Ayla ~ Herding Foundation & Stock Manners - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 87 (permalink) Old 12-14-2015, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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Ayla ~ Herding Foundation & Stock Manners

Now that my little girl is six months old, she was formally evaluated and passed her HIC eval last week. Let the journey begin....

Her written critique was pretty darn exciting (if I do say so myself), and probably the best part is that she shows "Medium Eye", which isn't terribly common in GSD's - most are loose-eyed. My other GSD works loose-eyed, so this is very exciting to me. Readily corrected, works silently (no nonsense barking), and other really promising comments. This week we're starting real lessons, and I couldn't be happier.





Since she's young, we'll be training formally once a week. On off-days, we'll be continuing work on livestock manners, at home and at friends' properties. Her poultry manners are improving, though she isn't calm enough to go into the coop and collect eggs yet (that one takes a while, but we're getting closer). The goal is for her to watch me, which is a pretty big feat when feathery lunches are squawking around you. It's a good sign when the birds settle down and start to eat when the dog in the pen - they can tell when a dog is bonkers, and when the dog is under control.



We also started the slow, patient process of acclimating her to our LGD (livestock guardian donkey). It's a two-way street - the donkey needs to learn that she's an "acceptable" canine, not a coyote or stray dog. She needs to learn that the donkey is un-herdable, and must be left alone. This isn't something to rush, so right now the goal is calm sniffing through the fence.



This will be the second GSD I've trained for herding work. It's 90% exciting, but 10% daunting when I think that we're starting from square one, especially when I look back at all of the obstacles and struggles I went through with my first dog (pictured below).... who is now sensible and trustworthy around all creatures great and small. I'm very proud of what I did with my first dog, but I have much bigger hopes and goals for Ayla.... wish us luck.

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post #2 of 87 (permalink) Old 12-14-2015, 05:34 PM
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That is so awesome!

Train the dog in front of you.
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post #3 of 87 (permalink) Old 12-14-2015, 06:20 PM
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Very impressive!

Garrison - GSD
Cupid - terrier mix (shelter rescue)
Stella Artois - lab/boxer (?) mix (shelter rescue)
Saranac - Siberian Husky
3 kitties, 1 goldfish, 1 cockatiel
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post #4 of 87 (permalink) Old 12-14-2015, 07:26 PM
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Superstar gorgeous girl. She is going to have a very exciting future.
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post #5 of 87 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 10:09 AM
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I have no idea what "medium and loose eye" is.

But love the pics, love to see GSDs doing the herding work.

Congrats on a very promising start!
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post #6 of 87 (permalink) Old 12-15-2015, 11:53 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwenhwyfair View Post
I have no idea what "medium and loose eye" is.
In a nutshell, it's a measure of how intensely the dog stares at the sheep - exerting pressure with their eyes, to make them move or cooperate. The best example of a strong-eyed breed is a working border collie.

The other end of the spectrum, loose-eyed breeds ("upright workers") use body pressure, barking, gripping (or ankle/hock nipping like a cattle dog). They don't stare down the stock, and tend to be more physical. They can be significantly more challenging to work with small groups of livestock and/or in small spaces, like pens, or sorting.

So a GSD that is showing some intense "eye" is really nice, since it means that the dog has that instinct as a tool to use. You can't train "eye" into a dog, it's either there or it isn't. The more tools they have in their toolbox (so to speak), the more adaptable and useful they may be, in a variety of situations. Sometimes eye is enough. Sometimes it's not. But adaptability is awesome when you're dealing with livestock, where every animal can be a wildcard.

~~~

Thank you guys for the nice comments, it's really nice to have some people to share our stories with. When I get excited about working sheep, most people think I'm nuts.
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post #7 of 87 (permalink) Old 12-16-2015, 11:40 AM
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Thank you for the explanation. If I ever have the opportunity would love to learn about herding more.

Keep on sharing!
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post #8 of 87 (permalink) Old 01-05-2016, 03:34 PM Thread Starter
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Progress continues, even in the recent crud weather we're enjoying in the Midwest.

Like every dog I've ever owned, she has decided that the straw shed & hay bale piles are simply the best thing in the world. Obviously, I buy them just for her.





This morning I was so happy, she did her first "Real Work". By my definition, that means she helped me get something done, and made it easier than me doing it alone. The geese do not belong in the garage, but they try to sneak in when it's cold so they can steal corn, poop on the floor, and cause other mischief. We were able to group them into an orderly cluster and push them into the back of the building, so I could open the door and evict them back outdoors where they belong. If you look closely, you can see that her lead is loose. Not by much - but I'll take it. She's just starting to develop the confidence to stand still (quietly) and maintain eye contact, without freaking out the birds.

Trials and precise maneuvers are wonderful, but sometimes it's the simple day-to-day help that means the most. How I love this little dog.

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post #9 of 87 (permalink) Old 01-05-2016, 03:57 PM
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I'm also enjoying your posts!I can't think of any better life for our dogs than to be our helpers and companions.

Terri

Samson Blk/Slvr GSD. RN
Misty Husky Mix
Z-Z Terrier/potato mix
Devo Yorkie Mix at the bridge
Dakota Wht GSD at the bridge
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post #10 of 87 (permalink) Old 01-20-2016, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
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Workin' Woolies in the snow, just shy of 8 months old.

Two primary goals right now.... 1. Learning self control, and 2. Building calm confidence.

It's wonderful to watch a 40lb puppy come into her own, and understand that she can control large animals that are 3-4 times her size. You can literally see the "Aha!" moments when instinct and obedience combine, and good things happen.

Off the stock, we're working on the all-important 'Stand' around distractions, and giving commands in a quiet voice to encourage her to listen closely for all verbal cues.



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