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Interesting Study Re: Sheepdog Trials and Practical Work

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In the interest of telling people things they already know... I thought this was interesting (my bold). It substantiates what folks on this board have been telling us regarding the relationship between sheepdog trials and practical work:

 

As seen in Table 5, 267 of the 1,806 herding dogs described participated in working dog trials. Forty-three of these dogs were used only for trials. The remaining 84% performed herding work outside of competitions. Dogs competing in working dog trials had a significantly greater chance of falling into the group of respondents reporting average or above-average success rates. (Retrieved from:http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0104457)

ETA: I do not mean to suggest this was the focus of the study; it is just one factor. I was not clear with my post title that this was just one takeaway from the study.

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Another factor (variable) could be that those who trial might spend more time and effort in training...

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Another factor (variable) could be that those who trial might spend more time and effort in training...

That was suggested in the discussion section as well.

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I found several interesting takeaways in the study:

 

Significantly lower success rate for dogs trained with shock collars, as well as increased success associated with positive reinforcement (not necessarily treats).

Dogs acquired later in their lives didn't tend to be particularly successful in this study and that seems to be true even of dogs purchased as trained dogs.

Hearkening back to the previous observation, people who paid more for their dogs didn't necessarily report better than average success rates. (Hmm. I wonder if those $30,000 dogs will be worth the expenditures, at least insofar as useful farm/ranch work?)

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Dear Doggers,

 

While ecollars ought not be used training sheepdogs for sheep work they are the go to training tool for retriever and bird dog training. I have used them - reluctantly and carefully - for some behavior training but think they should be licensed.

 

Retriever/bird dog and sheepdog training (in Australia - likely Kelpies) modify genetic expression and are different in kind from most pet dog or trick dog training. I wonder why the collar works for hunting dogs but is ruinous with sheepdogs.

 

Donald

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Probably temperament of the dogs and the tasks being taught. Use an ecollar incorrectly on a sheepdog and youre communicating to them to *not* trust their instincts in handling sheep. There are more and more people training bird dogs without ecollars. To me it seems a bit odd that people still believe that they have to train a force fetch with a dog who has been genetically selected and bred to retrieve.

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From the study:

"This study does not imply causation between the variables investigated and working dog cull rates"

 

"The current study cannot confirm that the use of e-collars causes dog training failures. The respondents may be resorting to aversive training techniques when experiencing performance problems with their dogs arising from other factors [comment: like genetics or training technique/ability]. Nevertheless, the results do suggest that e-collars are mote providing a solution to the performance problems."

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Good point, and in relation to the actual work:

 

"The importance of enrichment and human interaction are also suggested by the positive correlation between success rates and participation in working dog trials. It could be argued that the increased probability of average or above success rates for respondents competing in trials is associated with the work that is required of their dogs. There may be a perception that trial dogs require a less extensive skill set than dogs engaged in farm work and, as a result, they are subject to less selection pressure and fewer culls. However, 84% of the dogs competing in trials are also farm working dogs requiring that they are able to perform both roles adequately."

And:

"The authors suggest that the performance benefits may arise from an improved handler-dog bond. Therefore, the increased success rates associated with trial participation by farm dogs could be related to the additional time handlers spend with the dogs to prepare for, and participate in, competitions."

(Retrieved from: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0104457)

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Dear Doggers,

 

Maralynn wrote (in part)"There are more and more people training bird dogs without ecollars."

 

My Friend Tom Word who writes for The Field and has judged national bird dog trials tells me non-ecollar trained bird dogs are vanishingly rare.

 

Donald

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