I held my breath as my dog and the sheep disappeared over the top of a hill and out of view. I glanced over at my herding instructor who appeared unconcerned. So, though I itched to run across the field to see what was going on, I waited. It seemed like a long time but it was likely no more than a minute or two when the flock reappeared trotting calmly before my dog.
As dramatic was it felt and as good as it looked the ideal performance wouldn't have had the sheep going over the hill. It would have looked more like it did a few minutes earlier when he swept in a smooth arc away from his sheep as he headed up hill and ended up behind them. Still today he was working beautifully, looking just like good herding dog in the making. It was a wonderful. We were working in the big field (8 acres or so) with about 50 sheep and he was definitely in his element. Later, when we had him bring the sheep down to the front arena, he continued to work calmly.
When this day occurred Tsuki and I had been herding about 2 years. It is Tsuki's favorite activity. When he is herding the barn cats can literally stand under his nose and he will ignore them. Tsuki is a competent but not brilliant herding dog. He wants to bring the sheep to me, and he wants them to stay with me. That is the foundation instinct for Border Collie style herding. There are many forms of herding. German shepherds, for example, are often used for "boundary work." Their job is to act as a living fence and keep the sheep within an allowed grazing area. Read this article on The Way They Work.
Maybe the most interesting thing I know about herding is that some groups allow any dog to compete. It just needs to show that it has the appropriate behavior. So I remember seeing announcements for the "herding instinct test" and thinking "hmmmm" and wishing for an extra couple days in my weekend. Anyway, the common assumption is that one can't do herding unless one lives in the country, or has herding animals. Well, I am pleased to say that there are opportunities for at least some city folk to become involved in herding. As with other dog skills the program makes heavy use of natural instinct, then gradually shapes and develops it. If your dog is of herding heritage or seems to exhibit natural herding behavior it is worth exploring further. Warning: this activity can become addictive.
And if herding real livestock isn't in the cards, take a look at the fun of Treibball.
Great introduction site both for people curious about the activity and for those looking for more detailed resources. It offers training tips, a discussion group, and many many other resources. Maintained by Linda Rorem
A simple introduction to herding with a description of herding programs by a variety of organizations. A great place to quickly get an overview on different types of herding.
The destination of choice for the person new to herding. The goal of this site is to keep the beginning herder in mind.
Learn to teach your dog shepherding skills, for fun, for competition or for farm online through video demonstrations and live or recorded audio presentations. You will learn and practice skills designed to shape your dog?s natural herding abilities while you also learn how to read stock. We use positive reinforcement methods that focus on keeping the dog in a calm, focused, eager-to-learn state of mind ? which helps the dog learn, and helps the handler to learn too!
An easy to understand description of the different styles of herding.
From the Bearded Collie folks is this easy going introduction to the terms you will hear, and some general beginners information.
I really like this organization - they are creative and relaxed.
When last visited this web site did not provide full access. The American Tending Breeds Association was founded in 1990 as a forum for learning and practicing the European style of sheep herding known as tending. Over the years they expanded their membership to include all herding breeds and styles of herding.
Article courtesy of Tammie Rogers on qualities to consider in deciding on a herding instructor.
Taken at a local herding competition. It is interesting to watch, but hey - it is a cheap camera.
This link promotes a sheepdog training DVD called \"First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training\" aimed specifically at beginners who want to learn how to train a sheepdog.
Whatever text there is, is in French. The dog works a huge flock of sheep moving both quickly and calmly. As with any good herding there are no exciting moments, only impressive control.
A collection of our stories of our agonies and triumphs in herding.
More agonies and triumphs. Not inspiring, but maybe fun to read.
Lots of good information focused on the Border Collie style of herding.
Very interesting trialing style. A very firm focus on the dog doing the work with audible commands only (voice or whistle) without the use of handler body language.
This site describes a typical herding competition pattern for the tending dog - German Shepherd Dog in this case.
I don't know if he will ever trial, but he sure is having fun in practice.
A light overview and description of different herding styles and the herding instinct test.
Dog supplies and herding supplies: whistles, training flags etc.
Getting ready for your first trial? Think of this article as pep talk/ coaching. These are things you should know if you are getting read to try, but might fly right out of your mind when you step to the line. Read it several times. Article by Pam Green.
Notes from teaching clinics on the subject of livestock handling and herding dog training
This club hosts several trials a year. The herding trials I've been to for this club were held in Cayocus, California
Tsuki was asked to "back-up" Chance. Chance has a willing heart but his body isn't quite as fast as it needs to be and the sheep know it. At one point you can see the sheep wheel around thinking they are going to take off back up the hill but as the dust drops Tsuki is standing there. So the sheep decided to cooperate instead.
There is no centralized calendar for herding events. This page is an attempt to list all ASCA events, conformation, obedience, agility and herding.
Promotes ISDS style herding trials
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For people interested in discussing training, events, stories, etc. associated with herding with a bearded collie.
This group is dedicated to the working stockdog. That is a polite way of saying that if your interest in herding is primarily recreational this group isn't the one you want.
For the working border collie enthusiast.
Discussion related to all-breed herding and the dissemination of information pertaining to the AHBA
SASDA organizes sheepdog related activities in South Africa such as sheepdog trials and maintaining a stud book.
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Created: May 4, 1998
Updated: April 14, 2012