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Question: can a high prey drive dog learn to herd sheep without having them for dinner? Deja is almost 2 years old and has recently been "cured" of wild life chasing, which didn't have anything to do with herding!
 

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Yup, my male who I do herding with is very high prey drive. It takes a lot more work though, he has to wear a muzzle and we use his electric collar but it can be done with a lot of patience. :) He has bitten the stock many times and has pulled one to the ground, the key is finding a trainer who is familiar with gsds and loose eyed dogs.

And yes Eva is a very high prey drive working line pup, this is a big reason why she was on leash. I think otherwise she'd have gotten herself hurt lol.
 

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If you think that puppy is anything but "high prey drive" look up the pedigree and then a few videos of the parents. In either case, balance is key and using that drive to teach a dog a skill is the most important thing. To put it simply, yes, high prey drive dogs can be taught to herd. The more extended explanation would use a lot of terms and would get extremely convoluted as to where one drive/term ends and another begins and how a dog understands what it needs to do in regards to the various activities and skills we try to teach our dogs.
 

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Also herding drive and prey drive are not quite the same thing... Before dogs are allowed to herd they must pass an instinct test. If the dog is only trying to kill the stock and not showing any instinct then generally they are not allowed to train but as in Ollie's case he showed a lot of nice instinct, he just has a lot of drive and likes to bite. His foundation work has just been slower with a lot of hard corrections, etc. Like I said it can be done if the instinct is there, you will just need to spend more time teaching them what is and isn't acceptable behavior.
 

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putting a muzzle and an e-collar on a dog while 'teaching' an instinctive genetic part of the dog is normal? I've only done tending which is more border patrolling. Do many dogs need the muzzle and e-collar for herding?
 

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putting a muzzle and an e-collar on a dog while 'teaching' an instinctive genetic part of the dog is normal? I've only done tending which is more border patrolling. Do many dogs need the muzzle and e-collar for herding?
When teaching him not to bite the stock yes it is normal, we're not teaching him 'how' to herd with those tools. My instructor owns and trains GSD's and has done national level trials and taken first place with them so yeah I trust his advice. :) I wish I had access to tending style herding but we don't have it out here.
 

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I would not try it if it required muzzle and e-collar. Not a "sport" to me.
Could they learn from observing a good herder?
 

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I would not try it if it required muzzle and e-collar. Not a "sport" to me.
Could they learn from observing a good herder?
We are only using these tools to teach him not to bite, once that's a non issue then they come off. The main reason we're using an ecollar is because of my autoimmune disease, I lost a lot of muscle strength and cannot correct him properly with the herding stick. You certainly don't have to use an ecollar if you don't want to. I just consider it an extra tool on the belt to help me.
 

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This is really interesting since I live in a sheep farming area and the first thing I did when I got my GSD puppy was to talk to the local shepherd and ask about how I could train her NOT to react to the sheep. (He could legally shoot her if she was considered to be worrying the sheep.)

In Scotland, GSDs are sadly not considered "sheep dogs", but since I have a good relationship with local farmers, I'd love to improve their reputation!
 

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Having owned and worked several herding breeds of border collies, yes, prey drive is what you want. The instinct to chase moving objects, to hunt/kill/eat/survive. That's the very drive you would seek in any new herding dog. No prey drive, (and you do get them occasionally from working lines), are no good, they don't survive on farms generally. They are generally shot in a farming world. Personally, i couldnt do this, but have several memories of this occurring for our working dogs:(

Can a herder learn simply from watching a trained herder? No, a dog will not learn the right lessons, it will learn all the bad tricks of the other dog too. Consider the behaviours on cue a herder requires? Prey drive is not enough. Focus and control of its own prey drive for the handler, cannot be taught a pup by another dog. Time in training with handler does that.

As a herder, I would say The GSD has the fault of deciding it knows better than the handler, what comes next, whereas you tend to see this less in collies, koolies or kelpies. (most popular herders in Austrlia). Also, mine gets too hot on 45 degree days to work, where the other breeds mentioned are fine. Its common for a dog not to drink when working, so dehydration is a real problem for my GSD when im working him in summer months.

Mine only herds twice a year. With 6 months break in between. Never does he forget how, or the commands. His drive to play this 'game' is intensely self reinforcing him. It beats fetch a ball any day according to berne!

We play treiball for fun. This too is better than fetch a ball according the bernie. And i can teach it from a sofa indoors if i wish!
Treiball: Sheep herding where the 'sheep' are yoga exercise balls. I also use ducks and geese to train him with, as that's all i have access to all year round.
When Bernie was learning, he'd try to bite the ball initially, so he had to first learn to control his own behaviour. I over inflate the ball, so a bite will burst it easily.
'Act of god' explosion upon pup biting is generally sufficient as a one off lesson to the dog. The 'sheep' dies instantly and ends the game. Pup wanted to keep playing, and now he's blown his opportunity, quite literally.

puncture repair kits make treiball sheep immortal, so no harm done.
 

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putting a muzzle and an e-collar on a dog while 'teaching' an instinctive genetic part of the dog is normal? I've only done tending which is more border patrolling. Do many dogs need the muzzle and e-collar for herding?

I have never seen both together before (just ecollar yes). Paisley is high prey drive (chases and has caught small wildlife) and has never once bitten stock, even doing course a and b type stuff. It is two separate things for her. She also doesn't need an ecollar while herding. Not sure that is a sport I would pursue if both muzzle and ecollar were needed (have done ecollar on past dog, but wouldn't do if I needed both I don't think). That being said, I know Carrie has a knowledgeable trainer.
 

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Regarding prey drive and herding, the way it was taught to me is that all predatory behavior follows this cycle:

Eye. Stalk. Chase. Bite. Kill. Eat.

All herding behavior is trained and derived from this instinct. Without prey drive, you will never have a herding dog. Where herding differs from hunting is that you insert a control after Chase. The shepherd (human) is the coordinator of the hunt, and the dog must direct the sheep in accordance with the human's wishes.

This is how my herding instructor explains the basic concept, and she probably has more WTCH titles than I have pairs of pants. It makes a lot of sense, when you think about canine behavior. Of course, many other things factor in.... intelligence, bidability, athleticism, and so on. But at its very base level.... without prey drive, you cannot herd.

This is one of the reasons that teaching avoidance (ex: DO NOT CHASE THE SHEEP! DO NOT CHASE THE CHICKENS!) is not usually how stockdog puppies are raised. If you harshly correct the dog for showing interest, it may learn to avoid the stock. And in other cases (ex: neighbor raises sheep), that is exactly what you want. But for dogs with a future in stock work, it is often better to avoid livestock entirely than to have a negative experience early on. That's why some instructors, especially with novice handlers, will not instinct test until 6 months, or older.

When you have an experienced trainer and handler, it can be a different matter entirely.
 
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