Home' Smart Farmer : February 2015 Contents Smart dogs
SmartFarmer • February 2015
Teaching the team to drove.
Plan well for
THE beginning of the year is
a good time to think about
planning. I guess it's second
nature to some, and not to others.
But there is no question that
if you wish to be successful, you
need to plan.
And that goes for everyone.
Farmers, sportspeople, business
people, individuals and families.
Indeed, if you could sneak into
the office of successful people you
would find some things in com-
mon. Their office is very tidy, files
are put away and, in a lot of cases,
there are whiteboards on the walls
with planning dates and notations.
So, this month we are going to
talk about planning and establish-
ing a team of working dogs.
From crisis to crisis
Unfortunately, I hear a lot of
stories about farmers who are crisis
managers. They generally wait until
their one and only dog gets bitten
by a snake, run over, or dies of
old age before they think about a
replacement. Then I get a phone
call: do I have any dogs for sale?
"Shearing starts next week and I
need a dog".
I instantly know that the person
on the other end of the phone
doesn't know the length of time a
dog requires to accept a new pack,
or 'tune in'.
These type of people generally
wait until there is a problem before
they do anything about fixing it.
They wait until just before harvest
before realising that their harvester
needs servicing or repairing. Their
mechanic has a long list of other
people who have also left it to the
last minute, so it's all too late.
The successful farmers (plan-
ners) would have thought about
this last year and serviced their
machinery right after harvest.
They would have given themselves
plenty of time, and may now find
extra work contracting out to the
Ask the Working Dog Whisperer
Got a question about working dogs?
Send it to the Working Dog Whisperer,
Ben Page. Perhaps you are having
trouble with some aspect of your dog
training, or your stock work? Do you
feel there might be an easier way? Or
do you simply wish to ask a question of
a general nature? If you're having a dog
problem, then chances are that other
readers are too. Your questions will be
published along with the answers in
this column. We hope this initiative will
help readers, and their dogs.
• Please send your questions to:
with BEN PAGE
Working Dog Centre
Planners and successful managers are
able to foresee the future and set in
motion all the steps required to get
there. I'm not talking about crystal
balls, what I mean is identifying and
visualising the end result and creating
a series of actions to achieve that result.
How to start
To be able to plan successfully
requires that you know the outcomes
that will be achieved.
In the case of planning and building a
team of outstanding working dogs, you
need to know the following: selecting
the right dogs, how to correctly train
your dogs, how long it takes to train
each dog, the expected working life of
your dogs, the 20:20 rule for working
dogs, correct housing, food and medi-
cation and numerous other knowledge
Let me just briefly remind you of
some of the things we have covered in
this column over the years.
If you like, you could call them the
Never ever train a young dog with an
old dog. Always train using position,
control and timing techniques. Always
use the 20:20 rule when working your
dogs. Always let your dogs head the
stock. Use the correct number of dogs
depending on stock numbers.
Building the team
Building a team of dogs is a long-term
proposition. And knowing how to do
that is not common knowledge, it is a
skill that can take years.
The quickest way to get that knowl-
edge is not to repeatedly make the same
mistakes for years on end.
In short, get the education -- it's
the quickest way to learn.
Once you have the dog you had
better know more than the dog, or
you will end up working for the dog.
You'll be losing your temper,
swearing and getting frustrated.
There is no question that he
will become the leader unless you
understand the leadership rules of
a dog pack.
The size of your team depends
on two main things -- the first is the
type and number of your stock and
the terrain you have to work in; the
second is knowing it takes two years
to properly train a working dog.
It would be fair to say that you
should have at least three dogs, and
the team would look something like
this: an older experienced dog of
say, seven years; one younger dog,
say five years; a well-started dog still
learning his trade, say two to three
years old, and a pup who is a raw
In that team you will become
aware of the different skill levels of
individual dogs. Some are better on
a wide cast, some may be outstand-
ing up close and one or two may
back very well.
But, if you build a team like that,
working stock becomes a joy.
As time passes, they all become
older and the younger ones develop.
As the older ones become slower
they should be allowed to retire with
dignity and be cared for.
You might like to go back and read
a past article in smartfarmer titled
How to Say Goodbye (December
The next time I receive a phone
call from someone telling me they
are shearing next week, and can they
please buy a dog ... I hope it won't
identify and visualise the
end result and create a
series of actions to achieve
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Three Phase 12.5kVA Fuel Efficient
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Contact: SQUIERS SALES & SERVICE
1069 Greenhill Rd, Summertown, SA, 5141
Phone 08 8390 3017 Fax 08 8390 3404 Email email@example.com
08 8667 5484
News from the
Working Dog Centre
What s new?
• We've just launched our new website. Please type
www.workingdogcentre.com into your browser and have a look.
• See all the upcoming courses in Mt Pleasant (Adelaide Hills), WA
and at the Working Dog Centre.
• Bookings are now open for courses through to winter!
• It's easier than ever to enrol with the new online booking system.
• Enquiries welcome.
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