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Moving up to outruns?


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#1 ejano

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 07:25 AM

April 15 is my target date for getting back into training with the boys...but I'm a bit nervous about protecting my new knee. After some brushing up on the basics, I want to move into longer outruns.

This is my fear. Daffodil, my "puppy" sheep comes roaring up like a freight train, bowls me over and there I lie, trampled in the mud! I can keep her out of the mix for awhile, but sooner or later she's got to get with the program as they're all going as a unit onto the slope above the orchard this spring and the dogs will be charged with bringing them back. Plus, there is no guarantee that the others won't also get super friendly with the dog at their heels.

I've been working on the "slow" command with both dogs. I plan to make my first outrun practices in fetching the sheep from the barn area to the field so they won't be so darned eager to get to a destination.

I'm told that sheep aren't like other animals - they won't go around you but prefer a path straight through you. If that's so, I think I'm doomed...

What can I do to prevent a collision?
Liz

No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich."
---Louis Sabin - All about Dogs as Pets.

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#2 bcnewe2

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 07:58 AM

Others might have different information but here's what I do:

My dogs can sometimes get pushy and can easily push the sheep on top of me. Not so much anymore but still, if sheep get to running things can get there anyways.

If the sheep seem to be pushing over the top of me, first I get a handle on my dog, if that isn't quite working then I take my stock stick and if a sheep moves in close I bop it on the nose. Hard enough they get the message I am not something they want to run into. My sheep are trained pretty well at this point.

I also work sheep at Purina Farms where there are lots of breeds working the sheep. The sheep are really not easy to calm. They would just as soon run you over than stop or go around, no matter what the dog is doing on the back end. Mick is quite good at releasing sheep pressure at just the right moment. It's one of his strong points. But Purina sheep don't know my dog and don't respond like normal sheep.
I have no issues with bopping them (the sheep) if they are coming in to run me over.

Others may have different ideas but that's what works for me.

Could you wear a strong knee brace while working sheep? Just in case, and also it might make you feel safer at the same time?
One more thing, if you have bottle babies or sheep that don't think like reg. sheep can you separate them from your working sheep while you are recouping? I hate bottle babies. They get sold here at a day or 2 old. No bottle babies for me!

Kristen
 

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#3 ejano

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 08:39 AM

Others might have different information but here's what I do:

My dogs can sometimes get pushy and can easily push the sheep on top of me. Not so much anymore but still, if sheep get to running things can get there anyways.

If the sheep seem to be pushing over the top of me, first I get a handle on my dog, if that isn't quite working then I take my stock stick and if a sheep moves in close I bop it on the nose. Hard enough they get the message I am not something they want to run into. My sheep are trained pretty well at this point.

I also work sheep at Purina Farms where there are lots of breeds working the sheep. The sheep are really not easy to calm. They would just as soon run you over than stop or go around, no matter what the dog is doing on the back end. Mick is quite good at releasing sheep pressure at just the right moment. It's one of his strong points. But Purina sheep don't know my dog and don't respond like normal sheep.
I have no issues with bopping them (the sheep) if they are coming in to run me over.

Others may have different ideas but that's what works for me.

Could you wear a strong knee brace while working sheep? Just in case, and also it might make you feel safer at the same time?
One more thing, if you have bottle babies or sheep that don't think like reg. sheep can you separate them from your working sheep while you are recouping? I hate bottle babies. They get sold here at a day or 2 old. No bottle babies for me!


Kristen, my biggest PIA is a bottle baby - our whether Lamb Chops. He definitely gets separated from the flock when we are working on new things. Once the dogs have the idea of what I want them to do, I through him back in so that he (hopefully) learns how to go with the flow. He often challenges the dogs, who have learned how to handle him without tearing his nose off. In this first year, more than once I've threatened to send him to the butcher, but he's very popular as he's so friendly with the nieces and nephews (and DH), he's very easy to handle without the dogs and he has beautiful wool...

The brace is a good idea - and we'll work on pace and releasing pressure.

No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich."
---Louis Sabin - All about Dogs as Pets.

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#4 TEC

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 12:13 PM

I'm told that sheep aren't like other animals - they won't go around you but prefer a path straight through you. If that's so, I think I'm doomed...

What can I do to prevent a collision?
Liz


Good suggestions already offered: manage/control dog, get dog in a down/stop so sheep have opportunity to slow to walk or trot as they near you, bop sheep on nose to train them. So, my impression is that you don't see amusement in being picked-up by packet of sheep, to surf along, wedged among them until they decide to deposit you in the nastiest place in the paddock :( For me, personally, it was laughable for only a time or two. Mishaps of that sort provide motivation, but of course we don't want them occurring in the first place.

Safety issues of the kind described depend to a large extent on the docility of sheep, level of dog's training for a particular task, and other circumstances. Sheepdog herding has inherent risks, and of course handlers wish to minimize them.

Something to strive toward: 1) Down/stop dog's fetch as sheep approach your position, 2) with dog in a down, many sheep will slow at least a bit, 3) from the down, flank your dog in order to press sheep to your left or right, so that you are in less danger of injury. This maneuver forms the foundation for a good wrap at the post. Start with short little fetches, in which the sheep can't build up too much speed, and try flanking dog as sheep get near. I wouldn't complicate things with a complete turn at the post until a safe fetch is beginning to get solid.

Advice from one of my instructors that has stood me in good stead was, "Keep your knees flexed/bent as sheep approach". We all have a natural tendency to lock our knees when we anticipate impact. Try to consciously overcome that reflex, and unwanted collisions won't have such damaging effect. -- Best wishes, TEC
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#5 ejano

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 09:45 PM

So, my impression is that you don't see amusement in being picked-up by packet of sheep, to surf along, wedged among them until they decide to deposit you in the nastiest place in the paddock :( For me, personally, it was laughable for only a time or two. Mishaps of that sort provide motivation, but of course we don't want them occurring in the first place.

It might be funny if I was witnessing it happening to someone else...and that person didn't get too badly hurt beyond their pride:).

Use the dog to protect me... light bulb moment :). We've been working on me stepping aside while the dog pushes the sheep through the "gate" - two cones lined up to mimic the actual gate some yards beyond. I want the dogs to nail that "gate" to get them ready to bring the sheep in and out of the real gate when we're ready for some real fun -- turning them lose on the slope and hopefully bringing them back. I step aside to "close" the gate while they take the sheep through. It's been moderately successful so they may be ready to do things a bit differently if I ask.


(I received the same advice about flexed knees. And, from my tennis days, the flexed knee also gives you momentum to move from one side to another more quickly as well.)

No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich."
---Louis Sabin - All about Dogs as Pets.

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#6 bcnewe2

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 09:55 PM

Liz, my first 2 lambs were bottle babies, chip and dale. They were dorssets. Grew to be huge. There was nothin fun about those 2 boys once they grew up. We renamed them lunch and dinner but I was never able to eat them, I was to attached. I don't let that happen anymore.

Down in AR I had one bottle baby that we names Remora after the sucker fish. I kept her outside, she would slip out the gate and wait on the porch for her bottle. Mick slept out there during the day. She totally attached herself to mick and would do outruns with him. It was quite the site. Mick refused to ever see her. She adored him.

I don't name them anymore and Craigslist them ASAP. Last year I actually pulled a lamb off its mommy just to sell to a lady that was crazed cause I already sold the b.baby I had listed. I sometimes think I might do that again. I got 75 bucks for a lamb that was about 3 days old. Quick profit for sure.
Good luck with your knee. I'm sure its a scary thought when you see those sheep coming towards you.

Kristen
 

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#7 Donald McCaig

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 10:12 AM

Dear Fellow Shepherds,

Unless they are woolblind, closeandpanicked, sheep will go around the human who flutters a cap in their faces. If they are closeandpanicked, your dog needs training.

Many who weren't born to shepherding keep an orphan from their first lambing. Nobody keeps a second one. If you can't bear to slaughter or send it to market, give it away. Bad for dog training, bad for the flock,possibly dangerous.

Donald McCaig

#8 ThunderHill

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 10:50 AM

As a practical matter, in small acreage situations with a relatively small "tame" flock, you don't need to train sheep to go through a real gate in familiar surroundings. The gate is the only opening in a complete fence barrier, not like the abstract of free-standing panels in a trial situation. The sheep will see that and go. They'll aim themselves. In fact, the less pressure on the sheep to get through the opening, the better. It's safest for all concerned if they just drift through instead of gearing up and jamming through the opening. The only time you're likely to want to put pressure on them is if you're taking them out of a place they find desireable (according to sheep logic) and pushing them into an area they don't like (for any of a hundred reasons which make perfect sense to sheep). That doesn't sound like your situation.

I have small acreage (a little over 13 acres) and a fairly steady but not over-dogged or overly human-friendly flock of between 20-60 head. No pets. They don't freak out at humans, but they move off me (calmly) pretty well at 10-25 feet. After a couple of practice outrun repetitions they'll figure out what's happening and start fetching a little early. But they're no kneeknockers. A dog has work very hard to bring them close enough for me to touch.

I have a 7+ acre field and four smaller fields of various sizes, and I move sheep around a lot. I used to open gates wide and let the sheep go. I've found since that when moving between fields, I prefer to bring them to a closed gate. If they crowd up too hard (right now I have pregnant ewes eager for grain), I'll ask the dog around to the gate, to get the sheep to keep some distance. Then I flank the dog off and let the sheep through. Generally the dog only needs to supervise, no pressure required. I get after the dog for hustling the sheep unnecessarily and causing a sprint or a jam. If the sheep charge blindly onwards in the new field instead of relaxing and spreading out, I may send the dog out again (after closing the gate) just to cover and stop them. Usually the sheep figure out pretty quickly they're free to move calmly from one field to the next, with minimal bunching up at the bottleneck of the gate.

I find that habitual charging from gate to gate, or gate to corner/fenceline is an obnoxious pattern, but I think in smaller fields the sheep often learn to do it because once they're as far away as they can get and realize neither dog nor human is pursuing, they then think they've succeeded in "escaping" from the dog/human and feel rewarded. My dogs all learn to get this kind of sheep off the fence, but I don't see any reason to encourage such behavior in my flock.

Crowding through gates is equally obnoxious and potentially more dangerous for all concerned.

I don't want my sheep to be numb, overdogged robots. (And I don't want my dogs to think that in routine home situations they have to put on the muscle and micromanage their stock without cease.) But in small acreage situations they're never going to be the same as sheep in huge flocks with huge amounts of elbow room. I feel they may as well get into "good" habits as bad.

Merely my two cents about daily handling/management. Training for trialing is its own world.

Good luck with all your gang and with your knee.

LizS in South Central PA

#9 ejano

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 12:21 PM

As a practical matter, in small acreage situations with a relatively small "tame" flock, you don't need to train sheep to go through a real gate in familiar surroundings...


This is all great advice and well suited to my situation. I am anticipating some challenges early on, but as you say, once they figure out where home is and how to get there, it should go quite easily (famous last words!)

The problem set for the dogs will be to keep them from slipping into the hayfield instead of going down into the orchard when going in and out of the paddock so the dog will essentially be an extended funnel, off to the left as they come out of the gate and vice versa when they go back. The hayfield will be enticing but there is all ready nice green, tender grass on the trail so that may help. If all else fails, encouraging them with a bucket of grain is the last resort. I also won't let all them out at the same time (learned that lesson last fall!). Some things are just trial and error(s), aren't they?

Mine are wary with me when I have a dog but the dog will hold them so that I could, if necessary get a hold of them should they need treatment. I was pleased that I could even nab my flighty little Shetland who doesn't let anyone touch her. I do think if I had 20 or more, they would be less personable, but I don't know if we'll ever build up to that many...we'd need more shelter for them, more fenced paddock.

Kristen and all, I heed your advice and can definitely see how Lamb Chops could be a problem (he's +/-)140 pounds now) and we've had some long discussions about the results should he change his now friendly attitude and I'm sure that DH wouldn't hesitate to give him up if he became dangerous to me or visitors. I certainly would send him packing.

Howsomeever, I did sneak in the paddock with Brodie and two sheep on Sunday (my "puppy" sheep and her shadow, the flighty little Shetland) on Sunday...I just couldn't stand not to...the weather is so perfect right now. I am pleased to say that Brodie has not forgotten to lie down and that my new knee seems well suited to waltzing around the pasture at a fairly good rate. :). We both need to brush up on our directional skills before we take on longer outruns - but his wearing skills were good - I didn't feel threatened with him behind me keeping the sheep plodding along. He has a quiet way of working...that red dog has a different style. Now, it all seems possible.

Thanks, everyone for your encouragement. This is going to be a very good learning year, I think.

No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich."
---Louis Sabin - All about Dogs as Pets.

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#10 Amelia

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 08:52 PM

Ejano, if you are worried about sheep running over you to the extent of injury, you need to go back to basics with your dog. Teaching your dog to slow, or lie down/stop isnt' enough, unless you want to be permanently limited to the "bump and drift" method of dog handling. Not efficient, not good for the dog. Having said that, your dog must have an absolute "lie down" because you need it when you need it. I just limit its use. On a trial field, you will very rarely see me use a lie down at any phase of work. I use it most often doing practical work.

If you simply have sour sheep that run off no fault of the dog, you might try working torwards a fence. Or try sending the dog to head the sheep when they start to run. You'll be teaching the dog and sheep at the same time.

I teach my pups from the beginning to "feel" their sheep. In other words to gauge for themselves when to come on, or back off. Precious few dogs are born with it. I've had 1 (Maria Mick's Kit) in the last 15 years. All the others I've taught to feel with mixed results depending on the dog. All my dogs understand that a steady whistle means they're overdoing it, which is why my steady whistle works. When teaching the steady whistle, I first give the whistle when they are being rash, then the correction. Soon enough they hear the whistle and know the corrections is coming, so I don't need it.

Suggest you go back to simple flanks, assuming they are open, then walk beside the dog while driving. From your position beside the dog, correct to the extent that you match your dog's intention any time he is rash with his sheep. In other words, any time the sheep are fleeing instead of moving calmly off the dog.

The same can be done on short fetches, but I don't want my dog to lie down. I want it to know when enough is enough. Again, I correct when things aren't moving forward quietly, but I keep things moving forward during the process of teaching.

The problem with this is that we are sheep dependent. In other words, the amount of pressure necessary depends on the sheep, and if you always practice on the same sheep, your dog learns how to feel 1 kind. Most of us don't have access to large flocks, or different types of sheep. If you do, great. Use them. If not, mix up the draw. Work with it and against it, or even create it with hay/grain, so your dog is required to use different amounts of pressure. You can also mix up the number of sheep from a few to many and give him different experiences.

I use the fence a lot to teach dogs to become at ease in close proximity to sheep. With my back to the fence, I'll move off a bit, then flank my dog between the sheep and the fence, allowing him to flank all the way around, and bring them back to me. Once sheep get to where they can only go left or right, I ask the dog forward. Over time he learns to calmly hold pressure closer and closer to stationary sheep, keeping the ends tucked, and without making a mess. When my dog can do that and keep sheep calm, he will do it in the field as well. Caution, this is a place where you could really hurt yourself if your dog's not ready for it.

If you're fearful of injury, you are trying to work beyond the distance at which you can teach your dog. Suggest you close things up until you're not worried any more, then gradually let them out again.

Best,

#11 Inez

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 10:15 PM

I have been watching these boards for sometime and am in no way trying to be an expert dog trainer. That being said I have had dogs a lot of rough collies and other breeds all my life. Some formal obediance training and AKC show dogs of which I no longer agree with. I have also had livestock for over 30 years. I only have had border collies for 4 years know. It has been a totally different training. I find it such a fasciting experiance for me.
We got the borders because we got goats about 7 years ago and then sheep and found we had so much difficulty feeding and not being trampled to death. So I suggested we get a border collie. We bought a partly trained dog that the owner didn't think would work out for her for a trail dog he has very good blood lines and I thought he would work for us. He did a good job of holding the sheep and goats away while we fed and while the gate was open to put in round bales of hay. That was my job before the dog and it was a job. We soon learned his value to us. One day the sheep got out on the road and a few neighbors tryed as hard a they could to put them back to no luck. I got the dog and they were in 2 min. We live on a very back road. We got to thinking what if something happen to him what would we do. So I got lucky again and found a very well bred female pup to try my hand training. My husband asked if I thought I could train her. I was going by my past exp. boy was I surprised at the differance. Our dogs are farm dogs but I want well trained dogs. I have several videos Rural Route, Patrick Shannahan and Andy Nickless that I have watched hours upon hours. Bruce Fogt and Vergil Holland books. My female's gandsire is Vergil's dog Hemp.
The biggest thing I am replying to is I have a disibility that I have to think about when I train my dogs. Years ago a horse trainer I know was brushing his horse and was using the brush as pressure to move it back and from side to side. He said before he ever gets on a horse it is usually almost broke. I have used that same thing with my dogs. In there play that we do all the time they have learned most of there basics. They have a solid recall and down stay to kennel and even to walkup slow and faster. I use a toy for the command there when they are close to it I will say there. They have always been interested in stock as I have taken them out on leads and they were taught to be at the barn relaxed with out chasing chickens. I found out very soon with the sheep with my first dog that 40 ewes barreling at me was not going to work for me. Ducks have been my answer I can walk through the ducks with out getting hurt. I can steady the dogs down teach them to stay off the stock even go on some out runs with out me getting injured. Till we learn all of the basics for them and I. I know this method is not for the normal but for someone with a health issues it has worked well for me. I know have 2 pups that are 14 months old from my two dogs it wasn't a planned breeding. I'm not a breeder,but they are doing great for me as well. Bella one of the pups is a natural at staying off stock probably due to a lack of confidence She helped with a job with sheep that was inside a net fence the other day a faster pusher dog would have pushed them through it. I had great control of her. She had been on sheep before a few times but this was her first job to do. We will work up to calves and hogs later on as I need them to be well rounded. The person I bought my first dog from was so surprised he would work calves. He would never work ducks but since he has seen the other dogs work them he does as well and it has helped me to slow him down. I have fun and good exersize and so do the dogs. Hope this is some help.
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#12 ejano

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 11:31 AM

Thanks Amelia and Inez! (I drifted away from this forum for a bit -- grading papers). I think developing a slower pace in Robin and putting him on some different sheep periodically is going to make a big difference this summer. Amelia, your tip about the working fence is a good one; we've done that at home and in lessons with some success, though the last time I set Robin up against the fence in an effort to break him from a recently developed bad habit of circling them, Robin leaped over the fence in an attempt to get around them. He's always a challenge, that one. You can read the entire sorry adventure in "Coffee Break" I haven't had the courage to try again for the first meadow as yet... and Inez, I agree smaller is better. I sorted out my smaller sheep the last time I was in the field and what a difference subtracting about 70 pounds makes!

I agree about the home training - if I want them to obey in the field, then they have to get off the couch when I say so :). We do a lot of every day obedience in the course of a day.


Liz

No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich."
---Louis Sabin - All about Dogs as Pets.

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