Everything you train your dog to do impacts how he learns and reacts. However, his basic learning curve remains the same. You, as the handler, need to be aware of things that will cause potential conflict and that will be complimentary.
To be successful, basic obedience and response must be continually worked on away from the livestock.
Unlike other performance sports we do with our dogs, herding cannot successfully be dabbled at. You must make a serious commitment to training, otherwise the dog remains overly excited and cannot progress; becoming frustrated and frightening to the livestock.
My goal is to help each dog and handler reach his or her herding potential and goal. Each team is individual and much be treated that way. Students develop at their own pace and set their own goals.
Whether your goal is to do what your dog was bred to do, train for trial competition, or obtain a working partner, herding instruction teaches the handler and dog partnership to have calm, confident control of livestock.
The handler should be in control of the dog and the dog in control of the livestock. The handler cannot tell the dog how to control the livestock, but can tell him when and where. Sheep will be used for training. Goats or ducks will be used when available.
I have put together a classroom seminar (Herding 101) to help people understand the basic principles of herding including terminology, training principles, and the role played by handler, dog and livestock. I have also offered a Rules Seminar to help people understand the rules, similarities and differences in AKC, AHBA, USBCHA venues. Check the Student section of this website for schedule informtion.
Lessons are $20/lesson in pre-paid blocks. The blocks will expire with 1 week grace. If you cannot make a commitment to the pre-paid block, then lessons are $25/lesson. If you want/need me to work your dog the cost is $25/lesson. If you have a problem please contact me privately.
An initial lesson, herding evaluation, is $35. This is necessary before you and your dog qualify for the block pricing.
A lesson for the dog consists of one session with the livestock, this session may be divided into two very short sessions. The dog should be put in a crate or vehicle away from distractions after working with the livestock so the dog can process the lesson. The handler should plan on watching other students to learn from watching and listening.
SCHEDULED lessons are given first priority. You may change the time or day of your lessons, with 24 hours notice, to another available time; otherwise you are expected to pay for your scheduled time. If you do not have a scheduled time, I will fit you in around the scheduled lessons.
How long does a lesson last?
Each working lesson is approximately 20 minutes. Each dog works individually, at his level, for as long as he is capable of positive learning. The dog tells us when he has had enough. The human part of the team should plan on watching other students because herding technique is much easier to see when watching others work. So you should plan on spending a hour each lesson.
The Summer schedule has lessons:
It begins on March 14
The Spring/Summer schedule begins when Daylight Saving Time starts and will be in effect until we go back off Daylight Saving Time in the fall..
Times may be negotiable depending on schedule. Please contact me with any specific requests.
Lessons are scheduled so that I can provide the correct groups of sheep to aid each dog. This also provides me with the ability to contact students if I need to change a time. Failure to schedule a time may mean that you have to wait until instruction and livestock are available. Also, if I don’t know that you are coming I may not remain at the facility.
Summer and Winter schedules change with Daylight Savings Time. Current students are always given first choice of lesson times.
• The locations of herding lessons are people’s homes; we are there by invitation. Behave like guests.
• Dogs should be leashed when not being worked.
• Clean up after your dogs – EVERYWHERE
• Try to keep barking to a minimum.
• All dogs must be current on all of their vaccinations.
• Herding is an outdoor sport and class goes on with few exceptions. You should dress appropriately and expect that you and your dog will get dirty. Remember you will be playing in the poop and you may fall (be pushed down).
• If the heat index is over 100, don’t come. It is too hot to work dogs or livestock.
• If the temperature is below zero, don’t come. It is too cold to work dogs or livestock. Wind chill depends on how severe. At the farm we are sheltered and usually it is not a factor.
• If there is light rain, class will go on as scheduled. Heavy rain or lightning, class is cancelled.
Please Respect the Livestock
I like my sheep. I can tell them apart. I know their personalities. This enables me to put them together in groups to provide each dog/handler team with sheep that will challenge them, but give them the opportunity to be successful. We may also use goats or ducks when they are available.
I do not want my sheep harassed or abused. I do not want them attacked or run excessively. However, I am aware that in the beginning learning process some wrecks do occur and are normal. To help prevent this, multiple size working areas are available.
Each handler is expected to be responsible for any damage done to livestock and/or fences that may occur when their dog is on the field. This can vary from medical expenses to replacement of the animal, or repair of the fence/obstacle.