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DH and I will have approximately 50-some days of terminal leave during which we're going to get ready to move to his new duty station (wherever that may be), and making the actual move at the end of that - sometime around the beginning of March. We will have sometime in January and February and want to take Abby for her Herding Instinct Test before we move.

There's a place near us, Keepstone Farm, that offers the test. It's $30 and takes about 15 minutes. They do them year round, so doing it in January or February won't be a problem.

Is there anything I need to know about the test?

Does anyone know anything about the evaluator / trainer at this location? Susan Rhoades?

My other question is, is there herding pretty much anywhere in the US if we wanted to pursue this further with lessons? We don't know yet where we'll be moving to although it is likely that we may be going back to the Fort Eustis (southern VA, Newport News area) area.
 

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We went into our first herding instinct test with really no clue (the dogs had seen sheep before and were quite interested so we thought we would give it a try). If I remember correctly, we had the dogs outside the pen with us watching other dogs herd to get them "excited" and interested. We brought the dogs into a pen leashed. We then let let go of the leash (they drug it around the pen) to see what they would do. They instinctively knew what to do. Of course, they did feel the need to grip the sheep occasionally (or try to), but they have pretty much gotten over that (since it isn't allowed in AKC trials). The instructor gave us a crook and she was occasionally in the pen with us showing the humans what to do! A lot of it (the first time or two) was seeing what the dogs would do on their own. Then we got into getting them to circle in both directions, backing off the sheep more, and walking up to the sheep (and not us).

I would defintely bring an old crappy leash with you (it may get dragged through the pen full of sheep poop). We bring towels when we go as well - they tend to get pretty dirty after their herding lesson.

Have fun and take lots of pictures!
 

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It really is about 'instinct' and watching what your dog will do when near the sheep. I've had Elsa tested and she got to chase them from the start IN the pen. But Bretta was initially only allowed outside the pen, then we entered with the long dragging line.
 

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I believe the place where we're going will have the dog outside first and then inside the pen on a long line or something similar. I will bring my ASAT lead in case she needs to have her own leash to drag around. (It's made from an easily cleaned material.)
 

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I think a lot of it depends on how the person giving the test trains. There are numerous herding "venues" and each does it a little different.
 

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When we did ours, I was surprised that the first thing the tester asked was "Has he been trained in Schutzhund?" If I had said yes, I wonder if I would have been allowed to continue??!!

The experience was pretty much what others have said. We had never seen sheep before. The tester supplied a long line and recommended gloves. Dingo was allowed in with me handling him, the tester beside me with the crook. When he got a little over zealous, the tester blocked Ding's legs with the crook to slow him down. Lasted 10-15 minutes.

Mary
 

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When I went, the dogs were started outside the pen, and only the ones that showed little to no drive were moved inside with the sheep.

gagsd_pup1 - I think if the evaluator knew a lot about schutzhund they might be more confident about letting the dog in the pen off lead. If the dog has a reliable out, and strong obedience required in schutzhund, they might have let you go in with no line on the dog.

In general, GSDs do best in tending style herding (HGH or AkC C-course) and there are not a lot of places in the USA that train this way. It is getting more popular though. I would ask the evaluator and see if she knows other places in the state that you can go to for training.
 

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Quote: I think if the evaluator knew a lot about schutzhund they might be more confident about letting the dog in the pen off lead. If the dog has a reliable out, and strong obedience required in schutzhund, they might have let you go in with no line on the dog.
I never thought of that.... The tester could have just said does he have an out


Wish I could find someone in this area with C-course experience!

Mary
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all the info. It's definitely appreciate and I'm looking forward to setting our date and having Abby evaluated.

Abby has met sheep before but they were petting zoo sheep that crowded around the fence. She was interested in sniffing them and checking them out from the other side of the fence. Not sure what she would have done if she were in the pen with them, though. I think she most likely will try to herd. I've seen her attempt to herd other dogs at the park, my cats at home, and soldiers at the Reserve center.
 

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I want to try this test with Kenya! My fears are that she will either 1) be scared of the sheep or 2) bite them too much. She is really herdy with our other dog (who likes rough play and is herdy with her as well). She circles and circles, then chases him around, biting his front shoulder and back thighs. She never really bites though, it's more mouthing (and he does the same to her, so neither dog cares). If she does that too the sheep will the shepherd person freak out? I don't want her to hurt the sheep. With the dog, she will stop and come back to me if I call her off.
 

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Kenya might just stop and be easily called off like she does now playing with your other dog. Most people will ask you to sign a form saying that "if you break it (the sheep); you bought it." Sheep are not that expensive but of course nobody wants to see another animal being hurt. You can have her dragging a long line so she can be controlled if she can't be called off.
 

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I have thought about doing that just for the heck of it but if a dog is used to and has been trained to ignore farm animals and has worked around them - ..........would that throw off the test?
 

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Quote: but if a dog is used to and has been trained to ignore farm animals and has worked around them - ..........would that throw off the test?
Yes, it will. That is exactly what happened with my girl when I took her for her first two instincts tests! Fortunately, on the second try, I met a trainer who actually asked me questions about my dog before trying to evaluate her. She wanted to know what sort of training the dog had, if she had exposure to livestock, her reactions, etc. That trainer also gave her a good chance at "turning on" before just dismissing her. As it turns out, the herding instinct is there, but I had just squashed it in ignorance and fear that she would get hurt while "chasing" another animal.

The tester is looking for the "instinct" to herd. So, you aren't supposed to coach the dog. Like I said before, fortunately I had someone who was very knowledgable and patient. When in doubt, my dog kept coming back to heel position! Go ahead and try the test! But don't be discouraged if you don't pass the first time!
 

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Thanks for the info - I would like to try that out - I think there is a group in upstate SC that does this.
 

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Quote:When we did ours, I was surprised that the first thing the tester asked was "Has he been trained in Schutzhund?" If I had said yes, I wonder if I would have been allowed to continue??!!
I remembered you said this on the board when we went for our test yesterday. Our tester asked us this as well. She explained that she asks this because she uses a stick to direct the dog and deter the dog from biting the sheep, while Schutzhund uses sticks to agitate dogs.
 

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I never would have thought of that!!
It makes sense I guess, one young dog at our schutzhund club has actually been targeting the stick lately instead of the sleeve:) For my own dogs, I doubt it would be an issue because the stick and the staff are used so differently.

How did your test go?

Mary
 

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Quote:How did your test go?
Quite well, thanks.


Unfortunately we won't be able to train with our evaluator since we'll be moving mid-March, but we are on the lookout for a good trainer in the region we're moving to and we may start to pursue herding. Abby sure loves running after the sheep.
 
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