Brag on my young dog

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Brag on my young dog

Postby denice » Tue Aug 30, 2016 6:44 am

Zeva is my young girl. She was born just before Christmas 2014. That litter - Griz x Scott - seemed to hit the ground running. She began working about 5 months old and has not hit a bump in the road yet. Born under a herding star is my theory. She has been level headed since the third time on sheep. We skipped the round pen going straight to a group of 20 ewe and lambs. She had the basics down fast - would gather and keep sheep with me the first week. I held off putting commands on anything to allow her to develop and figure out how sheep moved. You could see her thinking as she worked, considering how her movement affected the sheep. It was not long Zeva was driving and taking inside flanks. This spring found her figuring out direction commands and inside flanks with the pace of seasoned dog. She had a couple little things to work on - didn't link squeezing between sheep and fence or going into corners, her look back needed work, she started to be quick to go the head - sometimes when I did not want her to. Her driving needed work at times she would keep walking into the flock and split them - my fault for teaching her to shed - she thinks that is great fun and looks for an excuse now to come through. We had to stop shedding for a bit she liked it so much. On the up side her look back back improved. This summer I began putting lambs in a small pen for the pups to work a bit and used Z to pen them. Since we were out there I took advantage of the situation to work her in tighter space and get her comfortable squishing in against fence and going into corners. Well let me just say it worked. She now will go under bellies and between legs if she can not get where I ask, she might even give a quick nose nip. That boost of confidence has been great - now I am working a girl that is super talented and has confidence she can move anything.
I have put her to the test this last month - I asked her to gather the group of 80 lambs with her dad - didn't miss a beat. Asked her to gather with Meg and Scott - no problem. That was the first time I ever worked 3 dogs together - It was way Cool. Used her with her Scott to help with vaccinations and deworming - UM she may have been better than him- stayed still when she needed to be and moved she needed to be, Scott does not like just watching :) With all that experience under her belt I have been asking her to help when I might have gotten an older dog. She has helped me sort out a gate and catch 2 lambs out of 80.
Last week I moved every sheep on the place with her as we changed pastures. Three different groups into three different pastures. Everything was super smooth except moving the rams. I knew they would try to give her trouble and thought about asking Meg to go with her -Those fatties have hung out eating and laying in the shade all spring and summer. To say they are in good shape on grass is a bit of an understatement. The 3 of them will turn and face a dog rather then simply moving off but if a dog sticks in there they will move. No guts no glory right. I wanted to see how Z handled being faced by the 3 amigos. I really did not know they were in the pasture when I sent her, luckily they were under trees on the next hill so I could watch as things unfolded. She found them easily, went around behind nice- they stood and all turned toward her and gave her that " Yeah make me" stare. She gave ground and flanked around to the side but stopped. Ah the moment of decision - Would she hang in there or come up to me. She turned toward me I gave her some encouragement she turned back to the rams. Good. I thought about getting Meg again but wanted to give her a bit to figure it out on her own. While I waiting holding my breath I hoped I made the the right choice. A 250 lb ram can make quick work of a dog if they have a mind to. I did not want her hurt and I did not want her confidence in herself shaken. I gave her a flank to get her behind them again and she went willingly, a couple moves behind them she made on her own and they started up the hill with her behind them. Ah a sigh of relief from me and most likely from her as well. I stopped her as she brought them through the gate, the rams continued to the barn. Oh great now she had to go along the side of the barn to get them through the next gate, out another and into another gate to the pasture. Zip, Zam no hesitation, no problem. The rams moved off nicely since she had proven to them they would not be able to buffalo her.
Pretty cool to see her maturing. She has the skill and confidence to do it all. Wondering how she will handle lambing in the spring...

Linda Poole
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Re: Brag on my young dog

Postby Linda Poole » Tue Aug 30, 2016 8:40 am

That's such a great story, Denice. Since you've been posting here about Zeva and Ivy from birth, it's been fun to hear about their growth and adventures. It must be a wonderful feeling to have bred and trained such a talented pup. Please keep us all posted on the further successes and development of Zeva, as well as her younger sibs from this year's litter.

I learn a lot from people who post about their herding dogs. Would love to hear from others too on this subject. You southern hemisphere people use dogs? Kelpies and Huntaways fascinate me, and my first love for stockdogs will always be a blue heeler (mine have been ranch mutts so best not to call them Australian Cattle Dogs). Though of course I love my Border Collie too!

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Re: Brag on my young dog

Postby Tomas » Sat Sep 17, 2016 12:38 pm

You and Z deserve a good brag. I enjoy reading stories like that. On encountering the rams for the first time, Z may have sensed the, "Yeah, make me" stare, and decided to give them just a little more time/space to think about it. As it turned-out, just the right thing. What I get out of Curt Pate, Temple Grandin and others like them, is to allow animals to think that moving as you wish was their own idea. Works the same for stockhandlers as herding dogs. A herding animal who feels threatened is going to freeze-up, become unpredictable or perhaps attack. Z knew that, and let them decide on their own to move-off. Good dog, and great story.

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