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Suddenly Dora....


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Well this is a bit unexpected, all of a sudden I find myself in possession of Dora, a female border collie about 1.5 years old.



I was contemplating getting another dog, and intended to go the whole nine yards, finding a really good working dog/pup also with trialing in mind (in the long run). But sometimes things turn out not the way you planned.


I am a bit closer to my vet than most, and today she called me to tell me she had gotten a customer who wanted to put down her young bc (it had allegedly displayed some agression towards young children). If I was interested...


I went to have a look, and got to try her out a bit on some sheep. I know the previous owners, and know the dog was used on the farm, but not "by the book", here in Iceland that often means the dog has only been used to drive, and strictly forbidden to head. It seems this is the case with Dora, she does not head at all, just drives, won't flank beyond 3 or 9 o'clock. She seems not to be overly keen but allright, I think she could turn out rather self confident. For instance I could call her to me to get in between fence and sheep in a retty high pressure situation without her loosing her head.


She seems a sweet biddable dog, so I decided to give it a go, and see if she could become at least a decent ranch dog. That all depends on getting her to head, so I can 'install' flankcommands and hopefully get a decent outrun. I don' t have use for a dog that cannot gather.


Ten years ago the owner of her mother came to me to try that dog out on my training sheep and I remember that looked really good, so I am not without hope for the daughter.

I will let you people know how it turned out.

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So far so so good. We have had some bitch fights ( did I mention another bitch was not in the planning?), but relations seem to be improving. Our children have not been bitten yet, and have clear instructions to leave her be.

Working on a proper down, and planned a sheep session at a friend's farm this evening.

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So far so good. Went to my friend's again yesterday evening for a second try on his training group. Not too bad. Walked with her to the sheep who were on he far end of the field, had to call her back when she ran towards his horses (she was used to get the horses for her previous owners...:( ). She showed better moves flanked further ( sometimes even all the way), clearly tried to get the sheep to me.

She had trouble covering them, these are smart experienced ewes, they exploit every weakness immediately, and we did leave them scattered over the field, but I am happy with what I saw, and Dora had a good time too.


When it stops rainy I'll take some pics of her.

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Great report! Looking forward to more news of Dora's progress! Although she's been taught not to gather, I hope her natural instincts will kick in under your teaching.



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Short and simple translation of above jargon: I want the dog to go around the sheep, instead of walking directly towards them.

Going around the sheep, heading them, and bringing them to the handler is the basis of stock work training. Most bc's do this instinctively, but Dora has most likely been taught by her previous owners not to do this.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Short update; she is not as stuck in the driving gear as I had feared. Last Saturday I went to my friend's place for a third session on sheep. Very pleased with it.

Got her to circle the sheep, all the way round (jay!). I really liked that I could rather easily make her change direction.

We kept the group more or less under control the whole time, and off the fence. Did not bother with trying to stop her on balance point (does not have a reliable down anyway).

Tried to give her some space by walking backwards hoping to entice some wearing, but she used the opportunity to shoot between me and the sheep, so I let that be.

Gave her lots of praise, and no corrections at this stage.

Astonishingly easy to call her off the sheep for a young "turned on" dog. Suppose she learned that at her previous home.l

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Females are a pain in many places. Something like 75% of dog fights are female to female. There was a very good article on that somewhere here. I have had two sets of 4 bitches, now I have 4 intact bitches and sometimes they fight. I learned to see the triggers, and it is manageable. But I have friend who's kept her two females separately for 10 years now.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Dunno, I am not so sure about Dora's future here.

The two bitch situation is not ideal to say the least. A fight erupts about once a week(at the end of such a good period I am fooled in a sense of "hey things are looking up",cue snarling and screaming sounds....). I am actually just walking into the house after one of such fights.


Worst thing is it does not stop until one interferes. The worst of those fights left Gláma with puncture wounds all over her head/muzzle. I start to recognise the triggers, but managing them practically would mean separating them entirely.

I would only deem that acceptable when Dora would show good potential as a working dog.


Which brings me to the next point, I tried her a couple of times on sheep, admittedly not ideal training conditions, but so far I miss a sense of sheep in her. She will circle the group, but won't keep them to me. This means we haven't been able to get to wearing, just basic circling, changing direction by blocking her.

When the group seperates she will just as happy race between them, no trying to keep them together.


On the positive side, she shows clear interest (though not super keen), and keeps a cool head around sheep, even in close contact situation.


Compared to Gláma who also came grown up, and untrained to our home, she does not look too promising.


So the plan? We are working hard now getting the sheep from the mountains, slaughter season has begun. The 19th is our first appointment, we send our first lamb group, and then I'll have some lightly dogged lambless ewes available for training.

I'll get them ready with Gláma, and will put Dora through a couple of weeks of frequent stock work sessions.


What I want to accomplish is at least wearing, the dog being able to keep the group to me. Short outruns, and a basic understanding of flanking commands (least of my worries, if she accomplishes those first two things she'll learn the flanking commands, though a bit stubborn, she's not stupid).

I need to see some good instincts kick in.


She will not get more time to accomplish this than this autumn. I cannot afford to waste too much time on a dog (with management difficulties) that will never be able to work good enough for our kind of farm (actually ranch) work.

If she doesn't make the cut it is back to plan A.


Will let those who are interested enough to follow this thread one how it goes, as always comments and advice are appreciated.

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