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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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 :doh: 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?
 

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I'll be honest.

When you're dealing with a herding breed, the reason the negative methods have held on isn't entirely tradition. The most rewarding thing you can offer the dog is the chance to work. That means that the negative consequences/pain often come into play. You can try other methods, certainly, pre-mack should help get it through pretty fast that if they come they'll allowed to be go back, but getting them off in the first place? I just don't know. Practice near the sheep, maybe, understanding that only once you get the recall do they get to go to them?

It shouldn't involve breaking the dog down, it's not about dominance, it's about the most rewarding thing EVER being out there, and you asking it to come away for a much lesser reward. You're not wrong about the body language, and even using some aversive stuff to get the dogs to call off - I have NEVER seen that in a working dog. Thankfully. My head might explode if I did.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply CptJack. Perhaps I need to become a little more comfortable with the idea of using an e-collar :/ I've tried it on myself using the settings that have been used on the dogs here (the lowest setting that the dog can actually feel) and there is no pain at all, but it's certainly not pleasant. I just don't want to screw a dog up or use the collar incorrectly so it doesn't associate the punishment with the wrong thing. Like you said though if they're already getting the best reward ever it's hard to get them to come back to a lesser reward! I guess it's a balance between using positive reinforcement as much as possible and building up my dog's confidence and trust, but occasionally using aversives where necessary to call the dog off. And as much as possible try and make being allowed on stock a reinforcement for good behaviour.

Yeah, it's a bit upsetting seeing that kind of body language, especially when people go on about the dog being relaxed! There are a couple of dogs here that approach people in the manner I described, mainly the heading dogs - working line border collies basically. One of them has had a few aversives used on him, but the 2 1/2 year old heading bitch hasn't (unless they were used on her with the guy that had her previously which I'm not sure about). But maybe it's just a breed thing? They seem pretty happy to go up to anybody and ask for pats, and the heading bitch Queen is a very lively, sweet tempered, friendly dog. She's not afraid of people that I can tell. The huntaways don't do that really. Some of them ignore people and others just bowl right on in for some pats.
 

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People trained working dogs to come off the stock before e-collars, so it can be done. Our Aussie/Border Collie had a good recall off of stock. It took 2 years to get it down, but he did it. We did not use that many treats, either, but we always carried some in our pockets. He learned most of the behaviors by just watching us and anticipating what we wanted. We had to drop a 1/2 mile of fence in our pasture (the cows were in it) to put up new hot wire. It was just me, my sister, and the dog. When the cows started getting too close to the downed section, we just said "Skye, send them back," and pointed at the cows, and away he went. When they were far enough back we called him back and he laid in the shade under the 4-wheeler. He rarely failed a recall after he was over 2 years old.

Honestly, I think a ton of it was his age and less of that "What's in it for me?" attitude that young dogs seem to have. We worked on his recall a ton when he was little. We used table scraps because we didn't have those itty bitty training treats and Amazon didn't deliver to us yet (Can you believe that? What the heck!?) so I guess those were "high value" to him. A raised voice was enough to make him stop and kind of slink back, so maybe that was aversive enough for him? He went everywhere on the farm with us, so he learned our behaviors and what we needed from him. We actually did not even use a long line on him, or an e-collar. He was SUPER sensitive. We could not use any aversives on him or he would cower. As a youngster, if he got too wild and did not pay attention to us, he was removed from the barn and locked up in the house for a bit, so we took away his reward of working.

I don't think he was anywhere near as well trained as some of my family's sheep dogs when there was 100+ sheep on the farm, but he did what we needed him to do. This was before I was born, and for the first 9 or so years of my life before we switched to cattle. My grandfather and father trained those dogs, Border Collies, but Skye was not trained to quite that level. The stories that my grandpa told me about his sheep dogs made me envious, but I never asked him how he trained them. He was so gentle, I can't imagine him twisting ears and he never did that to any of our dogs that I can remember. I wish I would have asked!
 

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Yeah, I mean I'm not saying that it has to be an e-collar or super duper aversive. Mostly I think it's just a matter of recognizing what the situation is - particularly with a young dog that doesn't know the drill- and having SOMETHING to get him off when you say so. It doesn't have to be rough, but that also doesn't mean there doesn't have to be SOME way to get the dog back and make them understand. If you can get the dog back you can use the stock as the reward, but - Gotta be something.

What that is, I don't know. Depends on the dog, really. Some are way more eager to please, softer and more biddable than other. I can frankly look at my BC sternly and get submissive grinning and appeasement behaviors. Others I've seen could shake off and ignore a 2X4. Just... depends.
 

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One of the people in our town said they used an air horn, lol. Stops most things in their tracks. I never saw this in action though, and this guy wasn't the most adept dog trainer, sooooo.
 

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As far as the body language, working line Border Collies have a very typical head down, tail low, "creeping" movement style. They do this when they're working, but many often approach people that way when greeting them, and just move that way in general. It can look very "submissive," but it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the way the dog was trained (although certainly, herding training often tends to be tough). Not saying the dogs you've seen weren't trained harshly, they may very well have been, but the posture you describe is honestly just the way BC's roll. Other herding breeds may differ.
 

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I would think it's the same for anything... solid foundation training for individual skills, and don't train over threshold.. when you are introducing how to apply skills... Whats the age of a reliable herding dog when starting from a pup... training, maturity and experience..

the only reason I added livestock small to oversize to a group of city raised dogs was because I wanted to know if it was impossible to get good solid farm dogs out of city dogs.. The one thing that they all had first was being solid in basic ob skills so I had something strong in them to work with. No force training, lots of controlling the environment with fencing for everyone, leashed when they were not ready yet, loose when supervised, then unsupervised when they were ready. Not every individual was the same, different strength, different weakness's. and some even stronger to need more time in training. Even with oops,, they all turned out great for good farm dogs and helpful in herding the cows off the fence line, or out of the property if they busted down a fence, we practice on the goats, and the fowl ..For me didn't need to be fancy or perfect, but it did need to be productive and focused to help the situation.

if you have seasoned dogs already on the property I understand they are great teachers for new dogs..
 

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Discussion Starter #9
People trained working dogs to come off the stock before e-collars, so it can be done. Our Aussie/Border Collie had a good recall off of stock. It took 2 years to get it down, but he did it. We did not use that many treats, either, but we always carried some in our pockets. He learned most of the behaviors by just watching us and anticipating what we wanted. We had to drop a 1/2 mile of fence in our pasture (the cows were in it) to put up new hot wire. It was just me, my sister, and the dog. When the cows started getting too close to the downed section, we just said "Skye, send them back," and pointed at the cows, and away he went. When they were far enough back we called him back and he laid in the shade under the 4-wheeler. He rarely failed a recall after he was over 2 years old.

Honestly, I think a ton of it was his age and less of that "What's in it for me?" attitude that young dogs seem to have. We worked on his recall a ton when he was little. We used table scraps because we didn't have those itty bitty training treats and Amazon didn't deliver to us yet (Can you believe that? What the heck!?) so I guess those were "high value" to him. A raised voice was enough to make him stop and kind of slink back, so maybe that was aversive enough for him? He went everywhere on the farm with us, so he learned our behaviors and what we needed from him. We actually did not even use a long line on him, or an e-collar. He was SUPER sensitive. We could not use any aversives on him or he would cower. As a youngster, if he got too wild and did not pay attention to us, he was removed from the barn and locked up in the house for a bit, so we took away his reward of working.

I don't think he was anywhere near as well trained as some of my family's sheep dogs when there was 100+ sheep on the farm, but he did what we needed him to do. This was before I was born, and for the first 9 or so years of my life before we switched to cattle. My grandfather and father trained those dogs, Border Collies, but Skye was not trained to quite that level. The stories that my grandpa told me about his sheep dogs made me envious, but I never asked him how he trained them. He was so gentle, I can't imagine him twisting ears and he never did that to any of our dogs that I can remember. I wish I would have asked!
Huh, I hadn't even thought of it but yeah, I guess e-collars haven't been around all that long really. That's cool Skye would do that for you. And I guess it just takes patience to teach that recall solidly, and not expect more than the dog is able to give at its current stage in training. I guess the strength of an aversive does depend a lot on the hardness of the individual dog. That would have been sweet to have known how your grandpa trained his dogs!

Yeah, I mean I'm not saying that it has to be an e-collar or super duper aversive. Mostly I think it's just a matter of recognizing what the situation is - particularly with a young dog that doesn't know the drill- and having SOMETHING to get him off when you say so. It doesn't have to be rough, but that also doesn't mean there doesn't have to be SOME way to get the dog back and make them understand. If you can get the dog back you can use the stock as the reward, but - Gotta be something.

What that is, I don't know. Depends on the dog, really. Some are way more eager to please, softer and more biddable than other. I can frankly look at my BC sternly and get submissive grinning and appeasement behaviors. Others I've seen could shake off and ignore a 2X4. Just... depends.
True, I suppose I will have to figure out what that is for my dog when I get it depending on its temperament. And just be careful I don't ask a young/inexperienced dog to do jobs where things simply cannot go wrong, like pushing 900 lambs across a bridge or a mob of pregnant ewes through a gate.

This trainer, and others, advise that from when a young dog is first put on a serious jobs for about 2-3 months it should wear an e-collar every day and get a buzz every single time it refuses a recall or doesn't stop (and only buzz for those two commands) so it knows it can't get away with disobedience, particularly on the two most important commands. I kinda think it might be a big knock to a dog's confidence though to be getting zapped constantly! Plus it's just not very nice. I guess that's the point of aversives though. I just feel so uncomfortable with the thought of doing that to a young dog! Or any dog.

One of the people in our town said they used an air horn, lol. Stops most things in their tracks. I never saw this in action though, and this guy wasn't the most adept dog trainer, sooooo.
Haha! I'm not sure a huntaway would hear an air horn over its own bark :laugh:

As far as the body language, working line Border Collies have a very typical head down, tail low, "creeping" movement style. They do this when they're working, but many often approach people that way when greeting them, and just move that way in general. It can look very "submissive," but it doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the way the dog was trained (although certainly, herding training often tends to be tough). Not saying the dogs you've seen weren't trained harshly, they may very well have been, but the posture you describe is honestly just the way BC's roll. Other herding breeds may differ.
Ah right, that's good to know thanks!

I would think it's the same for anything... solid foundation training for individual skills, and don't train over threshold.. when you are introducing how to apply skills... Whats the age of a reliable herding dog when starting from a pup... training, maturity and experience..

the only reason I added livestock small to oversize to a group of city raised dogs was because I wanted to know if it was impossible to get good solid farm dogs out of city dogs.. The one thing that they all had first was being solid in basic ob skills so I had something strong in them to work with. No force training, lots of controlling the environment with fencing for everyone, leashed when they were not ready yet, loose when supervised, then unsupervised when they were ready. Not every individual was the same, different strength, different weakness's. and some even stronger to need more time in training. Even with oops,, they all turned out great for good farm dogs and helpful in herding the cows off the fence line, or out of the property if they busted down a fence, we practice on the goats, and the fowl ..For me didn't need to be fancy or perfect, but it did need to be productive and focused to help the situation.

if you have seasoned dogs already on the property I understand they are great teachers for new dogs..
Yeah true, I guess it is like training a lot of other things. Just being patient and not starting the dog too young, teaching it little bits at a time and making sure it completely understands them, and slowly introducing to stock and starting out with small jobs until it has grown in confidence and ability. And remembering that each dog will be ready to start working at a different age.

That's awesome you were able to take city dogs and get them doing what you needed on the farm. Obedience skills would certainly be a huge advantage! And I guess that's what I need to work on before asking any dog to do farm work. The way you trained your dogs to do that sounds like a good idea, controlling the environment and moving them up by little steps as they are ready.

We do have some more seasoned dogs that could certainly teach younger dogs a thing or two! There's also some bad habits they could teach them too though.
 

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I use ecollars on my spaniels. I know very few people with herding breeds (even farm dogs) who need an ecollar. They are generally bred to be much more biddable than gundogs so while the drive is there, you also have more control right from the start. I know many herding dogs who fairly easily call off of chickens and sheep and horses and cats without more than basic positive recall training. Not saying they're all like that - I also know a BC who killed a couple chickens the other day (he's also deaf, so couldn't hear the recall even if he would've responded), but I wouldn't jump immediately to ecollar just yet.

As far as body language, some dogs have that overly submissive slinky posture towards new people. I've seen everything from ACDs to BCs to English shepherds act like that and all were trained positively. It's just how they are and how they greet people. They don't launch themselves at newcomers like labs, they approach head down and with appeasement gestures. BCs especially are just slinky by nature.

ETA: Also, putting an ecollar on a dog and zapping it for ignoring your recall is so so stupid. With each of my dogs I spent MONTHS with the dog on a long line, carefully teaching what the stim means. And these are dogs who already had recall training and fairly solid recalls when there weren't big distractions. Strapping on an ecollar and expecting the dog to figure it out like that is just asking for fallout and shut down behavior.
 

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I use ecollars on my spaniels. I know very few people with herding breeds (even farm dogs) who need an ecollar. They are generally bred to be much more biddable than gundogs so while the drive is there, you also have more control right from the start. I know many herding dogs who fairly easily call off of chickens and sheep and horses and cats without more than basic positive recall training. Not saying they're all like that - I also know a BC who killed a couple chickens the other day (he's also deaf, so couldn't hear the recall even if he would've responded), but I wouldn't jump immediately to ecollar just yet.

As far as body language, some dogs have that overly submissive slinky posture towards new people. I've seen everything from ACDs to BCs to English shepherds act like that and all were trained positively. It's just how they are and how they greet people. They don't launch themselves at newcomers like labs, they approach head down and with appeasement gestures. BCs especially are just slinky by nature.

ETA: Also, putting an ecollar on a dog and zapping it for ignoring your recall is so so stupid. With each of my dogs I spent MONTHS with the dog on a long line, carefully teaching what the stim means. And these are dogs who already had recall training and fairly solid recalls when there weren't big distractions. Strapping on an ecollar and expecting the dog to figure it out like that is just asking for fallout and shut down behavior.
What situations would you use the ecollar in on your spaniels? Hmm, that's interesting. Maybe it's the particular people I'm around but it seems to be a pretty common thing to use ecollars on farm dogs here. The general thought I've heard is that they need to be punished in some way to get good behaviour and that an ecollar is much nicer than a beating.

That's good to know. I used to think many of them had been abused but it just seems to be the way they are by nature.

Yep, I definitely agree that using an ecollar for ignoring recall isn't a great idea. It just seems so much more likely to me that if a dog gets sent out with an ecollar on for the first time and gets zapped for ignoring a recall it'll associate that shock with something completely different.
 

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What situations would you use the ecollar in on your spaniels? Hmm, that's interesting. Maybe it's the particular people I'm around but it seems to be a pretty common thing to use ecollars on farm dogs here. The general thought I've heard is that they need to be punished in some way to get good behaviour and that an ecollar is much nicer than a beating.
One of mine has a very high hunt drive and a strong nose, and when he was on a game trail he would be gone and completely deaf to me calling. Tough for me to predict too, because I can see a live deer, but I can't see that a deer has crossed our property an hour ago. It's been really great for him. He understands the boundaries of our property now (as long as I'm there to supervise) and I have called him off of a deer trail in a situation that I would've lost him a year ago. It took months of training though. He's a soft dog, and just shocking him for failing to recall wouldn't have taught him anything. He needed to understand very clearly what the collar meant and what I expected of him.

I've started to train my younger dog with the ecollar as well, though she's never had as much of an issue with getting on game and completely tuning me out so I don't think it will be necessary for her long term. I do feel a bit more comfortable with the collar though as it's added security.

Yep, I definitely agree that using an ecollar for ignoring recall isn't a great idea. It just seems so much more likely to me that if a dog gets sent out with an ecollar on for the first time and gets zapped for ignoring a recall it'll associate that shock with something completely different.
I think you can scare a dog into running away from you. Or cause superstitious behavior where the dog thinks that certain areas or things are going to cause the shock. In the correct way to use a collar, the dog is going to feel a very low level of stim over and over and over again and pair it with doing behaviors you've asked for. They become conditioned to understand what the feeling means, and only then would you increase the level for a dog who blew off the recall.
 

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One of mine has a very high hunt drive and a strong nose, and when he was on a game trail he would be gone and completely deaf to me calling. Tough for me to predict too, because I can see a live deer, but I can't see that a deer has crossed our property an hour ago. It's been really great for him. He understands the boundaries of our property now (as long as I'm there to supervise) and I have called him off of a deer trail in a situation that I would've lost him a year ago. It took months of training though. He's a soft dog, and just shocking him for failing to recall wouldn't have taught him anything. He needed to understand very clearly what the collar meant and what I expected of him.
Ah right. How do you train the dogs what the stim means? I guess the way I've seen them used people seem to assume that the dog knows it's getting a buzz because it disobeyed a command.

I think you can scare a dog into running away from you. Or cause superstitious behavior where the dog thinks that certain areas or things are going to cause the shock. In the correct way to use a collar, the dog is going to feel a very low level of stim over and over and over again and pair it with doing behaviors you've asked for. They become conditioned to understand what the feeling means, and only then would you increase the level for a dog who blew off the recall.
Yeah, it's not unheard of for a working dog to not want to go anywhere near sheep if they've been shocked while working them before.
 

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This website is essentially how I trained it. Lots of showing the dog what to do (or telling them to do it in low distraction environments if they already know the cue) and stinking at the same time, just at the lowest level they can feel. I stim before the cue at first so the stim comes to mean that a cue is coming. Only later do I stim after if the dog doesn't listen. It operates on negative reinforcement where the dog learns how to turn off the stim. Vs positive punishment where you zap them after the fact.

It seems fairly easy in theory, but it's really hard because you can't feel what the dog is feeling and if you're too low or high on the stim. It really helps to work with a professional.
 

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I can't say from a great deal of herding experience since I've only been involved for a year or so. I spend a lot of time watching training of other dogs. BC, Collies, GSD, Aussies like mine and a variety of others. All the trainers evaluate the dogs over several lessons. Herding is instinctive, the dog either has or doesn't have it. Even a neophyte like me can see this. It's rather pointless to train a dog that really doesn't want anything to do with stock. Yes I've seen a couple dogs that were trained to herd as an obedience event. It's just not the same...the dogs just seemed like they weren't living the event.

Most of the trainers dogs are very good. They should be as they get worked everyday. BC do it in a sneaky way, GSD are massive presence, Collies move with a flowing grace and wimpy barks, Aussies and ACD seem to be more in the stock's face....move it or else and are quite vocal.

I did not see a single e-collar being used. Nor any prongs. Competitive events don't allow any collars. Every dog that I've seen do well has been a very high drive and somewhat excitable dog. Most successful dogs started very young. Just learning to enter and exit boundary gates is a formal exercise that takes time to master. The trainers all used a plastic rake or paddle to keep the beginners off the stock. The dogs don't get beaten like the K. deciple would have us doing. It's more of a blocking thing. The trainer has to be very quick and "read" the dog then block him from the stock. Some trainers used a long line on a harness to just pressure the dog away from the stock. I haven't seen any yanking or jerking, nor much food. The dogs are too focused to eat. Verbal praise is what they get. Very much like protection training I'm familiar with.

As beginner handlers we stay out of the way and just be a presence trying to learn the process. All the good dogs have great bond with the owners and yet respond to the trainers just as well if not better. Some dogs pick up on what is going on by just watching. Every lesson we have been at we either were first in the pen or watched the other dogs until all were worked no matter how tired the dogs were. It's not forced, most of us almost have to drag the dogs back to the truck or water pool. They just will work until they drop. They really get into it. If they don't, they are excused to the agility or obedience school. There aren't any so so dogs, just beginner handlers like me and dogs learning to control their instincts.

For a real stock dog I think you can be a little less formal on the obedience end. The dog needs an immediate recall with lots of distraction, also an immediate stop in place (sit, down or stand) even on recall. Also a go out, circle ccw, circle cw as well as some others. Some dogs will gather better than drive others will drive better but have a loose flock.

I'm still a beginner so that's about the extent of my knowledge.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
This website is essentially how I trained it. Lots of showing the dog what to do (or telling them to do it in low distraction environments if they already know the cue) and stinking at the same time, just at the lowest level they can feel. I stim before the cue at first so the stim comes to mean that a cue is coming. Only later do I stim after if the dog doesn't listen. It operates on negative reinforcement where the dog learns how to turn off the stim. Vs positive punishment where you zap them after the fact.

It seems fairly easy in theory, but it's really hard because you can't feel what the dog is feeling and if you're too low or high on the stim. It really helps to work with a professional.
Thanks. Yeah that definitely sounds like it would be something good to have professional help on!

We're driving up to look at a heading dog on Friday. The guy that has him now rescued him from someone else who was going to shoot him for being 'useless' and the current owner believes he was abused by the first owner, so if we end up taking him he'll need to be treated very gently and I would certainly steer clear of ecollars in his situation, and focus on gaining his trust and using positive reinforcement.
 

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I can't say from a great deal of herding experience since I've only been involved for a year or so. I spend a lot of time watching training of other dogs. BC, Collies, GSD, Aussies like mine and a variety of others. All the trainers evaluate the dogs over several lessons. Herding is instinctive, the dog either has or doesn't have it. Even a neophyte like me can see this. It's rather pointless to train a dog that really doesn't want anything to do with stock. Yes I've seen a couple dogs that were trained to herd as an obedience event. It's just not the same...the dogs just seemed like they weren't living the event.

Most of the trainers dogs are very good. They should be as they get worked everyday. BC do it in a sneaky way, GSD are massive presence, Collies move with a flowing grace and wimpy barks, Aussies and ACD seem to be more in the stock's face....move it or else and are quite vocal.

I did not see a single e-collar being used. Nor any prongs. Competitive events don't allow any collars. Every dog that I've seen do well has been a very high drive and somewhat excitable dog. Most successful dogs started very young. Just learning to enter and exit boundary gates is a formal exercise that takes time to master. The trainers all used a plastic rake or paddle to keep the beginners off the stock. The dogs don't get beaten like the K. deciple would have us doing. It's more of a blocking thing. The trainer has to be very quick and "read" the dog then block him from the stock. Some trainers used a long line on a harness to just pressure the dog away from the stock. I haven't seen any yanking or jerking, nor much food. The dogs are too focused to eat. Verbal praise is what they get. Very much like protection training I'm familiar with.

As beginner handlers we stay out of the way and just be a presence trying to learn the process. All the good dogs have great bond with the owners and yet respond to the trainers just as well if not better. Some dogs pick up on what is going on by just watching. Every lesson we have been at we either were first in the pen or watched the other dogs until all were worked no matter how tired the dogs were. It's not forced, most of us almost have to drag the dogs back to the truck or water pool. They just will work until they drop. They really get into it. If they don't, they are excused to the agility or obedience school. There aren't any so so dogs, just beginner handlers like me and dogs learning to control their instincts.

For a real stock dog I think you can be a little less formal on the obedience end. The dog needs an immediate recall with lots of distraction, also an immediate stop in place (sit, down or stand) even on recall. Also a go out, circle ccw, circle cw as well as some others. Some dogs will gather better than drive others will drive better but have a loose flock.

I'm still a beginner so that's about the extent of my knowledge.
Thanks, it's helpful just to know that there are plenty of people herding without ecollars and things :D Yeah, even dogs that don't have the same instinct can make reasonable farm dogs, but they'll never have the same ability as a dog that does it naturally.

That helps to know about the food too. The dogs here seem to respond fairly well to praise.

Yeah for the farm dogs the recall and stop are the essentials and then sides help it move stock where it needs to go, though often they have a pretty instinctual idea without too much direction from the handler.
 

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you'll have fun even my Clydesdale picked up what needed to be done (because we did it every day) when I was walking everyone back in from the pastures when they were all still babies. My llamas were being naughty not wanting to go through the gate to their fenced barn area for the night. My Clydesdale still a young horse got tired of waiting on them and trotted over gathered them all up and rushed them through the gate for me to close it behind them as my Clydesdale trotted back out of the gate to move on to his area and get fed. lol lol .. I couldn't help but smile and laugh and I still smile thinking about it... Johnny the Clydes didn't want to wait on silly llama antics for getting his food ... lol.. they so smart...
 

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you'll have fun even my Clydesdale picked up what needed to be done (because we did it every day) when I was walking everyone back in from the pastures when they were all still babies. My llamas were being naughty not wanting to go through the gate to their fenced barn area for the night. My Clydesdale still a young horse got tired of waiting on them and trotted over gathered them all up and rushed them through the gate for me to close it behind them as my Clydesdale trotted back out of the gate to move on to his area and get fed. lol lol .. I couldn't help but smile and laugh and I still smile thinking about it... Johnny the Clydes didn't want to wait on silly llama antics for getting his food ... lol.. they so smart...
Haha that's brilliant! :D Your place sounds quite interesting! Do you have quite a variety of different animals there? When you were training your dogs what you wanted them to do with your stock did you use rewards at all? Or just praise when they did the right thing? The farm dog training advice in New Zealand that I've seen so far seems to be negative reinforcement...do something that irritates the dog until it moves in the direction you want and then add a command to that movement.
 

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Only first thought was taking a group of city dogs hoping they can learn to accept the farm animals and not eat them, chase them. That was all done by fencing. Added goats first and let the dogs sit outside the main goat area fencing (get use to them from a distance) tell them to get off the fence line and move on for inappropriate behaviors that were not productive, staring, stalking at a distance from source it was easier for them to let go. They watched me every day go in and feed, and when they were individually calm I let them be individual helpers going through the main gate with me into the goat area, but still not able to reach the new babies behind the next gate and they sit and watch me do my chores, run around the enclosure sniffing around where the goats had been, then leave with me.. You have the opportunity to work on stuff with them when they ready and able to learn being calm , back up , wait, stay outside, lay down Didn't take long for everyone to get use to the goats and get use to learning to follow directions being helpers.

We go on walks with the goats take the dogs that are ready to be good helpers , calm about the goats already good taking open range off leash walks (if not long line) and the goats followed the dogs and followed me.. Then I added the llamas then the horses, chicken and the fowl.. The dogs needed to learn calm herding ,, not scattering them.. so they learned walking with me to to slow down don't panic the group, keep a tight group bring a loose end back in. Walked the same patter taking the animals out to the pasture to leave them as we did bringing them back in later in the day. lots of opportunity for them to pick up from me doing it and them doing it with me. Then all I had to do is walk to the pasture gate and tell them to bring them in.. And the dogs would run down to them

Honestly the livestock knew the drill as much as the dogs, to bring themselves back in without the dogs lol .. but it was nice on those rare days when the babies were becoming adults and wanted to stay out on the pasture that the dogs were there to to get them started moving just like they watched me do and that we did everyday together.. get them in a group and then move them forward without panicking them to scatter... They figured out the llamas don't like to be pushed from the rear,, the llamas are more willing to follow and the dogs figured that out by themselves which was really interesting that they get out in front of them and bark and bark and bark as they trotted in front of the llamas.. They learned alot of things doing it with them and giving guidance on how and when to help and when to let me handle it lol lol .. didn't have a huge herd of anything 3 goats, 3 llamas, 2 horses, 40 geese .. lots of open range cattle for most of the year some groups really destructive to need them off our fence.. Again the dogs seen me get out there and move them back they picked up on it was not allowed to take it as their job to run them off the fence but no further then that. One of the things they learned since they really liked to make things move.. they learned "they good" mamma saids they good... and they would leave them be... Nothing fancy, but we could manage moving a herd back off the property from an area that was knocked down on our fence. with the lightest of pressure from the dogs since the open range cattle were already trained to be herded and they knew to respect dogs.. (trained first by the ranchers and their high power cow dogs) the cows didn't know the difference with my guys.. lol .. if that makes sense...
 
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