Piper and Herding Lessons (border collie)

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by greyfields, Nov 7, 2008.

  1. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    It's been awhile since I've updated everyone on our border collie puppy, Piper. She is now 32 weeks old (8 months). We live on a farm with about 11 cows, 20 ewes, 7 dairy goats, 7 pigs (departing shortly for the freezer), 100 or so hens, currently 40 broilers, 2 greyhounds, untold numbers of barn cats, 50 geese, 30 ducks, etc. Animals get out a lot and we were sick of being the 'dog' for all these years.

    So we got Piper last summer and it's been an utter pleasure watching her develop. We tought her to sit and lie down in under 2 minutes. She has an uncanny knack for learning commands, names and people in moments. She's maturing and showing less puppy "chase all the animals all the time" instincts... but of course, as any border collie owner will tell you, our tennis ball budget is about 8 balls per week. If she is awake, there is a tennis ball in her mouth and she wants it thrown. It's not uncommon to be showering and suddenly to find a tennis ball at your feet. I wake up to a wet tennis ball on my face every morning. If you are standing, she'll pin them inbetween your knees.

    Generally, dogs begin herding training at 10-12 months. But, since Piper is exposed to so much livestock (and potential bad habits), we started her at 7.5 months with her first casual lessons. We drive around 2.5 hours to Scio in central Oregon and work with Ian Caldicott at Wolston Farm. How the training works is we go in the fenced field (known as rings when you're training) with his dogs, which are trained. He trains us. Ian then goes in the ring with our dog, and he trains her. We get to observe and he gives us input on her tendencies as strengths.

    She is apparently very talented and eager to work, a good combination. Her compulsions at this point is to pin the animals and not let them move, not even blink an eyelash. It drives her mental if they dare move. So, she is a strong gatherer dog (rather than driver). It's appraently very easy to train a dog with this desire to control the animals to learn to slip behind them and move them. They'll quickly discover that moving the animals is as much control as pinning them in the corner. Or so we're told!

    A lot of people told us to get a trained dog and that we were saving ourselves untold hours of work. At this point, I am extremely glad we didn't. Having us learn how to use the dog to its best ability is as important, if not more, than getting the dog trained to work the livestock. If we had bought a trained dog, we would have made no sense to him/her and we quickly would have been ignored, since the with the lack of focus, the dog will just do what it instinctively wants to do.

    An interesting thing to note is that a month into her training, we have only taught her two commands. A lot of people think using the commans and telling the dog what to do is all herding is. We're being trained to work the dogs using simply our body language and the inflection in our voice, the commands come later when she's more advanced.

    Here are some photos. These were of Piper's first lessons about a month ago, back before it started raining. Piper loves Ian to bits, he's a dog guy.

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    Finally, this is one of Ian's dog on the big course, which is 450 yards out to the sheep (you can barely see them there). The dog (I can't remember if it's Joe Kidd or Bear) is going on a right handed "fetch" and then "lift". On the big course, all the commands are given by whistles. It's utterly amazing to watch first hand, and it will send chills up my spine the day Piper is advanced enough to do the big course.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  2. adoptedbyachicken

    adoptedbyachicken Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    Wow, great. I just went to a open feild trial about a month back and I really want to get into that. I am thinking about geting a started dog due to not having the stock at home, I have to go to train all the time, until I get the dog some ducks. The ones I have now, muscovies, are not that good for dog training as they don't tend to stick together.

    I need help when I'm out riding with the cattle that are on range in the summer, and occasionally moving birds at home, but LGD is my main job so I'm thinking of an English Shepherd, which do both.
     
  3. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    I'm trying to think of the guardian dogs he has there, which are enormous. I was always told that herding dogs were incompatible with guardian dogs, but apparently that's not the case at all.
     
  4. sweetshoplady

    sweetshoplady Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 4, 2008
    Venice, Florida
    Greyfields, that is totally cool how you're herding with your dog!

    Thanks so much for sharing those neat videos! Keep us posted as to Piper's progress!
     
  5. gaited horse

    gaited horse Merry Christmas!

    Aug 14, 2008
    Fernley, NV
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2008
  6. I have WHAT in my yard?

    I have WHAT in my yard? Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 24, 2008
    Eggberg, PA
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I get slimy tennis balls dropped in my bath, my bed.... I also end up qith slimy ball marks on my jeans where she tossed the ball to me....

    We got something called a chuck-it to save my hands and throwing arm!!

    I have a border collie-lab mix named Athena.

    (She's helping me type now... her balls are all outside so she keeps dropping soggy dirty socks on the keyboard!)
     
  7. adoptedbyachicken

    adoptedbyachicken Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    The field trial I was at was hosted by a farm where Maremmas guard the sheep all the time and BCs move them about. I would have thought 40 more BCs showing up and moving the sheep about would have upset the LGDs but it was not the case at all, they went about their business, making sure the area is safe of coyotes and just let it all happen. They patrolled the outer ring perfectly and if they came into that particular field they were told 'out' by the owner. The one female that normally has that field as duty was put up for the day in the house pens and look happy to have a day off!
     
  8. Buster

    Buster Back to Work

    I just love working dogs. Mine is bored out of her head since we moved off the ranch, but we will be getting some goats soon to keep her occupied. Good luck with training. It's a lot of work but I find it very rewarding.
     
  9. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:My long term goal in life is to relocate to North Yorkshire, where my wife comes from. I figure I can't be a proper smallholder in England if I don't know how to work a border collie on the sheep! The bonus is I'm enjoying the hell out of it. But it's all about street credibility in the rough-and-tumble wilds of the English countryside. [​IMG]

    I will state that I didn't show photos from last weekend, where we had buckets of rain poured on us for 3 straight hours. It was very miserable; but Piper hardly minded... even at her slight 30 lbs dry. [​IMG]
     
  10. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Mar 15, 2007
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