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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Hearing Dog Training

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I have always thought I’d like to try training a service dog. I’ve had over 40 years of training dogs behind me so I didn’t think it would be all that difficult to learn. I’ve been particularly interested in hearing assistance dogs since hearing loss runs in my family. I already am having trouble hearing the phone when it rings. Luckily, Doc has a thing about the phone and sometimes he does alert me just by accident.

I had started teaching the dogs tricks just to give them an activity in the afternoon. Teaching useful tricks isn’t going to be much of a change. I found some YouTube videos that give the steps for teaching a dog to alert to particular sounds. And they can still do their tricks too.

I’m going to be training both of them since it really isn’t a strenuous task. At this point I’m just teaching them to target with their noses instead of feet. The feet can be painful when they rake their nails on bare skin. They’ll still be using feet to indicate the object when we get to that point. I’ll be updating as we go along.

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A Good Day

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We were invited over to work sheep this morning. Of course the sky opened up and it rained like crazy as soon as we got there. We waited a while and it finally wound down and left everything cool and wet. So off we went to the sheep pen. I took Doc in with us this time to see if he would keep the sheep off the fence. He did a great job of that, but he is a pretty sensitive guy. Every time I had to get sharp with Moss, Doc would lie down or leave. I tried to encourage him and let him know that I wasn’t mad at him. I think he was starting to understand that by the time we were done.

Moss was pretty wild when we started. He was slicing in with his mouth open. Never a good sign. I had to really get on his case about that. By the time we did a second session, he was doing a bit better. Just before calling it a day, the sheep bolted for the corner and gate where they like to huddle. It was too far away for Moss. He just stopped, as he has been doing. I didn’t want him to get them out of the corner because he gets too carried away and usually takes a cheap shot at a sheep leg. I turned to call Doc over to help and when I turned back, Moss was walking into the corner and bringing the sheep to me, with me doing nothing!!!! I just stood with my mouth open! You can be sure he got a lot of praise for that!

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Home – Not Quite Alone

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I was house sitting last weekend with a bunch of goofy dogs. It was a good weekend for us too. Moss and Doc had a big yard to run around in with the rest of the gang.

Moss Runs in Circles

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Finally Moss got to show off his stuff. He was a little excited. A couple of his favorite people were there – the sheep lady and the van man – along with some of his favorite canine chums. He was running pretty fast but still doing incredibly better than when he started.

This is just a quick video. My camera doesn’t hold much.

Herding Dogs and Guard Dogs

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I’ve been working on my Zazzle store putting up products with dog silhouettes on them. Right now I’m working on the category of guard dogs. I like to read about the rare breeds I’m working on. But what makes me cringe is the description of the livestock guard dogs as herding dogs. They are not the same thing at all.

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Guard dog and Border Collie

Livestock guard dogs live with the stock, often from a very early age. They are usually large and white since sheep will more readily accept something that looks like another sheep and a big dog will be more intimidating to predators. Their job is to protect the stock, chasing off everything from coyotes to bears and, in some parts of the world, even cheetahs. They may round up the flock if they perceive danger, but they are not used to herd stock under direction of the shepherd. They need no special training to do their jobs so obedience to the shepherd was not a consideration in breeding. Some breeds in the livestock guard dog category include the Great Pyrenees, Maremma, Kuvasz, Komondor and Akbash.

A herding dog was developed using the hunting instinct of the dog. They crouch, stalk and stare at their prey. They circle around in a similar fashion to wolves and bring the prey to the handler.  They are highly trained and the most obedient dogs were the most useful and therefore the ones selected for breeding. They do not need to be large, but they do need to be quick and tough to handle all kinds of livestock in all sorts of climates.

Many herding dogs cannot be left unsupervised around stock. Their drive to work is too strong and left alone, the hunting instinct can take over.  I know of instances when sheep have been mauled or killed because of loose working dogs. It is not all that common but it can happen.

Doc HerdingBorder Collies are the first that come to mind, but other breeds include the Australian Shepherd, Australian cattle dog, kelpie, Shetland Sheepdog, bearded collie and the Belgian sheepdogs.

While a livestock guard dog or LGD may be referred to as a shepherd, it is not a herding dog. And herding dogs might protect the herd, but only under some circumstances.

What is more disturbing is when people who might have one of each type of dog say they want to breed them together. My first thought is “why?” The results may well be a dog that can’t do either job adequately.

If you’d like some detailed info on LGDs visit http://www.canids.org/occasionalpapers/livestockguardingdog.pdf

Slowing ’em Down

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Moss

During our last practice, Moss did not want to move off the sheep or slow down to a walk. Tonight I found a lunge whip laying in the barn. I took it out with me and it was a miracle. Not only did Moss respect it better than me waving my arms at him, but if I snapped it in front of the sheep they slowed down too. We got some great practice at wearing (at a walk) I was so pleased with my boy. He’s going to be a useful dog at some point in time.

Doc Driving

Doc was great as ever.

Vacation Nearing the End

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Moss Waits

Moss is having a wonderful time. He’s anxious to work sheep in the morning, but he’s learning to control himself. He actually waits for me or lies down on his own. This is so wonderful. This morning he was reluctant to go near the sheep pen as we walked out to the barn. I realized that BOTH guard dogs were lying by the gate. They’re friendly to him most of the time, but he’s not stupid. He wasn’t about to rush out there.

It really was apparent to me this morning that his success with the sheep depends somewhat on how flighty the group we sort are. This morning’s group liked to run and didn’t want to be near me either. Still, we had a good practice on staying back off the sheep. I got to correct him for one crashing and diving episode and he was much better after that.

 

Doc Herding

Doc has been a great help with sorting the sheep. Sometimes his outrun is at a trot, but he keeps things under control. I couldn’t do it without him.

I’ve started him on some new pills – quercetin and bromelain. He is also getting Omega 3 caps. He seems a bit less itchy but it has only been a day. I really, really hope this helps his allergies. When he’s miserable, I’m miserable.