using two different type dogs as a team

For discussion of the training and use of sheepdogs on the farm or ranch. Please try to avoid discussion of training for trials or other competition; there are plenty of other groups for that purpose.
high plainsman
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using two different type dogs as a team

Postby high plainsman » Wed Oct 12, 2016 3:47 pm

What concerns or issues would arise if a person tried to use two different style working dogs as a team? Such as a gatherer type dog like a BC and driving type dog like an Aussie.

Peg Haese

Re: using two different type dogs as a team

Postby Peg Haese » Thu Oct 13, 2016 10:43 am

Why can't the BC learn to drive too? They can be very good at it with some training, which the Aussie would also need. Or maybe you already have both dogs.

high plainsman
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Re: using two different type dogs as a team

Postby high plainsman » Thu Oct 13, 2016 11:23 am

You are right the BC can learn to drive, and my Aussie does some gathering. Maybe I should rephrase my question: is there any advantage or disadvantage to having two different styles of dogs. Can we use to the best advantage the strengths of each as a team or would it just be a lot of frustration?

I only have my Aussie right now.

denice
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Re: using two different type dogs as a team

Postby denice » Thu Oct 13, 2016 1:48 pm

Working two dogs at the same time is not an easy task, especially so if they are young/inexperienced or both. Working two trained seasoned dogs together is not easy.
The two dogs have to be the very similar temperaments. If one is more sensitive they tend to take corrects personally. Correcting the other dog tends to affect the more sensitive one. You can't Not correct one if it is wrong - either verbally or applying pressure. Encouraging one can lead to other being to fast or pushy ect. So that can be a daily hurdle.

Using dogs together for something that is super natural - for a bc that is keeping stock to you - where you do not need to give them much direction - maybe just sending them and stopping them - then an older dog that simply knows what is going on and a younger one along for the ride can work. They younger dog gains some experience and confidence but again you can not let either get away with stuff.
Working 2 dogs can cause some competition between them. Sometimes they start pushing more or being silly when they would not alone. Two dogs can be a good thing. Today I asked Z to gather the rams. SHe was doing well but one of the rams was facing her and making her concerned. I had a couple options - walk down and turn the ram for her, send a n older dog to help or quit and the ram win. I sent another dog to help - worked great. She going confidence and began walking up into the ram that was facing her and she won/ ram lost. Then sent her again to move the ram with Meg behind her for back up. She walked straight in then we quit.

If you are thinking another dog might 'train' your aussie, i do not think it works that way. I don't really think dogs learn skills from each other. I think you have/each dog has raw material to work with and try to help the dog be the best it can be. You are not going to make them into something they are not, each dog has challenges and things that come naturally. As part of team you work together to gain the best from the partnership and make up for each others challenges.
I have learned not all dogs have good herding skills and of those that Do- not everyone is suited for me and my sheep and my work. I think we can help our dogs by our positioning, movement, tone of voice and training and the way we interact with them and the sheep. Sheep that do not respect us or our dog can be buggers.
I use the dog with the skill set that suits me and our work. Lucky I have a couple so I can pick and choose. Some days I am up for training and challenge and other days I get the older dogs if I just want work done without effort on my part.

denice
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Re: using two different type dogs as a team

Postby denice » Thu Oct 13, 2016 1:55 pm

I have used a bc to help with sheep while 'training' an aussie the same was I use an older dog while training a young bc. Using a trained bc and trained aussie together for work could be done I think but like I said their personalities need to match. I think it would easier to do that with those two if working in a smaller place or up close. Not sure if the aussie would be in the way of sheep on a gather since the bc would most likely go wider. correcting the aussie asking for a wider flank and look back I would think would be confusing to the bc.

high plainsman
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Re: using two different type dogs as a team

Postby high plainsman » Fri Oct 14, 2016 7:09 am

Thanks Denice, that is a great answer. The more I learn about working with herding dogs, the more it reminds me of dealing with employees. The concepts of getting the most our of each is so similar.

denice
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Re: using two different type dogs as a team

Postby denice » Fri Oct 14, 2016 8:13 am

It is like having a partner that speaks a foreign language. :lol:
It takes a bit to work out what each individual is wanting and needing and to communicate that to each other. Then working two different breeds is almost like 3 different languages - or at least a different dialect. I am not sure if I would be able to multitask enough and tri-lingual to make that successful.

springfarms
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Re: using two different type dogs as a team

Postby springfarms » Mon Oct 17, 2016 11:51 pm

I always take my 2 dogs with me. One is a BC and the other a kelpie. They do have different skills. Nothing beats my BC for mustering stock from large paddocks, but once he has mustered them I find my kelpie much is better at driving them in a calm fashion and is better with pregnant ewes and she listens to me better. My kelpie is not so good at dealing with difficult sheep and sometimes lacks the force if some of them decide to face her especially if they have lambs and I usually step in to help. If we get really stuck I call out my BC and send my kelpie back to my vehicle much to her relief. My BC is a master at shifting difficult sheep, and he is also a good mustering dog to have around if things go really pear shaped. My kelpie has a good trained cast but under intense pressure she can split sheep as her cast is not natural, she is more of a yard dog, whereas with my big natural casting BC nothing gets away. My kelpie is an expert at catching single young lambs for me if there is a problem, whereas my BC is not, he wants to herd them back to the flock. If I could blend them I would have the perfect dog! Mind you both being my first sheepdogs I was a very novice trainer.

I don't think I would use them together, I just use each when I need their best skill set. I have put my new pup out with my kelpie on young sheep and she keeps them together and I have found it works quite well as my young pup has some nice instincts.


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