Starting Training

round pens, walkabouts, getting a down, calling off . . .

Allowing a Dog To Learn

ALLOWING A DOG TO LEARN by Michelle Weese, Lock-Eye Border Collies What we as stock dog trainers like to do most is COMMAND. “Go bye, way to me, down, walk up, what are you doing?, hey get out, get back, lie down, look back!” Did you ever notice that you feel the most proud when your dog gathers stock that’s out of sight and you can’t shout commands? Stockdogs have the instinct to work well on their own, we just…

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The Australian Cattle Dog Outrun

TRAINING THE OUTRUN ON THE AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG by Steve Waltenburg, Trails End Kennel Training the outrun actually starts with the introduction of the dog to stock. From this point forward, the goal is to get the dog on the other side of the stock to the point of balance. The stockdog’s reward is to be able to work stock, so keep this in mind when training. Being allowed to work stock after improperly performing an element of training, such…

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Finding A Herding Instructor

CONSIDERATIONS AND CAVEATS ON FINDING A HERDING INSTRUCTOR With Apologies to Everyone From Whom I Have Stolen Ideas and Advice by Kay Spencer So, you have an Australian Shepherd and have a desire to learn how to move stock with your dog. You’ve realized that you won’t get anywhere except into trouble, without experienced help (perfectly true).What are some of the things you should think about before embarking on this project? Mainly, you need to decide why you want to…

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Training the Essentials

TRAINING THE ESSENTIALS by Charles O’Reilly Common Mistakes In the last issue I covered two of the more common mistakes that owners of working dogs make during the first year or so of the dog’s life. Those two mistakes are: (1) Allowing the dog to work on its own without any supervision. So many bad habits develop because of this poor management practice that it may be impossible for you, the owner, or anyone else to correct them after several…

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Positive Reinforcement, Negative Reinforcement, and Punishment

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT, NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT AND PUNISHMENT by Kirk Moses (Working Aussie Source note: Kirk Moses is a successful trainer and handler of Border Collies for sheepdog trials, who at the time of this article’s publication, lived in Cedar City, Utah. ) I would like to clarify some terms relative to training dogs which I see misused in articles and hear misused in conversations as a matter of course, by even the most talented of trainers. The terms I am referring…

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Starting Cowdogs on Cows or Sheep?

QUESTION AND ANSWER: STARTING COWDOGS ON SHEEP? YES OR NO? Question: I just got 2 pups, two different breeds. I have 280 head of momma cows and 60 replacement heifers. They have never been worked by a dog. My question: Do I need to buy some sheep or goats to start the pups in their training? My pens and fences will not hold sheep/goats so I would have to go to some effort to build something. What would be the…

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Training a Young Aussie to Run Wide

TRAINING A YOUNG AUSSIE TO RUN WIDE ON STOCK “PLAYING THE GET BACK GAME” by Mari Taggart Morrison Probably the two biggest complaints I hear from Aussie owners at training clinics is that their dog works too close and too fast. These sound like separate problems — but in fact they are one problem, and they are not hard to correct if nipped in the bud early, or if the dog is properly started at the beginning. The most common…

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Creating a Training Partnership

CREATING A TRAINING PARTNERSHIP by Mari Taggart Morrison Training a working sheepdog is an art form as well as a sport and necessity. We marvel at the racecar driver’s abilities, or at the basketball player’s fine jump shot, but tend to overlook the complexity of the sheepdog trainer’s job as a sportsman, and the dog’s as an athlete. The trainer must work in exceptional harmony with not just a dog, but with sheep as well. There are some trainers who…

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What, Where, and How

WHAT, WHEN, AND HOW an interview with Australian cattleman Tony McCallum by the staff of Ranch Dog Trainer Magazine Working in different types of terrain, most of it heavy timber or mountains, means that Tony McCallum, New South Wales, Australia, sends his dogs for stock that can’t be gotten to on horseback. Tony emphatically states, “In a lot of areas in Australia it’s not ‘`do people use dogs there’, rather, if they run stock in that country they have dogs.…

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Developing Power

THE WORKING AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD: DEVELOPING HIS POWER by Terry Martin In the last article about using Australian Shepherds as cattle dogs, we discussed a few ways of introducing your pup or young dog to cattle. On a ranch there will be limited opportunities to do the things you would like to do with this dog. If your situation consists only of cows with calves out on large pastures you might want to wait until you wean some calves to start…

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The Aussie Style and Outrun

THE AUSSIE STYLE AND OUTRUN by Terry Martin I have said the ideal Australian Shepherd is one who will grip both the head and the heels. Every ranch or farm has unique situations that the dog will encounter. When stock are refusing to move, the dog or man has to use some kind of force. If they are facing and challenging the dog, he is going to have to be able to handle a confrontational head situation or nothing is…

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Thoughts On Driving

THOUGHTS ON DRIVING by Dana MacKenzie Some thoughts on driving: 1. From about the third exposure to sheep on, as I enter the training area on lead, I ask the dog to “walk up” and “stop”, “walk up” and “stop” etc., as we approach the stock. Secrets: a. This actually starts before you enter the training area, when you take your dog out of his kennel or crate. All you are trying to do is get your dog to include…

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Developing the Whole Cattle Dog: Beginning Work

DEVELOPING THE WHOLE CATTLEDOG Part 3: Beginning Work by Rusty Johnson If I remember right, we left off last time socializing. Before we move on I want to state: “Even though we are now trying to teach the pup something, socializing should NEVER stop!” The more the pup stays with you the easier training will be. This is especially true if you have a Kelpie. Kelpies, as a whole, are a more independent thinking breed than Border Collies or Australian…

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Building Strength in a Young Dog

BUILDING STRENGTH IN A YOUNG DOG by Rusty Johnson Let me say first on this subject, that training a dog is like sculpting a beautiful statue. The statue was there all along. The artist simply chips away the stone that is not part of the statue. However, if there are too many serious faults in vital places or the hammer is used too much or too hard, when you chip away the unwanted portions, the whole thing will fall apart.…

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Getting a Stop

GETTING A STOP by Anne Jespersen Question: I wanted to start herding and slowly I am, but how do I get my dog to stop on command? Once she is on the sheep she won’t stop. I try to get her to down – nothing; come—nothing, so I walk away and call her from the house, and then it clicks that I have left her and she comes. Anne responds: I try hard not to put the dogs in a…

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The Drive

DRIVE by Hub Holmes I believe that the most important aspect of training a stockdog is the “drive”. Drive is the dog’s desire to work, chase, maul, and otherwise wreak havoc on the livestock. So many dogs that come to our training center have a low drive level, both manmade and natural, that we spend a lot of our time building the drive to acceptable levels. People cause these problems because they do not understand the development of a young…

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Teaching Grip, or Unbridled Enthusiasm

“UNBRIDLED ENTHUSIASM” or TEACHING TO GRIP by Mark Hodges Ad Astra Halcyon or “Hallie” had a firm grip on what the command “Get Ahold” meant in the context of our play in the house and the back yard. She knew that whatever target object I held in my hand was the focus of her bite. It was time to apply this skill to the stock. A friend had been coming to the farm to prepare her dog for its first…

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Rebuilding Confidence

REBUILDING CONFIDENCE by Laura Hicks Confidence. It is such an all encompassing word. A dog needs it to work stock well. It is also something that is developed and built upon with time and experience. Unfortunately it’s also a fragile element. Bad experiences can shake a dog’s confidence just as the good experiences build upon it. Once you have established a solid foundation of mutual trust with a dog, it seems to be a bit harder to completely destroy a…

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The Importance of Avoiding One-Sidedness

PREPARE YOUR HERDING DOG PROPERLY FOR HIS WORK: The Importance of Avoiding One-Sidedness by Linda C. Franklin Frequently I notice in testing dogs for herding instinct that a dog is appreciably stronger and freer-moving in one direction than the other. Those new to herding don’t always pick up on this point early on and often fall into the habit of allowing their dog to select which direction he wishes to travel. If you’re going to need two directions on your…

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Balance and Pacing

BALANCE AND PACING by Bruce Fogt Throughout the entire training process and the life of the dog, I am always trying to build balance or keep it in the dog. Balance can be taken out of a dog if you never let it develop, or if you don’t let the dog think on its own. A dog that is trained only to take commands and is not allowed to work on its own will never have a chance to develop…

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Pressure

PRESSURE by CynDee Cooper Pressure comes in many different forms. There is pressure from a trainer, pressure from livestock, and pressure from the environment. Understanding pressure and how it works is one of the keys to training and using a stockdog. Training Pressure When a person starts a young dog in their training they use various forms of pressure. As an example: in order to get a dog to the other side of livestock the trainer makes it uncomfortable for…

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Training Secrets of the Pros

TRAINING SECRETS OF THE PROS by CynDee Cooper They must have secrets! They consistently train dogs that are useful, willing workers. Some of their dogs have become legends. “They” are the renowned trainers. A wealth of knowledge and an insight into their training secrets can be gained by spending even a few minutes working with trainers such as these. Having had an opportunity to observe, talk to and, in some cases, work with these sages of stock dog training, I…

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Starting the Stockdog

STARTING THE STOCKDOG An interview with Sherry Baker by Kay Spencer For fifty years, Twin Oaks Australian Shepherds in Galt, California has provided ranchers and stockdog trialers with sound, stock-savvy using dogs. Although the founder of the kennel, Audrey Klarer, is still a large part of the operation, her daughter Sherry Baker has become one of the preemininent Aussie stockdog trainers in the country. Sherry is the breeder, trainer, and handler of two ASCA Supreme Champion stockdogs, meaning a dog…

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Confidence and Bite

CONFIDENCE AND BITE by L.R. Alexander Just because a dog bites the nose and heels of an animal does not make him a cattle dog. He can have balance, speed, eye and concentration, and still not make a good tough farm dog. All of the above are great but if he doesn’t have confidence when working cattle he is not the help he could be. I have said for many years lack of confidence or fear, which usually is the…

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