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TheWoman

Introduction and question :)

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Hi all,

I'm new here, but not new to BC's. I grew up with the breed, and my parents have owned BC's and aussies for most of my life. My sister still has a BC and a BC cross. I, however, deviated from my family and owned huskies over the years. When my last husky passed away 4 years ago, I swore I'd never get another dog (2 young dogs dying suddenly from congenital issues very close together will do that to you, I guess). Fast forward and my kids are dying for another dog, and it's getting harder and harder for me to keep my 'no dogs' wall up.  My oldest son has such a natural talent with dogs and training that I wanted to get one that would be a great match for his desire to get into agility (he's been practicing his training techniques on my dad's newest aussie pup, and when we go to my parents' place for a visit I won't see him for an entire day because he's off with the dog somewhere).

One day I opened up my computer and saw a litter of BC/Aussie cross pups and I knew it was a sign (mom is a working BC, dad is a working BC/Aussie cross). One of the pups has freckles that look identical to my childhood BC, and I fell in love.

Little Dodger comes home next week. Along with agility, I'd love to do herding trials, since there's nothing like a herding dog doing what they're born to do. There's a farm a few minutes from our home that has training classes and sheep rentals for folks in our situation.

My questions - it's been a lot of years since I've had a young BC. How much time do you spend on exercise when they're young (and may have a tendency to over-do it)? With four kids at home, this pup will have no shortage of play partners to throw a ball or go for a run (for reference, we have a very large yard, as well as a ton of hiking trails and a dog park nearby). With my huskies, they'd run until they physically couldn't anymore, which I know isn't a great thing health wise. I'd love if you could share your experience - what did you find optimal in terms of enough (and maybe type?) of exercise to wear your BC out enough to be happy, but not to the point of exhaustion.

Also, does anyone do both agility and sheep trials with their dog? Am I asking too much to train for both? Should we only focus on one? None of my BCs/aussies were trialing dogs, but all did basic agility, and all learned basic herding commands for fun. 

It's been a lot of years since I've shared space with a trainable dog (huskies are supremely, and maddeningly UNtrainable for much of anything except sledding), so I want to make sure we do right by him! 

Thanks everyone!

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One of the best things for puppies is mental exercise. Teaching age appropriate tricks, (in other words, tricks that don't involve jumping, or very strenuous activity,) is a great thing to tire them out. And yes, it really does tire them out, surprisingly so. Sit, down, spin left and right, cross your paws, that sort of thing. Food toys (like Kongs) are your best friends and can buy you a good moment's peace and quiet. Walks are great as long as they're not really long. Running around in the backyard like a little nut is something they do naturally and good exercise as well. 

PSA I'm not a veterinarian. But I have raised a puppy. ;)

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Congrats on your new puppy.  Where are the pics?  :rolleyes:

As stated above, age-appropriate mental exercises can be very tiring for a pup. I work very hard NOT to over-exercise a puppy to prevent injury to growing joints and bones. That might be hard with 4 kids, but try your best. As you probably know, BCs will go, go, go to their detriment - and because they can be so agile, one thinks they are more mature and forgets that exercises like fetch, frisbee and jogging can actually be harmful in the long run. Mostly, for the first couple of months, I let a puppy be a puppy and let them sniff, and run and stop and sniff again. No fetch, no jogging, no frisbee. I don't ask for extended exercise periods, in fact, I try to keep it toned down. Gradually, gradually, you can increase the physical exercise but I wouldn't be doing jogging, or frisbee (unless they are rollers) or excessive fetch (a few throws are OK) until they are closer to a year old.

In the past decade, the knowledge base of how excessive exercise in a young puppy can negatively impact growing joints and bones has expanded rapidly. I do agility, and more people are waiting until a year old until they start jumping their dog or practicing weaving. Some wait a few more months. Having said that, there is a lot of foundation handling training that you can do on the flat before you ask them to jump or weave.

Yes, some people do both agility and herding. I do a little herding too. From what I have heard and witnessed in my own dog, agility training can make the dog a bit more dependent on you when you ask them to herd. Agility is very handler-focused, whereas herding is more independent (but still with connection to the handler). I think your dog will enjoy both, but expect that you may see the effects of one activity in the other.

Good Luck.

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Congratulations on the pup and welcome to the Boards.

As well as what Jovi said about overdoing exercise, be aware that you can also create an exercise junky that requires you to maintain the level of exercise even when you don't want to, or can't. Better to moderate and be sure to teach the pup an off switch. Be sure to calmly praise for just being quiet, even if Dodger's collapsed all on his own from puppy exhaustion. I'd just let him play with the kids as long as they understand some basic ground rules about not overdoing it.

If you're serious about doing stock training, either for competition or farm work, some people recommend starting a dog on livestock before beginning agility training. As Jovi points out, they're a lot different in terms of the kind of focus you want the dog to have on you and if you reinforce the handler focus it can be difficult to get the dog to pay enough attention to the livestock rather than on you. I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule, but I'd be willing to bet they're pretty few and far between. You don't want a dog who's always looking to you for direction when on livestock.

And, yeah, we'd love to see pics. ;)

 

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Thanks everyone! 

I appreciate the thoughts. You’ve reinforced what I thought, so it’s good to know I was on the right track. 

And by popular request, I’ve attached a pic of little Dodger :) 

0D86FBDF-5AD7-4427-87F4-7B075D8567A4.jpeg

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On 7/4/2018 at 4:39 AM, GentleLake said:

 

If you're serious about doing stock training, either for competition or farm work, some people recommend starting a dog on livestock before beginning agility training. As Jovi points out, they're a lot different in terms of the kind of focus you want the dog to have on you and if you reinforce the handler focus it can be difficult to get the dog to pay enough attention to the livestock rather than on you. I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule, but I'd be willing to bet they're pretty few and far between. You don't want a dog who's always looking to you for direction when on livestock.

And, yeah, we'd love to see pics. ;)

 

As I am serious about agility my young dogs breeder advised me to get his foundations solid before we tried working sheep so they would not have the tendency to bend rather than run in straight lines. I can really see the intense handler focus both my dogs have, for the first time my dogs have the opportunity to learn the art of working sheep which we never had in the US, I would have had to drive to far to make a regular commitment and I was not going to do it unless they could really learn. The shepherd works both my dogs, so they can learn rather than watching me, he has had me hiding in the car! The only thing that has transferred over is their good downs, and their responsiveness to commands. 

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16 hours ago, alligande said:

As I am serious about agility my young dogs breeder advised me to get his foundations solid before we tried working sheep so they would not have the tendency to bend rather than run in straight lines. I can really see the intense handler focus both my dogs have, for the first time my dogs have the opportunity to learn the art of working sheep which we never had in the US, I would have had to drive to far to make a regular commitment and I was not going to do it unless they could really learn. The shepherd works both my dogs, so they can learn rather than watching me, he has had me hiding in the car! The only thing that has transferred over is their good downs, and their responsiveness to commands. 

Very interesting. Thanks for this perspective. Makes sense to establish one before another. 

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Welcome to the boards! Lots of really great trainers here, come back or have your son come back as you have questions. 

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On 7/6/2018 at 7:55 AM, TheWoman said:

Very interesting. Thanks for this perspective. Makes sense to establish one before another.  

I think perhaps when you consider which one to begin first it might help to decide for yourself which one is going to be more important for you and to seriously consider starting that one first.

There are perhaps some dogs who can toggle back and forth between the two, but if your dog isn't one of them it might be good to decide now which one you'll be more disappointed with if it suffers.

Jack Knox always used to say that if you want your dogs to be really good, especially competitively good, that it's better to choose one or the other to focus on, and if you want to dabble in the other to start it later once the foundations for the one you care more about are well established. He also believed that while a dog could do it, both would end up suffering at least somewhat in both of them.

This is only one perspective, of course, and others will have other opinions. But it seems to me if you're really driven to excel -- or if you really need a capable working dog to help on a farm -- that it's probably sound advice.

If you're doing them both just for something fun to do with your dog, then it probably won't matter as much.

And while I'm in no way dismissing Alligande's experience, it kinda really sticks out to me that she's not working her own dogs on the sheep so they don't watch her instead of the handler. And unless you're already pretty familiar with livestock behavior, a whole lot of the training process is the handler learning to read the stock. Again, I don't mean to be condescending, but if I can't work my own dogs and I don't need them for farm work, I have to wonder what the point is.

 

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Really good points made by GentleLake.

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