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the right sheep for the dog


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#1 Guest_Kiwi_*

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 12:06 AM

Albion, in your last post you refered to sheep that had become too dogged both light and heavy, an interesting point. I have the former, they are way too light. Do these sheep calm down if and when you get control, or do they always remember and one false move by the dog and they're off in a panic again?

I started out with 6 woolly lambs that had been dog broke, but at my place they were too heavy and stuck against the fence, butts out and heads in, refusing to budge. I brought home 3 barbs to lighten the mix and all hell broke loose. I never did get them to work somewhere in between stuck and wild, just had barb missiles coming at me from all directions. In my experience the woollies picked up all the bad habits of the barbs with none of the calming effect of woollies taking place.

What is the best way to maintain the sanity of your sheep when you only have one dog that is too intense? Obviously changing sheep helps, but only for a few days until they get "trained" to be the same as the last bunch.

#2 Guest_aurdank_*

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 12:55 AM

Sheep that get super-light because they've been traumatized are "dog broken" because, like their heavy counterparts, they remain in their own way relatively insensitive to the pressure of the dog. They might flee the dog in a panic, but once committed to flight, the dog will have a great deal of trouble managing to control them, because they'll just run madly. I think the key to keeping good sheep is to not overwork them, nor let your dog abuse them. This means pacing the days you work them and rotating the particular group within your flock that you would work in any given day. And then every once in a while, not necessarily frequently, replace them all. It would also help, if this is possible, to trailer them occasionally to a different location; they'll respond differently. Try to find a location that has fewer pressures than your home site. I should say also that mixing light and heavy sheep has worked for me. I'd try kathadin or St Croix rather than barbs; they settle better, I think. Your barbs may already have been mad when you got them, if you got them say from a sale or even from a private dealer who might be unloading them precisely for this reason, that they are no longer useful. So try to find sheep that to begin with are reasonably fresh.

Best wishes,

Albion

#3 Guest_Kiwi_*

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Posted 07 January 2004 - 06:27 PM

Thanks Albion, I just met someone nearby that has St. Croix. I got the barbs from my trainer and they were not crazy when I got them, but even the lambs are learning from the older ones to be crazy fools around my dog. Perhaps mixing the lambs with my 4 woollies will work for me, it is the adult barbs that are the worst and the lambs have bonded better with the woollies. They have all learned to bolt for the pen when they see us coming, even though my dog is on a leash and can't chase them, they still win by running. If I were to try and let the dog stop them, we would have a wreck, she would tend to split them rather than get around and try to stop them. The excitment of the chase when they have bolted is too much for her and for me to expect any sort of control over her.

It's like a self-fueled panic, one says to the other "look out Wolf!" and they pass it on, and run for their lives when in fact the "wolf" is not even chasing them! They will do this even if I am not in the same pasture. I have not let my dog abuse them on a regular basis, there have just been a few incidences of the dog ignoring my stop and blasting into the pen and stirring them up while I'm doing the feeding.

#4 Guest_aurdank_*

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 01:01 AM

Well, it may be that your barbs aren't sour at all, just still relatively fresh and light, and find the presence of your dog, even on lesh too much to bear,and so break madly for the pen. Perhaps if you succeed in working them a bit, they'll get more even, but the draw of your pen doesn't sound like it'll be all that easy to do. Hopefully the St Croix will be better. But I have a feeling you're going to have to do something about that pen.

Cheers,

Albion

#5 Guest_Kiwi_*

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Posted 08 January 2004 - 10:19 PM

I think you're right about the pen, I have a field further from the pen that I can work them in, but they know the gate that takes them to the pen and it is a strong draw. If I had another dog, I guess the thing to do would be tie that one at the gate eh?
The pen they run to is the one I lock them in at night and feed them in, so it's their real security blanket.
Thanks for all your help! I'll let you know how it goes if I get some St. Croix.

#6 Guest_aurdank_*

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Posted 09 January 2004 - 11:02 PM

Perhaps you should feed them in the field, varying the spots where you deposit the hay. It might make them feel more at home there (I do this myself, as I have a bit of a draw in my field to the pen, and it seems to help). I also don't always put them up at night, letting them sleep in the field; they never seem to be bothered by predators, and so this tends to minimize the distinction between "home" and the field.

#7 Guest_Kiwi_*

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 06:04 PM

That sounds like a good plan in the spring. Right now I need to feed in the feeder in the pen to minimize waste, and also there are coyotes making rounds every night along my fenceline. In the spring when they are grazing I toss them a little hay and feed grain which I can do in the field. That might help for sure!

Sorry, a little off topic here but..

Just an update on my intense dog, I haven't worked the sheep with her, but have turned up the heat again on obedience, and when a friend visited with another BC, I made mine stay in a down off leash while the friend kicked the soccer ball for her dog. This is a FAVORITE toy of my dog, and this control seems to have elevated me in her world. I am finding more control around the sheep now, and encouraged by that, am pushing the limits of what I ask her to do. Now I have graduated to making her stay at my side while I throw her ball, then telling her when to get it. I never thought this possible, she used to just blow me off, or refuse to retrieve, but now she's listening! Maybe this control away from sheep will rub off around them...I hope, I hope :rolleyes:

#8 Guest_aurdank_*

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Posted 13 January 2004 - 11:16 PM

Sounds good. If they learn to respect your authority off sheep, they should be able to translate that while on stock, though sheep have a way of stimulating them a little more. keep us posted.



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