Sheep and Beef farmers would be lost without their dogs and a team of dogs that are fit, healthy and properly trained make the day a lot easier and more enjoyable.
What advice do you have for getting the best from your dogs and tips for training pups and young dogs?
(Mud the Labrador a key member of this team, or so he thinks anyway... )
Our Next Stage of Training
We start introducing our pups to stock quite young. James lets them see sheep and gauges their reaction. When they are showing an interest and wanting to chase stock he starts the next stage. This varies from pup to pup, but generally anywhere from 5/6months +.
A small mob of training sheep, maybe 5 quiet ewes, in a small paddock or large sheep yard is ideal. You want a fairly controlled environment where where you can easily intervene if the pup has any misdemeanours, ie. biting or cutting sheep off. It can be quite handy to clip a long rope on their collar so you can easily correct their behviour.
James encourages them to work the sheep, hopefully they will do it naturally. Ideally they should keep the small mob together and you need to correct them if they cut sheep off. There are no real commands at this stage, it's all about encouraging them and building their confidence. He probably does this with his young dog a few times a week at the end of the day, maybe more (generally dependant on if there's jobs to do at home... ), and for as long as they show interest. Any sign of disinterest (yawning, wandering off, going to the trough) it's time to stop. Quite often if they are getting bored he will clip them to the fence and work another dog in front of them for a while before putting them away. It can help to keep their interest up and keep them keen.
I'd love to hear what you do to start training your dogs?
@sheep-and-dogs Sounds like a great life for an old heading dog!
@Annie Tui is retired for half the year. She gets used when needed and enjoying playing with our girls and her chair. Ben finds her to valuable to live without her. She is cruicial at this time of year as she is gentle at catching lambs and experienced in tailing musters.
I totally agree @sheep-and-dogs re. the variety of tucker. We give our dogs Mighty Mix a few times a weeks (as well as meat and biscuits) which is a natural frozen concentrate of meats and fats, fish, green lipped mussels, apple cider vinegar, honey, seaweed and eggs among other things. Packed full of vitamins and minerals and they do so well on that!
I'm glad to hear Tui is well. Are you looking for a retirement home for her by any chance? We know two people on small blocks looking for an old heading dog, just a bit of light work... or will she be enjoying her retirement in her chair at the back door?
Annie, Tui the heading dog is still a top dog. She is almost retired and gets a soft chair at the back door. (The dog that was meant for Darryl many years ago!!)
@Annie Spending loads of time with pups when they are young. Feed them well their entire life with a variety of tucker. And from a young age they need to be able to sit or stop. At least if they are doing something wrong you can redirect the command you want them to listen too. Annie Tui is still a tope
What We Do with Our Pups
It’s really important that pups get the best start, to give you a strong, healthy and sharp dog. They need a high quality feed (we use the Eukanuba Puppy and get good results), regular worming and vaccinations up to date. We find a pup pen really good so they can have a run around and explore. If they are in a kennel they need plenty of time out of it and a change of scene each day. The more social interaction they get, especially with kids, the better. While they are not pets, it’s really important for us that they are used to having kids in their face and pottering around them.
James starts training from young. From about 8 weeks he starts teaching them manners and the basics- sit, stay, come and not to jump up. They need to get used to being clipped to a fence or gate, just make sure they can’t climb over or through where they might hang themselves. James also spends time getting them used to walking on a lead or rope and making them comfortable with that for the next stage… I’ll add what we do next in a few days time.