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madrose124

Adopting a puppy--questions about herding etc

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Hi! Glad to finally be able to post, as I have been stalking the boards the last few days.

 

I have been looking to adopt a border collie for some time, and was waiting on a BC to come through that might work for us from the AZ BC rescue (we are in NM). We have been looking for a dog that can help me herd sheep, as we have a small flock of babydoll southdown sheep starting, but no more than 4-5 adults at any given time (plus lambs occassionally). I also have young kids, two dogs (rhodesian ridgeback, an aussie--who is useless with herding btw, but when I picked her out we didnt have sheep and I wanted a dog to "play" doggie sports with--I got my wish in that respect but she is an absolute failure at herding, in particular, submissive to sheep as if they were woolie dogs LOL). So we want something with some herding instinct. As cool as trialing would be, I don't forsee me having the time to be competitive, I just want the dog to help me get them in pens, seperate if need be, load into a trailer if need be, stuff like that, since my husband is gone often and it's just me and a 5 year old LOL.

 

I really preferred to rescue over buy, but gave myself a year of searching before seeking out a working bred pup.

 

Anywho, my fellow rescue friends knew I was searching and found a little apparent border collie pup from a shelter down south. I was hesitant in some ways, as adopting a single puppy from a shelter with unknown breeding etc was a bit risky. I had the shelter do some testing (mainly for food aggression and friendliness etc.) Chances are high that she could very well be a purebred BC or mostly BC based on the location she came from---a very small farm & ranch town. Appearance wise there is nothing about her so far that strikes me as a mix of much other than BC, no pit, no beagle, lab, heeler, that sort of thing. Long story short, her 5 days were up and I decided to "foster to adopt."

 

She is about 8 weeks old, drop eared for now, although one seems to be "rising" haha. Smooth coat. Those two things alone have resulted in a few "knowledgeable" dog people to tell me she must be a mix. Which I generally laugh at because I know anyone who truly knows border collies must know there is so much variation in coat, color, ear set, etc.

At 8 weeks she already shows more promise than my aussie (woohoo!). Most noticeably, she crouches, eyes, stalks, (and even nips or heels) my aussie, Sydney when they play. It seems to be her go to move especially when I am throwing a ball for Sydney. It's not just occassionally, it's a majority of her play "style", unless of course I go to get the camera to record it--then she stops and just wrestles, or eats chicken poop, or sits by my side.

 

I have one video that I managed to catch just some of this apparent herding. Now, she has seen the sheep and horse through the fence, but doesn't seem to mind them other than the barking she did at first. She watches them but so far rather watch me or eat a strand of hay or something. I have free range chickens and she doesn't seem to always want to herd them, but every so often one my run by it's lonesome, and she seeks to bring it back to the "flock", I've seen her take a few wide runs around them, and earlier today when i was feeding she gathered one in the group and ran a tight circle around them twice before going to wrestle Sydney. Most of it seems opportunistic, and she never seems to serious about it, in fact she will easily get distracted in the middle of trying to "work" the chickens. She shows the most intensity and better crouch eye combo when playing with my dog than she has shown with the chickens period.

I of course, do not allow active chasing, or getting to close to the chickens as if trying to actually catch one, which she hasn't done yet. Mostly trying to observe her, hoping to see something that says, "aw yes, she has potential."

 

I am a dog trainer, obedience, and have a ton of experience with foster puppy behaviors. So I know how to read a dog pretty well, timing for praise and corrections, and have read up on what not to do (like distract her instead of scold her for trying to herd stock so that i don't turn her off, keep her safe while she is young so she has no bad experience, yada yada). But, admitedly I am very green to sheep and even more so to herding dogs other than a few trials I've seen, videos I've watched, articles read etc.

 

I'm trying to find a little insight. Does she sound like she has good potential? She does have a bit of fiestiness in her which I like, at least I know at the very least she wouldn't submit to my sheep LOL.

 

Here is a video I took. STILL trying to get video of her in her "eye crouch stalk" mode, but here at least you can see her do her thing while being a little puppy ADD (sniffing, distracted by banana peels, my dog, more sniffing, me, etc etc) with not as much crouch eye going on as she gives my dog.

 

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10100617206375387&l=6673591963760853204

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I'm also fully aware that it can take while for her to "turn on" to stock--which is a blessing and curse because there's no real knowing right now.

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First of all...she is darn cute! Love her teasing your older dog. Love the little sneak attack on the non existent tail too! Looks like your old girl is also very tolerant.

 

Second...your chickens are some very dog broke buggers! :lol:

 

Now, since it is so darn hard to tell at that age, one of the best predictors is breeding. As you already explained you don't have that with her. So yeah, but she seems pretty chill and confident. Just don't let it get to the point where you call her off the stock. If she gets it in her mind it is not ok to look at stock (chickens, horses, cows etc) because of corrections which are of course needed if she gets it in her mind to try out her instincts (whatever they may be), it maybe a bit harder to turn her on at a later date. Thats about all I could say.

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First of all...she is darn cute! Love her teasing your older dog. Love the little sneak attack on the non existent tail too! Looks like your old girl is also very tolerant.

 

Second...your chickens are some very dog broke buggers! :lol:

 

Now, since it is so darn hard to tell at that age, one of the best predictors is breeding. As you already explained you don't have that with her. So yeah, but she seems pretty chill and confident. Just don't let it get to the point where you call her off the stock. If she gets it in her mind it is not ok to look at stock (chickens, horses, cows etc) because of corrections which are of course needed if she gets it in her mind to try out her instincts (whatever they may be), it maybe a bit harder to turn her on at a later date. Thats about all I could say.

Thanks :) That really is hard about the situation! Where as an older dog I could know, although most of the rescues I talked to didn't have a way to test them for herding, and then one I found in an all breed rescue was from a country situation, yet the rescue "didn't want her to go to a working home and wanted her to be a spoiled princess" which is the dumbest thing I have EVER heard.

 

Definitely told my husband especially NOT to correct her for that kind of stuff but if anything just call her over, distract her, etc. She's showing a bit more "herding like tendency" today even she generally wants the chickens to stay together and she ignores them.

 

Speaking of chickens, yes they are VERY dog broke. I had them all as pullets and they grew up with my current dogs, who are both very tolerant of chickens. Sydney the ausse will occassionally "break up" the chickens by running straight through the middle of them for fun, which is completely anti-herding LOL. My ridgeback just ignores them cause he learned not to chase them with the help of an e-collar and now ignores them---so now the chickens only worry if they get REALLY close.

 

Completely aside from the puppy cuteness... I love your chickens!! How pretty! What type are they?

Thanks! I have 2 golden comets (the red ones, and the two she herds back in the video), 3 black australorp, 1 big black star, One almost mature barred rock rooster, 1 barred rock hen, 3 cuckoo marans, 2 golden laced bantam cochins, and one birchen bantam cochin who was a rescue and I call her nervous nelly cause if you get too close she screams LOL.

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Oh and my aussie is no old girl, she is still very young, just over a year old. We had no idea a year ago we would be where we are now (on land, with sheep etc) but we are so glad! We've only been out here 6-7 months :)

 

Sydney and the pup love to play, which I can't complain about!

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I'm sure she forgives you haha.

 

So you all agree at least somewhat that she looks/acts BC for now. She's so young her nose hasn't really gotten pointy yet. That's a funny stage, I remember it with my aussie LOL.

 

 

I'm just so torn. I know I really want a BC, but I'm already falling in love with her as she is fitting in like a dream. Please tell me I'm not crazy for believing she is, at least mostly, BC.

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Her markings are so "classic" that I am trying to recall a super mixed bred dog that had them. I can't. Purebreds yes! Mixed not that I have seen. But of course that is not a huge help. But paired with her smarts, behavior (however slight and possibly wishful thinking) she very well could be. The beauty of no breed standard! :)

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Haha. That's what I'm afraid of---wishful thinking on my part. Still havent seen another dog crouch & stalk as much as she has when playing. I had a lab weim with a very high prey drive once that did similar behaviors when trying to edge a dog out of food. At least as far as trying to stare a hole into their head to get them to move goes. She was very intense.

 

This pup strikes me as a little "cowy", I don't know a whole lot, but as you see at the end of the video she definitely likes to run up and grab the booty hahaha .

 

She is so smart though. She just figures things out way faster. My ridgeback is a simpleton, LOL, and she's much smarter than him, I can see that (I.e. knows to run to the stairs to come around to where I am outside instead of bouncing up and down where she can't get up like he used to do). Although obviously he knows more commands.

 

OH well, I'll give it a bit more time and just hope and pray she turns out to be what I think she is. Don't really want to have another useless herding dog LOL.

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Could have a touch of hound in her as well, at least that is what the ears and snout suggest to me.

 

My rescue girl looked a bit like your girl at that age. (Pics attached two from ~9 weeks, ~14 weeks, plus a current pic at 2.5 y/o). She was "listed" by the foster as a bc/lab mix. Hindsight demonstrates not a lick of lab in her. I think a mix of bc, hound, pincher, terrier. Her behavior and traits are much more in the hound class than a sheepdog.

 

I think your girl'sm overall build, and movements from the facebook vid, suggests a stronger border collie background, if not entirely purebred.

 

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Thanks! Her ears are truly floppy, although the left (her left) seems to stand up a bit more the last couple days. At first I wondered if it was hound ears, but having had a ridgeback pup I know that hound ears are much much bigger, and drop further down when relaxed. Her's set more forward.

 

I guess we'll just find out. With some google searching, i did find a litter of BC puppies born on a ranch out there the first week of december out there. The only photos were of newborns, but it was 8 pups, 4 girls 4 boys and they were all b&w like she is. But that's just a guess if she is one of those. No lost puppy adds, nothing like that. She's no real stray though, she's not skiddish and super friendly to everyone and not weird about normal day to day things, leading me to believe there was no way she was on the streets all that long, probably picked up the same day considering the good condition she is, and her draw to new people. Such a love!

But really, who knows. Not sure if I would fork the money over for a DNA test, I know people with pedigreed dogs who have had those done and sometimes it comes up with all kinds of random stuff.

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I wasted about 40-45 bucks on one of those DNA tests. Apparantly the one we did only covers the one side of the DNA tree, the mom's. It came back reading like a buffet table. . .all sorts of breeds and percentages. Was good for a laugh, not much else!

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It's far too early to hope that her play behaviors will predict her future herding ability, but i like the fact that she's quite smart and interactive with you and the other dogs. From the sound of your operation you will likely be able to teach her all the skills she needs to help with your sheep, just based on her willingness and smarts. Enjoy her puppyhood and try to keep her out of trouble, and when she's 7 or 8 months old you can see what's really inside her.

 

Good luck and best wishes!

 

Amy

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Could have a touch of hound in her as well, at least that is what the ears and snout suggest to me.

 

My rescue girl looked a bit like your girl at that age. (Pics attached two from ~9 weeks, ~14 weeks, plus a current pic at 2.5 y/o). She was "listed" by the foster as a bc/lab mix. Hindsight demonstrates not a lick of lab in her. I think a mix of bc, hound, pincher, terrier. Her behavior and traits are much more in the hound class than a sheepdog.

 

I think your girl'sm overall build, and movements from the facebook vid, suggests a stronger border collie background, if not entirely purebred.

 

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your girl is gorgeous btw!

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It's far too early to hope that her play behaviors will predict her future herding ability, but i like the fact that she's quite smart and interactive with you and the other dogs. From the sound of your operation you will likely be able to teach her all the skills she needs to help with your sheep, just based on her willingness and smarts. Enjoy her puppyhood and try to keep her out of trouble, and when she's 7 or 8 months old you can see what's really inside her.

 

Good luck and best wishes!

 

Amy

thank you! I hope so. :)

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