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herdcentral

Starting young pup

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Hi, I have a small farm of couple of hundred acres. I have 2 working dogs a kelpie and a collie. Both were my first dogs as they came me at the same time 6 years ago. Both very different dogs to train but have turned out real handy. I now have a new pup at 13 1/2 weeks old. I would like to improve on my efforts. My sheep are pretty light to work and most evenings after the intense heat I move a flock of about 50 into a night paddock. I have been taking my young pup with me. She recalls well of them but really seems to enjoy moving with me behind them and has good distance as they are very light. She seems to be switching more and more onto them and is very confident, and the other day started moving out on the flank and balancing to me. We only do this for about 5 minutes until they are through the gate. I haven't started any formal work in an enclosed space. The sheep am going to use for training are 6-8 month ewe lams that I am holding back to go into my breeding flock so are small and have only been worked by my experienced dogs several times.

 

Do you think it is a good idea to allow her to do this move every night? I dont want any bad habits to form. When do most people start more formal training. I can remember but I think last time it was around 8 months old for my current dogs.

 

 

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It sounds like she is working thoughtfully, if that is the case I would let her work. I do have a few things just to pay attention to and be cautious about - I know of some folks that kept their BC in the back of sheep so they could only drive/push sheep and would correct or not allow them to go to head and gather. Those dogs get confused and begin to question themselves and their instincts. I would make a point each time you are out together to do some of both - allow her to gather and drive so she knows she is capable of both.

The other thing to watch is some dogs when out working with other dogs are concerned by any correction given to one dog. So you could be correcting one and a different one thinks it is meant for them even if it is not and they are doing well. Then they too begin to hesitate and question what is right. To work well together they almost have to have similar personalities and same level of correction not one need a harsher voice ect. IF I have a chore my older dog does well and needs no help from me working without any commands I find I can take a pup to tagg along"help" since I can concentrate on them.

 

As long as she has a good recall and is working thoughtfully I dont care about age, she is saying she is ready just take it slow and help her when she needs it, dont get her in over her head and in everything build confidence.

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Yes my current dogs have a strong heading instinct but I have taught them to drive as it is what I need a lot of the time. If I am training them I will do quite a lot of driving but I always finish off with some bit of gathering as they really enjoy that, they find it relaxing and easy. My collie has a wonderful cast and muster and I can send him off a couple of kms to pick all my sheep up without any supervision. So I try and make sure they get to do a range of work.

 

I have just been working the puppy on her own to reduce any complications and yes although it is mainly driving as the sheep are moving away from her to the gate and she isn't in control, I do encourage her when I see her moving out on the flank and today she actually went to the head and turned them towards me. She is small and 50 large ewes are quite a lot of sheep to handle so I am more letting her get a feel and her confidence and for me to observe what she does. I hadn't thought of using my other dog. I think she would be better paired with my kelpie if I did but I might leave that awhile. Yes her recall is exceptional as I definitely don't want her chasing sheep and she shows no inclination to do this. The sheep are good to work as they have only ever been worked by my experienced dogs. I made the mistake of using 5 wethers with my first dogs that dogged down quickly and became knee knockers and ran to me so my dogs learned to have to push them hard and it was hard to teach them a nice gather as the sheep were already running to me, so I had to retrain them to keep the pressure off my other sheep as I built the flock up. With this little one I have nice sheep I can rotate through.

 

I might start more formal training in a round pen when she is a little bigger perhaps.

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Without seeing it, it sounds like what you are doing is just fine. Very short little sessions where she can't get in trouble - she sounds like a keen little thing! :)

Just remember, though, that she's far smaller than her instincts might tell her, so you don't want to let her over-do it or get in a situation where a ewe faces off on her and scare her. I may start trying a young dog at about 6 months, but I generally figure they aren't ready for the focus and physical demands of work until around 9 or 10 months. I just want to give their bones time to grow solidly and their coordination time to catch up.

BTW, you can share photos if you like. :D

~ Gloria

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Video of Tess at 7 months old second time on ewe lambs in the training ring . I just let her go, with me walking around in the ring videoing her. She has no commands on her.

 

Just before this video was taken I was becoming concerned with what I was observing in her gait and had her x-rayed. Diagnosis severe HD with femoral heads only 1/4 and 1/3 in the joints.

 

Options presented were euthanasia or Total Hip replacement surgery. She is now 13 months old and 11 weeks out from THR on her most symptomatic hip and doing great. Surgeon reckons I can try her back on sheep in about 4 weeks.

 

Biggest concern will be how her other hip stands up. If it doesn't, I will have a choice of a second THR or the cheaper FHO. Any advice or experience with other working dogs in this situation would be much appreciated. I like this little dog she is full of spunk and intelligence

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No experience with hip surgeries, but I'm sure others will chime in. These dogs are amazing in what they can overcome. I'm with you on Tess, she looks very promising in the video. Your sheep are beautiful, too.

 

Best of luck, and keep us posted!

 

Amy

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No experience with hip surgeries, but I'm sure others will chime in. These dogs are amazing in what they can overcome. I'm with you on Tess, she looks very promising in the video. Your sheep are beautiful, too.

 

Best of luck, and keep us posted!

 

Amy

Thanks, the sheep are 8 month old Wiltipol ewe lambs

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WOW, love those Wiltipol - can you say more about them?

 

They are primarily Wiltshire horn genetics with polled characteristics after an infusion of Australian polled Merino and several other polled British breed sheep. They were developed in Australia. I like them because they are easy care, don't fence crawl which is essential as I am surrounded by fine wool merino flocks and they are nice to handle. They also tend not to lay down lots of fat as prime lambs. They mainly twin. They are seasonal breeders so I run the rams year round with them. The only criticism I have is that they are seasonal breeders and tend to lamb just that little bit late to catch the full benefits of the late winter and spring flush where I farm in the low rainfall area. I am currently selecting my earliest breeding ewes and buy rams from early lambing females.

 

I would post a photo of some of my best lambs from this year but don't know how to upload straight from my computer. Until I get my new satellite dish I don't have the megs out here to keep uploading to photo and video sharing sites and then downloading on to here.

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