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  #1  
Old 09-03-2013, 11:15 PM
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Default Instinct testing for herding dog

Ma'ii goes in for one in Carson City on the 28th I'd like to get into herding activities with him, casually at first to see how he does, then maybe full blown later if he does really good. I think it would really help him.

Given his background and the major drive I myself have seen in him, I have no doubts he'll do fine on the test. But, I've never had one of these done before, so....what should I expect?
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Old 09-04-2013, 08:26 AM
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Out of curiousity, how old is your dog?

Typically, it's best to introduce dogs to sheep as young ones although that's not always the case.

And for what you should expect, it really depends on the instructor and the sheep you're working with.

You shouldn't expect for your dog to spend more then five or ten minutes in the pen the first time you go. Herding, for lack of a better descriptor, is like a muscle and it's hard work for them. It's alot of focus, alot of restraint, and alot of brain power when dogs do it right.

Basically, you're the pool stick, the dog is the cue ball, and the sheep are the billiard balls.

From what I've seen, alot of people confuse herding instinct with animal aggression and while those two CAN be linked, they aren't always. Just because your dog wants to chase sheep doesn't mean that he has heading instinct, for example.

You'll probably be asked to walk the pen with your dog and keep your dog on lead. Typically, you'll be asked to walk toward the sheep to see if the sheep feel any pressure from the dog and see what the dog's natural instincts are.

Miz Naughty is a gatherer and she works counter clockwise. She doesn't really head and she doesn't really drive. She also does not give a hard eye. Herding instinct is all over the place in Cardigans, so you really never know what you're going to get. Some cardigans head, some drive, some gather and some actually do show a hard eye.

BTW is this just an evaluation, like an HIC?

ETA- sheep are usually pretty intimidating to a dog that's never seen them before. They look strange, smell strange and some are down right aggressive towards dogs. Seasoned sheep will almost always take advantage of a green dog by trying to bully him or her. They stamp their feet and put their heads down to show that they mean business.


Hopefully, they'll have you on easy sheep lol

Goats are hard to herd; they can be kind of nasty. Cattle herding is alot more dangerous although sheep can be, too. Duck herding is usually best for dogs that have alot of control or are a bit softer.
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Old 09-04-2013, 09:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cardiparty View Post
You shouldn't expect for your dog to spend more then five or ten minutes in the pen the first time you go. Herding, for lack of a better descriptor, is like a muscle and it's hard work for them. It's alot of focus, alot of restraint, and alot of brain power when dogs do it right.
This. We had the girls tested last year and they were flat out for the rest of the day.

Basically they had us go in the pen with our dogs (and the tester guy), unleash them and just see what happened. If they did nothing we were told to verbally encourage them and/or walk around. I have video of both the girls - Mu turned on right away, Tipper did a lot of bouncing and barking but she clicked in the last couple minutes. It was a really fun experience and I would love to do lessons sometime. Not enough time for everything though.

Here's the beginning of Mu's. You can see the guy trying to get her to move out when he pushes at her and her totally ignoring him. Lol.



And the rest of Mu's. About 20 seconds in she goes head to head with one of them and it tried to butt her out of the way.



This is the beginning of Tipper's. It's pretty boring, unless you like watching a small orange dog run amok and bark a lot. She was a lot more cautious with the sheep than Mu was. And far more excited about the people watching.



Okay and this is the interesting part of Tip's. She just suddenly got it, like OH I chase these sheep in a circle right? WHEEEEEEEEEE. *exhaustion*. Lol.


I want to do this again now. Especially with Tipper, I wonder how she'd do a second time.
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Old 09-04-2013, 04:18 PM
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It will most likely be a fairly short test to see your dogs reaction and instinctual herding behaviour. In my limited experience (working with 2 trainers), it's usually 3-5 dog broke sheep in a round pen or smaller area. They will probably leave a long line on your dog so you can direct them or get them off the sheep of needed. You may go in by yourself, with the trainer, or the trainer might take the dog in herself/himself. If you do go in by yourself - just remember to KEEP MOVING! As my trainer loves to yell at me "go somewhere!". It's easier and less confusing for your dog if you aren't standing in one spot.

You may get a feel of your dogs eventual working habits, though keep in mind this may change. Timid dogs can gain confidence and strong, intense dogs may settle down, especially once the pressure is off when they graduate to a larger area (like Quinn). Some dogs want to drive, some dogs have a natural gathering instinct. You can also see if you dog has a natural balance - for example, does the dog stop once the sheep are with you (and you have stopped) or does he push them past you? Keep in mind that this can be developed too - although some dogs seem very aware of this right off the bat.

A great trainer knows how to alter their methods for every dogs unique style and personality, like building up confidence in a timid dog (maybe sometimes letting "bad" things slide in order to not turn them off the sheep) or slowing down a fast dog for example.
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Old 09-04-2013, 08:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cardiparty View Post
Out of curiousity, how old is your dog?

Typically, it's best to introduce dogs to sheep as young ones although that's not always the case.

And for what you should expect, it really depends on the instructor and the sheep you're working with.

You shouldn't expect for your dog to spend more then five or ten minutes in the pen the first time you go. Herding, for lack of a better descriptor, is like a muscle and it's hard work for them. It's alot of focus, alot of restraint, and alot of brain power when dogs do it right.

Basically, you're the pool stick, the dog is the cue ball, and the sheep are the billiard balls.

From what I've seen, alot of people confuse herding instinct with animal aggression and while those two CAN be linked, they aren't always. Just because your dog wants to chase sheep doesn't mean that he has heading instinct, for example.

You'll probably be asked to walk the pen with your dog and keep your dog on lead. Typically, you'll be asked to walk toward the sheep to see if the sheep feel any pressure from the dog and see what the dog's natural instincts are.

Miz Naughty is a gatherer and she works counter clockwise. She doesn't really head and she doesn't really drive. She also does not give a hard eye. Herding instinct is all over the place in Cardigans, so you really never know what you're going to get. Some cardigans head, some drive, some gather and some actually do show a hard eye.

BTW is this just an evaluation, like an HIC?

ETA- sheep are usually pretty intimidating to a dog that's never seen them before. They look strange, smell strange and some are down right aggressive towards dogs. Seasoned sheep will almost always take advantage of a green dog by trying to bully him or her. They stamp their feet and put their heads down to show that they mean business.


Hopefully, they'll have you on easy sheep lol

Goats are hard to herd; they can be kind of nasty. Cattle herding is alot more dangerous although sheep can be, too. Duck herding is usually best for dogs that have alot of control or are a bit softer.
Ma'ii is 8, was raised around livestock, and even used to drive cattle in his previous home which was a ranch up in NY. I don't know how he is or would be with sheep, but what I'm hearing is the person doing the evaluation will keep him in check and protect the sheep should he get to rambunctious.

And yes, this is an HIC for the moment.
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Old 09-04-2013, 08:51 PM
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I let Lucy see sheep for the first time when she was 6 or 7. I knew this wasn't going to be a serious thing--it was really just to see what she'd do.

The first time the trainer took her into the small round pen with 3 sheep, and held a long pole with a broom/bells on the end. She'd smack the ground when she needed Lucy to back off the sheep. Honestly, the "does your dog have instinct" part lasted about 10 seconds. She saw Lucy's reaction, said, "Yup, there's plenty of instinct there!" and began trying to calm her down and help her little brain think under control.

Video:


I really thought Lucy just wanted to chase the sheep, but the trainer was convinced that she had potential and convinced me to sign up for 3 or 4 lessons before I conceded that driving 90 minutes each direction for a 20 minute lesson was nonsense!
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:14 PM
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Sounds like you two will have a great time. It's alot more fun when your dog has alot of instinct and drive.
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Old 09-05-2013, 06:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cardiparty View Post
Sounds like you two will have a great time. It's alot more fun when your dog has alot of instinct and drive.
Seriously can't wait! I'll be sure to snag a video!
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Old 09-06-2013, 12:26 PM
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Make it next friday we actually go in for this test. The testing will be done by a local rancher and it will be done with actual cattle.

*SCREAMS LIKE A GIRL*
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