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n0mad

herding for the town dog

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I have asked a few people and have had mixed answers so I'm asking here while I try to make an informed decision.  

I have a 9 month old pup from excellent working lines.  I have done a little herding in the past with one of my previous dogs and loved it, but I had access to ducks, and occasionally sheep, at that time.  Also, Darcy just wasn't that talented, we mostly just did it because she liked it.  Now I'm living in town.  I bought the pup for an entirely different purpose but I would love to take her to sheep.  There is a good trainer about an hour's drive from here but I would only be able to get there once or twice a month at this point and have no stock available to practice on.  So the question is, is it better for her to NOT take her to stock and just let her think the job she has now is what life is about, or would it be good for her to get out and use the instincts that are overflowing all over my apartment.  My parents have a hobby farm not far from here and every time I have her out there she's circling the chickens.  She's been keen to always move out and try to hold the chickens since she first saw them at 12 weeks old.  She also was going to have a go with the miniature horses.  I can call her off but have to watch her like a hawk and can never have her off leash when the horses are out.

There is a "herding" place closer where I could rent sheep to practice on but it's a CKC herding instructor and the video I saw of her sheltie "herding" showed overly dogged sheep just following the handler while the dog tried to get a visual on her person over the wooly backs.  Then again, with only one to two lessons a month it might take ages to get to a practice stage on other peoples sheep.  I honestly don't know.   I left my first dog with a professional for two weeks to get her started; I don't have that option this time. 

If I knew it wouldn't wake a sleeping dragon, I'd be gung-ho to take on the challenge.IMG_1248_edited-1.jpg

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As far as her being “unhappy” because you’ve “awoken the instincts” or whatever, no, that’s not gonna happen. She would be fine. 

However, is it gonna be beneficial, i.e. enough to actually teach her much and get her in a good working frame of mind? I honestly don’t know. Maybe others will have a better idea.

My experience has been, with really keen dogs, they have to be worked often, and if they are given a couple weeks off, they come back kinda nutcases, LOL, and we have to spend sometimes almost a whole session working the crazies out. I suppose it depends on the dog.

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Just a thought, but if she enjoys the chickens, why not just train and work her on them? You could decide later whether you want to take it further.

I once had a dog who was stellar on chickens and I taught him a lot of his more intricate stuff on the chickens before taking him to the sheep with it.

 

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I agree with both Riika and GL.   A dog with good working instinct certainly enjoys getting to act on those instincts, but I don't believe they then spend their days thinking "Damn, I wish I could do that again".  Of course they need some sort of mental and physical stimulation and lots of interaction with you on a regular basis, but it doesn't have to work stock, even if they are talented at  it. 

On the other hand, if you and your dog enjoy it, and you can do it in a manner that doesn't unduly stress the livestock just for the sake of you and your dog's entertainment, then take advantage of the opportunities you have.   If your dog likes herding chickens, can you convince your parents that no hobby farm is complete without a flock of a half dozen ducks?  Ducks flock together more readily than chickens, and can be a lot of fun to work dogs on if you and your dog learn to do it properly. 

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Thanks for the quick replies.  

I'm not concerned about her "missing" doing it, more so I was worried that she might just be even more inclined to chase anything that moves.  When she was ten weeks old she positioned herself in the middle of the road to try and stare down an oncoming car.   I had a rope on her and hauled her back to safety but it's taken some work to get her to just let the cars go by.  She's a strong minded dog and right now she's obedient when I speak to her.  The dragon I was fearing was a desire to chase that overruled my word.  I know with consistent training that all comes under control but without being able to practice properly I was concerned I would be setting her up for disaster.  

I've already asked about getting some ducks.  Mom loves Indian Runners and was game to get some but Dad vetoed it.  I understand why, ducks are messy and he doesn't want Mom, who would be the one caring for them, to have extra work (they're in their 70's).

Gentlelake, I had always read that you can't properly herd chickens and that it was a bad idea to try, especially with a young dog, but now I am definitely interested! These are a mixed bag of chickens, bantams to barred rocks.  I don't suppose there is anything special I should know about herding chickens before I put the request before my mother?

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I agree with what others have said. In my experience, what border collies need and crave is doing something as part of a team with a human. That can be agility, nose work, herding. tracking,  etc. Years ago there was someone on the board who had a bc trained for tracking humans. He was in law enforcement, and his girl turned out to be very, very good at tracking. He was able to work her for several years in that capacity.

The only think I can remember seeing is that b collies don't necessarily work well as guide dogs for the blind/handicapped. Too much change, too rapidly in environments, I think. And I could be misremembering.

Give her something to do WITH you, and odds are she'll be fine. You can teach her silly tricks even. There are a TON of dog trick  sites on the Web. there might even be some info about training dogs to work chickens.

Good luck ~ let us know how you get on with her.

Ruth & Gibbs, who was trained to work sheep and has lived quite happily as a pet for 9 years or so.

 

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Sorry if there was a miscommunication.  I'm not looking for something to do with my dog.  I do obedience work, tricks, and have started her with nose work around home finding objects, have a book on how to train her to find people.  I plan on doing agility, however, the woman who does the classes has a schedule that's not very compatible with mine.  I have trails to hike and when I'm tired she likes to watch TV - not even kidding, action flicks are way to exciting to be ignored.  We have plenty to do to keep her mind busy.  I just liked herding things with my other dog and since Ceile actually has talent I thought it would be fun to try.  She is my fifth border collie.  I have only had one that I could do herding with.   

I'll talk to Mom about her chickens. :)

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We keep chickens (we also have ducks and sheep, but the chickens were there first). They free range during the daytime in the summer months, and BookIt has always helped round them up in the evening. They have been gathered by the dog from a young age and actually group very well. I have never asked him to actually ‘work’ them (through a course/gates or similar), so I don’t know how cooperative they’d be for that, but they tolerate and respect the dog very nicely to be gathered and penned.

8D693AD9-C5F5-46DB-9FDC-F386A3F2BB94.jpeg

188C70D5-878B-429A-A32D-6B11AFFB6D7A.jpeg

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I notice Mddvm has Rhode Island Reds, which is what I had. I wonder if there's a difference in chicken breeds as far as how well they stick together. As I said I could get a lot of detailed work from Mirk on the chickens, which allowed me to train new things that he'd be to excited at first to do on sheep. He was always more relaxed with the chickens than with sheep.

That said, I had a working female at the time also. She was actually the better working dog on sheep (at least with me. My ex had better control with the male on sheep than I did)  But she had no patience with the chickens, which just didn't respond as well to her, either. She'd end up trying to move them and they'd scatter with her ending up in the middle of them. Then she'd just give up in a huff and refuse to try again. :rolleyes:

It was completely opposite results with them.

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Not nearly as experienced as other people here, but I was a similar situation with my Aussie.  He was very keen on sheep, but we only managed a few lessons a month with no stock to practice on inbetween.  We had to stop even doing that because he developed very severe epilepsy.

He never developed any bad chasing behavior after we started on sheep, and if anything he became more biddable.  This was probably just the effect of developing impulse control to herd, rather than chase, the sheep.

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2 hours ago, Michael Parkey said:

He never developed any bad chasing behavior after we started on sheep, and if anything he became more biddable.  This was probably just the effect of developing impulse control to herd, rather than chase, the sheep.

This. Even some training should give you more control with her as you've taught him some self control around the sheep.

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My boys are recreational sheep dogs. Its an hour drive for them to go, when I started out we went once a week approx to get them started, and now about once a month. My oldest dog is 10 now and he only started a year a go, has natural talent and loves to work. My youngster is a well bred working dog, but doesn't have the same instinct as my older rescue dog, but I persist as I feel it helps his focus and confidence. Their full time job is agility, I have seen no negatives introducing them to sheep, if anything I would say they have more self control as that is what they are really learning in a field full of sheep.

 

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On 12/31/2019 at 6:32 AM, alligande said:

I have seen no negatives introducing them to sheep, if anything I would say they have more self control as that is what they are really learning in a field full of sheep.

Wonderful, thank you, that's what I was hoping to hear.  I've talked to my Mom.  We both think it would only be worth working with the larger chickens as the bantams are a bit silly and prone to flying.  That's going to have to wait until spring now.  We just had huge snow storm come through and dump a ton of snow but she's only nine months and the trainer said he usually starts a dog when they are closer to a year old so she can start both chickens and sheep around the same time. 

I have to admit that I started her learning her come-bye and away on Pomeranians when she was six months old.  Mom had them in a small pen in the living room and Ceile was circling them anyway so I just threw in a few commands and changed her direction.  We haven't used it lately but I think it won't take long for her to remember.

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19 hours ago, n0mad said:

 

 

I have to admit that I started her learning her come-bye and away on Pomeranians when she was six months old.  Mom had them in a small pen in the living room and Ceile was circling them anyway so I just threw in a few commands and changed her direction.  We haven't used it lately but I think it won't take long for her to remember.

Herding pomeranians. :lol:

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