Stockdog Savvy: Everything you ever wanted to know about training, working or trialing a stockdog of any Breed

Stockdog Savvy: Everything you ever wanted to know about training, working or trialing a stockdog of any Breed

by Jeanne Joy Hartnagle-Taylor, Ty Taylor



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Stockdog Savvy: Everything you ever wanted to know about training, working or trialing a stockdog of any Breed by Jeanne Joy Hartnagle-Taylor, Ty Taylor

Dogs That Are Independent or Indifferent
Independent dogs are not particularly affectionate and don't particularly enjoy petting. A dog with these traits has little desire to please. A dog with a marked degree of independence may be difficult for the average handler to train and work. If the dog is lacking confidence he may be shy or antisocial and does not make a good trial prospect.

Male or Female
The testosterone in males can benefit them as far as increased strength and stamina. In breeds like the Rottweiler and Nordic breeds experts indicate there is a marked difference between the character of males and females—males are generally harder and less sensitive. Females, on the other hand, are more biddable and receptive to discipline.

You cannot accurately determine the working style completely until the dog is older (perhaps a year or more, depending on breed and bloodlines). A good example is the Puli. A number of Puli puppies and young adults show good promise when tested on stock. Yet, as they mature they become weighted down by heavy show coats, which may hinder them and cause them to lose interest, or they lack the determination needed for working.

Probably the best indicators of potential herding ability are the traits of the dog's ancestry; examine the pedigree for proven working bloodlines. An established breeder will serve as a valuable source of information. He knows the bloodline and should be familiar with characteristics of the puppy's ancestors. He has also viewed the puppies on many occasions in different situations—both apart and in the company of their siblings.

However, it may be possible to observe young puppies to get a ballpark estimate about their potential herding ability. Between six and seven weeks, puppies may be tested on ducks. Begin by placing four or more ducks in a round pen. The round pen is useful here because the puppies are unable to corner a duck. However, if a puppy acts too rough with a duck you must not hesitate to rescue it. Don't scold the puppy, but quietly step in and pick up the puppy so the duck can get away.

You can test each puppy separately, but it is preferable to test the litter first as a unit, as they have developed together as a pack. Walk quietly towards the ducks or let the mother start moving them. The movement
should set the puppies' instincts in motion. When one puppy reacts, it will trigger the others to take notice.

No two puppies will react the same way toward the flock each day. Their interest or curiosity may be exhibited by watching, following, or chasing the ducks. Some puppies will even take hold of a duck's tail feathers, which may be an indicator of the heeling instinct; other puppies will move to the head of the flock. Some puppies will use varying degrees of eye, which you may recognize when the puppy drops his head slightly and stares at the ducks. It is often apparent even at this early age that the working instinct is present. However, some dogs won't display herding instincts until later, perhaps between month 12 and month 18.

Pay attention to how they work together. Some puppies will follow, while others will attempt to keep the flock grouped together and go to the head to block them from escaping. Even at this young age, it will be evident that some puppies will exhibit more natural distance responding to the pressure of the ducks. Some puppies may be hesitant and watchful. Catalog these traits and compare them to the working characteristics of the ancestry.

Herding traits must be evaluated in context of the breed. An adult Sheltie with assertive traits will not be as powerful as a mature Beauceron, for instance. Also, a puppy with hard-hitting herding behaviors, such as the Pumi, may be much too forceful for someone aspiring to herd ducks and sheep.

Many years ago, we rescued a delightful Bearded Collie named Podger from a family who lived in town. They didn't have a fenced yard and couldn't keep him in any longer. He was very friendly and loved children. His herding instincts were so strong he would race around the neighborhood and round up the children walking to and from school. He never attempted to nip or harm them in any way, but he would just continuously circle them. He needed a job. We were able to re-home Podger on a large sheep farm where his talent was utilized in a practical way.

One night, my father sent Ritchie, one of his ranch dogs, out to gather the sheep. Ritchie raced off into the pasture and gathered the flock and brought them into the corrals. He took off again. When my father called him, he responded out of obedience, but started barking at him and running in the direction he had come from. When my father followed him, Ritchie took him to a little lamb that had gotten stuck in a fence and was unable to get out. Had it not been for Ritchie, the coyotes would have killed the lamb that night.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781577791065
Publisher: Alpine Publications, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/01/2010
Pages: 310
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

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