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