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Hi everyone,


I've been reading some of these boards, and there seem to be some very knowledgeable people on here. I have not seen very much on Bud Williams or his method and wanted to see if anyone knew about it or has had any experience with it.


I have two border collie puppies that I wanted to train in this way to work cattle instead of for something like trials. Below are a couple of links. First one to an article I found about Bud Williams and the second to his website.






Thanks in advance.

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Never had the pleasure of meeting Bud, know a few people who knew him and read most of the web site. My impression of him is that he was a stockman. His stock came first, horses and dogs followed - as it should be. imo


I think he was a practical man, used his horses and dogs to help him in daily management of his stock. Real world experience goes a LONG way. On the job training can be wonderful but it takes the right combination of instincts, relationship and experience. Natural dogs that excel with real work are incredible. Understanding dogs/animals like Bud did from a lifelong of working with them allowed him to see where each dog excelled and have the confidence in himself to allow that dog to work using what God gave it as opposed to believing it should only do as asked when asked.


I feel that is the main difference in working ranch/farm dogs and trial dogs. I need my dogs to figure things out and take care of stock without input from me. I need to trust them in the woods, across the creek. Trials favor dogs you can place in the right spot at the right time to get the pretty lines ect. so it is more precise training. Some dogs are fine with us dictating the when and where and how others do not like that and work better without it. ( not saying some can't do both)

Finding the dog that suits us and our goals is huge. Finding those that you can take out and get work done at a young age and just teach them words to what they do naturally on the job with us - those are special dogs that we are able to develop great partnerships with and when allowed will do incredible things that I would have have believed if I had not witnessed some of them.


The times I have learned the most are the times when I need my dog to do something that simple commands do not cover. Those times when it is so complicated I do not think less than a conversation would ever make what I needed clear. Sometimes I simply have sent the dog, watching as they figure out how to best get the job done. Other times I do have a conversation with them, one sided verbally, somehow they do just what is needed. If I pay attention to them they are talking and teaching it just is not verbal. Want to know stock, listen to the dog.


I think Bud listened to his dogs, that may be what impressed me the most when I read his stories. I know they are true because I have stories of my own similar to his.

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I talked to Bud and his wife several times years ago, on the phone. They clarified many things that helped me in my work. They were generous and practical. He made many dogs useful by just doing the work. And I got a tape of Bud sorting, Elk (Farm raised elk btw). By himself no dog. His stock sense was really focused, he noticed tiny things that helped him.


I believe I saw him gather cattle when I was a child in Northern Calif. But I could be wrong.He was hired to gather and such in tough situations.


In my own work Bud's advice has paid off.


His family is continuing his stock work classes and his wife sells his tapes.

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Thanks for the replies. Bud's stories are great to read and I would have loved to talk to him and pick his brain.


I want my dogs to be able to react instinctively when something happens instead of waiting to receive a command from me, and most likely the wrong command. The dog knows what should be done and should do it without thinking. To do this it seems Bud would let the dog work and simply re direct it to do the right thing when the dog was overworking the stock or in the wrong place. He would let the dog think and figure things out on its own while never taking its attention away from the stock. Does this seem correct?


Denice and Tea, is that how you would get your dogs started when working livestock? It seems simple enough although I'm sure its not. I have not reached out to anyone in his family as I have not started my dogs on cattle and wont for some time as they are still really young.


Also do you find that when you allow a dog to work in this way, think and figure things out on its own, that it becomes a better overall dog and pet?

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Denice is most likely the better person to ask, but I'll say, It Depends.


I have some young dogs out of my own that I am starting and two went to dog broke corriente calves after three goes on sheep, in round pen.


Two went to a dog broke flock of 50 or 60 training sheep out in fields with older dog to hold edges.


Two needed to stay in round pen to learn some basic manners on very dogged sheep.


But since I am breeding for my work I did some testing on them too before this.


I feel that a young good dog that is free moving but will come in when needed and stay off when needed is pretty easy to train. But this is breeding. It is bred in.


The feisty little devils you might need to teach to stay out and stop so they don't end up causing a ginormous wreck. but these might be the best dogs for my work in the mountains on cattle, if they also develop feel and diplomacy.


some dogs might need to be encouraged and not feel pressure from fences so they go outside and learn to keep moving and it is great they become better because they are encouraged by this with trained dog to hold edges..


as soon as a young dog will stop and go to balance i may take him/her out to do simple chores. move ewes out of corrals, little gather close in. but i will have a trained dog with me.

but here is what i have found- the thin line we walk between a dog having feel, having power, having presence, willingness to come in and grip in a good way and let go and then allow stock to move off is indeed an interesting thin line.


I have a very tough cow dog- but at distance he will revert to type, so you better remember that when working him- tho he has developed feel, learned i guess that he can create fights which make his job out here in the mts much harder.


I have another that can gather at a great distance but if one bull sneezes at him in the brush he might not be able to move him.


And I have Joe and Jake who are the backbone of my work- they were easy-and frankly not because I know anything- but Jake was a lucky nick- and Joe bred by a 30 year old ranching breeding program.


but still the tough dog i need sometimes.


so to simplify with jake and joe yes they were able to go out to the work, for tough old tick no. for my sweet guy- no for different reasons.


bud was very experienced

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I often think reading Tea's post we are kindred spirits. We would have a blast working together if that were possible and not separated by the entire country between us. Tea is right of course - the individual dog will dictate its strengths and challenges then it is up to us to be smart enough to help him where he needs it.


Not all dogs are suited to on the job training. Some are excitable, some mature slowly, some come out of the womb ready to go get work done. I have had pups bred the same was that differed a great deal. I have come to understand both parties - dog and person - have to match for things to go well. I used to try and try and be frustrated with myself and the dog. I am sure the dog was just as frustrated with me. Now if I really feel the fit is wrong I move the dog to a better place and go on.


I was just emailing a friend explaining that quite a few livestock producers contact me looking for nice working dog that they can get work done with without lots of training or effort on their part. That is where it is tough - judging people is harder than judging dogs. If you are type of person to read stock and dogs well and adjust to the animals there is no limit to what you can accomplish I think.


If you are the type of person who thinks the animals should do things a certain way then I think you paint yourself into a corner making it tougher on everyone. I did not grow up with livestock. I did grow up riding horses. When something is stronger and bigger than you it makes you figure out ways to get things done with cooperation rather than dictating. You simply think and see things differently. When I began with Border Collies it was a slow process for me to understand sheep and cattle enough to know how all the moving parts interact - dog and me included. Then it was years of paying enough attention to learn from the dogs. Then I gradual became comfortable in my ability and my dogs ability so I could release control allowing the dog to simply work. Help in the places it needed it, correct the places it was wrong but give it time to see if the dog corrected itself. I am still guilty of stepping in to soon or trying to help to much.


BUT the better the dog, the better the breeding, the more suited the dog is to you and your work the easier it will be. Not all dogs will fit, even if they are good ones. I will say it could take years but as long as you are taking steps forward be happy with that and small steps. One thing I enjoy about Bud is he seemed to enjoy each dog for what the dog was not try to make it into something different. He also took dogs allowing them to work that others would not - that comes from seeing past the surface and being confident in his abilities. I think dogs and stock - if you are comfortable read that and gain confidence themselves and relax. We all do better, think clearly when we are allowed and encouraged to relax.


If I did not realize I was tense before taking a young dog to stock it is not long before they make it clear. It is amazing how quickly your emotional state affects the dog and stock.


There are a few stockmen/women around that use dogs to assist in livestock production - those are people I would get to know and watch.


I enjoy a thoughtful confident dog on and off stock. Much is dependent on the dogs personality but we can raise and encourage a dog to be more confident or we can raise them to need us and constant assurance.. The good dogs will teach you more about stock, working dogs, and yourself than you ever could imagine but you have to willing to pay attention.

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  • 1 month later...


I am adding another post here in the hope that you are still active on this site.

I do some freelance writing for a couple magazines. I am researching low stress livestock handling and reading several articles written by Whit Hibbard, who was a student of Bud Williams. These articles are on line published in ON Pasture which is a holistic farming/livestock all on line newsletter.


The articles specifically talk about cattle handling but very much apply to livestock in general. They also apply to working Border Collies. You will see the connection as you read through easily applying the same principles to the training of dogs.


Hope you enjoy the articles

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Hey Denice, thanks for the articles! I'll definitely check them out. The more I read about it the more I agree with the way he handled livestock and worked them with his dogs. My two pups are growing fast and a can't wait for them to be big enough to start working. Thanks again.

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I really find taking young dogs walks through the pasture before their instincts really kick in gets them started learning lots of good things for later. They learn to be calm and stay withing sight of you and come off stock when called - all will serve them and you well when working on stock begins.


You will enjoy the articles


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