Herding: How do you teach basic practical herding skills? - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 02-19-2013, 01:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Herding: How do you teach basic practical herding skills?

My GSDs Alpha Male wants to herd, the Bitch could not be bothered, but Cody the Male wants to herd.. If I am on a horse, pushing a steer up a fence line, he will get the idea and haze along side to keep them against the fence to the gate with me pushing from behind...

But if I am on foot calling them into a paddock and they are stopped outside the gate, while he can bunch them up as he excitedly circles around them, he is just as likely to push them back as forward.

It would be nice to give him hand signals, to go that way around them, to the right or left, or to bring them in.. But I have no idea how to do that.

My 15 week old Working Dog sort male, wants to herd, and on a leash will push them up a fence line. But again, how would I get him to take them around to the left or right or bring them back to me at a gate???

Any help appreciated. If I knew the basics, while it is probably too late for my 10 year old as I am retiring him from work in the paddocks, I would like to start basics on the pup as he is VERY smart and catches on to things right away. How developed? He will fetch out to 40 meters as far as I can throw, sits, stays about 20 sec, lays down, knows NO, and will heel and recall really well, as long as there are no pressing distractions.. Pretty good for 15 weeks and not really in a training program... So how should I start? Any suggestions are appreciated...

Kind regards, lone Ranger, out doing Dances with Wolves in Australia with GSDs...
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:01 PM   #2 (permalink)
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A good herding dog as a teacher. My uncle did that with his cows - old shep taught young shep. Maybe your breeder will know. I would look for books and dvds also. Hopefully you'll get some replies.
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I started when Luther was about 14 weeks. Our ewes had lambs at the time and if you have ever tried to move ewes with young lambs you will know how slow they move!!! We have to move them around a bit as our summer stubbles are running out and the green feed (this is in May) has not usually started to grow...completely dependent on our Autumn break. So they get moved around a bit. You have to do it on foot as they just don;t want to move so I just put him on a very long line and away he went. He was great from the start, didn't rush the sheep....just moved from left to right with the occasional times he would rush at them and try to grab but I just rewarded the good things and gave him a check with the things i didn't want to see.
Gradually he moved off the lead. To teach him to cast I just did what we did with our Kelpie......used a grass garden rake, gave him the "go back" command and directed him with the rake.....as in blocked him to send the way I wanted him to go while pointing with the other arm.....you don' hit them with it....it is just an extension of your arm.
Luther herds in an entirely different way though to Miley (kelpie) and really it is not all that suited to what we want BUT he follows Miley's lead a lot.
To "move sheep" through gateways etc Miley is better as we tell her to "speak up" and she will bark.....Luther doesn't do this......where he is handy is keeping the mob together in a tight group and retrieving sheep who break away....he loves this. He is also quite handy in the yards just due to his size....the sheep are very weary of him but tend to not pay the same respect to Miley who is just a little pocket rocket.
I don't understand the GSD herding tests etc Luther would probably get a bug fat F but he does alright the Aussie way in the sheep work. It keeps him busy, fit and is great for his training with the recall, keeping calm etc.
Just have a bit of fun with it.....you have cows though so gotta be a bit more careful.....they can be jolly cranky at times and get nasty with the dogs.
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Wow Sparra,
Thanks, that is a good start... The light grass rake as a barrier is a great idea.. How would you get him to go around the back and push them toward you? Or do you not do that move?

You used a word there I did not know, you said "teach him to cast" I did not get that... Anyway, for me the most valuable thing would be to be able to open a gate and have them pushed toward me from behind. If I open the gate and try and circle around myself to drive them, I will get half or none. If I had a working herding dog that would circle around the back and push them in past me, it would be a real asset.

Wish you were closer, I would love to see Luther in action.. I would be hinting at an invite if I was coming down for this years Melbourne Show, but I am just sending my Staff as I am enjoying this new puppy that much...

Best regards, and thanks again for your help, if you can tell me how to start to teach him to push the stock TO me...
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Our kelpie does this job.....Luther just keeps them together. The natural herding instinct of a kelpie, bordercollie etc is to bring the sheep towards you. By "cast" i mean to send the dog away from you in either the left or right direction....like casting a fishing line i guess.....that is just what we have always called it....casting the dog. I am not sure if bringing the sheep toward you is a natural instinct in the GSD??Good question to ask one of the herders on here. Luther seems more intent on keeping the mob together. If i was to go out into a 200 acre paddock I could "cast" Miley and she would run out, gather the sheep together into a big mob and then drive them towards me out the gate.....Luther won't do that as his instincts seem to tell him that is not how you do it........besides if he just sits in the ute and waits Miley has done all the running
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Old 02-19-2013, 09:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Sit in the truck til all the running and hard hot work is done, then just keep them together?..... See Sparra, I told you Luther was the "smart one"... That is one smart Shepherd, good looking and smart...

Thanks again Sparra, you are a Champion!
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Old 02-26-2013, 08:11 PM   #7 (permalink)
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This morning I had all three GSD's with the pup in tow on a leash, and let the cattle in the gate back to the river paddock now that the flooding has gone down. They were waiting there, but would not come towards me through the gate. Cody (10 y.o. resurrected on the RAW diet, see Testimonial) was active and I successfully sent him through the side to drive them in. It partially worked, and when he did it wrong or tried to come back up the side, the NO command, my arm directing up the right side, and his motivator "get the cattle Cody" worked. I finally went in along side the small mob with the pup on a leash, and all three of us drove them into the new paddock.

The Pup is learning, and so is Cody.. They will associate my commands, and arm showing the side, and the action.... I think I got it..
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:14 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Pick the dog for the trick!

Get the dog for the trick. GSD's shouldn't "herd" or work as gathering dogs. They should tend. Holding boundaries. They can be darn good gate dogs, fantastic at holding stock away from an area as you feed, or working like they should, holding boundaries for unfenced rotational grazing.

The folks doing gathering type work with GSD's are corrupting selection and breeding with training for the non-inherited traits. You can force the education into them, but it will never be as good as using instinct and drives to your advantage.

Leerburg video has a decent video on beginning tending with GSD's, they call it a "sheep herding" video. Excellent way to train gate work included in it! Geary Loff has some video of Beaceron's at work tending in apple orchards on youtube. You can see the kind of work I'm describing.

If you want a gathering or cutting dog, get the dog for the trick. Border Collies, Kelpies, etc from working lines that do that work. There are many decent videos for the work, but your best bet is to find a professional to get you started. It's a long, slow steady process using the right dog for the job to get the best results.

Best of luck,

Patrick
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Old 03-06-2013, 01:01 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thestockdogcompany View Post
Get the dog for the trick. GSD's shouldn't "herd" or work as gathering dogs. They should tend. Holding boundaries. They can be darn good gate dogs, fantastic at holding stock away from an area as you feed, or working like they should, holding boundaries for unfenced rotational grazing.

The folks doing gathering type work with GSD's are corrupting selection and breeding with training for the non-inherited traits. You can force the education into them, but it will never be as good as using instinct and drives to your advantage.

Leerburg video has a decent video on beginning tending with GSD's, they call it a "sheep herding" video. Excellent way to train gate work included in it! Geary Loff has some video of Beaceron's at work tending in apple orchards on youtube. You can see the kind of work I'm describing.

If you want a gathering or cutting dog, get the dog for the trick. Border Collies, Kelpies, etc from working lines that do that work. There are many decent videos for the work, but your best bet is to find a professional to get you started. It's a long, slow steady process using the right dog for the job to get the best results.

Best of luck,

Patrick
Agree.....we did not get a GSD to work our sheep......we have a kelpie....BUT....we do have a GSD who loves to be out with us on the farm "having a go". It keeps him fit, happy and he is handy....no harm in that.
I am not breeding herding dogs so don't see how I am corrupting anything....simply having a bit of fun with my GSD.....giving him a job. Not many people who own a GSD also own lots of sheep so if the dog is willing and able why not let them have a go.
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Old 03-06-2013, 08:00 PM   #10 (permalink)
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OP here... Thank you for that technical answer on going to other breeds, but I love Shepherds and do not like kelpies and border collies... And, while I wanted to do herding, my massive herd of pet breeders is only 14 head of cattle in two mobs...
Rear mob, bull, cows and calves. Front mob, cut steers, young heifer to young to breed yet... Grass fed, grain finished, organic beef sort... Raw Diet for the dogs of old cows, organic beef for me..

It is just a matter wanting be able to give herding directions and hand signals.. Companions, calf guards against dingoes or wild dogs (my large alpha male Cody has never been challenged, one look and they are gone) Personal Protection, good Company, herding is maybe a 5% issue...

Best regards from the Hobby Farm in Australia.... lone Ranger

Last edited by lone Ranger; 03-06-2013 at 08:02 PM. Reason: left out a bit
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