting to some pups and hits a button with them.

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Julie I am not speaking about one dog, yours or mine. I have not seen your dogs work goats nor have people seen mine. I am speaking in general terms and from my experience. I am not saying you are wrong. Dogs do not read the books and are quite capable adapting how they work to different stock as I have stated. Sounds like your dog is able to do that. By your own description she is not clappy on cattle and goats but reads the situation and moves on her own. So I am not sure we are saying different things

 

What I am saying is a dog who does not use its eye correctly and does not move forward on stock appropriately will not do as well herding goats or cattle no matter what label you put on them or why people believe they do not move forward. It is less about the amount of eye and more about the confidence, experience and power of the dog as an individual.

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You seem to have missed the part where I noted that I was told on more than one occasion by people much more experienced than I that working strong eyed dogs on cattle or goats could free them up. I simply used my dog as an example that the advice I received was spot on in my experience. You now seen too be going off on a tangent from your original comments regarding strong eyed dogs being better on light stock, but whatever. Feel free to continue to disagree.

 

J.

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You seem to have missed the part where I noted that I was told on more than one occasion by people much more experienced than I that working strong eyed dogs on cattle or goats could free them up. I simply used my dog as an example that the advice I received was spot on in my experience. You now seen too be going off on a tangent from your original comments regarding strong eyed dogs being better on light stock, but whatever. Feel free to continue to disagree.

 

J.

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To me there is a big difference in being strong eyed and being sticky. All strong eyed dogs are not sticky. That is why I said a "Real strong eyed dog uses eye and not movement to work" . That to me describes a dog that tends to be on the sticky side. If a dog does not get up and push I cant see how it will move cattle or goats. Obviously you have overcome this sticky tendencies while working goats and cattle. It would be interesting to me to see the circumstances where she exhibits stickiness and try to figure out why she does it when she works differently on cattle and goats.

 

I have seen many strong eyed dogs use eye to hold or slow movement in running sheep. Dogs and sheep do a excellent job of reading each other. I am sure the sheep read each dog and know the ones they can trust and the ones they can not. Quite possible it is the intent they are reading and little to do with eye, we humans will never be able to understand all those clues between different species.

 

I also have seen many border collies not using eye correctly and the sheep are very worried. The Border Collie is unique in using eye and determining how to use it to get livestock to move as they want. If you take herding dogs without eye and use them on sheep that are used to way a border collie works they react totally differently, even if they 'know' that other dog.

 

I tend not to use labels because it causes people to pigeon hole things and have predetermined ideas. If a dog is labeled loose eyed or upright then it works like this and I need to do blah blah. What is great is that each dog is unique and can take the tendencies it was born with and with training and experience it adjusts to each situation. So while we can debate all day about eye and what amount of eye is best there will be dogs out there to prove us wrong every time. Each handler is unique and once you work a wide variety of dogs you can pick out things that you personally like and traits that suit you. Good thing we are different because the dogs are all different. What I like does not mean it is better it is just my preference. The dogs I keep simply suit me even though they are different from each other. They have different amounts of eye, work a bit different, have different amounts of power and excel at different tasks. They all would stand in front of a train for me and never fail to work their hardest to accomplish the task

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dogs can stick with eye (which I describe as focus, intense concentration) and they can stick because they lack power/confidence/bravery.. I find loose eye dogs are more willing to flank, but they tend to use movement (their flanking) to move stock. My goats usually eat this type of dog's lunch :)

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