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the BC "on gaurd"


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#1 ejano

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 07:34 AM

In fencing, the "on gaurd" position, means prepared to attack so I'm not sure that my title accurately reflects my question but here is the situation - my understanding of the Border Collie psyche is that they really enjoy getting something - mine prefer sheep - and putting that thing someplace - at the moment right at my feet (something we need to change but that's a question for another time)- and then doing it all over again - quickly.

But what happens when you have the sheep where you want them and you want to stay there for awhile and have the dog help you keep them in the general area to graze without grounding them to an exact spot. Could you expect a young eager dog to be "on guard" without breaking his cool?


The "orchard" is comprised of a slope, two 3 acre meadows,separated by a stone wall a 5 acre orchard with a stream running through it and beyond it, the "big field" - a 15 acre hay field beyond the orchard. They are separated by stone walls that are tumbled down in places and have open barways. We won't be running fences in here for some time. The sheep paddock opens up directly onto the slope so the intention is to tumble the sheep out, keep them from doubling back onto the delicious hay grass on the "near field" and push them out onto the slope and let them wander. There are no roads, the small meadow is very open so it is a good place to train the dogs as well. There is also a good deal of work to be done in the orchard. I plan to alternate dogs - taking one each day but I don't want the pups to get too worked up with excitement from the tension of watching the sheep that they will be of no use in helping me getting the sheep back into the paddock.

If we are down in the orchard for several hours or half a day - is it fair to ask my boys, both 3 years old with some training (a good down, fairly consistent on their sides, an enthusiastic lift and fetch, wearing well, a wee bit of driving) stay "on guard" with supervision to keep the sheep from wandering too far afield?

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#2 ajm

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 04:38 AM

You say your dog has a good grasp of down, which is good. For this job he better have a good grasp of “stay”, because that is what he has to do. You could expect him to be on guard, but not without supervision. Border collies move sheep. But if part of their job description is to lie around and watch them, they had better do it.
Getting yourself a few rolls of electronet from Premier and grazing your sheep that way, might be handier, after you have put them in it with your dogs. There are plenty of cultures around the world, that shepherd sheep as you describe. Biblical. Someone, maybe with or without a dog, spends all day watching over them.

#3 ejano

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:27 AM

You say your dog has a good grasp of down, which is good. For this job he better have a good grasp of “stay”, because that is what he has to do. You could expect him to be on guard, but not without supervision. Border collies move sheep. But if part of their job description is to lie around and watch them, they had better do it.
Getting yourself a few rolls of electronet from Premier and grazing your sheep that way, might be handier, after you have put them in it with your dogs. There are plenty of cultures around the world, that shepherd sheep as you describe. Biblical. Someone, maybe with or without a dog, spends all day watching over them.


We do have the electronet on our list of must get ASAP as there are other areas that need either fencing in or fencing out and I could develop a planned grazing pattern for the orchard.

Both dogs have a good stay. My plan is to keep the dog with me while I am doing some chore - i.e. trimming trees, cleaning out the spring, rebuilding the wall - sending the dog out if necessary if the sheep decide to drift off too far afield or kite back to the barn without permission.

I took Brodie out with two sheep yesterday afternoon and when I sat down, he relaxed beside me, something that surprised me as the whole situation was entirely new to him. But he takes his cues well from his handler and while he has strong interest and ability, he has other hobbies besides watching sheep when he's not working them. Yesterday he kept his eye on them but as long as their noses weren't pointed toward the barn, he was cool about it. We stayed less than an hour but it was a good foundation.

Around the barn and paddock, if given the opportunity, Robin lies watching the sheep so intently only his nose twitches, or if standing, his body trembling, until he is called off. (The thumbnail picture below is him, staring at "his" sheep.) Even then, he drifts back at first opportunity to a reasonable distance (the sheep are undisturbed) to return to watching. I severely limit his sightseeing opportunities as he is a naturally strong dog and doesn't need to think up any more ideas - and there's always the possibility that, unable to bear standing still, he might well have a "Hey, lets see what happens if I do this moment." I don't make a big deal of it when he stakes out the paddock as I don't want to punish him for "finding" the sheep or for his strong interest so I call him off quietly and redirect him. If he does it a second time, into his crate he goes until we can do a supervised activity. Is that the right thing to do?

We'll see what happens when he has his turn at taking the sheep out - hopefully this afternoon.


Thanks,
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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Ladybug, Brodie, Robin


#4 ItsADogsLyfe

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 12:25 PM

Most of the work I have for my dogs right now consists of holding sheep. Holding them off me while I feed, holding them away so I can open the gate without getting butted by the ram. My young dog, also 3yrs and very uh motivated? It was very hard to get the concept of stay in his head. He now is fairly dependable holding sheep while I perform some task like vaccinations, worming, hoof trimming or even chair removal.

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It just took time to get him settled enough to understand the job and what was expected of him.
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#5 Sue R

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 02:45 PM

Chair removal? You don't see that one every day but I'm sure a good dog helps with the job! The sheep (looking rather goat-ish) does not look amused...
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#6 Star

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 01:51 PM

I do not work Star (unfortunately) and know next to nothing about this topic. But just wanted to chime in to let you know that when I went to watch at the place she was born, her mother and mother's littermate were spending a lot of time watching a herd of goats--one on each side. The rancher wanted the goats to stay in a particular area. If one wandered too far, whoever was closest (it seemed) would go and fetch it back to the herd. They were both alternately laying down, sitting or standing, but stayed pretty much in one place. They attentively but calmly watched the goats, and when one wandered off, went to get it in a businesslike fashion. Just thought I'd share that it can be done. These were mature dogs, so I don't know how hard it would be to train a young pup?



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