Your farm sprawls many kilometres across the countryside. On a summer’s day, it looks truly spectacular. It’s not just fields and crops though, it’s also home to a huge number of animals, from sheep to cattle. But looking after so many crops and animals isn’t without its challenges. That’s why you want to put your canine to work. Poppy is switched on, sharp, and eager to please. She also has plenty of energy that you’d like to put to good use.
Training a working cattle dog would simply make your life much easier. It also means you’ll have a fantastic way to stimulate your dog and give her something to work towards. Then there’s also the fact that it’s fantastic exercise, ensuring she remains fit and healthy, hopefully well into old age. The obedience training will also increase your control and give you a long list of useful commands you’ll be able to use in other areas of her life.
As you can probably imagine, training a working cattle dog isn’t always straightforward. You will need to teach her a number of commands so you can direct her, from ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ to ‘get around’ and ‘come in’. Once she's mastered the herding commands, you’ll need to gradually introduce the cattle. To keep her on task and motivated throughout, you’ll need an effective incentive. This could be food, toys, and praise from her owner.
If your working cattle dog is a puppy, then you have the perfect canine student. She should be a fast learner and you could see results in a matter of weeks. However, if Poppy is older with a history of disobedience under her collar, then you may need a number of months. Get training right and you’ll have an effective working cattle dog who will be able to quickly help you move and look after your cattle.
Before you can start training your working cattle dog, you’ll need to check that you have some tools. A generous supply of tasty treats will be needed. Alternatively, break her favorite food into small pieces. You’ll need a large space to practice in, such as fields. A long leash or rope will also be required.
You will, of course, also need cattle. You’ll then need to set aside around forty-five minutes several times a week to train. The more often you train, the sooner you can expect to see results.
Once you have all that, just bring patience and a can-do attitude. Then work can begin!
she's been sitting around the house a lot and when she sees cows she runs away Im going to start her on leash hopefully that helps but I still need help getting her started it isn't as easy as I thought any tips?
Hello Maci, First, work with pup on the leash, I suggest using a long training leash - not a retractable one but a long line that you can coil up or uncoil to give different lengths. Start with pup far from the cattle and work on obedience around them, rewarding pup for responding to you and staying calm around them. At first, you simply want to get pup over their fear of them, spend a lot of time going for walks and practicing obedience around the pen. It wouldn't hurt to have pup's herding instincts also evaluated by a professional. Some club events, herding trials, and other canine sports competitions will offer this for a small fee. You can also have professional herding trainers within driving distance evaluate pup with their animals. Safety always needs to be a priority with novice dogs though. Once pup is not afraid of the cattle, you will work pup on the long line around them, working on pup's control around the animals. I suggest joining a stock dog forum online, so you can ask other rancher's and shepherds your training questions as you go. Joining a herding club or breed club could also be a great resource for you. Regardless of where pup is at with the cattle, pup will need a high level of off-leash obedience, so work with pup on all the off-leash come, stopping, fetching, driving, ect... type commands pup will need once around the cattle later. Practice these commands in a calm location first, then gradually increase the level of distraction and difficulty as pup improves - the cattle will be a VERY high level of distraction, so pup really needs to learn these commands well for everyone's safety and effectiveness later. What all you teach pup will partially depend on how you want pup to help you with the cattle too. Do you want pup to fetch them, round them up and herd them into a pen, drive them away from you, hold them somewhere, ect... For now, start teaching commands away from the cattle, spend time simply getting pup used to the cattle from a distance on a long leash, and find resources that can help you learn along the way, like a trainer, club, or stock dog forum you like online. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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