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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Teaching the “Stubborn” Stockdog to Lie Down

TEACHING THE “STUBBORN” STOCKDOG TO LIE DOWN Mary Taggart Morrison Many beginning trainers have difficulty getting their stockdog to lie down when they tell him to on the stock. Teaching a dog to stop by lying down is very simple providing you understand the way a dog thinks. The lie down command is used in training to control the speed of a dog’s approach to the livestock, which in turn controls the speed the stock travels. Most people want their…

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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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Pre-herding Training

PRE-HERDING TRAINING by Anne Shope Many people we’ve come across do some puppy preparation for herding; the normal sits, downs, stays, and walk up. Specifically, working on the down away from the handler is crucial. Lots of dogs only want to down at their handler’s feet. Lots of dogs are dependent upon eye contact with a handler to obey. It’s important to change their focus as you’ll want their eye ideally on their stock. Fetch games can be incorporated into…

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Selecting a Pup for Stockwork

SELECTING A PUP FOR STOCK WORK by Tony Rohne “with help from Red” Buying the right pup is the backbone of a good training program. Without the proper homework, just walking up to a pen full of pretty pups and picking the one that is the most aggressive, or the most curious, or the most intelligent acting won’t get you very far. There are many internal traits, as described below, that are totally hidden from the observer when the pups…

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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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Starting the Drive

STARTING DRIVING by Melinda May, Dicky Renn, Jamie Burns, Maarten Walter, Kathi Schwengel Melinda May— I have a problem training the drive . . . mostly on sheep. I can get Beau to drive pretty well on cattle with a few corrections when he starts to over flank. He’s not rough on cattle but he works real intense. On sheep he’s pretty tight and I spend all my time getting him out, slowing him down, working on getting him to…

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Fixing the Outrun: Initial Shaping

FIXING THE OUTRUN: INITIAL SHAPING Question and Answer Forum from Ranch Dog Trainer Magazine by H.J. Cannon Jr. and Kent Kuykendall QUESTION: In most training articles the pup always gets on the back side of the sheep and they proceed from that point. I have a young dog that runs straight to the sheep and chases them. She will cut one out and try to run it down. I have had a hip replaced twice and I’m not speedy enough…

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Fixing the outrun–crossing over

FIXING THE OUTRUN: CROSSING OVER Question and Answer Forum from Ranch Dog Trainer Magazine QUESTION: I have a dog that I sent to the trainer. He stayed 3 months and is fairly finished. While at the trainers he was going out really well on his outruns. Now that I have him home he is trying to cross-over about half-way up the field. This happens almost all of the time when I go to a new place and some of the…

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Flipping Away on One Flank

FLIPPING AWAY ON ONE FLANK by Melinda May, Anne Jespersen, Tenley Dexter, Marsha Westerman Melinda–I’m looking for suggestions on positioning and timing for how to correct a pup that is short sided on one flank. I’ve got a pup that is just starting on stock. We are working on the “shuffle” and using moderately heavy groupy ewes, not knee knockers that would follow me whatever the pup is doing…the pup has to be fairly correct. He is working quietly and…

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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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Using “Aggressive-Dominance” Techniques with Close-running Sheep Dogs

USING “AGGRESSIVE DOMINANCE” TECHNIQUES WITH CLOSE- RUNNING SHEEP DOGS by Mari Taggart Morrison The ideal gathering dog is one who runs as wide as we ask him to so that as he circles the sheep they are unafraid of his approach. Many dogs respond well to the body movements and cane position of the trainer – they are easy to get out wide and sensitive to simple things like the trainer moving toward them, urging them away from the sheep.…

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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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Enhancing Heeling Instinct

ENHANCING HEELING INSTINCT by Terry Martin I certainly appreciate the contact I have had from the readership with ranch dogs. Several of you asked for ideas about how to get a dog to heel who will not do so or seldom bites heels in daily work. I also had an interesting conversation with a man whose cows are, in his words, “death on a dog”. In the last issue, I included suggestions on developing the power of your dog by…

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Some Common Mistakes People Make When Training the Loose-Eyed Dog

SOME COMMON MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN TRAINING THE LOOSE-EYED DOG by Dana MacKenzie The term “Loose-eyed” refers to dogs which do not work with the intense eye or concentration of the Border Collie type dog or its derivatives. In general, we are very “early ” in our attempts to train dogs, having only started with the emergence of ASCA, AHBA, and AKC trialing programs. Our teachers have been Border Collie trainers, books and tapes authored by Border Collie trainers and…

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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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Working Corners

WORKING CORNERS by Butch Larson The purpose of working corners is to build confidence and to teach your dog the correct way to approach livestock in a tight spot. So many times have I seen a dog run in at the pen or at an arena trial because the dog felt the pressure from the fence and the livestock. If a dog runs in when one is working cattle, he could possibly get his head kicked off. Placing yourself in…

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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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The Whole Cattledog : Side Commands

DEVELOPING THE WHOLE CATTLEDOG PART SIX: Side Commands by Rusty Johnson I will include this part of the series because this is what everyone wants. It seems like everyone is in such a hurry to tell their dog “Go right . . . Go left . . . down . . .”, but in all of their haste I really think people have overlooked the most important part. Sure, you see all of these great handlers giving their dogs side…

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The Whole Cattledog: Socializing the Puppy

DEVELOPING THE WHOLE CATTLEDOG Part two: Socializing the Puppy by Rusty Johnson So, you’ve decided what kind of dog you want. You selected a breeding that filled the requirements of your list. Then, you got to know the breeder. Now you have your puppy at home with you and you’re a little lost. Just before you brought it home, the breeder informed you that you should not begin formal training with your new cattledog before he is one year old.…

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The Whole Cattledog : Picking a Pup

THE WHOLE CATTLEDOG: part one: picking a pup by Rusty Johnson I am writing this series for those people who, like myself, love, honor and cherish their cattledogs. With the hope that I may change some minds about how cattle can be worked with good dogs and maybe help some people who have found themselves confronted with a dilemma, I present this article. I want to state up front that I do not know everything! Therefore, throughout this series, I…

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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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Taking Time

TEACHING A DOG TO TAKE TIME by Herbert Holmes As with all lessons on anything, I do not believe that a particular method is 100% for all dogs and/or people. So take what I write, digest it and incorporate it with your own method of training to develop a good, sound path for your dog to take. Also, the reader’s’ perception of what is written is sometimes different from what the writer is trying to say. Please bear with me!…

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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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Teaching the Upstanding Breeds to Drive

TRAINING THE UPSTANDING BREEDS: Driving by Linda C. Franklin, Belgian Terveren breeder/trainer Provided your upstanding dog is now comfortable with and efficient at going to balance on an inside flank without sacrificing depth and width on outruns, he may be ready to start driving training in earnest. Fetching is still important As mentioned before, until you also teach your dog how to shut and lock a pasture gate, you most likely will still find it necessary to walk out to…

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Training the Inside Flank

TRAINING THE UPSTANDING BREEDS : Inside Flanks by Linda C. Franklin, Belgian Terveren breeder/trainer A few of our upstanding breeds are referenced as droving (driving) dogs as opposed to fetching (gathering) dogs, but even a true driving dog can only benefit from correct fetching training as well. Having seen only one true driving dog out of the well over one thousand dogs I’ve worked with in herding, I have to believe this is a relatively rare natural quality. Who’s to…

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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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Concepts in Driving

CONCEPTS IN DRIVING by Tenley Dexter I like to use middle of the road sheep to start driving with, not too light and not too sticky to the handler, the reason being that they drive the easiest. Once the dog starts to understand the concept of driving on these fairly easy sheep, I start to ask them to drive harder and harder sheep. I might next move on to the stickier sheep that don’t want to leave the handler (for…

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Hardheaded

HARDHEADED by Roy Cox Many dogs are referred to as Hardheaded by their owner or trainer due to the undeniable fact that the dog has never fully given himself over to the dominance of that person. These types of dogs are most often misunderstood. Placing the stigma of “Hardheaded” onto a dog can do more harm than good to the future of the dog’s learning capabilities. People need to honestly evaluate their dog to see what type of dog they have.…

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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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Putting a Look Back on a Dog

PUTTING A LOOK BACK ON A DOG by Ian Caldicott I very rarely go out to train or work dogs with the thought that “today I need to work on a LOOK BACK”. The Look Back is something that just gets incorporated into the day’s work or a training session as a situation arises where there is an opportunity to work on it. Once a dog has a good understanding of balance and has a decent stop I start looking…

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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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