I've been lurking heaps but it's been a while since I last posted. In that time I got married and have moved up to my husband's farm which has been a massive change from living in the city, and now I see Jess every couple of months and my brother is working on training her. We have 7 dogs on the farm, and they're all amazing! Such a bunch of characters, and it's awesome seeing them working and seeing their intelligence in action. I don't have a dog of my own here yet but we are looking for one for me.
Farm dogs are mostly still training in a fairly traditional way, because that's the way it's been done. My husband and I went to a dog training day yesterday run by a trainer that is more positive than some, but the first thing she talked about was how it's essential to hold your dog in a dominance down regularly from a puppy so it knows you're the boss There was a lot of good information she gave, but also a lot of leash jerking and growling and kicking a dog that wasn't doing something he knew how to do (though he had been used for several hours to demonstrate a bunch of things in front of a bunch of strangers).
Is there anyone that has trained farm dogs/herding dogs and has some good R+ resources that relate to working dogs? There are some commands that are essential to have solid, such as recall and stop, or a lot of stock can get hurt if they all get rushed onto a bridge or something because the dog won't slow down and a bunch get smothered. Recall seems to be taught on farms by adding a command as a puppy is running towards you, but then when it stops coming/gets to the teenage phase it is put on a line and if it doesn't come it is yanked until it does come. I read an article by this same trainer saying that clicker training and treats don't work on working dogs because they need to learn to think for themselves not just go after a treat. I guess the hard thing is that working sheep or cattle is a pretty high value reward in itself, so if a dog doesn't come when called, that behaviour is getting reinforced because it gets to chase sheep without consequences. Or when it does come back it might get a growl and an alpha roll, but for starters the evidence shows that doesn't work and the dog won't even associate it with the lack of recall.
How do you teach a solid recall when a dog is working stock? I really want to be able to do it without an e-collar and I'm certainly not pinning a dog down or twisting its ear.
Edited to add: there seems to be a bit of confusion about body language as well. This trainer was telling us to look at how relaxed her dog was. His tail was curved between his legs, his body was tense, his mouth shut and he was licking his lips. Apparently if a dog has its tail up and head high that means it's cocky...it should have its tail curved between its legs because that means its showing you respect. A lot of dogs I've seen on farms approach people low to the ground with their tails right between their legs. Maybe I'm wrong, but I always thought that was a sign of fear/insecurity?