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How soon do you start a pup?


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#1 dsmbc

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Posted 18 April 2012 - 10:43 PM

just wondering how soon you would introduce a new pup to stock? Do you give them a little exposure, but wait until they are older to start training or do you start their training right away? just wondering what your thoughts are on this.

#2 bcnewe2

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 07:28 AM

Answer is.....depends!
My pup is almost 5 months. She gets exposure often but no real training. I will wait till I see that she can take pressure from me and the sheep without bothering her. She is sensitive to humans but pretty strong on sheep. So I will wait, but that doesn't stop me from putting her in a round pen every now and then to see what she's up to.
Plus she does see sheep everyday. Couple days ago she found the sheep out in the field. I have 20 or so sheep including lambs. She was drawn in by lamb dancing action cause they were pretty far away. she ran out, circled them, got nervous when the Mommies turned to face her and scooted back my way.

I praised her for coming when I called (which I did as soon as I saw her coming my way ;)) and called it a day. I enjoyed seeing her go around and am not worried that 20 sheep with babies were a bit intimidating for her. Last time I put her in a round pen she wanted to hold sheep to the corner (not quite a round pen) but was not intimidated by the few sheep she was working/playing with.

Probably close to a year maybe 10 months before I will really start to train her. I know others who have started earlier, maybe their dogs are ready but for me starting a dog to early leaves not much dog when you are done. And if I think she's not ready at a year then we will wait!

IMHO.

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#3 Gloria Atwater

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 12:01 AM

I'm no professional, but I'm with Kristen. I will take a pup to sheep about once a month, starting around 4 or 5 months, just to see where their brains are, but won't put any commands or demands on them at that time. I just let them have a few minutes of doing whatever nature tells them to, helping them to be correct as they're able, at the time, and then put them up for another month.

If I can bring them to just *see* sheep, when feeding or other chores, I do that simply so they get used to the idea of sheep being around. Then, depending on the pup's aptitude and his/her ability to take the stress of training, I'll start them "officially" at 10 or 11 months.

But before that, even if they are very keen, I don't really feel their minds are ready to absorb and deal with training pressures. Plus their bodies are still very young, and I don't want to put too much strain on their joints before they are 10 or 11 months.

Each pup is different, so I try to let them show me what they are ready for and when. :)

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#4 juliepoudrier

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:03 AM

I've started them as young as 6 months, but the early starters are usually the ones who are already "old souls" and seem to do most everything right from the start. Even then you need to be cognizant of what their bodies and minds are capable of and not overface them just because they are so good as babies.

Others take longer. I'll take a pup to dog broke sheep at an early age (I have photos of Kes on my ewe flock at 12 weeks old), but it's mainly just to see if there's interest and what natural talent might show. Kes just turned 8 months and still really isn't ready for the pressure of real training. I had her in the round pen 3-4 weeks ago. She'll go around and she'll change directions and turn in to fetch them toward me, but there's still a lot of yeeha going on and I can tell that mentally she's not quite ready. Since I don't want to have to really correct her at this tender age, it's easier to just put her up and try again in a few weeks. When she can go in with a more serious workmanlike attitude, then I'll decide she's ready to take a little training pressure.

An experienced trainer can probably more easily start a younger dog. An inexperienced trainer would benefit him/herself and the pup to wait a while.

J.

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#5 bcnewe2

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:15 AM

I've started them as young as 6 months, but the early starters are usually the ones who are already "old souls" and seem to do most everything right from the start


Interesting Julie, I think Faye is an old soul. But she's not showing that radius feel at the moment that I think is why some pups can be so right from the very beginning. Never thought of it as an old soul thing.

I've only had 1 other old soul or at least that's what I think. Mick was an old soul and I really am getting the impression Faye is too. I will be watching to see how it effects her starting. I've only put her on sheep a few times. She did start to go out and around for my lamb dancers but the mean ewe put her back at my feet. I'm not really worried about that for now cause she was ready to go right back out, but I sure don't want that to happen again.

hmmm,
now I've got something to ponder!

Kristen
 

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#6 juliepoudrier

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 08:52 AM

By "old soul" I really just mean a dog who seems to do it all pretty much right from the start. Bobby Dalziel said of Twist, who was 8 months old at the time of the clinic I attended, that she worked like an adult--not like a months-old dog but a years-old dog. That's the sort of dog I was referring to--essentially trained right out of the box.

J.

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~Vincent van Gogh



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Julie Poudrier
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#7 bcnewe2

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 09:52 AM

That's the sort of dog I was referring to--essentially trained right out of the box.


Well I sure do hope that Faye is the old soul you are referring to!
I was actually meaning a bit more. But the trained right out of the box would fit too. I mean the type of pup that comes out serious, not the happy go lucky puppy that seems to be "normal". One that seems to be years old not months. Although she does play and do puppy stuff, just not the same as a regular puppy.

Does that sound like the way Twist was as a youngster?

I had Faye out yesterday with a group of people working sheep. A couple of them talked of how serious she seemed. Faye did not care to play with the other pup that was there about the same age. She really just wanted to watch the other dogs work sheep. She was quiet and concentrated.

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#8 dsmbc

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 10:00 AM

Thanks all. Good advice.

#9 juliepoudrier

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 10:44 AM

Does that sound like the way Twist was as a youngster?

That was 10 1/2 years ago, so memories are fuzzy! She was a normal pup, played with the other dogs, loved fetch and similar. But on stock she was all business. She ran in her first trial before she was a year old, and was running in open (and at the finals) when she was 3. But she loved her fun too.

The biggest problem with dogs like this, especially in the hands of a novice (which I was at the time) is pushing them too fast, because they are so easy. (I haven't had to worry about that since, because I've not had another like her.)

J.

I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.

~Vincent van Gogh



mydogs_small2.jpg

Julie Poudrier
New Kent, VA
Willow (6/1997-5/2014, run free), Boy (3/1995-10/2010, RIP), Jill (8/1996-5/2012, RIP), Farleigh, Twist, Kat, Lark, Phoebe, Pipit, and Birdie!
Willow's Rest, Tunis and mule sheep



Visit me on Facebook at Poudrier and Crowder, Set Out Specialists (P&C, SOS)


#10 Jeanne Joy

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 10:50 AM

I prefer to start a dog on stock - especially cattle - when the growth plates have closed: http://www.workingranchtv.com/blog/356


jeanne
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#11 Amelia

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 07:52 PM

The biggest problem with dogs like this, especially in the hands of a novice (which I was at the time) is pushing them too fast, because they are so easy.


Boy, I can not agree more with this statement. On the rare occasion I find myself with a dog like this, I go slowly. I may even put them up for a while just to be sure I'm not overdoing it. Other than physical and mental stamina, I've never seen one hindered by time off.

As to the growth plates, Jeanne, when does that occur? Is it different in different breeds? I don't imagine that you judge a dog's readiness on physical maturity alone. I find a dog that is physically immature is often mentally immature as well.

In answer to the original question, I raise my pups around sheep to the extent they take them for granted. I usually give them a go around 7 months, but it's their ability to retain their lessons from one day to the next that I base my decision whether or not to train them consistently.

If I teach them something and they come out the next day remembering that lesson, I go on with them. I train my youngsters with what my good friend, Bridget, calls "a little bit of kindergarten every day." I love that phrase. Each day, I cover the basics then teach my pups something new. In that way, I'm always building on a solid foundation.

Cheers all,

#12 Diana A

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 08:01 AM

One thing to be careful of is don't mistake interest as a sign that the pup is ready to train. My last couple dogs all got very interested around 4-5 months. My most recent one when I took her out around 5 months was keen on the sheep but showed no sign of wanting to circle, so we had about 30 seconds of yeehaw and then we were done. I tried again at 6-7 months and she was circling but too close, too excited. Waited for around 9 months old and she was a totally different dog - much more thoughtful, nice square turns when switching directions, and calm enough to include me in the picture. It would have been so easy to screw up a lot of nice natural stuff in her by trying to 'fix' a lot of the stuff she was doing wrong at 6 months old; when I just let her grow up a bit all the good stuff just started magically appearing :-).

Now the dog right before her was also keen at a young age, and with her I didn't know any better and started working her once a week or so. And we were constantly fighting due to her being too close or too fast or too excited to respond to my pressure. It all started getting better around a year old, and I never was entirely sure what I did to fix it. Now looking back I think it wasn't anything I did, but the pup finally grew up a bit. I still fight with that dog to this day (she is almost 8 years old now). Now she's a different personality, so I'm not saying starting her early was necessarily the cause of all of our problems, but I can't help but wonder what she would be like now if I'd just put her away for a few months and not had all that bad experience in the beginning with the two of us butting heads all the time. In my opinion better to be safe and just wait a bit.
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#13 Jeanne Joy

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 10:45 AM

Other than physical and mental stamina, I've never seen one hindered by time off. As to the growth plates, Jeanne, when does that occur? Is it different in different breeds? I don't imagine that you judge a dog's readiness on physical maturity alone. I find a dog that is physically immature is often mentally immature as well.


Your right. I would never judge a dog's readiness on physical maturity alone. I agree, mental maturity tends to coincide with physical maturity. I don't think there is anything wrong with someone taking a pup to sheep at four or five months of age, but I mentioned this because people just getting started have a tendency to push young dogs too soon. Keen young dogs are willing and want to work, so they more vulnerable because they are often making sudden turns, rollbacks etc. Injuries may not really affect the dog until he/she is older and arthritis sets in.

I think it is fairly safe to start a dog with actual stock around 10 to 12 months for breeds Border Collies and Aussies. Again, there's a lot you can do before that - such as you mentioned with "Kindergarten."

As far as the development of different bones - they vary. Here's a chart that may be of interest:

http://www.provet.co...thplatedogs.htm


jeanne
It has been said, "Most of the footprints in the sands of time were made by working shoes." By the side of those footprints are paw prints.

http://stockdogsavvy.wordpress.com/

#14 gcv-border

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 06:00 PM

As far as the development of different bones - they vary. Here's a chart that may be of interest:

http://www.provet.co...thplatedogs.htm


jeanne


That chart is interesting. Is it an average for all dog breeds? My vet has told me that small terriers (for example) would have growth plate closure by 9-12 months, whereas the large/giant breeds could be 2 years old before the growth plates closed. Although I don't think he is an expert on BCs, he felt that the growth plates of a BC would be closed by about 14-15 months.

Jovi

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#15 Jeanne Joy

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 08:40 AM

I'm guessing so. What your vet told you is what most vets I've talked to concur with. Here's something else that may be of interest to you regarding growth plates:


"A study by Salmeri et al in 1991 found that bitches spayed at 7 weeks grew significantly taller than those spayed at 7 months, who were taller than those not spayed (or presumably spayed after the growth plates had closed).(1) A study of 1444 Golden Retrievers performed in 1998 and 1999 also found bitches and dogs spayed and neutered at less than a year of age were significantly taller than those spayed or neutered at more than a year of age.(2) The sex hormones, by communicating with a number of other growth-related hormones, promote the closure of the growth plates at puberty (3), so the bones of dogs or bitches neutered or spayed before puberty continue to grow. Dogs that have been spayed or neutered well before puberty can frequently be identified by their longer limbs, lighter bone structure, narrow chests and narrow skulls. This abnormal growth frequently results in significant alterations in body proportions and particularly the lengths (and therefore weights) of certain bones relative to others. For example, if the femur has achieved its genetically determined normal length at 8 months when a dog gets spayed or neutered, but the tibia, which normally stops growing at 12 to 14 months of age continues to grow, then an abnormal angle may develop at the stifle. In addition, with the extra growth, the lower leg below the stifle likely becomes heavier (because it is longer), and may cause increased stresses on the cranial cruciate ligament. In addition, sex hormones are critical for achieving peak bone density." - http://www.caninesports.com/SpayNeuter.html

It has been said, "Most of the footprints in the sands of time were made by working shoes." By the side of those footprints are paw prints.

http://stockdogsavvy.wordpress.com/

#16 Mark Billadeau

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 01:13 PM

My rules of thumb are:

We "try" a pup once it is large enough to not get injured by the stock (4-6 months).
As long as the pup is correct in the work and not stressing (because of me or the stock) I will continue to work it.
If/when the pup must be corrected I will stop working the pup if it cannot take the stress of the correction.

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