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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-25-2009, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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Herding Instinct Test?

I've been wanting to try herding with my 4 yr old Ruger for quite a while. I got an opportunity to take him to a herding instinct test yesterday. Sorry, no pictures. It was a yucky day weather wise. So, here's some background info first. Ruger had been previously working in obedience, until I messed him up. I was nervous, and I put too much pressure on him. He got his first little title, RN, then he just blew me off. I've since been reworking him with loads of nothing but happy-happy focus training. Now, I also have thoroughbreds here at home. I worked with him for over a year to stop chasing the horses, until he chased a fairly expensive race horse prospect through a fence, and that ended that horses future career. I had no choice but to shock him off the horses. That did work. I did fear that he would not be interested in the sheep, because of that "training".
Now, yesterdays test. He went out to the field where there were 4 penned sheep. We were to walk around the pen, and he was glued to me in heel position. So, I was instructed to go in with the sheep, to see if he would start to work them. He was pretty much focused on me the whole time. He did run around the pen, but watching me the whole time. Man, he did some fabulous moving downs! He then went to a larger pen of sheep to test him on tending. He had no interest in running them across the fence. I told the instructor about his training, and that he was likely not going to run the fence to chase the sheep. I thought he might do better if he actually got in with them. They did not let any dogs in with the sheep at all. Ruger showed no signs of aggression. He only acted like a great obedience dog. My question is, is this how instinct test go? They passed him saying that he had a future in fetching, but not so much in tending! I don't know why he would not be allowed in with the sheep to really test him, especially considering his obedience and focus on me. But, really what I know about herding couldn't fill a postage stamp. I personally saw no signs that he would make a good herding dog, at least through a fence. Should I have him retested ON sheep to see if he would light up? God knows, he has the prey drive, but he also knows he must not chase animals across a fence. Or, should I just get him ready for his BH?

Cinzar's Dark Shadow Too (Ruger) CGC, RN 1/8/05
SG Quinn Z Old Farm (Cues) IPO 3, KKL 6/7/09
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-25-2009, 12:54 PM
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Re: Herding Instinct Test?

All the HIC tests I've been to had the dogs in with the sheep. Here's Mauser:



The lady who ran the test was in there with him with her stick. She explained to everyone at the beginning that if a dog looked like he want to EAT the sheep instead of herding she was going to use the stick on them. She wasn't going to HURT them - just get their attention off the sheep.

She did have to use the stick a couple times but only had to whack the ground in front of the dog to stop them.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-25-2009, 02:59 PM
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Re: Herding Instinct Test?

All the things I've read (and heard) about the herding instinct test say the dog is in with the sheep. Was it through the AKC?

When Koda did his test last week the first judge had a long line on him but she took it off once she realized he was no threat to the sheep. She wanted to see him move the sheep from both directions. The judge on the second day did not require the long line on any dogs and just let them interact with the sheep, using her stick to stop them, if necessary.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-25-2009, 03:07 PM
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Re: Herding Instinct Test?

I've done a few HIC's and always the dog is IN the ring with the sheep,,also started with a long line, and ended up releasing them when it was determined they weren't gonna 'eat' the sheep)

My aussie was the last one I did, and I "believe" things for hic is a tad different now, in that you get tested twice by two different testers??? I could be wrong, but my aussie passed, we never got our certificate but I did get a "pass" thing, and had to go again with someone different to certify.. Maybe it was an ASCA thing, vs AKC? can't recall...

Anyhow, I suppose some may be afraid of our "big bad wolves" eating the sheep and therefore keep them on the outside of the pen, but I honestly have never seen it done that way..

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-25-2009, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Herding Instinct Test?

Thanks for the replies. It was not through the AKC, but rather a trainer was putting it on at her farm. As I said, I don't know ANYTHING about herding. I saw this trainer mentioned favorably on this forum, and I looked up the site. They offer "herding instinct" tests monthly. I think it's more to hook people into herding lessons than anything else. They charged $50.00 to have the dogs look at sheep from across a fence. I could have driven down to a farm and let him see sheep for free! The good thing was that I got to spend the whole day with my buddy. I was also able to see that AKC obedience in a small ring might not be his cup of tea, but take him out in a field, and he is fantastic. We regained a lot of trust in each other, and I was able to really proof him on some exercises. So I know to forget about the CD for now, and try to get the BH. But for now, I'm still looking for a herding instructor. I'm in DE. Any ideas?
Oh, here's the potential big, bad sheep eater in question

Cinzar's Dark Shadow Too (Ruger) CGC, RN 1/8/05
SG Quinn Z Old Farm (Cues) IPO 3, KKL 6/7/09
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-25-2009, 05:57 PM
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Re: Herding Instinct Test?

cindy he's gorgeous!!!!

and ahh that explains it,,and 50$ !! HOLEY COW! I don't think I paid that to get certified !!

Sorry I'm not in that area so I don't know anyone who trains,,good luck to you and the 'sheep eater' LOL

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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-25-2009, 06:24 PM
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Re: Herding Instinct Test?

It depends on how far you are willing to travel, but there is a guy who does HGH-style herding in northern NJ. I have been going with one of mine for a couple of months, and she is doing REALLY well, I hope to title her next fall.
If you go up there he will do his own instinct test but an instinct test is not a guarantee that the dog can or can't herd - even if the dog shows interest in sheep, they can still flunk out later...especially with HGH herding! Some herding can be done through obedience vs. actual herding drive but not HGH herding...
The instinct test for HGH herding is not done in with the sheep either, the dog is on a line and you move along the fenceline to see how he/she reacts to the sheep.

Anyway I did do an instinct test at another farm a year or two ago - maybe it was the same one you went to?? Was it in PA? It sounded exactly the same, dog is on the outside of the pen w/ 4 sheep in the middle. Only dogs who didn't react to the sheep from outside of the pen were allowed to go in with them...I guess just for safety reasons.

I can send you the contact info for the guy in NJ if you'd be willing to travel...not sure if he is taking on more students at the moment but I can ask!

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-25-2009, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Herding Instinct Test?

Thanks so much. I'm predjudiced, so I think he's adorable. Has anyone had experience with fly away aussies? They are not too far from me.
Quote:
Originally Posted By: JakodaCD OAcindy he's gorgeous!!!!

and ahh that explains it,,and 50$ !! HOLEY COW! I don't think I paid that to get certified !!

Sorry I'm not in that area so I don't know anyone who trains,,good luck to you and the 'sheep eater' LOL

Cinzar's Dark Shadow Too (Ruger) CGC, RN 1/8/05
SG Quinn Z Old Farm (Cues) IPO 3, KKL 6/7/09
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 10:16 PM
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Re: Herding Instinct Test?

What would they look for in the dog reacting to the sheep?

Also how much obedience is expected of a dog for herding instinct test?

I have thought about having my girl tested, she would react similarly to a border collie, head down, intense stare, stalk. And likely chase if they were loose to run away, a nipping their flanks.

But she's not awfully obedient when she gets in that focus, though I think she could be with work, does a dog need to be responsive to voice commands while in high drive?

The lady that runs the rescue I got her from does competition Australian shepherd herding, she recommended having her tested when I adopted her as she was in their doggy day care and she said she herded all the other dogs, something she does at the dog park as well.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 11-01-2009, 11:10 PM
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Re: Herding Instinct Test?

I think sometimes tending is tested behind a fence.

Round pen the dog is in with the sheep. Not a lot of obedience is required. They usually leave a line on at first. The judge is "armed" with a crook or rake to defend sheep if needed.
I think you may be asked to demonstrate some control..like a down and recall of the dog.

From AKC

Once the dog is allowed to approach the livestock, the tester will be looking for sustained interest in controlling the livestock. This can be shown by the dog gathering the livestock, moving the livestock toward the handler, or moving them ahead of the handler in a driving position. A combination of any of these styles is acceptable. Boundary testing will have the tester watching for a dog that also shows a tendency to honor a border while showing sustained interest in working.

Dogs that cannot show enough control to work the stock in an acceptable manner will be removed at the tester's request.

At first glance, this description gives the impression that no prior training would be required. Technically, this is correct. However, the requirement for a stop and a recall is often a difficult one for novice dogs, especially for those with a lot of drive. Herding instinct is strong, and even the highest trained obedience dog has proven that they can and will forget even the basics when faced with the choice to listen to his Master or his instincts! Exhibitors should take into consideration that that a dog that is removed for a lack of a stop and recall is not necessarily being removed for a lack of instinct. Should this happen, maybe a little preparation before the next instinct test would be in order, to reinforce the stop and recall while in the pen with livestock.




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