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Why do we do so much with our dogs these days?

May 6, 2014 18 comments

j0178643As a friend and I walked around the dog park yesterday, she shared her experience with “nose work.” She and her dog, Ellie, are into their second set of classes and Ellie is absolutely loving it. So much so that she can’t wait to get out and do it again as soon as she is done!

Like many dogs these days, Ellie has already done and experienced so much. She has already been through basic and advanced dog obedience and has her therapy dog certification. She has gone on camping trips and loves going with her mom on her kayak adventures. She is an active dog with a mom who loves to do things with her.

It got me to thinking about how much has changed in our world when it comes to dogs. Sixty or seventy years ago, a dog would have been great entertainment for the kids, might have been taken on walks in the neighborhood,  and sometimes went hunting in the spring and fall. But, that’s about it. They did not have the enriched lives that many of them experience today. Activities rarely centered around them and their fun.

There are so many more choices for us and our dogs. We can do almost anything with them these days, including:

  • agility
  • nose work
  • hunting
  • geo caching
  • traveling
  • hiking
  • going to the dog park
  • backpacking
  • fly ball
  • freestyle musical dance
  • sheep and goat herding
  • tracking
  • trick training
  • circus dog training
  • search and rescue
  • dock diving
  • frisbee competitions
  • doggie puzzles
  • Treiball

These are only some of the things one can do with their dog. The list really is endless.

Realizing how many choices we have these days made me wonder, what changed? When did our dogs not only become so much of our lives, but also become a focus of the activities we do in our lives? Why do we do so many things with our dogs these days?

I’ll admit that I am no different. Jasper has gone experienced sheep herding many times. Daisy and Jasper and Cupcake have all gone hiking in the woods, and we play with doggie puzzles.. I like doing things with my dogs. I like that they get me outdoors and doing things I might not normally do. But, I also know that I could be doing other things. I could be traveling or crafting or attending classes. Instead, I choose to do activities that include my dogs. The question I am pondering today is, why? What motivates me to include them in all I do?

Do you do one of the above activities with your dog? What motivates to want to do so? What keeps you doing it? Why do you think we do so much with our dogs these days?

 

 

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Sheep herding (in pictures)

October 7, 2013 10 comments

I love watching working dogs do what they were meant to do. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of helping out at a sheep herding trial and watching several different compete. I was surprised at how many of breeds were represented – Border Collie, Rough-coated Collie, Rottweiler, Kelpie, Australian Cattle Dog, Samoyed and even a Bouvier des Flandres.

Unfortunately, I was so busy watching I often forgot to take pictures, but I did manage to snap a few. Enjoy!

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The morning started chilly and wet, but we did get a small bit of sun.

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Dogs competed with goats and sheep. Goat herding is a lot different than sheep herding. Here is one goat giving me “the look”.

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Rough-coated Collie herding sheep. They herd so much differently than Border Collies.

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Collies, Shelties and other breeds need to remain upright to appear intimidating to the sheep and maintain control of them. Border Collies and Kelpies use their “eye” to control the sheep.

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Traine uses his eye to control the sheep,

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Holding the sheep until the gate can be opened to let them in.

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Moving up to the sheep to move them towards the exit gate.

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A Border Collie at work. Amazing dogs to watch.

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Traine drives the sheep.

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Traine is told to “lie down” so the sheep can be loaded into the trailer. Even at this distance, he is an intimidating presence.

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A Samoyed herding sheep.

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A Samoyed chasing sheep (not what a handler wants to see).

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Bouvier des Flandres herding sheep. A very different style than Border Collies or Kelpies.

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Getting the sheep into the trailer.

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A stormy and cold end to the day.

Black and white Sunday #48 – Herding Sheep

August 17, 2013 17 comments

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Both images were created in Snapseed.

My thanks to our hosts for this blog hop You Did What With Your Weiner, My Life in Blog Years and Dachshund Nola.

Unfortunately, WordPress.com doesn’t allow Java script so I can’t provide a direct link to the linky, but you can join here.

More on sheep herding

July 9, 2013 10 comments
Lie down

Lie down

After a weekend of helping at the sheep herding trials, I’ve still got sheep herding on the brain. I can’t help it. There is so much I don’t know. So much I want to learn.

Watching all the dogs working with the sheep and moving them from place to place was fascinating. It made me want to get Jasper more seriously involved.

One of the things I found most interesting was the variation in and consistency of the commands between handlers. Some of the commands seemed to be standard among all the handlers:

  • Come-bye
  • That’ll do
  • Lie down
  • Stand
  • There
  • Here to me

While others used a variation of a similar command:

  • Away/Away to me
  • Get out / Get Back
  • Walk / Walk Up

I was able to easily figure out what most of the commands meant, but there were a few that I was unsure about (like “Get out” and “That’ll do”). Learning the commands, and their definitions, made it easier to understand what the handler was asking the dog to do.

Come-bye

Move around (circle) the sheep in a clockwise direction. From facing the sheep, the dog should turn squarely and keep at a constant distance from the sheep while flanking.

Away / Away to Me

Move around (circle) the sheep in an anti-clockwise direction. From facing the sheep, the dog should turn squarely and keep at a constant distance from the sheep while flanking.

Stand

It can mean stop, or sometimes just slow down! The dog must learn that with a sharp command, the handler wants it to actually stop but with a soft command it should just check its speed or allow the sheep to go further ahead of it.

Get Back / Get Out

The dog is working too close and likely to cause stress to the sheep. The command is used to send the dog further out and give the sheep more room.

Lie Down / Stand / Stop

Stop, lie down, slow down or just stand still. These are also often used to slow the dog down. Border Collies are intelligent things and good ones can usually tell which the handler means by the tone of voice.

Look Back

The dog must leave the sheep it’s working and turn around to look for more sheep. An advanced ‘look back’ can be done in such a way as to indicate to the dog which direction the new sheep are located.

Take Time

The dog should slow down. This is usually used to put more distance between dog and sheep when the dog’s eagerness is likely to panic or stress the sheep.

That’ll do

The dog must stop what it’s doing and return directly to the handler. This command can be a great help when training a dog to drive. Use ‘That’ll Do’ to keep the dog between you and the sheep.

There

Used by some handlers to tell the dog it has completed the required flanking manoeuvre (circling) and should turn squarely back towards the sheep.

Walk Up / Walk On

Requires the dog to move straight towards the sheep in a calm, steady fashion without spooking or stressing them.

Here is an example of a herding dog learning the Away command:

One of the handlers at the herding trial used a whistle to call out her commands to her dogs. She said it allowed her to be less frustrated and more able to stay calm with her dogs, and I soon saw what she meant. When a dog ran off course or got distracted or simply decided to take charge of the sheep on their own, you could hear the frustration in their handler’s voices. Their tone changed and often you would see the dog’s behavior change too. I saw a couple of situations in which the dog looked totally confused and just stopped working altogether. But with the woman using a whistle, there was no frustration conveyed to the dog.

Here is a really great video demonstrating how a whistle can be used to guide sheep herding dogs. What is really fascinating about this presentation is that the handler actually trained his dogs to know different whistles for the same command. So, “away to me” for one dog would have one whistle and for another dog it would have a completely different whistle. This allowed him to control both dogs’ movements separately while they worked together. Watch and see what I mean.

Perhaps the one thing I learned most this past weekend is how much of a role the handler’s mindset and confidence plays in the process. A handler has to be able to trust their dog. They have to have confidence in their skills, abilities and knowledge. A handler lacking in confidence transfers that lack of confidence to their dog. A handler who is confident in their dog allows the dog to be confident in their choices as well.

Sheep herding (in pictures)

July 7, 2013 17 comments

This past weekend was long, busy and totally awesome. I had the wonderful opportunity to help out at a small local sheep herding trial. It was really amazing. In fact, I learned so much that my brain is exploding.

I thought I would share just a few pictures from the event with you today. (Please forgive some of the photos. My iPhone is not so good with pictures taken from a distance.)

Away

Away

Corgi herding sheep

Corgi herding sheep

Rottie herding sheep

Rottie herding sheep

Rottie herding sheep

Rottie herding sheep

Kelpie at work

Kelpie at work

The eye

The eye

Lie down

Lie down

Herding sheep into the pen

Herding sheep into the pen

A cute little friend who flirted with us as we got ready for the trials

A cute little friend who flirted with us as we got ready for the trials

Another cute picture of our new friend

Another cute picture of our new friend

Black and White Sunday #42 – Herding Sheep

July 7, 2013 23 comments

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My thanks to our hosts for this blog hop You Did What With Your Weiner, My Life in Blog Years and Dachshund Nola.

Unfortunately, WordPress.com doesn’t allow Java script so I can’t provide a direct link to the linky, but you can join here.

What my dogs did this weekend (in pictures)

August 20, 2012 26 comments

This weekend was quite a whirlwind. The weather was amazing so the dogs and I spent quite a bit if our time outdoors.

Here are just a few pictures of our weekend. What did you and your dog do this weekend?

Daisy enjoyed the Mississippi River

Jasper had fun chasing sticks

Lady was happy to check out a lot of new smells.

Mississippi River

Picture time! Daisy and Jasper are very treat-motivated.

Daisy and Lady waiting for their treats.

Jasper went sheep herding

Boy can he move!

The best part is that Jasper started to learn the importance of pacing himself. One doesn’t have to chase to control the sheep.

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