Sunday, 27 September 2009

Sheep School

You see those little specks in the distance along the track?
That's Chris leading Rosie and Braeface back to their own field yesterday. Today I repeated this performance because folk keep leaving gates open!

Now all this stomping about wouldn't seem so silly were it not for the fact that I own 2 sheepdogs who really ought to be making my life easier!
Fox works pretty well and is a useful fell dog, but he is so pushy that light sheep dash off into the distance as soon as look at him.My Shetlands are not used to being worked by a dog and throw a hissy fit as soon as Fox comes out. He can run round and head them in the right direction, but they get rather upset and are a nightmare to get into the pen. They will all follow a bucket fairly well (some of them too well!) but when it comes to penning there are inevitably a few who simply do not want to go in (you hear me Rebecca and Lunde?!).

I also have Whisper who desperately deserves to be in training now, but have no quiet sheep to run her round...
The solution?

Make a concerted effort to "dog" my naughty sheep and make them workable!

Lesson 1
Put sheep in pen and allow dog to run around. Persuade small dog to go both ways around the pen of sheep in a wide circle. When dog is doing the required action, put a command to it.
Sheep learn that presence of sheepdog does not mean instant death.
Young dog learns "Away," "Come Bye," "Lie Down" and to come away from the sheep without a fuss. She can also be taught to keep out and to move to 12 o'clock and stop. We also started to do a couple of outruns.
Whisper is a little star. Soooo much easier to train than Fox! When I say stop, she believes that I mean it :o)
And to all you sheepdog nerds, don't worry, I won't let Whisper spend much time "working" penned sheep or going round and round. I'm just trying to settle her and the sheep a bit!

8 comments:

Nancy K. said...

What an EXCELLENT idea! Thanks for the suggestion. I may just have to try that with Bellamica. Poor thing has NO idea what I actually WANT her to do...

Carol said...

Thanks for that wonderful lesson. We went to a fair one year and they had a sheep penning demonstration and maybe a bit of a contest. It was very interesting. You live such an incredible life.

www.wildlifearoundus.blogspot.com

Shula said...

That's some very nice looking dogs that you have there. I love Whispers markings. Congrats with your training.

Garrett808 said...

PLEASE can you come over and train my dogs properly?! As much as I love to use them, I think I'm training them wrong. NO ONE in Minnesota to train them for me within three hours of my place :(

Denise said...

Deefa (my errant sheepdog) has learnt that it's a waste of time trying to get the shetlands to run in a tight little flock by trying to round them up. He "tacks" behind them, letting them run/move in a straight line in the direction we want them to go. He's nipped one or two and that seems to have worked, I know that is not correct in the dog trial world, but the sheep respect him now. We still use a bucket of nut from time to time. Keep up the good work

Jenny Holden said...

Hi Denise, what a sensible dog! Fox does similar but he "boils over" from time to time still and scatters them. He hasn't gripped one but actually, outside a trial you want a dog to have the guts to nip when it needs to or even catch a sheep for you.

Jenny Holden said...

Nancy and Garrett: I'm no sheepdog training expert but if you want to e-mail me about training then I'd be happy to give my take on what is going on with training progress and give pointers where I'm able to.

lampworkbeader said...

Fox looks like my grandfather's old dog, Veeda. She was a whizz with sheep. I really loved reading this blog. A reminder of happy times. Thankyou