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A youngster with attitude

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I have a young dog, who seems to have lots of potential - at the very beginning of his training at a year of age, he seeks balance, covers his sheep, seems to read his sheep and have some pace, has confidence, takes corrections without sulking or losing interest, and is enthusiastic, intense, and focussed. He goes both ways (still in the small pen) quite nicely; changes direction easily and without coming into the sheep (turning nicely on his hocks); seeks balance and covers; does a little diving and gripping but mainly either in a bullying fashion rather than that of a worried youngster, or when the sheep are near the fence and the pressure is a bit tight

 

I think he'll be all I could ask for a farm cattledog, if I can develop a good partnership with him. But it's hard getting him to acknowledge the handler as being in the picture and being in charge. It's taken (taking) a lot of effort and consistency to get him to be polite on the lead; he's taking his downs (sometimes a bit reluctantly) on sheep, and calling off (now that he's learned that it doesn't mean everything is all over but that he may just be getting another go shortly); and he's learning that he won't get his sheep if he's not polite and right.

 

He's from strong cattledog breeding, and I need a dog with confidence and presence. My current dog has neither but usually gets the job done on our fairly easy cows. Would you have some advice on working with a rather strong-willed (hard-headed?) youngster? Especially in terms of working on/developing the partnership aspect?

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I have a young dog, who seems to have lots of potential - at the very beginning of his training at a year of age, he seeks balance, covers his sheep, seems to read his sheep and have some pace, has confidence, takes corrections without sulking or losing interest, and is enthusiastic, intense, and focussed. He goes both ways (still in the small pen) quite nicely; changes direction easily and without coming into the sheep (turning nicely on his hocks); seeks balance and covers; does a little diving and gripping but mainly either in a bullying fashion rather than that of a worried youngster, or when the sheep are near the fence and the pressure is a bit tight

 

I think he'll be all I could ask for a farm cattledog, if I can develop a good partnership with him. But it's hard getting him to acknowledge the handler as being in the picture and being in charge. It's taken (taking) a lot of effort and consistency to get him to be polite on the lead; he's taking his downs (sometimes a bit reluctantly) on sheep, and calling off (now that he's learned that it doesn't mean everything is all over but that he may just be getting another go shortly); and he's learning that he won't get his sheep if he's not polite and right.

 

He's from strong cattledog breeding, and I need a dog with confidence and presence. My current dog has neither but usually gets the job done on our fairly easy cows. Would you have some advice on working with a rather strong-willed (hard-headed?) youngster? Especially in terms of working on/developing the partnership aspect?

 

Sorry I have taken so long to get back but the farm work has been calling lately.

 

Sounds like you have a good one there, especially for cattle! The secret with this type of dog is for you to establish yourself as the leader of the team. In my opinion, this is the type that is necessary for most cattle operations as they have natural confidence and ability along with an enduring presence. However, on the flip side, they are not team players in that they are usually control freaks and love to be in charge of the stock at all times, hence the problem of the handler not being in the picture. He doesn't feel like he really needs you to help him right now. This is really a good trait, providing you are ready to take the reins and become the leader. I need you to understand that you have Mike Tyson and you need to use whatever is necessary to establish your leadership postion with this dog. He will not come along quickly until he understands that you are the ultimate leader and your every command must be obeyed. You need to read his every thought and understand what he is doing at all times as most of the time he will be right but there will be times when he will just go and beat something up just for the hell of it. That's when your timing and understanding will have to kick into gear and you will take over. I would put him on a long line for now and take him out of the round pen where he can get out where he needs to be on his sheep. He needs to have a solid stop on him EVERY TIME and you can get this by walking him up on his sheep and when he is just approaching the flight zone and you see the sheep starting to react, tell him to either "stand there" or "lie down", whichever you intend on using and give a sharp jerk and release on the line and make him stop. He must stop immediately. I would start a dog like this on a "lie down" as you will need one on him to take some pressure off the sheep when you stop him. He will present a much scarier picture on his feet to the sheep than lying on the ground when he stops. Get the lie down on him now and then you can work on the "stand there" later on when you have the good stop. Once you have the really good stop on this dog, things will become much easier for you. Sounds like he has extremely good balance which is quite natural with this type of dog and he will always turn in on his stock every time you stop him or walk him up. The round pen with this type of dog is usually just asking for failure as he is always much too close to his stock. If you feel you need to use the round pen have the dog on the outside so he can't be scaring his stock all the time. I don't particularily like them and I usually start all my dogs in a 1 acre field and that way they can find where they need to be on their sheep. My dogs are usually the type you have here and I train a lot of cattle dogs throughout the winter and I like to see this independance and confidence in them. If it's not there, they usually are not enough dog to handle our type of cattle in the mountains around here. Establish the impeccable stop and get control of him and things will go much better for you. He will not be easy but you will have a dog that you will be very pleased with for the rest of his life if you are determined to be the boss. I'm not talking about bullying him or ragging on him or drilling him. It's pretty simple. He needs to do as you tell him, every time, whether it's just lying down in the house or stopping behind 200 cows to flanking when he's told and how he's told. Get the stop and then get back to me and we can go on with this great little dog from there.........Good luck......Bob

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Sorry I have taken so long to get back but the farm work has been calling lately.
I know you have a lot on your plate and am just grateful that you take the time to help folks like myself. I must say that he is out for starting right now, on sheep, with a good Open sheepdog handler as I have no training stock here on our small farm.

 

Sounds like you have a good one there, especially for cattle!
Dan comes from strong cattledog lines and is unlike any youngster/dog I've had before. The others have been generally working-bred but really produced mainly for the pet/companion market. Some nice dogs, nice characteristics, but not the same combination of talent and determination that Dan possesses.

 

The secret with this type of dog is for you to establish yourself as the leader of the team. In my opinion, this is the type that is necessary for most cattle operations as they have natural confidence and ability along with an enduring presence. However, on the flip side, they are not team players in that they are usually control freaks and love to be in charge of the stock at all times, hence the problem of the handler not being in the picture. He doesn't feel like he really needs you to help him right now. This is really a good trait, providing you are ready to take the reins and become the leader.
This is what I have been hearing and what I have obviously not accomplished in his pre-stock youth, at least not to the degree that is necessary. His lineage and similarly-bred relatives are terrific cattledogs, confident and with a bring-it-on attitude but with good instincts and abilities.

 

I need you to understand that you have Mike Tyson and you need to use whatever is necessary to establish your leadership postion with this dog. He will not come along quickly until he understands that you are the ultimate leader and your every command must be obeyed. You need to read his every thought and understand what he is doing at all times as most of the time he will be right but there will be times when he will just go and beat something up just for the hell of it.
I think I see this in the limited work he has had already on sheep. He does a bit of diving and (usually) air-snapping. In my opinion, it's not generally because he's a youngster trying to work things out. I think he's being a bully and looking for a reaction from his stock. Occasionally, he has gripped and he can dive and grip in a tight situation (like near the fence in the pen, as you mention later as a source of pressure).

 

That's when your timing and understanding will have to kick into gear and you will take over. I would put him on a long line for now and take him out of the round pen where he can get out where he needs to be on his sheep.
He's being worked in a rectangular pen that is about 100'x75', and will be taken out shortly into the pasture. Right now, though, because the pasture does not have good fencing (new owners and haven't gotten the fencing replaced yet) and his stop is just coming along, the trainer won't take him out without another capable person and a dog to help control the situation by providing a living fence. I will definitely suggest this to her as a long line is something she has used with other youngsters in the past.

 

He needs to have a solid stop on him EVERY TIME and you can get this by walking him up on his sheep and when he is just approaching the flight zone and you see the sheep starting to react, tell him to either "stand there" or "lie down", whichever you intend on using and give a sharp jerk and release on the line and make him stop. He must stop immediately.
Very practical-sounding suggestion. I have not used a long line on our farm previously because I was concerned about it getting tangled on something or a cow, and the dog getting trapped by it or hurt. I could try this if I control the situation, though.

 

I would start a dog like this on a "lie down" as you will need one on him to take some pressure off the sheep when you stop him. He will present a much scarier picture on his feet to the sheep than lying on the ground when he stops. Get the lie down on him now and then you can work on the "stand there" later on when you have the good stop.
I have been working on a "stop" and on a "down" off stock. He greatly prefers the stop! I can certainly see that he has quite an effect on the sheep at his training. They can sense his "ambition".

 

Once you have the really good stop on this dog, things will become much easier for you.
The trainer is getting a nice down on him and that has allowed her progress in working with him as she can move much more freely and make more room for him to cast and wear.

 

Sounds like he has extremely good balance which is quite natural with this type of dog and he will always turn in on his stock every time you stop him or walk him up. The round pen with this type of dog is usually just asking for failure as he is always much too close to his stock. If you feel you need to use the round pen have the dog on the outside so he can't be scaring his stock all the time. I don't particularily like them and I usually start all my dogs in a 1 acre field and that way they can find where they need to be on their sheep.
The pen is larger than most round pens and very shortly, he will be out of it. It's a matter right now of making do with what's available and doable.

 

My dogs are usually the type you have here and I train a lot of cattle dogs throughout the winter and I like to see this independance and confidence in them. If it's not there, they usually are not enough dog to handle our type of cattle in the mountains around here. Establish the impeccable stop and get control of him and things will go much better for you. He will not be easy but you will have a dog that you will be very pleased with for the rest of his life if you are determined to be the boss. I'm not talking about bullying him or ragging on him or drilling him. It's pretty simple. He needs to do as you tell him, every time, whether it's just lying down in the house or stopping behind 200 cows to flanking when he's told and how he's told. Get the stop and then get back to me and we can go on with this great little dog from there.........Good luck......Bob
Thank you again! We only have a small farm and calve out about 30 head each year (we do have the opportunity to expand a bit, though, and are considering that). The weanling heifers go out to be grown and AI'd (or clean-up bull) and return at 18 months of age. They are separated from the cows in mid-winter and supplemented and kept closer to home so we can better monitor their calving. So a dog gets the chance to gather and bring them into a holding pen each day, and sometimes take them back out to pasture after. That gives the dogs some field work and a little pen work for those few months, plus some work when they calve, bringing them and the calves in when they are ready to come in with the other heifers after the first few days. The bonus is that the calves are then dog-broken by the time they and their mothers are put back out with the cows.

 

The cows get only SOM supplement every few days and generally all a dog does is help me keep the cows off the feeders while Ed spreads the SOM in them. When they calve, I go out and give mineral and bring them and their calves to the mineral feeder, again dog-breaking the babies and giving the dogs some work that doesn't cause any additional efforts on the cows' part.

 

In the fall, we have about six weeks or more of weanlings that we supplement for the quality feeder calf program, and that's another time when the dogs have the opportunity to work a couple of times a day. And, for the recently-weaned calves, they can often use some convincing to come to the feeder (and to be worked).

 

So, while we have little work some times of the year, we do depend on the dogs for gathering, moving from one pasture to another (and across the road!), pushing into one or another holding pen, and so forth. Last year, the dogs helped us move a laboring heifer across several fields to the working chute, where we could confine her and help deliver her large bull calf. We could have lost one or both of them without the help of the dogs because we could not have moved her otherwise, and she was too restless (and too long in labor) to let us give her a hand in the field.

 

Thank you for the ideas, and I will get back in touch with you here. Sorry to have written so very much but I wanted to address so many of your very good points and ideas, and give you an idea of what our very small cattle operation is like. I shall pass this on to the trainer and utilize these ideas when Dan comes home in a few weeks.

 

If you are ever East to the Bluegrass again, I'd be happy to scribe for you again (or cheer you on if you are competing).

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...they are not team players in that they are usually control freaks and love to be in charge of the stock at all times, hence the problem of the handler not being in the picture. He doesn't feel like he really needs you to help him right now. This is really a good trait, providing you are ready to take the reins and become the leader...
...He will not come along quickly until he understands that you are the ultimate leader and your every command must be obeyed. You need to read his every thought and understand what he is doing at all times as most of the time he will be right but there will be times when he will just go and beat something up just for the hell of it. That's when your timing and understanding will have to kick into gear and you will take over...
[emphasis mine]

 

Bravo, Bob! I haven't see this pup (since he was 8 weeks old), but if he's like the rest of the litter/family, you've nailed him completely! :rolleyes:

 

A

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[emphasis mine]

 

Bravo, Bob! I haven't see this pup (since he was 8 weeks old), but if he's like the rest of the litter/family, you've nailed him completely! :rolleyes:

 

A

 

 

Is he one of yours Anna or maybe one of Loren's? How's things going. I'm just recovering from a new hip and knee and just starting to get back to training my dogs again. Wanted to get to Zamora but dogs are almost as rusty as I am right now. Take care......Bob

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Is he one of yours Anna or maybe one of Loren's? How's things going. I'm just recovering from a new hip and knee and just starting to get back to training my dogs again. Wanted to get to Zamora but dogs are almost as rusty as I am right now. Take care......Bob

He is indeed from Anna's breeding. His sire is Lorne's Leo (Cash/Sue) and his dam is Riddle (Russell/Lucky), and his pedigree is solid cattledog. We feel very fortunate that Anna was willing to send him across the country to someone she didn't know because she wanted to see one of these pups go to a working farm.

 

We have been very careful to not let him interact with the cattle without training. His first exposure to stock was a Kathy Knox clinic in Dec, when he was almost 11 months old, and I think she thought very highly of him, once they sorted out one or two things! The day before I took him down to the trainer, he slipped under the fence and into the field behind the house with the bred heifers. By the time I got the other dogs down in the yard, and made it over the fence and around the barn, Dan was busily gathering the heifers up to bring them to me. Fortunately, they were accustomed to moving into a holding pen prior to supplement, and he "drove" them into there, so no harm was done. But, my, was he one proud youngster!

 

We have great hopes for having a dog with terrific instincts and the confidence and presence to work stock well.

 

Thank you so much for your comments, and I hope your recovery continues well!

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Hey, Bob. With all those replacement parts, you ought to be good as new here pretty quick. I'll expect to see you and Nancy out and about kicking butt soon! :rolleyes:

A

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