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Anybody herd?

3011 Views 14 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Howard Gaines III
Anyone involved in any herding activities or just play around with it?I just mess around with herding cows with most of my mutts.All have strong herding instincts.Just curious.
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One of my "someday" goals. I'm fascinated by the GSD boundry style herding.
St. Louis has a great herding club but it's all the traditional Gathering style, common to the border collies.
I'm pretty sure Ingrid Rosenquist, on our forum, is pretty active in herding and Schutzhund with her ACDs.
I am toying around with the bordering instinct but I know enough to screw one up.I have to get a few cows in from time to time and alway take a dog along to help push them.You have to make sure they know that biting is not what you want.Especially the Malis.

I know it a big taboo with sheep, but isn't an occasional nip on cattle ok? Of course an "occasional nip" would be highly subjective to a mali. :lol: :wink:
There arent many "nips" when my Mal bites.Hes already drawn blood too many times.Cattle are worth too much money for that.There are times They need to bite a cow to turn it or whatever but with these kinds of dogs its best to err on the side of caution.You have to show them when it is acceptable to bite and when its not.Just like any other bitework.

I have been told that my Aussie is good at it. I am pretty sure he is. I, on the other hand, am aweful. He moves the sheep, I fall over the sheep, he moves them off of me, I get up. Repeat. :oops:

I got caught up watching him, and then the sheep were under and behind me. I would like to go and try it again this summer if my notoriously low funds shine a little bit. Maybe I can stay upright.

Years ago I tried herding with a Kerry Blue Terrier, Rocky, on sheep, and a Norwich terrier on ducks. The Kerry was doing a nice job till one old ewe tried to butt him. He grabbed the ewe by the ear and slammed her on her back. End of Rocky's herding venture. :eek:
The Norwich.....well, at 5 bucks a duck, I got off with only having to pay for three of them. Seems that herding wasn't a big priority on Griz's agenda that day. :oops: :oops: :D
I've done herding with Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, German Shepherds, and a couple mixes.
With the smaller breeds (Border Collies/Aussies/etc) I allow nips to cattle but NOT to sheep. With German Shepherds I allow bites to sheep as long as they have their full fleece and the dog's teeth are filed. Old style German herding, I've been told.
Hey Greg! I do herding on my farm with the Border Collies. They work on Katahdin Hair sheep and the type of training is more "farm style." I want the dogs to move sheep from one pasture to another and to bring them into the 90' round pen for dewormings. They are also used in my goose control business, FIRST STATE BORDER PATROL. You can see my web site at

I also do herding instinct testing and give lessons to folks from all over the Delmarva area. My buddy, Andy Larrimore, has two Rottweilers that were started in it last summer. Folks pipe off, "A Rottie herding?" Now you want to talk about something cool to see... I owned a male Border Collie that was too hard on sheep, he would rip the life out of them.Dirk is now working on a dairy cattle farm in Milford, Delaware. I have bred several litters with and one of Jess' pups is doing goose control work near the Maryland Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
howard, i am planning on getting a few sheep this spring to start working with my GSD on boundary work. this should be interesting in a lot of ways. he shows classic GSD behavior w/my dobie, "herding" him w/bites on his rear leg and neck/shoulder area (which the dobe does NOT appreciate). he has tried this also w/horses and gotten himself solidly kicked in the head (lucky dog) for his trouble. my bad on that deal--need to work on a little OB. been tracking too much i guess.
I've had one go in a training pen with Dill (Ormskirk Heeler) and we are going to keep at it!

He works (so I have been told) very like a Kelpie and is keen to move sheep and will also bark to move them like a Huntaway does. He has no 'eye' to speak of, but the trainer thought that with practice and more effort on my distance control, it is definitely worth making the effort to keep going, just to see what progress we can make!

I've put another post about Dill on the general dog-chatter thread & I'm open to ideas!
I have thought about going to a herding instinct test but wonder if a dog that has been systematically trained to ignore farm animals would naturally fail?
I've done herding with quite a few of my Malinois. Most we stopped with just a few lessons and an instinct test, just because of time and money. But more recently I've been able to pursue it on a more regular basis and have put various titles on Cali and a couple introductory ones on Nexxus. Nexxus is still quite young, and I'll be pursuing higher level titles with her eventually. Cali is actually more suited to ranch style work, she's able to work when needed, settle when not, and is great at up close work, penning, sorting, etc. Has good power, won't back down from cattle or other angry livestock, but doesn't get overly pushy either. She doesn't really see the point in drilling over and over, which my instructor said is not unusual with older dogs, and we are having some problems with her driving long distances away from me, so we may not get to the advanced levels of trial work and stop at the intermediate levels.
When folks come out for herding lessons with me, I tell them they are the shepherd. The dog must work and respond to them; first, last, and always. It's my feeling that if the dog has the ability, even if it is a cross, it should be worked. I have had folks who "asked" their dogs to work rather than projecting as a leader. Three stages of commands: ask/directive, command, demand.

When you ask, it is not an option, your voice should be positive. "Lie down." "Walk up." Step 2 is the command and your voice is stern. Step 3 is the demand and you step to the dog. If the dog lies down at that point you back off. I know of many "trainers" who go up and beat the life out of the dog for not being ROBOTIC! Anyone can beat the hell out of something and call yourself a trainer.

Real trainers look beyond the problem and try to see the cause of the issue. This mindset also works in the protection area od Schutzhund. I have worked with Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Border Collies, Shelties, BC crosses, and my Bouvier (Bear) and all have different comfort levels with sheep. Shelties are talkers and at 15# can get their butts into trouble with a 200# ewe.

I would start in a round pen with some well dogged sheep, Katahdins. Keep the dog on a long line until you are sure it is not livestock aggressive, then enjoy. It's going to be great in 2008!
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