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How to Train Young Dogs Naturally for Stock work - Practical Experience

Practical Experience
  • Now you can give your pup responsibility on small jobs.
  • Don’t be critical of mistakes and always use the adult commands.
  • Be consistent; praise good work and growl at poor work.
  • Try to avoid situations where rough work can be repeated.
  • Once the pup is actually working the stock, only use commands sparingly.
  • Try to let the pup develop its natural ability and use warning growls or praise to improve the quality of that work.
  • As your pup starts to head stock it will make errors such as crossing its outrun, going through stock to get to the head, or missing out a few animals on the way.
  • Until it is confidently completing a determined outrun, don’t worry about these errors.
  • When your pup is heading well, then look for and expect a better standard of work.
  • The best remedy for a poor outrun is to growl firmly, recall the dog before it can move the stock, and make it do the outrun again.
  • Repeat this until you have a satisfactory outrun, then praise the dog and let it pull the stock to you.
  • Persistence here will result in a good clean-running header or huntaway.
  • Your dog may be uncertain about working for you sometimes.
  • Perhaps it is worried about getting into trouble.
  • Try to get it going by sending it on runs handy to you, after the stock have been mobbed together.
  • Maybe send it to join another dog that is already working.
  • Leave it behind the mob when you go forward to a gateway, or if you are in the lead.
  • Wing leading (working along the side of a mob that you are driving in front of you) will help the dog to develop initiative while gathering in straying animals.
  • Working “off balance” and moving stock in any direction regardless of your position in relation to the animals is another facet of dog work which should be quietly and patiently taught during general stock work.
  • Encourage it to run through stock (eg down a lane).
  • Give it experience among sheep when working in the woolshed, especially when penning up.
  • At first you will need it on a lead while it is in close proximity to sheep.
  • Encourage it to squeeze through them and to climb over their backs.
  • Teach it to be confident and firm, but not rough and to “walk up” on command, right up nose to nose with a sheep that is standing up to the dog.
  • Use the lead and stroke the dog with your hand or stick to help build up a calm confidence.
  • Teach it not to flinch if attacked by a sheep, but also not to pounce at the sheep if a bite on the nose is required.
  • Don’t expect full strength before your dog is two years old.
  • Another good experience is to have a dog mind your stock for you, allowing them to graze but not to stray.
  • I use the command “go outside”.
  • At first you must reach over and go through the mob and insist that your dog gives them room.
  • When stock are being put through a gateway or other restricted places, you can use the “go outside” command (stock to be minded but no pressure applied).
  • Also teach your dog to cut through a mob and divide some animals away from the rest. This is very useful on the farm.
  • First of all teach your dog to come through to your hand or stick on command, and take control of the stock divided off.
  • Try to avoid using young dogs in the sheep yards unless they are under good control as bad habits develop very easily here.
  • Teach your dogs to sit and wait while another dog is working stock, or if you have gone away temporarily. This can be taught when the pup is quite young, say around 8 to 12 months old.
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