Windy Tries Sheepherding!

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Windrider, Nov 7, 2011.

  1. Windrider

    Windrider Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 25, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    You folks might remember my little Sheltie pup, Windy, who had a neurological incident a few months back. Good news to report, the problem has yet to happen again. So it looks like it was either hormone induced because of being in heat or she got into something I have yet to discover. In any case, she has been happy and healthy since and coming along in her agility training like she was born to do it.

    However, we all know that Shetland Sheepdogs were really born to herd sheep!

    Last week agility sessions were canceled, so Windy and I went someplace else and did something totally different: sheepherding! I've always wanted to do this but - check out my location, sheep are just not very common in the city of Los Angeles! The closest place always interfered with agility classes.

    Anyway, this sheep ranch stuck in the middle of the City boasts many WTCHs and HTCHs considering its location. The pros there were very impressed with Windy. For her first time seeing sheep (and only 9 months old), she showed lots of potential talent. What an amazing thing to see the light bulb go off; "Yes, this is what I was bred to do!" I don't know how many generations of Windy's show-going ancestors had lived their lives without ever seeing a sheep, but let me tell you that 1000 years or more of breeding for a particular job can lie dormant in even the most dedicated show lines.

    After watching some other first timer dogs chase the sheep and scattering them here and there, I didn't have great expectations even though I know Windy has a lot of drive on the agility course. But when it was our turn, not once did she run right at the sheep and split them up, she always gathered them and kept them together. It was amazing! But the trainer said she was doing something he had only seen a couple times before in a new dog: she was using herself as the focus instead of me. Most beginner dogs with instinct will gather the sheep and bring them towards their handler. But the trainer there said that Windy learned after the first few minutes that if she brought the sheep to us, we'd slow her down and ruin her "fun." So she kept the sheep together but away from us and just kept them moving around the arena where she wanted to go. The trainer said she was so smart, but definitely had a mind of her own!

    I am going to have to try to figure out how to fit herding into my dog training schedule, because wow... what a challenge. It is like doing agility where all the pieces of equipment are moving around!

    "I'll go get 'em, Mom!" zooom......
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    "You can't get away from me!"
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    "I got 'em. Now what do I do?"
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    Having fun just moving the sheep around - with much less control than a more experienced dog, but she is a first-timer puppy! Notice how she is going for the one sheep which is trying to break away.
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  2. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 2, 2009
    North Texas
    wow thats amazing! How cool!
     
  3. annanicole18

    annanicole18 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 16, 2009
    USA
    That is awesome! It would be really fun to have such a versatile dog to work with mine just know that they are not to chase livestock I don't think its in their brains to try and round them up.
     
  4. FlyRobinFly

    FlyRobinFly Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 31, 2011
    Congratulations, it is truly amazing to watch that instinct at work, and a very fun activity. [​IMG] I hope you and Windy get to do more herding.

    My herding trainer breeds and raises working Shelties, so I'm used to seeing them as stockdogs.

    Robin
     
  5. Matthew3590

    Matthew3590 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 10, 2011
    Middle, TN
    If you do this again could you try to video tape it? It looks very interesting and I would love to see it.
     
  6. bufforp89

    bufforp89 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2009
    Chenango Forks NY
    Kinda makes you wonder what the sheep are thinking [​IMG]
     
  7. Jamie_Dog_Trainer

    Jamie_Dog_Trainer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 8, 2008
    Washington State
    Awesome post, thanks for the pictures. I think herding is fascinating and when I get my Beauceron it will be one of the first things I do with him. [​IMG]
     
  8. Windrider

    Windrider Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 25, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    Quote:The sheep they use for the beginner dogs are very "dog broke." In other words, they've seen it all. I'm sure what they were thinking was "Dang, not another know-nothing puppy!" [​IMG] I stayed and watched the more advanced dogs work some "light" sheep in larger flocks and it was very impressive the control the dogs need to have to work with such flighty sheep. A little too much pressure and off they go!

    The lady taking the pictures was another beginner, and she obviously thought the scenes with dust flying were more exciting photography wise. In reality, there was a lot of Windy running out to gather the sheep, bring them to a stop, and then coming back to me wondering what to do next. Like this:

    [​IMG]

    Because Windy was not inclined to do uncontrolled chasing of the sheep or to close with them to nip, the goal the trainers had with Windy for her first time with sheep was just to let her figure things out on her own. We didn't try to teach her much. So she spent a lot of time gathering the sheep, putting a bit too much pressure on them so they ran (because of her inexperience), then she'd flank them until they bunched close together and stopped. Then she'd look around to see what I was doing and when all I said was "good dog!," the process started over with her making the sheep run again. You could see the wheels turning inside her head as she figured out how it worked. She did come immediately when called off the sheep, which is more than I can say for most of the beginner dogs, some of which had to have the shepherd's crook thrown at them before they'd pay attention to the handler.

    Next lessons (if I can find time and money for this) will be on flanking by my direction and "walk up." Here is a video I found on YouTube of another novice Sheltie who has had five lessons and is doing what we will be trying to learn next.

     
  9. carolinagirl58

    carolinagirl58 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 30, 2011
    Lugoff, SC
    It's so nice to see such a pretty sheltie with such great working ability. You don't often see that. She is a really beautiful little dog!
     
  10. Windrider

    Windrider Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 25, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    Quote:Thank you very much! I can't take credit for that, but she comes from an excellent breeder and her parents are champions and her pedigree is full of BISS and ROMs. But the line is also very drivey and is used widely for agility in this area, although I don't recall anyone herding with them before. I say a balanced dog has titles at both ends of their name!

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    Her coat is finally coming in and boy is it ever poofy! She actually has a straight top line, she's just got some odd cowlicks going on. [​IMG]
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