Training Herding Dogs
I know it is a little offbeat to ask about herding dogs on a retriever forum, but there is a tie-in. Was talking to someone about training with e-collars on dogs that have been conditioned to them. We both know of persons who have used them successfully in the field, in obedience training as well as in agility training---re agility, usually away from most groups as they feel agility should be positive only. This person has an agility dog that was out of control, stressed readily, etc. With proper collar conditioning and using it correctly, the dog started accepting the responsibility for its own actions, has boundaries, and has had a complete turn-around and has become very successful as well as a dog that is now delightful to be around because of its improved behavior.
She mentioned that herding dog people do not use e-collars. I know that traditionally, for umpteen generations, they have bred those dogs for one purpose, herding, and do not breed those without the proper attitude and talent. Do any of you know how they correct a herding dog that should go out of control; might disregard directions; or may start to bite the sheep? Do they just remove them from use as a herding dog? Have any of you heard of someone training herding dogs with the use of an e-collar?
Outside the parameters here, but am interested in straight forward answers. This is not a question as to whether anyone in any venue should or should not use an e-collar. It is about do they ever use them with herding dogs, and if not, what form of corrections would they use?
Mrs. Glenda, so glad you asked. I've asked the same thing in private conversations but haven't really gotten any answers. I just hope this doesn't turn into an e collar versus all-positive knock down drag out and we get useful information.
Having been out of touch with national caliber dogs and trainers for a number of years I may not be the best qualified person to answer but Judy's Bill was 3 time USBCA National Champion 2001-2003. At that time none of the top professional trainers used E collars, indeed there was significant prejudice against them even though it would seem to be the perfect tool for corrections at considerable distance. As I recall there were a couple of successful amateurs who used e collars but they were definitely the exception.
You might give Phyllis Dobbs a call. They train their herding dogs with e-collars. Phyllis used to do guard dog stuff and herding stuff.
We used the ecollar on our border collies we had when we had sheep.
If I was not into retrievers, I'd do herding dog stuff in an instant.
I've worked sheep and earned titles with an Old English Sheepdog, Australian Shep. and Pembroke Welsh corgis. All stock dogs regardless of breed are started in a small pen (12X12 or so) until they show respect for stock. By respect, I mean not working close to the stock, not biting and not chasing. Tools used can be a shepherd's staff, stock paddles and a bamboo pole with a feed bag attached. Any of those tools are an extension of the shepherd's arm so the dog can be corrected at a distance of 3-10 feet. In short order, the dog learns great respect for the tool and will respond with changes of direction as well as backing off the stock. Dogs with great instinct often work calmly and need nothing more than to see the tool moved toward them to learn what is correct behavior. The high rollers that like to work too close to the stock and at great speed disrupt the stock and will usually need a good whack with one of the tools to get the message about proper stock work. Dogs are not allowed to work stock in large areas until they come work correctly and respond to handler signals in a small pen.
The only time I heard an e-collar mentioned was about a gsd that would not come away from the stock on command.
You might call Clay Bridges. He dabbles in cow herding dogs in addition to retriever training, and I'm pretty sure he uses a collar.
I have also, known a herding person to use an e collar because the dog got to close to the sheep. Quess his prey instinct was to intense - border collie.
From talking to a few folks in the herding trial game, watching a few trials and reading some of the great books on that art I claim to be no expert. From what I've seen, heard and read though the overarching emphasis is on breeding and developing the proper instincts. Dogs are given positive reinforcment when they show expected abilities. Dogs that don't show the right stuff are quickly culled from the program. The judging in a trial also emphasises those traits that are inherent v trained. So while some may use a collar that is outside the norm especially in the UK.
BTW - If you get a chance to watch a sheep or cattle dog trial, do it. It is a blast to watch the incredible energy and precision these dogs are capable of.
Hmmm I just thought of something. In a sheepdog trial the judges are looking to see that the dogs do what is expected and what they want to do. In a FT or HT good bird placement is often defined as putting the birds where the dogs DON'T want to go. So our training is often about getting phideaux to do what she/he does not want to do. The collar is an invaluable tool in that instance.
Well this is Wales so there are a few sheep around and hence shepherds with Collies.
I have seen an advert for e-collars that mentioned 'gripping" in sheep dogs. Having said that the use of a collar in Wales is now unlawful, and was never so far as I know, widespread or even common. I'll ask my shepherding mates.
I asked a border collie owner about ecollar use a few years ago. She told me a lot of BC people are passionately against using an e-collar because they believe inherited biddability is such a key defining breed characteristic. You can teach the dog what you want close up in a pen, but a BC is smart enough to know when they're out of reach of the herding stick. Many owners feel that if you have to use an ecollar to get control at a distance, that BC should never be bred.