Training a herd dog w/ ducks?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Dusky Beauty, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. Dusky Beauty

    Dusky Beauty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a Great Pyr/Aussie Shepherd hybrid dog. She's demonstrated strong Pyr instinctual behaviors before so I never really considered she'd have a strong herd instinct too. This evening DH was in the back yard trying to corner one of our "wilder" ducks to get a good look at it, and my dog started trying to help corner it for him, without being asked, she guessed what he wanted and set her mind out to try to help catch it. I guess she'd benefit from some herding lessons... and I would benefit with some herding help.

    I'm sure someone on the board trains shepherd dogs. Does anyone know some sources to teach me how to train her for herding and communicate what I want her to do?
     
  2. duckyfromoz

    duckyfromoz Quackaholic

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    There are a few people here in Australia that use Runners for training herding dogs. I will see if any of them can give me some information to pass on to you.
     
  3. zzGypsy

    zzGypsy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    we use runners and geese for training herding dogs... sheep are where you should start because they're less touchy and more tollerant of the mistakes a learning dog makes. we use ducks for fine-tuning the dogs, they're super sensitive and require precision from dog and handler.

    I don't know of anyone training pyrs for "herding", it isn't really their primary instinct, but if you're interested in trying search for "herding trials" in your local area. AKC sponsors all-breed trials, and the US Border Collie association has trials where you can see and meet trainers / handlers. there are other breeds that also herd and sometimes have breed specific trials, rotties for instance. one thing to consider and discuss with a trainer before you begin, if your dog catches on to herding, they may not be so useful for guarding... herding is a prey drive behavior, guarding is a pack protection behavior. I'm not sure you can get a dog to recognize he's supposed to hunt your ducks one minute and then protect them another.

    I have heard stories about pyrs and other LGDs rounding up their charges for safety, and herding the flock stragglers in to the barn, but I think that's still pack protection behavior, not herding/hunting. what might be useful to you though, since your dog seems smart enough to have figured out the task at hand, is to learn some things about the way you use a dog when herding... how to place them, where to move them, when to lay them down or move them up or call them back. if he's helping anyway, and if you have some basic commmands, you might be able to position him to assist with the task. still, I want my flock to go *to* my LGDs for protection, not flee them and move away as needed in herding.

    I've got border collies for herding and Pyr/Anatolian/Kangal crosses for livestock guarding, different dogs for different jobs.
     
  4. Dusky Beauty

    Dusky Beauty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:This is exactly what I want her to do. Ducks (my ducks anyway) don't really need to be herded so much as driven. Getting her to function as another body (a more agile one) to drive them into the pen with me would be ideal. The root is that I don't know how to tell her what I want her to do direction-wise She's a 2 year old 50/50 Pyr/ Aussie and just want to please.
     
  5. zzGypsy

    zzGypsy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:This is exactly what I want her to do. Ducks (my ducks anyway) don't really need to be herded so much as driven. Getting her to function as another body (a more agile one) to drive them into the pen with me would be ideal. The root is that I don't know how to tell her what I want her to do direction-wise She's a 2 year old 50/50 Pyr/ Aussie and just want to please.

    if she's Pyr/Aussie, she must be *seriously* confused! half her brain says "GET 'EM" and the other half says "SAVE 'EM" ! Ha! interesting dog.
    start by searching on "herding trials" in your local area (local being, say, 150 miles or so. not so many herding trials in town...) I'd suggest you go visit one of these trials to find a coach / handler... there are ALL kinds of handlers out there, and there are some who's methods you will NOT approve of, no matter what your style is. see who works calmly, who's dogs seem under control, who seems to be getting things done without a lot of hysteria. at least that's who I'd start with. once you've identified a couple of handlers / dogs that you think are working well, calm, in control, talk to those folks, see if they train, or find out who their trainers are. some of them will be "serious players only" but they can probably refer you to someone who can work with you and your dog.

    do be sure to talk with them about preserving the protective instinct while you train... maybe just train for obedience, not really full herding behavior so you don't wake up too much prey drive. do be cautious, once you let the prey drive out of the bottle, it may be hard to put it back. Aussies have *very*very* strong drive. I'd hate to have you lose the guarding dog in her to the aussie prey drive, and then find out she's not ideal for that either. if you are wanting to keep her a guarding dog, you might seriously think about not doing this.

    I've got an Aussie/border collie I'm working with who is currently monkey-climbing out of any enclosure I've had her in, and has managed to get in with and kill birds twice. I may not be able to turn her around. the genie may be too far out of the bottle already.

    My LGD pups "herd" if I'm herding... they hang with me, spread out from where I am just a bit and basically extend my pressence to either side... it will not get me precise herding control, but it makes me much wider behind my birds. I've done little training of them, because I want them more attached to the flock than me, but I may try to teach them a "down" or "sit" that would let me park them as a baffle for herding with. or maybe not... mostly I really want the birds (sheep, goats) to seek them out for protection first, that's most important. after all, I've got border collies for herding, and that's what they're designed for. each dog has its job.
     
  6. Dusky Beauty

    Dusky Beauty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Yes, this is what I want to ask her to do. If I badly wanted a full herd dog we have a corgi in the house too, I just have a special bond with my Molly and she wants to help me. I just don't know how to tell her where to stand and walk. She did pretty well guessing, but I'd rather have that 2 way communication.
     

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