Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sheep Herding Lessons... Day 1

The whole family loaded up in the car this morning and drove to Shelley's house in Folsom, LA. She teaches herding lessons to dogs and handlers (optional). Today we put both the dogs in the sheep pen so Shelley could see what raw instinct each had for herding, if any.

Grace took her turn first. Prior to waiting our turn she had not seemed interested in the adult sheep in the pen. She had politely sniffed a small orphaned lamb that was in the gallery area. Once we took Grace in the sheep pen and undid her leash, it took about 20 seconds for her realize that these sheep were to be herded. After that, her attention was on keeping the sheep together until her turn was over. She did a good job of keeping her sheep together as Shelley moved around the pen. Shelley had her circle both ways and walk behind the sheep as the group was moving in a straight line. Shelley's assessment - I'm going to hold Grace back from her herding potential until I learn what to do.

After letting two baby BCs have a turn, it was Bern's turn. Bern was all excited when he saw the sheep when we arrived. He was trying to help herd from outside the pen if the sheep got close to the gallery side fence. Unlike Grace, Bern's current instinct is to cut into the group and pull out a single sheep to chase. He would get focused on one and forget the others were in the pen. Instead of working around the outside of the group he cut into the center constantly. Shelley popped him on the nose a few time to encourage him to back off and walk behind instead of between the sheep. Shelley's assessment - Bern is going to need more training than Grace but the advantage will be that we can learn together.