Today we are used to seeing the German Shepherd as a guard dog, police K-9, bomb dog, and family friend. What many people are not aware of is that these beautiful dogs were originally bred to herd sheep and cattle. They make wonderful guard dogs and will give their all to protect their family and their herd.
Shepherds are exceptionally intelligent, willing to please, and ready to learn new tasks. They are very powerful and fast, making them the perfect choice to help with herding your cattle. Keep in mind that when working with cattle, there is always the risk of an accident resulting in your dog being injured. Keep a close eye on your pup until he learns how to keep himself out of harm's way.
Your Shepherd is a working dog and is at his happiest when he has something to do. Working is in his blood and, of course, so is herding cattle. But, despite this natural instinct, your pup really has no idea how to put it to work. It is up to you to choose a training method and then continue working with your pooch until he masters the skills.
He should easily learn the four basic herding commands within 6 months. But, it can take several years if you want your pup to master the complete list of competition maneuvers if you wish to take him that far. Take your time, keep working each step of your chosen training method and in time, you will have one of the best herding assistants you could ask for.
Your pooch will reach his herding best between the age of 4 and 8 years. However, if you want your pup to become a "master" herder, you need to start as soon as your vet clears him to work around cattle. Typically, this means when he has reached an age where his bones have started to fully harden, this will reduce the risk of injury. Your fuzzy friend must also have mastered the four basic commands, 'come', 'sit', 'stay', and 'stop' before you start working on herding.
You will also need:
On top of all of this, you need an ample supply of time to work with your pup and the patience to keep working with him until he gets it right.
Anybody know if there are Belgian Malinois or Dutch shepherds that work cattle? Obscure breeds and preferences to certain breeds in ranching leads to very little research available on the topic
Hello Tate: Check out the link below for information about Belgian Malinois' herding ability: www.malinoisclub.com The natural ability to fetch, gather, and control livestock is typically inherited, then trained to serve the handler's purpose. Because of this, I suggest finding a breeder whose dogs have shown herding ability. Pups parents need to have that natural instinct typically. There are many breeders out there. A quality breeder evaluates parents for genetic diseases common in the breed, and breeds for ability, good temperament, health, and conformation to standard. A good breeder is often picky about who they sell puppies to, to make sure puppies have life-time homes, and they spend time socializing puppies early and interacting with them frequently. Puppies should be healthy and parent's temperaments should be sound. Check out the link below for a link to breeders through the Malinois club. I suggest looking into those breeders who list herding as something they participate in with their dogs, then checking to see what their breeding practices are and how healthy there dogs are, and what types of temperament they have. http://www.malinoisclub.com/abmc/abmc-breeder-information/breeder-referral-list-2018/ Another option is a rescue who has been tested for herding ability or has previous herding experience. Finally, you can always google "Rare herding breeds" or "herding breed list" to find other breeds that are less common, that have been used for herding - especially in other countries. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Are there schools to send my dog
Hello Marco, Yes, there are board and train schools that you can send your dog to and have them do the herding or general obedience training for you. If you are looking for herding specific training, then you might have to drive further to find one. Search online by your state or region. Put the name of your state and the words "herding board and train" to help you locate a school. You can also try the name of your state and "Stockdog training board and train". Here is an example of one place I was able to find online closer to my region: http://www.beretfarms.com/STOCKDOG-TRAINING.html You will see on that page that the final training option is for board and train, which means that you leave the dog with them, and it specifies training a dog on stock rather than only teaching routine obedience. Many places do regular board and train for obedience. You will need someone that specifies herding or stock dog training. Look for something along those lines and then call and talk to a person and ask a lot of questions. Look up reviews, or ask for recommendations from their previous clients. Many places will require that your dog knows some basic obedience before leaving them though. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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