Looking for a hobby and always fancied yourself as a small-time farmer with some unusual backyard pets? Or perhaps you run a large, successful commercial farm? Either way, an invaluable addition to your full-time occupation or part-time hobby would be a clever dog that knows how to herd, whether on a small or large scale. Imagine the hours you would save yourself on a miserable wet day, running around a field after renegade sheep, cows, chickens or even alpacas, if your furry friend could do all this for you, while you comfortably put your feet up in your tractor and sip a cup of tea. Not only would this save you the stress of getting wet and soaked in mud while exhausting yourself, but it would free up time so you could get round to doing those jobs on the farm or around the house that you never get to do.
Herding is the act in which your pooch will be able to round up a group of livestock such as chickens, ducks, llamas, alpacas, sheep, cattle and goats in an organized manner. Or even a group of people if you would like to use it as a party trick! You will be amazed at the animals your dog is capable of herding. However this is a difficult command to learn, and as such your furry friend needs to be suited to it. He or she should already have basic training such as an ability to come back on command flawlessly, for example, to avoid injury, especially when working with larger animals. Certain breeds are more likely to have success with this command such as the sheepdog breeds, for example, any type of Collie and German shepherds, due to their natural herding instincts. As this command is quite high tech and there is risk of injury if not undertaken correctly, puppies are therefore unsuitable. However, a young adult dog would be the ideal, before any bad habits are picked up.
Your pooch needs to have the right genetics and will need to show instinctual herding behavior around farm animals, such as circling, if the herding command is to be successful. He will need to already know how to sit, fetch and understand directions such as right, known in herding terms as ‘come bye’ and left, which is known as ‘away’. It is important that he can also ‘lie down’, so have a peek at that training guide first if he does not already know that one; this is for when you want him to stop herding the animals. Importantly, you will need access to livestock, whether these are your own or that of an association that assists in dog training. And most importantly of all, you will need patience. This is a complicated command with many parts to it, which relies on previous basic training.