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Does anyone have a solid definition of a "Working Home"? Recently I've had some discussions on this after responding to a post for a free puppy on Facebook. There seems no hard definition of this. Just wondering everyone's thoughts?

Back years ago when advertising pups in the newspaper was the way to get pups out to farmers I had a call where they guy said "Both my wife and I work-is that what is meant by a working home?"

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In the wider context, I refer to working homes as someplace where the dog is doing a job be it stock work, SAR, detection work, etc. But when I see it in a Border Collie context I assume that they're referring to stock work.

 

IME, terms like this are well understood in those familiar with working dog culture but not so much by those unfamiliar with it.

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I think she means this.

 

I've been wondering for a long time if I'd be considered a "working home." I have 15 head of cattle, that we run to pasture and from pasture once a year. Otherwise, they basically are to themselves. When I get my next BC, he's going to be trained on the calves, and once in a while we might continue to dabble with the calves, but the only real work he'd have would be spring and fall roundup.

Is a breeder going to consider me a "working home?"

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My definition is based on the purpose of the breeding, if the buyer has a "need" for what ever that dog was bred for, then it's a potential working home for that dog.

 

Would love to say that it's limited to full time stock work, but that's simply not practical anymore as so few have that type of work nor need a dog daily, some only need a dog now and then, and during those times that dog replaces many people and allows the owner to not rely on someone else.

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My agility friends think they are working homes. I don't argue with them too vigorously. They do agility often enough for the dog to think it has a job to do. My dogs believe agility is a form of recreation. Even though I only have 10 goats, 10 sheep, 20 chickens, and 2 calves, my dogs think they have a very important job to do, and they work at it, even if it isn't a full time job.

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To me a working home means the dog will be working stock, at least some of the time. I understand that folks who do sports, especially agility and SAR, sometimes (or often) refer to what their dogs do as work, but if I'm looking for working homes or at "working bred" pups, I take that to mean stockwork. Note: This is not meant to be an opinion on other things people call work. It's an answer to T's question, which to me is that if someone is looking for a working home, they likely mean a home where stockwork is THE work.

 

If I were going to sell a puppy, "working home" would still mean a home where stock is being worked, but I'd still choose a GREAT sport/SAR/whatever home over anything I considered to be a mediocre working home, because at the end of the day I would want pups going where they are loved, cared for well, and kept for their lifetimes, and honestly, more often than not, many non-working homes will fit that bill better than a lot of working homes. Just my opinion.

 

J.

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I agree with Julie.

 

Not all livestock working homes will be full time. For many people their livestock is a part time enterprise or a hobby. NOt all people who enter trials even have livestock of their own.

 

But for me, for a border collie, a working home involves working livestock. I understand that some people consider agility, flyball, etc. "work", though I don't. And while SAR, service or therapy dogs, etc. "work", it's not livestock work, so doesn't qualify in my definition of a working border collie. (e.g. Bodhi works as a therapy dog, but I would never refer to him as a working border collie.)

 

But absolutely, some non-working homes could be preferable to some working homes in terms of placement, though not, IMO, in terms of breeding decisions if there's no herding work involved.

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I do agility with a bit of obedience and we've started learning to working sheep with my latest dog.

 

No way do I consider ours a working home. The vast majority of the time my dogs' job is being pets.

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To me, stuff like this is where culture/audience comes into context. In a group like this, we all usually understand the contextual meaning of a word such as working as it pertains to Border Collies.

 

As I've gotten more involved in working pursuits outside of stock work, I've started specifying stock work/herding when talking about it "my dog came from parents who worked sheep and cattle" Much like I'll also specify work in a hunting context with Labs/Goldens. As well as work in other contexts (working SAR dog, working service dog, etc).

 

So, as in the case of a newspaper ad like the OP, I would clarify that working meant stock work. But for a litter advertised in a working border collie FB group then you shouldn't need to clarify.

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My point is that when this guy advertised on FB for those who liked and shared his video the video goes out to millions of people, many do not work livestock yet as is seen here consider their dogs working dogs.

 

To me a working home is one where the people have livestock and work the dog on it, even if small numbers or part time. I consider trailers without stock as 'trialing homes". SAR while a type of work (and therapy, service dogs etc), it is not what I would call a working home for a Border Collie-but better those jobs than nothing!

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Kind of general, but to me, it also depends on the breed. If I saw an ad for "working home" for a border collie, I'd take that to mean stockwork of some kind. If it was a different breed, say, a Malinois, I'd take a "working home" to be maybe someone who trains in protection sports or something along those lines.

 

Having said that, I was part of a big FB discussion where this question was posed, and many, many people who do things other than stockwork with their dogs, consider themselves "working homes".

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^^ Sounds reasonable to me, though I'd probably still consider what you call a trialing home a kind of working home since the dogs are working livestock. ;)

I'm with Pam. I have working bred dogs who trial in USBCHA Open (well, one is retired but you know what I mean) and I do not consider myself a working home as the only work I do is as a technology project manager (and the dogs are not good at PM work). I have no sheep, goats, cows, or poultry. I am a sport home, or a trialling home, but definitely not a work home. I am also not a trailer. ;)

 

To loop back to the original post, if the label comes up in discussion about a free puppy, I assume that the criteria for what is a working home will be significantly looser than mine.

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Like others I think it is context. With a border collie a working home is one that it will work livestock as a regular part of its life. With other dogs I would classify working dogs as those with "proper" jobs, police dogs, detection dogs, SAR, full time service dogs. I don't think part time sport is working, plenty of agility and protection sports people say their dogs are working dogs but compared to my friends bomb detection dog our sports don't work, I think active pet is a better description.

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I only have a couple of hundred sheep at most so a mere hobby farm compared to my neighbours who have several thousand, however I think my dogs get more work as my neighbours tend to use motorbikes for mustering and their dogs in the yards. I do all my work with my dogs and no bikes. I also use my dogs to get my neighbours wandering sheep off roads from time to time lol. They lose track as they have about 30,000 acres of cropping land.

 

I also do agility and some herding trials and maybe the occasional local yard trial, my dogs are also my pets lol. I was recently purchasing a working bred collie for my niece to do agility with and the breeder told me that she was more than happy to sell pups she had decided not to keep to agility and sport homes as she believed that oft times they got a better home. Many working dogs that don't work out might get shot or given away to inappropriate homes.

 

Certainly most of our top agility trialers have working Border collies and these handlers are brilliant and sure know how to bring the best from a sport point of view out of these dogs. I would call them working homes in that context as they are very different from the average pet homes and the handlers are highly experienced with dogs.

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Context and breed seem to be the defining aspects of what "working" means. Certainly a guide dog for the blind, or other service dog, is a "working dog". So are SAR dogs, police dogs, etc. But if one is talking about a herding breed, it would be important to specify that "working" did not mean herding, if it meant something else, because the natural assumption would be that a herding breed would be working with livestock. Similarly, if someone called a Malinois a working dog I would not expect it to mean herding, but rather service and/or law enforcement of some kind. I think it's a stretch to call agility or other recreational sports "working", although of course the dogs are free to feel that way about it. ;)

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I think even herding needs defining. I have a working bred dog that I rescued from a small holding with 5 pet sheep. The owners bought him as a working dog to herd their 5 sheep on a couple of acres and found that they had no idea what to do and he became too much for them along with his brother. I have also fostered several working kelpies rescued from similar situations, chained up and gone near insane. They took a lot of care before we found them suitable homes. One actually went to live with a triathlete and became his training buddy, great match.

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Context and breed seem to be the defining aspects of what "working" means. Certainly a guide dog for the blind, or other service dog, is a "working dog". So are SAR dogs, police dogs, etc. But if one is talking about a herding breed, it would be important to specify that "working" did not mean herding, if it meant something else, because the natural assumption would be that a herding breed would be working with livestock. Similarly, if someone called a Malinois a working dog I would not expect it to mean herding, but rather service and/or law enforcement of some kind. I think it's a stretch to call agility or other recreational sports "working", although of course the dogs are free to feel that way about it. ;)

Agreed. To me "working" means performing a useful purpose. Sports and hobby herding don't fit that description which is why I would never call mine a working dog.
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I think for me the difference between stock working and stock playing comes down to whether or not the dog's owner depends on that dog in pursuance of a livelihood in stock-raising.

 

If I bought a 5-acre property and half a dozen sheep to entertain my dogs and myself by dabbling in stock work, then to me, that would count as stock play. (However arduous or challenging I might find it) If a couple of years down the road I got 160 acres, and a larger flock, and started being very concerned with things like slaughter weight and/or fleece quality, then my dog and I would have crossed over to what could be defined as stock work.

 

The size of the flock/herd is not as important to this distinction as the reason for the stock to be there in the first place. Nor is the complexity of the work. The small dairyman may require fewer kinds of abilities than the wool-grower with a flock of 1000. But both may require a working stock dog to get their living.

 

To the dog, at either stage of the game, the number of sheep and why they are there doesn't matter. But to the owner of the flock, it does. If in the dabbling stage of the game the dog (whether for reasons of talent or poor handling) is weak in areas of his work, it is merely a challenge to an arbitrary goal. On a working farm/ranch, a dog that is weak in those same areas is a liability.

 

The stock dog trainer/trialer seems to me in a sort of gray area. A person who gets their living by raising and/or training stock dogs certainly relies upon those dogs' abilities on stock to get a living, and their dogs skills may be very high indeed. So in that sense, they are working stock dogs. But in that case, the stock is there for the sake of the dogs, rather than the other way around. (Although, the trainer will undoubtedly rely on their dogs to manage the stock they do keep.)

 

I make this distinction partly because I have heard others, knowledgeable on the subject, say that the nature of trial dogs and trialing is changing because of the changing nature of their normal surroundings. It is said that early trials attracted dogs and their owners from large hill farms and other large holdings. Nowadays there are not so many such places. More trial dogs are coming from small flocks and from trainers who train for performance on the trial field. While the sheepdog trial may give a fair test of the several skills needed by a high-quality stock dog, it generally does not do so over really large areas, or over passage of time. It is seen by some as a dichotomy of style/finesse vs grit and stamina. Thus the alleged dichotomy between the "trial dog" and the "ranch dog." I will let others with experience of both wrangle over whether the distinction is real or imaginary.

 

To me, to call a Border Collie a "working dog" means that the dog is relied upon for his skills at managing livestock upon whose livelihood its owner depends. The Border Collie that is a SAR rescue dog my work very hard, but I would not call it a "working dog." I would call it a SAR dog. Just as I do not call my Border Collie service dog a "working dog." She is a service dog, who happens to be a Border Collie.

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I run up to 200 sheep when lambs are on the ground but my livelihood doesn't depend on it as I have part time work in agriculture helping other people make money lol. However I am highly dependent on my dogs as I don't have particularly good handling infrastructure and the country is challenging with bush, rocky outcrops and creeks over 200 acres. I think I use my dogs more than my much bigger neighbours as they use motorbikes for mustering and only seem to use their kelpies in the yards where they do a good job.

 

However I am not working dogs everyday, just when they are needed at drafting, marking and moving paddocks and sometimes getting my neighbours sheep off the road or out of my paddocks. I certainly couldn't operate my property without them. I do also do agility with a couple of them, more for fun than anything.

 

I consider them working dogs but they are not really commercial working dogs. I do spend time on training them and taught them to drive effectively, hold sheep and to collect them for me from the bushes and rocks where I cant see them. I just wait at the gate and my super casting BC picks them all up. I can see flashes of Black and white in the far distance in and out of the gullies as he puts them together before bringing them to me. Makes life easier with good dogs.

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Herdcentral, are you suggesting there may be shades of gray here? :)

 

Yeah well in my travels onto commercial farms I see quite a few rather overweight under used working dogs just hanging out on the back of utes (pick up trucks?). My neighbour has several thousand sheep and admits that he doesn't use his dog much he tells me that he is not much good. In fact he has borrowed me and my dogs on the odd occassion lol but mainly uses motor bikes. I am more dependent on good dogs than he is. Mind you cropping is more the thing round here with a few thousand sheep on the side.

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