Home' Smart Farmer : March 2011 Contents March 2011
equipped to handle dogs
Bringing out instinct
With six to eight sheep in a
dog-proof round yard, you can
assess the natural herding instinct
of your dog and determine
whether he has potential as a
By allowing your pup to ‘play’
with sheep, he will start to devel-
op this natural instinct. When he
refuses to come off the stock, he
has passed his first exam!
Walking on a lead, stop, recall
Now that your dog is keen to
work sheep, you need to establish
your role as the leader and gain
control over him.
plastic rake to indicate where you
want him. The use of different
tones to communicate with the
dog is explained.
Once you have established
yourself as the leader, your dog
will naturally want to bring stock
towards you. You can use this nat-
ural instinct to teach your dog
commands that will later enable
you to control his every move.
The instinct to herd is bred into
the dog Not every dog has it, and
the qualities of a good working
dog were outlined.
Side and stop commands
With three sheep in the round
yard, you can teach your dog to
circle the sheep in either direc-
tion. Attach a command and a
whistle to clockwise and anti-
clockwise directions. Ben uses the
commands of ‘behind’ and ‘over’.
In addition to establishing ‘stop’
and side commands, the course
ROBIN Jagger (pictured with 14-
week-old Border Collie, Ki) runs 600
sheep and a few cattle on 260
hectares at Waitpinga. He was keen
to learn more about training working
dogs and says the most valuable
thing he learned was to be consistent
in training. "You need to make sure
you get each stage right before you
move on to the next one," he said.
Consistency the key
includes teaching your dog to cast, and to
‘back’ and bark on command.
There were opportunities to learn and
understand the practical lessons with a
small mob of sheep.
The course helps people to gain control
of their dog, take the stress out of stock
handling and make stock work enjoyable.
The step-by-step method leaves partici-
pants with a very clear system to train their
own dogs at home.
Participants commented that they could
now understand their dog and that huge
results could be achieved by gentle han-
dling of dogs.
“A very enjoyable, entertaining and
extremely valuable set of lessons to put
some strategies in place for the future”,
said one participant.
• Need to know more?
Correct collar, lead essential
GOT my Dog. What do I do now?
Last month we talked about the
importance of selecting the right
dog. We touched on the difference
between working dogs and bench
Being able to read a pedigree.
Seeing the mother and father work-
ing stock. Recognising eye, cover
and strength and making sure that
your dog has been checked for TNS
if it is a Border Collie and, if you’re
clever, attending a reputable
Working Dog Training School before
you get your dog.
So you arrive home with your
new mate - what now?
Long before this, you should have
built a proper working dog kennel
for him. It should be up off the
ground, preferably he should be on
wooden slats so that his droppings
and urine fall onto the ground and
he isn’t walking in his own faeces.
His kennel should have privacy
with blank sides (not mesh), part of
it should be protected from the ele-
ments, part of it should be open to
fresh air and sunshine, he should
have a sleeping place designed to
keep him warm and comfortable.
He needs permanent fresh clean
water (not some container you
need to fill every day - just in case
you forget) and his kennel should
be situated in such a position that
he doesn’t think he is on guard all
the time, or else you’ll end up with
a persistent barking dog.
Avoid keeping your dog on con-
crete. It cannot be cleaned thor-
oughly, gets cold in winter, hot in
summer and increases the risk of
arthritis. Dogs on concrete wear
away parts of their fur and are
forced to walk in their own drop-
pings which increase the risk of
This is not the forum to address
the subject of proper feeding. It
would simply be too lengthy but I’ll
drop you a hint or two. Dogs don’t
eat a lot of carbohydrates, steer
clear of overly processed foods con-
taining chemicals and additives,
and feed them the same type of
food they would eat in the wild
such as meat and bones.
You may have brought home a
pup, or a started dog or a well-
started dog and each of them, in
different ways, need to know that
you will be adopting the role of a
leader. I’ll go through the different
ways, but before you start, you’ll
need to learn three different tones
and you’ll also need 3 training aids.
It must be mentioned here that I
never use food rewards. That is
strictly for pets, obedience dogs or
Working dogs get their reward
from knowing they please their
leader and working stock.
If you’ve been fortunate enough
to have observed a bitch teach her
pups you’ll already know the tones:
•Hard tone for correction. It is a
copy of the mothers growl.
•Soft tone for reward.
•Recall tone - ‘Here’. I do not use
‘come’ as a tone. It is hard to hear
over a distance.
Knowing how to use these tones
and the timing of exactly when to
use these tones is very important
and should be covered in a rep-
utable Working Dog Training
The three training aids you’ll
•A good quality collar. Not a
choker chain or some fabric covered
thing with plastic clips. Working
dogs do not need choker chains
and no self-respecting working dog
should be seen in anything but a
well-made working dog collar.
•A training lead. Once again, not
a lead that reels out, or some strap
with a handle on it or a piece of
chain. A good training lead should
be about 2.6 metres long with a
high quality brass clip and no han-
dle. Handles can catch on things
and hurt your dog.
•A black plastic garden rake. You
can buy one of these from a hard-
ware store for around $3.
So your dog is home. He is safely
housed, you have your training aids
and you’ve learned your training
Next month: How to start your
•Need to know more?
with BEN PAGE,
0427 396 971
0418 543 259
08 8536 3733
1/35 Milnes Road, Strathalbyn
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