Most farmers will not tolerate this with their valuable livestock at risk, nor should they. Dogs must learn not to herd livestock when they are not supposed to, or they are at risk of being destroyed by producers protecting their livestock! So if you have a herding dog, you will need to make sure he does not try to herd other people's livestock, or your own, when he is not required or directed to do so.
While herding dogs have been bred for generations to want to herd livestock naturally, and this is a great talent that can be harnessed and very useful to farmers, a dog that herds when it is not supposed to is a danger to livestock and himself. Not only can frightened livestock be injured if they fall or are chased through an obstacle or across rough terrain, but the dog is in danger of being destroyed as a nuisance animal or injured by large livestock trying to protect themselves. Herding dogs that are not exposed to livestock may try to herd small animals or children or even adults! Ironically, teaching your dog to herd on command and giving them an outlet for such behavior may be a good way of controlling it, by teaching the dog that they only herd when directed. Other methods of controlling instinctive herding involve teaching your dog a different association and behavior with livestock, such as the 'leave it' command or an alternative behavior so that a dog exposed to livestock, small animals, or children ignores them, backs away, or performs other behavior to receive reinforcement.
You will need lots of treats to teach 'leave it', and alternative behaviors to dogs that are motivated to herd. You will need to contain your dog during training to ensure they do not inadvertently try to run livestock. which is a self-rewarding behavior and will make the habit harder to break. Training to put herding on command is another alternative strategy that will require exposure to livestock, such as sheep that can be herded. Both will take a significant time investment and involve controlling your dog to prevent unsupervised herding, which could result in injury to your dog or to livestock.
He tries to heard anything that moves, I know that naturally, he doesn't know otherwise, but he bites dogs ankles anytime they move, he bites their faces when they're just standing still, and its rusticating because the dogs we are around don't mind, they just keep playing. But it's not pleasant to watch, he looks mean when he does it even though I know that he's not intentionally being mean, at least i dont think so. When I tell no he doesn't even listen. He'll stop and then the moment he sees i'm no longer looking at him, he charges at the dog again and literally bites their face. i dont think this is just a coincidence, but anything i tell him no to, he seems to do it again, like he's intentionally doing it because i said no to it. Do you think i've taught him no and he misunderstands the no, or?
Hello Brittany, What may have happened is you told him no and stopped him but then got distracted or didn't back up your no any further (backing it up by: giving him something else to do and rewarding that instead, making him leave the area, restricting his access to other dogs, or another consequence directly related to the behavior). This may have happened every time you said no so he learned that no means leave the dogs alone for a minute, then go back to herding in a minute. During that minute leaving them alone, all he is probably thinking about is that he'll be able to go back to herding, so he is fixated on it the entire time he is not doing it...instead of actually leaving it alone physically AND mentally. Following through more consistently should help. Instead of simply telling him no, teach him an "Out" command, then reward him when he obeys it (Out also means you can't return to the area you get out of until told okay), and have a consequence for him if he disobeys it that you enforce. Practicing Out on a long leash is one way to enforce it because you can reel him in if he ignores you, which is enforcing your command. Once he gets to you, he needs something else to do though. The instinct won't go away. Instead he needs something else to focus on, and to get good at "Out" so that he stops when you tell him to. To teach him an 'Out' command, 1. First call him over to you, then toss a treat several feet away from yourself while pointing to the area where you are tossing the treat to with the finger of your treat tossing hand and saying 'Out' at the same time. 2. Repeat this until he will go over to the area where you point when you say 'Out' before you have tossed a treat. 3. When he will do that, then whenever you tell him "Out" and he does not go to where you are pointing, walk toward him and herd him out of the area with your body. Your attitude should be calm and patient but very firm and business-like when you do this. 4. When you get to where you were pointing to, then stop and wait until he either goes away or stops trying to go back to the area where you made him leave before. 5. When he is no longer trying to get past you, then slowly walk backwards to where you were before. If he follows you, then tell him "Out" again and quickly walk toward him until he is back to where he was a moment ago - out of the area. 6. Repeat this until he will stay several feet away from where you were when you told him 'Out' originally. 7. When you are ready for him to come back, then tell him 'OK' in an up beat tone of voice. 8. Practice this training until he will consistently leave the area when you tell him 'Out'. 9. When he will consistently leave, then practice the training with other areas that you would like for him to leave, such as the kitchen when you are preparing food, a person's space when he is being pushy, an area with a plant that he is trying to dig up, or somewhere with something in your home that he should not be bothering. 10. Work on all of this without other dogs around first. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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