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come bye and away - no sheep

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I was supposed to take Ceile to sheep and a good instructor in March but due to covid -19 we are stuck here at home with only chickens.  She's keen to work and actually began gathering on her own ( she was supervised but not being commanded).  This wasn't just following a chicken, she'd been doing that for three days and then decided they should all be together.  I have done a bit of herding in the past but never started a dog although I know the theory and have watched numerous videos on starting dogs.  I'm not sure the chickens are a good place to try and teach come bye and away though.  If I could get those commands on her I'd be set for continuing.  Just not sure that's possible without larger, hardier stock.

Any suggestions would be welcome.  

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My first border collie was tough on sheep but an absolute dream to train on chickens! Although his initial training was done with sheep, I both fine tuned his work in the back yard on the chickens and taught him several new skills, such as a look back, that he'd never been taught on sheep. Whatever he learned on chickens transferred to sheep without his ever missing a beat. We'd often work for long periods in the yard and he was much more confident, controllable and in control with the chickens than he often was on sheep.

I also had another dog who was much easier to work with on sheep but for some reason I never understood was never able to get much control with the chickens and eventually pretty much refused to work them. :rolleyes:

So, if your dog's willing to work them and doing it safely, then by all means I'd say go ahead and give it a whirl. If it doesn't seem to be working out or problems develop it's easy enough to just stop. I'm guessing you should be able to transfer it to sheep without much of an issue.

Good luck. I hope you'll keep us posted on your progress, and maybe post some pictures or videos.


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Well, that was a good bit of fun!  I had some small exercise pens available and corralled the chickens in there.  They were too busy eating the grain I sprinkled in order to get them out of the garden and into the pen to worry about a dog so, at first, Ceile didn't think it was worth much of a look.  I thought it was going to be a bust but I stuck a broom handle over the fence and stirred them up a bit.  Once Ceile began to run around the outside things got a little more lively.  I was so thankful for a little banty hen that was determined to keep as far away from Ceile as possible.  Without her excitement I think Ceile would have given up but instead we got to a place where she was readily changing direction when I asked her to so, woohoo, a win.  I will work on it again tomorrow.  Hopefully the larger hens will be busy enough to keep Ceile happy to continue.  

Having the exercise pens was perfect, no teeth could reach the birds and I was able to let her know that biting at them was not acceptable without turning her off or putting the birds in danger.  

Gentle Lake, thank you for the encouragement.  I was kind of nervous in giving this a go but I'm glad I did.  Ceile is a very happy dog right now.  :)

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All went well for the first while.  I love this dog!  She learned in a few days with a complete amateur like me on chickens almost as much as my first collie learned in two weeks with a professional on sheep (not the trainer's fault, Darcy had drive just not a lot of talent).  We now have a good start on our directions as well as 'look back' and 'get out', unfortunately that is where we are going to have to stop.  The chickens have figured her out and now when she approaches they hurry off in all directions and simply refuse to come back.  Ceile was going to force her will upon them but I thought that might prove fatal seeing as gentle isn't one of Ceile's attributes and the clacking of her teeth in their general direction could be heard quite a distance away.  Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.  :)



Ceile for BC boards (1024x643).jpg

Ceile and chicken BC boards (1024x684).jpg

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  • 2 months later...

I've done this exact thing with my first and not-so-talented dog to help solidify inside flanks and it works pretty good. I did it at home between lessons not instead of sheep but it was helpful. Plus now he likes ducks where he used to hate them, and since hes old now and not fast enough to do much with sheep thats fun we can enter duck trials. And, he loves to corrall up the chickens at the end of the day!

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