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Sapphire

Do Border Collies tend to be dominant?

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rtphokie-

 

until you've been annointed by the sheep poo, you'll probably not understand what we're trying to tell you. there's nothing wrong with your pet BC playing with toys, just don't be fooled into thinking it's herding behavior.
If you dropped 50 tennis balls on the ground Bailey would move them all from place to place. If you take one from his pile and move it he'll bring it back to the pile as soon as he discovers its somewhere else. What instinct would you attribute this too, other than herding? I'm not trying to be a smartass, I honestly am just curious because I would say that is a herding instinct. I have never seen a breed that wasn't a herding breed act in such a way.
What would you attribute this to other than a herding instinct? I know there is obviously a difference between tennis balls and livestock. I have watched BCs herding livestock-it is an amazing sight to see! Unfortunately there is no where around here that I have found to train with Bailey on livestock, so we do flyball and agility.

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The simple answer to this is that herding involves more than crouching and staring . . . it's a complex *set* of cognitive and behavioral activities, some learned and some instinctual, that result in the controlled movement of livestock.

 

For example, the dog has to be able to "read" the stock, and the human, and to respond in an appropriate manner; they have to have a certain amount of "heart" and power; they also have to have certain physical abilities; and they have to be willing to work with a human.

 

Some dogs that exhibit eye, circling behavior, etc. off stock have absolutely no herding ability. Some dogs that show very little of what most would consider being idiosyncratic herding behaviors off-sheep, are marvelous herding dogs. Thus, these "instinctive" behaviors do not always translate into herding ability because they are only meaningful when viewed in context of herding, and can only be measured by seeing whether the dog is effective in moving its sheep in a variety of situations.

 

Kim

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Sapphire,

 

I feel you had the first rude post, when you responded to Terry's reasonable response with a "Well duh." As a consequence, I think Terry's somewhat rude response was justified or at least to be expected.

 

No problem, just do not act too injured.

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Moving tennis balls around has absolutely nothing to do with "herding behavior." Herding has to do with controlling the movement of other living things and adding another species to the equation (i.e., sheep) makes things about a zillion times more complicated that 50 tennis balls.

 

This isn't to belittle the tennis ball behavior, which is very cool and interesting in its own right. But there really aren't many points in common between actual livestock work and playing with balls, even if it's a lot of balls. I have a friend whose Beagle likes to keep all her toys in a pile and always replaces the ones that find their way out of the pile, and no one would mistake a Beagle for a herding dog.

 

I too use the word "work" to refer only to livestock work, and it's because I think it's a worthwhile distinction to make. I do sports with both of my dogs, too (agility and just started flyball) and while we love love love sports, they are qualitatively different from working stock for many different reasons. Herding is definitely not just another sport. This isn't to say that sports are less "worthy" an activity than herding -- I think sports are great, dogs love them, people love them, what's not to like? I'm just saying that they are DIFFERENT from stock work and once you've gotten serious about working a dog on livestock this becomes very obvious. It's just a world of difference, what's expected of the dog, what you as a handler need to get good at, what the dog has to come to the table with.

 

I think there are certain things that Border Collies are more likely to do because, as working dogs, they have a certain necessary suite of characteristics, including being excited by motion, or being very handler-oriented. You will also find these characteristics in other purpose-bred dogs, like sighthounds (the motion thing, the chase instinct) and working-bred retrievers (the handler-oriented thing). When a Border Collie exhibits these traits it does not mean he thinks he is herding, it only means that he comes with certain more generic hard-wiring that is necessary for being a good herding dog. In addition, certain behaviors are extremely stereotyped in Border Collies. For example, my dogs invariably walk down the sidewalk with their heads down, tails down, slinking along like wild animals. It's not because they think they're herding anything, it's because that's the way Border Collies walk. Likewise, they tend to respond to ANYTHING that causes intense interest by crouching and staring. But trust me, Solo and Fly know that their squeaky toys are not sheep, and they also know that the squeaky toys will not move like sheep no matter how hard they stare at them.

 

I'd like to note here that I am a hobby herder. I don't have any sheep, and lately due to the fact that I'm dissertating, haven't had time to work my dogs on sheep more than once every couple of weeks. I definitely spend more time doing sports with my dogs than working them. I don't look down my nose at sports people, I am a sports person. But I've come to learn that herding and sports are not interchangeable activities. They are very different activities with very different things to offer to both dog and handler.

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Thanks Kajarrel and SoloRiver! These were great answers! I really think it is amazing to see BCs and their handlers working together on the livestock! It is most definitely more interesting than watching Bailey play with his tennis balls. And I see that it is also much different than the sports that we do. I know the basics of herding livestock-like how BCs use eye contact and need to be able to read the handler and all that, but other than that I haven't given it much other thought because I don't think I'll ever get the chance to do this with Bailey.

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Sapphire,

 

You know, I used to (and still do) ask basic questions when I started posting here. I was new to dog world and when I asked those simple questions I usually get great responses. RDM, Tassie, AK Doc and all other senior members were so patient with me--and I am sure they can get tired of answering same questions over and over I still post and post and post and sometimes my silly question had opened up a great discussion! after 244 posts and lots of learning, I am still going :rolleyes:

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Hi Inu,

 

I think I'll join you on those comments...I sure appreciate the patience of everyone here helping me to get Jazz to be the fine 1-year-old he is today.

 

You can't get rid of us newbies! We make your board-viewing too challenging!

 

And Melanie...great explanation. Thanks for your clarity and patience. That one is going in my files.

 

Jazz's pal,

Kevin

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Good morning all,

No one asked you self-described newbies to leave. It WOULD be nice if you listened, though, rather than immediately going into defensive mode.

Border collies are opportunistic and highly driven. If some behaviour gets them what they want, they will repeat it. Lots of those behaviours will be undesirable and have nothing to do with, nor can they be justified by, some ill-conceived and poorly understood reference to "herding instinct."

Terry's dogs, like mine, actually herd sheep. Their herding instinct is highly developed and refined with training. None of her dogs do any of the silly things you describe. If by chance they try it on, it will be the first and last time they do. Things that you might think are cute can rapidly escalate into, at the very least, obsessive, and quite probably, inappropriate and dangerous behavior. So, stop and think before you come back with a "well, duh!" response when someone with 9 working dogs takes the time to answer your post.

A.

PS And yes, Sapphire, I do think you have a potential behaviour problem. The fact that it hasn't occurred to you is no credit to you.

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To blackacre:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You wrote:

 

Terry's dogs, like mine, actually herd sheep. Their herding instinct is highly developed and refined with training. None of her dogs do any of the silly things you describe. If by chance they try it on, it will be the first and last time they do. Things that you might think are cute can rapidly escalate into, at the very least, obsessive, and quite probably, inappropriate and dangerous behavior.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Those are good insights, but that's not what I asked.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, stop and think before you come back with a "well, duh!" response when someone with 9 working dogs takes the time to answer your post.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

The "well, duh" was a response to the way the response was phrased, not the actual content of the response. If Terry had just stated the stance that it was probably more personality of the individual dog than a characteristic of the breed, that would have been fine.

 

The response was rude.

 

You are right about one thing - I should not have responded with rudeness, and I apologize for that.

 

As for your other statement:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

PS And yes, Sapphire, I do think you have a potential behaviour problem. The fact that it hasn't occurred to you is no credit to you.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Again, that wasn't what I was asking. I was asking if that behavior was characteristic of the breed. It was actually a very simple question and I got some really good responses to it which I appreciate.

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To DONH105

 

You wrote:

 

I feel you had the first rude post, when you responded to Terry's reasonable response with a "Well duh." As a consequence, I think Terry's somewhat rude response was justified or at least to be expected.

 

No problem, just do not act too injured.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I disagree that I was rude first - see my post just above this for explanation of that.

 

However, as I also said in the post just above, I should not have responded to that rudeness in that same spirit.

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There are obviously many characteristics that BCs have, but I think that the most important thing for any dog owner to do is teach things to their dog early on. For instance, almost any puppy will chase something moving whether it be a paper bag blowing in the wind or another animal. This can be cute when your dog is young-but once your dog is older it can be a nuisance, or even dangerous. Bailey was taught as a puppy not to chase ANYTHING that is moving, unless given a release command. If he hadn't been taught this he would chase anything that moves. I have seen some behaviours that Bailey has displayed begin to get obsessive. I agree that it is important that these behaviours are discouraged. Which is why unless we are going out to play fetch-you will not find any tennis balls in the house or yard. The moving of piles from place to place was becoming a bit of an obsession. He would even try to drink water with the ball in his mouth.

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Sapphire,

 

I can almost see your point. Terry may have been slightly assertive. However, I think Terry's example made the point clearly (ie. east coast versus west coast).

 

I did not notice a condesending tone when I read Terry's first reply. However, I had an immediately negative reacton to your second post. I am just telling you how I reacted, no biggie.

 

Hang out awhile. The interacton on this thread has been mild.

 

Don

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OK everyone take a nice long sip of you favorite beverage and join me in wishing everyone a happy holiday.

 

Sorry, I'm getting into a very good mood as I count down the hours before my 2 week break from work.

 

Ok, everyone back to your corners to enjoy your dog(s) quirky behaviors.

 

Mark

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Originally posted by kajarrel:

Some dogs that exhibit eye, circling behavior, etc. off stock have absolutely no herding ability.

Ooh, ooh! I have one of those! Man, Tweed was at the beach at a tender 8 weeks of age stalking and circling and moving up on the geese; he stares at things like he can't help it, and I really though that poses like this:

 

tweed%20eye.jpg

 

were going to translate into a decent hobby herding dog.

 

HAH!

 

That dog is the biggest washout on sheep you ever saw! What an embarassment. After two years, all he can do is go in the field, raise his tail, barkbarkbark at the woollies; hide behind me, peek underneath their bellies in case they are hiding a tennis ball there, and then creep away slowly hoping no one will notice his shameful retreat.

 

RDM

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Still, RDM, isn't it the case that the behavior your puppy exhibited - the stalking, the circling, the eye - is characteristic of this breed?

 

It is my understanding (from a great deal of reading) that the Border Collie was bred to herd sheep. So, some of the distinguishing behavior characteristics would be herding related. Not in the sense of actual herding behavior or herding ability but on the level of instinct.

 

I know that when mine started crouching and staring at a few months old, it was not a learned behavior - there was nobody for him to learn it from. The other dog we had at the time didn't do those things.

 

I would have to say that there is a connection between these behaviors and the fact that the dog was bred to herd.

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Originally posted by Sapphire:

Still, RDM, isn't it the case that the behavior your puppy exhibited - the stalking, the circling, the eye - is characteristic of this breed?

Not really. I have had Labs stalk and circle my dogs too.

 

It is my understanding (from a great deal of reading) that the Border Collie was bred to herd sheep. So, some of the distinguishing behavior characteristics would be herding related. Not in the sense of actual herding behavior or herding ability but on the level of instinct.
Honestly, Saphire, I have no idea what distinction you are trying to make here. Border collies WERE bred to herd sheep. In order to do that they have a complex series of behaviours that come together in a suitable fashion for performing that task. Of course the breed has characteristics that are part of its make-up, but it doesn't mean that all of the behaviours you see in a border collie are herding behaviours.

 

I think maybe you need to re-read Melanie's post, as it explained the concept very clearly. And I will add to it by saying this: To some degree, herding behaviour is a complex form of a modified prey drive. Circling, watching, reacting and stalking are something that MANY dogs, who still have a high drive left in them, do as a matter of DOG behaviour. What makes herding behaviour different is the act of competently herding stock.

 

I am really not sure what point you are trying to argue here, and I intend no offense, but it would be worthwhile if you actually abosrbed some of the very good information you are getting from some very experienced sheep dog people in this thread. You won't learn from them if you refuse to entertain the idea that they probably know more than you do. Hell, they know more than I do too and I love learning what they can teach me.

 

Is Piper "herding" my dogs when she circles them and then follows behind them as they bring back their hockey balls back to me? No, she most certainly is not.

 

Is she herding sheep when she circles them to get to their heads and then brings them back to me? Yes, she most certainly is.

 

(Am I a chickenshit when I dance out of the way of five sheep rocketing at me at 40 miles an hour with the evil Piper behind them? You bet your ass I am. But that's a whole other story)

 

You cannot appreciate what a talent and a deeply ingrained part of the breed herding is just because your dog hoards tennis balls. I'm not being facetious, I am being honest. The problem is that too many behaviours get blamed on herding behaviours, and that's utter nonsense. If your dog is pushy, it's because you let him be, not because he is a border collie. If your dog bites someone on the ankles it's because he's a dog with a bad habit, not because he is a border collie. There is a fundamental and vital different between appreciating a breed's characteristics and abilities, and attributing behaviours to breed rather than personality, training and temperament.

 

RDM

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Have you read "Dogs" by Coppinger? I read it recently after reading recommendations on this board. He is a dog "biologist", with a lot of experience in sled racing. He also was also a key influence in the reintroduction of herd "guard dogs" here in the USA. For a perspective on dogs, dog breeds and instinctive behaviour, I highly recommend it. I do not know, if you are a reader. but:

Here is the Amazon link for it:

 

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=glance&s=books

 

Here are two recent threads in which it and other books are mentioned:

 

http://bordercollie.heatherweb.com/cgi-bin...ic;f=1;t=004951

 

http://bordercollie.heatherweb.com/ubb/ult...ic;f=7;t=000175

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Then by sapphire's reasoning, my friend's bulldog Lily is a herding dog, as she most certainly "stalks" and "slinks" and rounds up tennis balls like a BC. We even have a pic of Lily walking behind sheep and the sheep moving away in a nice tight pack. Colin, you've seen Lily "on sheep"...whaddaya think??? :D

 

On one of my agility lists, the current discussion is the problems with "herding behaviors" while training agility dogs...nipping at handler, ankle-biting, etc... I get so sick of hearing that I just stopped responding to it.

 

-Laura (sure wishing I could take a sip of something, but alas am stuck at work for 3 more hours! :rolleyes: )

 

p.s...RDM, I'm a chickenshit too! :D

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I was going to stay out of this thread but I am going to add my 2 cents.

 

I have 3 dogs: 1 acd, 1 bc/mix and 1 toy/mini poodle (9lbs).

 

All 3 have extreme prey drive. Did my dogs hoard tennis balls as puppies? YES. Did my acd round a group of kids up and force them to come inside, if one broke from the group she would bring them back in? YES... Do all my dogs have the STARE? YES... Do all my dogs stalk other animals? YES...Do I consider any of these dogs as herders? NO. DO I blame these traits on herding? NO.

 

My acd was extremely prey driven. She really, really wanted to round things (people, dogs, balls, toys) up and keep them in a circle. She nipped horribly and was a pure devil. I was able to break her prey/chase instincts and now have a pretty nice acd. We do dog sports and she LOVES it. We have tried herding but her obedience was a big henderance. She was taught to always look at me and that does not bode well working sheep. Do I think she would have done decent at herding if I took her to sheep earlier in her life? YES, but I cannot guarantee it. She comes from cattle working lines. She also finds sheep boring. One day I would love to take her to cows and see if there is a change. She loves to stalk horses but could care less about a sheep. The bigger the better in her mind.

 

My bc/mix has very high prey/chase drive. She is also a herding dropout. She will also try to kill anything that moves. When she is intent on something, she becomes deaf. She always wants everyone to be together. She used to run circles around my husband and I to keep as close together as possible when walking. I don't consider this herding.

 

OK, don't laugh but my poodle (yes I said poodle) seems to show the best "herding" ability. He has a great out run, will take sheep off the fence, will bring them to me, will even grip. The sheep are terrified of him. Do I consider him a herding dog? NO. He will also chase anything that moves and try and kill it. He has a ton of prey/chase drive not herding instinct. He would not be able to pass a simple herding test. By the way, his idea of bringing me the sheep is to chase them by going full force. Given a chance he would probably try and kill a sheep. He takes sheep off the fence because he wants to get them not bring them to me. I know the difference. I have seen a couple dogs work and what my poodle does is not herding (I jokingly say it is but it is not). His prey/chase drive just happens to coincide to what looks like herding to outsiders.

 

I may have herding breeds but I do not have herding dogs. Any of their bad behaviors can be blamed on my lack of training them not to do something. In my poodles case, he is just a terror.

 

On the topic of the boards and newbies. Yes sometimes folks are VERY BLUNT in their responses but not necessarily out of line. Their messages are not intended to invoke rage but it happens. What do people expect when you post on a board? Someone could be joking and unless they add a smiley, other might think they were serious. These folks know border collies and know about herding. These bc quirks can be found in many other breeds outside the herding families.

 

Folks, take what is said as advice not as a put down. The way things read and what is actually meant can be totally different.

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So Kim (BTW, shouldn't you be 3Devils?), are you still going to breed your cattle dog and poodle for flyball puppies?? How do I get on the waiting list? I missed out on your last Border-Jack breeding and dont' want to miss out on this one!

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Laura,

 

Don't you think they would make good herding prospects too?

 

My herding poodle and my great flyball acd... They would have some great looking pups.

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These posts have definitely made me think differently! Thanks a bunch. I do know that there is a huge difference between herding and prey drive. Maybe some folks don't know this. There are BCs (or any dog) who may at first view the livestock as prey, and if left alone with them the dog could possibly kill one of the livestock. There are BCs who need to be taught that the livestock is not prey. Maybe someone else can shed light on this, I'm not an expert.

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I'm sure they'd pass the AKC herding instinct test, which is enough, right? Imagine the versatility titles we could get!

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I like RDM's take on this issue.

Sapphire, let me give you a real life example from right here in my local dog park. This lady's dog, an 11 month old bitch, was prone to stalking and eying other dogs in the park and would give every appearance of 'casting out' and 'heading' running dogs. She was already obsessed enough in these behaviours to ignore a recall or any command her owner tried to give her.

The lady's friends had convinced her that the dog must be loaded with talent and would make an excellent stock dog. She had heard I had working dogs and wanted to get my opinion, since she wanted to 'fulfill' her dog in its god given natural ability. I explained to her that not only did these behaviours have nothing to do with herding but that they were also extremely dangerous and provocative to other dogs. (It is amazingly difficult to tell your average pet owner that what they perceive as cute and and playful is actually deeply offensive and flat out rude to other dogs. These are always the same people who peg your dog as dangerous and aggressive when their nitwit gets whacked for racing alongside your dogs, barking hysterically and nipping at their sides. In these circumstances, I am always obliged to lie my dogs down and wait the necessary 20 minutes for their owners to corral the idiot. Sorry, long aside.)

Anyway, she begged and begged, so I finally agreed to let her bring her dog out to sheep one weekend. I gave this dog every opportunity to turn on to sheep and show some rudiments of herding ability. Big surprise, the dog was a complete washout. It tried to escape from the pen, ate sheep shit, barked hysterically and raced around looking anywhere but at sheep with her tail in the air. It was embarrassing. The owner was thrilled: gosh, wasn't her dog talented. I THINK I finally persuaded her that the dog would never do anything but the most rudimentary obedience directed stuff, if that, but I suspect it did not penetrate all that far.

A.

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