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"Herding" in the popular imagination


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#1 coffeegirl

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 08:35 AM

A comment I get a lot from people when I tell them my puppy is a border collie is, "oh, has she started herding the cats/dogs/kids in your house yet?" And then what they go on to describe other dogs doing is just...rude dog behaviour. Pushing others around. Nipping. That's not herding, is it? I've even seen this printed in breed descriptions on the net. Doesn't that kind of suck?

 

I've seen a few things in her that I suppose would be useful in a herding context: the stare. The stalk. (We are actively discouraging this regarding the cats). And obviously, the energy. But just being pushy isn't something they're bred for, is it? It's just not being trained.

 

I mean, leave it to genius border collies to come up with this swell PR campaign whereby their rude behaviour is excused as "they can't help it." But...really?

 

In other news, I'm so glad it's the last puppy class. Carmen's come out of her shell, and now she is so athletic she literally can't play with other puppies which are mostly smaller "city" breeds (she's just too fast and too tall for them). It's so sad, because the little guys do want to play with her at off-leash "free" time, and she with them, and she's totally not aggressive, and she even gamely rolls over to show them she's not a threat sometimes...but then in her natural state, she's just this superdog romping monster compared to them. (Not complaining! I do love her so. Her abilities are just so cool.) One time, she did have a great class when an adorable Old English Sheepdog puppy was there, so really they just need to be appropriately sized for off-leash.

 

What else? She's mastered the "down" on walks when strangers want to come and pet. She may pee while she's down there out of excitement if the strangers are squealing girls, but she's down. So that's good.

 

And one form of "work" she's been able to do: we've had a problem with a little maple tree in our backyard. In the spring, the squirrels had been fond of eating the young leaves, and it damages the tree. This spring, however, the tree has been kept safe.  B)  It's lovelier than ever.



#2 D'Elle

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 09:02 AM

All that you report on your puppy sounds good, and it is great to hear that she is making good progress. And yes, having a border collie does wonders to discourage the presence of squirrels and other small critters. also may discourage birds, which is less lovely, but depends on whether or not your dog barks at or chases birds.

 

I, too, am very often irritated to no end by people calling heel nipping and other rude and bad behavior "herding", and excusing it or allowing it to continue.

 

Of course it is a breed tendency, but that doesn't mean it is OK, or can be realistically called "herding".

Other traits that are common in border collies, such as running back and forth to keep track of a group of hikers, are also not "herding", although the behavior in all of these instances probably originates in the traits that have been bred into herding dogs for thousands of years. But to call them "herding" is like saying that a husky who pulls on the leash is being a sled dog.

 

I find that my attempts to explain the difference to people, and why they should not permit or excuse this kind of bad behavior in border collies, almost invariably fall on deaf ears. I wish I had a better way to approach the topic with people so  I could be more effective.

 

If anyone here has found a good way to explain this to people who do not know better, please let me know.


D'Elle

and family.

Left to right: Kit, Jester, Boo, Digger

 

 

Mydogs12-2013Smaller.jpg
"You gonna throw that?" --Jester:  2001 - June 24 2016. Remembered with much love.
"I'm grouchier than you are" --Kit

"I love everyone!" -- Boo

(Boing! Boing! Boing!)--Digger

And not pictured, Benjamin the cat, who thinks he is a small border collie with superpowers.

 

 

 


#3 Hooper2

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 09:22 AM

Once when I was teaching a "Puppy Manners" class for our local club, I asked the dozen participants if any of their puppies had a tendency to nip at ankles/heels. Six people raised their hand. Yup, the aussie and the two shelties were ankle biters.  Also? The weim, the beagle-mix, and (surprise!) the jack russel.  I then asked how many people thought their dog was showing "herding" behavior.  The owners of the shelties and the aussie were sure that ankle biting was herding, and the owners of the other three puppies were convinced the exact same behavior in the bird dog, the hound dog, and the terrier was "dominance".   Sigh.



#4 terrecar

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 11:59 AM

If ankle biters are “herding” then my Chihuahua is a failed sheepdog.

#5 coffeegirl

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 12:06 PM

But to call them "herding" is like saying that a husky who pulls on the leash is being a sled dog.

 

giphy.gif

 

And Hooper2, that was a great experiment to ask owners what they actually thought. I suspected as much.



#6 coffeegirl

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 12:11 PM

If ankle biters are “herding” then my Chihuahua is a failed sheepdog.

 

:lol: 

 

Teeny, tiny little sheep. It could happen: they've already got spider goats.

 

http://www.bbc.com/n...k-in-their-milk



#7 CptJack

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 12:17 PM

The standard thing I have started telling people is that unless the dog is cooperating with a person to manage stock, it's prey-drive and that it's no more acceptable for their herding breed to be doing it than it would a terrier, and just as likely to stress out or injure whatever it is directed at.

 

That USUALLY helps, at least largely. 

 

That said, some of the stuff I've seen being called 'herding behavior' breaks my mind. I don't even mean stuff like running back and forth at hikers, or eye/stalking the cat or kids or other dogs.  I mean things like frustration barking.  REALLY?



#8 terrecar

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 03:41 PM

 Teeny, tiny little sheep. It could happen: they've already got spider goats.
 
http://www.bbc.com/n...k-in-their-milk


Wait, whaaaaat?! How did I miss this?

#9 Maralynn

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 04:16 PM

Its refreshing to hear a new Border Collie owner recognizing that obnoxious over stimulated behavior isnt a given with the breed.

My dogs crouch and stalk each other a bit. Tess is worse that Kolt. But Ill tell her to stop if shes getting obnoxious and she will. They dont herd kids or bite ankles - mostly because it was never an option and I redirected anything that looked like it was leading to that. They also easily call off of watching the chickens as sheep at my folks.

Mara
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Kipp, my little dude 2004-2014
Missy, my good girl 1999-2011
 

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#10 GentleLake

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Posted 12 May 2018 - 08:02 PM

When everyone's putting this behavior down to herding, the point they're glaringly missing is that "herding" behavior's really a variation of hunting behaviors. Even retrieving's one sequence of hunting behavior.

 

So, yeah, that's why dogs of all types and selectively bred purposes will display some of it. How it's expressed through selective breeding will vary, and it's been bred away from almost entirely in some breeds, especially companion breeds. But any breed at all has the potential to display some form of it.


"People in your life always come and go all the time; the dogs are always there for me. Always." ~Samantha Valle


#11 D'Elle

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 09:01 AM

Good point, Gentle Lake, and that is one which can be spoken to someone who has an inaccurate idea about it. I also love the puppy class experiment.

 

It is a whole lot easier just to make up an excuse, however irrational, for a dog's behavior than to take the time and effort to train the dog not to do it.

 

I, like all of you, have heard an amazing variety of excuses people have chosen for the purpose of excusing their lack of attention to their dog's training. I have never understood this attitude and never will.

 

I always want to say, if you don't want to train the animal, get a cat. 


D'Elle

and family.

Left to right: Kit, Jester, Boo, Digger

 

 

Mydogs12-2013Smaller.jpg
"You gonna throw that?" --Jester:  2001 - June 24 2016. Remembered with much love.
"I'm grouchier than you are" --Kit

"I love everyone!" -- Boo

(Boing! Boing! Boing!)--Digger

And not pictured, Benjamin the cat, who thinks he is a small border collie with superpowers.

 

 

 



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