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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-15-2008, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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Intro to sheep

My male puppy is 4 1/2 months so I took him to the sheep lady(smile...Good Friend..and Herding instructor), to see what his instincts were. This puppy has super sound temperament with people, you can take him anywhere, anytime, anynoise, and the tail is wagging. He also has good recovery on anything that overwhelms him(though I really never see him overwhelmed).
He is big confident puppy that is always grabbing my two year old female around the neck as he tries to drive her until see nails him, that stopps him for about 5 seconds then he's back.
Well, she puts him on long line in big pen with three big wooly sheep and her border collie.The border collie is completely trained and stays to the side unless she tells him to scatter the sheep for the trainer dog to regather. At first he was a little overwhelmed at these creatures, though tail waggin and no hackles up. The trainer has the BC scatter the sheep and then regather them. As he is regathering them the male puppy started following him in chasing them also. She then instructed BC to scatter and go to fence, the puppy then went to gather them on his own. One dominant big sheep tried to dominate him and he maneuvered behind him and gripped him on the flank. The sheep scurried back with the other two. She had him take the three down the field and only had to break him from gripping a couple times on the flanks. By the third time he released the grip on her first verbal command.
When she brought him out of the pen she was beaming and said to me and two other people, that had BC and Aust. shepherd, that this puppy is phenomenal for his age. The one sheep she had in there would run dogs up to a year if they were weak but he handled him easily. She tells me that his grip is very strong for a puppy but his confidence and response to letting go was excellent and a sign of superior nerves. She says(laughing) it would be a travesty if I don't work this dog on sheep towards a title. I smiled, as he goes to training with me and older dogs now and I let him watch. I don't start formal obedience until one year so maybe I will let him have a couple more months of the sheep.
Felt pretty good about the little big guy.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-15-2008, 09:41 PM
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Re: Intro to sheep

Wow it sounds like an outsatanding outing. What are the lines of your pup? And where in the world are the pictures.


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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-15-2008, 09:42 PM
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Re: Intro to sheep

I think that's awesome! I've always wanted to try one of my shepherds out in sheep herding.

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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-15-2008, 10:37 PM
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Re: Intro to sheep

Wow! You must be beaming with pride! Very impressive!

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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-15-2008, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Intro to sheep

His lines are DDR/West/Czech. His father is from PA, Andy Maly Vah. I did not think to take pics today as I was waiting to respond to how he did. When I go next week I will take some pics.
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-16-2008, 10:44 AM
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Re: Intro to sheep

I had my puppy instinct tested last August and was hooked right off the bat. Herding is addictive. They should post a warning at the gate before you ever try it.
So, I hooked up with a trainer in my area and entered my guy in his first sheep dog trial when he was 11 months old. He qualified on his first run, but lost his mind the next day and was NQ. We have been working hard these last few weeks and have entered another trial that is set for this May. In fact, we head out for practice in an hour or two.
I had no idea that different breeds have different working styles. GSD's are called loose-eyed, upright herders. They have a totally different style from BC's and need training that reflects their style. There are a lot of BC trainers, but in some areas you have to look hard to find someone who knows how to train and work with a loose-eyed breed. It is such a thrill to see my dog do what the breed was created to do. And for us to work together as a team? It is beyond thrilling.
I would have one piece of advice, though. Use caution about putting a young puppy on a dominant sheep. In the beginning, you want the dog/pup to be successful and all it takes is getting challenged once by a big, pushy sheep to make them lose confidence and interest, especially when they are youngsters.
Good luck! You are going to have so much fun!
Sheilah
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-16-2008, 11:14 AM
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Re: Intro to sheep

Herding interests me, and at some point I'd like to check it out. I don't know how easy that will be since I live in the suburbs of Chicago.

John
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-16-2008, 01:37 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Intro to sheep

Sheila,
Thanks for the encouragement and advice. The insructor is very aware of this and asked me should I remove the one that Max dealt with.(She knows I have been in shepherds forever and its not my first dog working with her on sheep). I told her to leave that one in, as Max had been herding my 2 years old female with constantly gripping her in the shoulder, and believe me, she nails him sometime. He just shakes it off and comes back again. That is one of his endearing traits, that is his ability to recover from adversity and then reengage. He is a big puppy and has rock solid nerve, I was pretty sure he would handle the situation. Not saying he can't be run by the right sheep, but this boy is very tough mentally for his age and physically he is very strong. He looks like 6 month puppy. Afterwards, the insructor told me she would have ordinarily taken the strongest one out for a puppy, but she knows the temperament of my dogs and she figured he would be alright.
Thanks again!
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-16-2008, 05:44 PM
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Re: Intro to sheep

That is kind of funny for me, as my own dog was very strong and confident when we started, too. He was 3-4 months older than your pup when we started, but he was positive that he had it all covered. He was a dog that really needed dominant sheep to work. Otherwise he ran them over, gripped way too much and was just obnoxious.
With experience and some maturity he can actually control himself and work lighter sheep now. At least, he can sometimes!
I have been involved with dogs my whole life. My parents started out in the AKC conformation ring with the GSD in the 60's and they are the breed for me. I have done conformation, obedience and agility. But herding is where it is at for me. Once I started I was hooked for well and good.
Keep at it. The herding world needs to see our breed out there, doing their thing!
Sheilah
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-16-2008, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Intro to sheep

I understand what you are saying. The instructor has some sheep that are tougher than the ones that were in there and I would not have let Max in with them. I had seen these sheep work with the two previous dogs and didn't think they would shake him. Also, Max has been attending Sch training since he was 5 weeks observing the older dogs and he shows much strength in the work. One of the reasons I took him at this age is so he would be familar with scent, actions, activation of his prey drives, and gripping, while he is just a puppy. I didn't want to wait to 12 months because I know Max is so strong, I didn't want to introduce him after I have started him in Sch and yet didn't have the obedience foundation. I don't start formal obedience until my dogs are 12 months so as to not inhibit other areas I work on(tracking/protection development).
So I am with you on the need to be careful, (I put a CD, CDX on a dog in 1971), but for right now this allows me to let him be free in prey drive. You are also right about the gripping. Right now I find this avenue as a way to allow him to run in high prey drive at a young age with no pressure. At eight to ten months it will be time to really start working on his title in Sch and then I hope to have two arenas to have fun with him. What I like about him is he isn't hyped as a dog(actually pretty laid back) until he is turned on then his intensity is very strong but then he settles down when stimulus is removed. A dog after my heart....once again Thanks..Sheila.
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