Hi, I’m a first-time poster. I have two young border collies. One's a year old, and the other's a couple months behind. They've been introduced to sheep and both seem eager to work. Indy, my female, is incredibly focused and constantly looks back for commands. My male, Aussie, practically goes into a sheep-chasing trance, though he has a strong desire to please. He learns more slowly but outperforms Indy in basic obedience once he has sussed out the meaning of the command.
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Here's the complicated bit. I live in Thailand and currently don't have any sheep (did for a few years, but feral dogs taught me the hard way that fences are about more than keeping the sheep in). I've worked out an arrangement with a Thai military compound that has about 50 head of sheep (I know, it's weird). I'm free to work my dogs on the sheep whenever I like. The problem is that the pasture is far too large for me to drill the basics with them (due to my own lack of experience, no doubt). There really aren't even any fences. Just retired soldier keeping watch with a gun in the shed that he can use if stray dogs become a problem. Needless to say, dogs aren't a problem.
What I'd like to do is introduce my dogs to basic herding commands, and then take them back to the sheep pasture for refinement. I can't keep sheep where I currently live, but I do have a decent-sized property and could get away with keeping a few ducks or geese. I've kept a few ducks elsewhere in the past and know they stink and make a mess (as this thread drives home). It would be a temporary arrangement that would end when the dogs are good enough on basic herding commands to proceed with sheep in the open pasture twice per week or so. If the mess and smell became too much… well, there’s always Christmas dinner.
Indy Looking Back.png 479.34K 17 downloads
I've read through the forums and see warnings about dogs learning bad habits from training on ducks. My main concern is building a basic foundation that can be transferred to a flock of sheep. So, I guess that’s my question. Can a flock of domesticated ducks or geese be used to effectively train basic herding commands that can be transferred to sheep?
I’m an amateur and have no delusions of grandeur. This is a hobby, and I've got more to learn about herding than my dogs do. I have general experience with sheep; and I know dogs. I just have next-to-no experience working them together. Sheep farming is taking off in Thailand, and as far as I can tell, no one is using herding dogs to manage their flocks. If I can train my dogs reasonably well, I’d become the de facto herding-dog expert in the region where I live. If it doesn't work out – we’ll have fun anyway.
Are ducks or geese practical for my situation? I’m just unable to manage early training with the sheep at the military compound, and there are no experts for me to consult out here. I feel like I need to start in closer quarters and with my own purpose-built enclosures. Unfortunately, the soldiers aren't keen on me building a pen on their property. Will trying to learn the basics with ducks or geese ultimately work against my goal of training competent sheep-herding dogs?
Any input is much appreciate. Apologies if I'm re-hashing a topic that has been done before.