Bud’s Last Stockdog Articles

Posted January 20th, 2014 — Filed in Stockdogs

During the first part of 2012 Bud started writing a series of stories about the dogs we have known in our life. The Stockdog Journal started putting them in their magazine. I intended to post each article to our website as soon as it was published, but about this time Bud became ill with the cancer that ended his life in November of 2012. Anyway, I think it’s about time that I post them for all of the folks who have told me over the years how much they like Bud’s dog stories.

#1 Published in Vol 4 – Issue 4 (Mar-Apr 2012) Stockdog Journal

I’d like to write about some of the stock dogs that Eunice and I have worked with during our lifetime together – which will be 60 years July 25, 2012.

During the last 75 years the thinking about what a working dog is has really changed. When I was young we didn’t have radios or televisions, that meant that many of our evenings were spent setting around the wood stove while the older people told stories about things that had happened during their life. Many of these stories were about dogs that were used to work animals.

My grandfather had sheep and angora goats. The goats were herded for most of the year in the mountains of south-western Oregon. My father had 3 older brothers. When Dad was 9 years old it was time for him to start taking his turn herding the goats. Each brother would stay with the goats for one week then the next brother would come with supplies for the next week and stay to herd the goats. There was three dogs with the herd of 500 to 600 nannies plus their kids. Two of the dogs were herding dogs and the third dog was their coyote dog or what would be called a guard dog today. (more…)

How Can I Fix a Ruined Dog?

Posted March 23rd, 2013 — Filed in Stockdogs

Question:     I have recently purchased a female border collie that I will pick up as soon as she weans her pups. My question to you is. How would Bud and yourself go about fixing a dog that was way to aggressive on stock. Second question is how to rebuild her trust and respect in her handler. The previous owner  put a shock collar and a jerk line and had his way with her. Basically  destroying her because he was clueless on how to work a dog with the kind of strength.

Answer:       Have you read the material we have posted on our website?  Especially the things that were put on the site in July 2009.  This was where the first and most basic dog articles were put.  We’ve never had any problem with teaching a dog not to be too rough without taking away her ability to use the force that is sometimes necessary.  Be sure to take the time to read these things, then write back to me and let me know your situation.
 What kind of stock?
 How many?
 What size pen or pasture?
 
Comment:     I train cutters and will try to use her to gather anywhere from ten head of yearlings to eighty head of yearlings in a forty acre trap. I have just found your website and read almost all the stockdog post and was completely fascinated with all of it.  I love the concept of actually letting your dog use its intelligence to learn to read cattle as opposed to waiting for your every word.  I was taught  to train cutting horses like a trial dog and was on pens and needles the entire time. Not until the man shut his trap was I able to feel my horse and make the proper adjustments to get my horses worked.  By the time he saw a mistake, then yelled at me, then I heard it and reacted it was too late.  I’ve been watching a lot of dogs work in person and on you tube and it seems the same way with a lot of these dogs. I was just curious how you guys would have handled a dog like this. She was started by a good dog guy then he sold her as a started dog. The new owner tried to drive roping steers down the alley to rope and she went ballistic trying to eat the cattle. So he did what any “good” hand would do and put the shock collar on at full strength and a jerk line and jerked and shocked her until he ruined her.  I saw some video of her getting started and at one time she seemed to have a lot of potential.   I hope the additional info will help.

Answer:      80 head of yearlings in forty acres is just about  ideal.  Unless he has convinced her not to work at all, you have a good chance of making a good dog out of her.  Did you read how, when Bud changes directions, the dog must run to the lead to stop the animals?  This lets your dog burn up a lot of  energy without you having to get after your dog and without your dog abusing the stock.  When the dog starts to settle down and think he realizes that if he pushes the stock past you that he has to go bring them back.  They soon learn to ease up on their own and even work up the side to slow the cattle down so they stay behind you.

Let me know what she wants to do when you get her home.

Dog Won’t Push Cattle

Posted March 16th, 2013 — Filed in Stockdogs

Question: . . .I have a year and a half old border collie.  When I started using him I was determined with this one to send and shut up and only push him to where I wanted him to go like Bud always said.  This has worked well and he responds good and really goes around to the other side and gets them going but as soon as they start moving that’s it.  He just sits there and watches.  I’ve tried just leaving him and once and a while he will move up but won’t push.  Somehow he is just confused about what I want him to do. 

  The other thing is that if I send him with another dog that knows what to do he is fantastic.  I love his style. He keeps his head up and watches all over and doesn’t get hung up on any one thing to long. Doesn’t even have to stick right by the other dog either just gets to work.  I just don’t want him to have to be dependent on another dog and maybe I started doing that too soon.
Answer:     I’m afraid that I’m not going to be any help with this question except to say that there’s nothing wrong with working him with another dog at this point.  Bud always liked to use two dogs on cattle.  The cattle responded better and neither of them had to be nearly as rough to get the job done.  We always had a lot of dogs.  Of course, Bud tried to make each dog as near perfect as he could, but he was always willing to “take what each dog could give him.” A year and a half isn’t that old.  I’d think that if you worked him with another dog, doing actual work (not just training sessions) for a while until he actually got it in his mind what the complete job was all about he would start to realize that “the idea is to put the cattle through the gate” or some such thing.  Sorry I couldn’t help more.
Comment: . . . . That was lots of help.  Just knowing Bud worked two dogs together will help a bunch.  I know Bud really loved dogs and I do to.  That video you sent and the things he has written are priceless.  If I can keep learning what he (you) was teaching I know things will work well.  Every part of our operation, dogs, cattle, marketing is affected every day by what you have done for us.  Hang in there and thanks again.

Dog Will Stop the Sheep but . . . . (more)

Posted February 1st, 2013 — Filed in Stockdogs

Just an update.   Taking on board what you said. We had boarder collie come visit us. “sneak”  our bitch changed to some degree. Even though the visiting dog had no stock skills. Sneak was very keen to get to the sheep.
She did not really push them but showed some push and bite on a few occasions. She did a good run with a nice outrun and cast to block them when the took off from one paddock to the next. Then pushed them trough a gate when we returned them. All with out a word except Go!
Thanks again.

Answer:   There is nothing wrong with you being in the middle of the flock when you’re working a dog.  Bud often did this for various reasons.  It does more harm than good for you to go to the back where Sneak is and help her move the sheep, but perhaps you can set something up with you in the middle of the flock, driving most of them so she is encouraged to bring the rest along . . .?  Just keep your eyes open and think creatively.

Dog Will Stop the Sheep, But Won’t Drive

Posted January 29th, 2013 — Filed in Stockdogs

Question: . . . .I have read all of the info you have posted on the net. And I’m trying to use that to start the Collie (Sneak) she is about 12 months old.   The problem is she will not drive the sheep.

If they run she is right on to them, casting around the lead and blocking them up. As soon as they stop she stops.

I have confused her now by tring to get her to push them and I think I’m doing more damage than good.

The sheep are quite low energy and are last years lambs.

I think she wants to work she just does not know what I want her to do.

Answer:     I agree with you that she wants to work. One of the problems we often find with Border Collies is that they are very satisfied to just “hold” animals.

One of the ranches we worked on years ago had a little Border Collie that was left loose all the time. Queenie was a great little sheepdog, but not much help on cattle. I remember one time we were going out to gather cattle in one of the closer pastures and we didn’t notice that Queenie had followed us. We were calving some heifers and had lost a calf the previous night. Instead of taking the time to take Queenie back to the barn and tying her up, one of the cowboys “sent” her around the dead calf. We were gone at least 2 hours. When we got back with the cattle Queenie was still there, “holding” the dead calf. They called her off and we all went back to headquarters.

You have probably thought about working her on sheep that have more movement, or working her with another dog. If these things aren’t feasible, I’d try walking right into the middle of the sheep. If some split off, that’s great. She will probably go get them and put them back to the bunch, if not and you find yourself close to your dog you can “push” her around the flock. If, as you say you have read the material on our website, you should remember how important Bud thinks pushing your dog is and how to do it. Anything to get her “unstuck.” Above all, don’t say anything while you are doing this.

Where are the “Fourlegged Chainsaws”

Posted November 20th, 2012 — Filed in Stockdogs

Question: . . . . Seems as if you are answering a lot of questions about training Stockdogs and you seem to be very knowledgeable as to training techniques and different Cowdog-breeds, so I was hoping you could maybe shed some light on an issue that has been bugging me for several years now. Back in the day I held a job with a very large yearling outfit on the Laramie plains of Wy, of course all of us were always looking for the dog that could travel longer, gather better and get his point across to those obnoxious yearlings without tiring, so somebody gave me . . . . number, and told me he had some BorderCollie-Pitbull cross dogs that were just the ticket. So, I calls the guy and he happened to have some pups, I met him in Green River and he sure enough seem to be a real nice guy and had a lot of wild stories (more…)

Pup is Over-Working (more)

Posted November 6th, 2012 — Filed in Stockdogs

Question: . . . . On the goat issue, I probably out thought myself and listened to one of my neighbors a bit to much. I was walking to get the calves to gather and bring back to the pen, I had let the dog out and he was just roaming around happy to be out. I went to put the calves back and forgot about him for the moment, he came into the area where the calves were and started chasing them, chased them all to me in about 60 seconds which I thought was good and I just kept my mouth shut. Two or three of the calves decided that they had had enough, and took out after Willy, the dog. They chased him out of the field we were in. So then I thought he seemed a little gun shy and one of the neighbors stopped by that trial works a lot of dogs, and is a big fan of Bud Williams stocksmanship. He mentioned that I should use goats or sheep to get him started. I have only let him work the goats three times. The first time he was a bit timid and afraid. Second time he was better and the third time they even tried to fight him a little and he was down right tough with them. I realize that I need to position myself better . . . .  and that he is not going to get it all right the first time. With that said, how should I start. 5 calves? One goat? What is the proper way to start a young pup?

Answer:   It is probably a mistake to listen to anything I say about how to work a dog as most of what I say will be the opposite of what the real dog trainers say to do.

How would I start a dog? I always started a dog where the dog would be working – with whatever number of animals that it would be working, from 20 to 500, and where the dog would be working them. Never did try to start the dog on 2 or 3 animals in a small pen, this doesn’t mean that is wrong, I just didn’t do it.

Try to understand this about working a dog on animals – you have to understand what the animals are doing, what the dog is doing and what you SHOULD be doing. When the pup brought the calves to you, if you had kept moving so the dog could keep bringing the calves or just stepped out and called the dog or pushed him around the calves the calves wouldn’t have chased him out of the field. Calves that aren’t dog broke will often chase a dog, that is why it is important that the calves keep moving or changing what is done so the calves don’t get a chance to THINK and realize the dog can be run off. The calves are bigger and stronger than the pup and given time they can soon learn to run off the pup.   It is possible to dog break calves without a dog and that will help keep the calves from chasing the dog when the dog is there. Sometimes we had to start a pup on 200 horned dog fighting cows in a pasture with 20,000 acres that only had a fence on one side. While this isn’t the best place to start a pup, that was what we had and had to have a working dog. I started my first sheep dog on several thousand acres with 800 head of sheep so wild they started running when they saw or even heard you. The dog had never seen a sheep and at that time I had never worked a dog on sheep and only a short time on cattle. When we first started using dogs we never had animals in small pastures close, had to start the pups on animals where they were and the number that was there. The reason for writing this is to say “use what you have and make it work.” The size of the area or number of animals is irrelevant it will always be what YOU DO THAT MATTERS.

One thing that made it easy for me was never talking to the neighbor or anyone else about what I was doing until it was possible to succeed and then they didn’t want to talk to me or if they did it was to ask me how it was possible to do these things.

Training a dog is about communication between you and the dog, it isn’t about how many or how few commands it is about what the dog understands about what you want or expect. This gets back to the fact that words or movement mean certain things and they must mean the same to the dog as to the person. What you want isn’t very important unless the dog wants the same thing.  The dog is facing the same thing with the animals they are working, the animals being worked must understand what the dog is saying. If the person, dog or animals being worked are confused there will be a problem. Just trying to make a dog do what you want will not work well unless you understand your job, the dog understands his job, and is able to have the animals understand.

Pup is Over-Working

Posted November 4th, 2012 — Filed in Stockdogs

 

Question: . . . . was playing with our pup last night, we have three goats to let him mess with, he really wants to go get them and bring them to us but gets over excited and I am sure that we are doing something wrong. He pushes them our way but then wants to cut in front of them and circle them. Unless he is up close to us, if he is close we can push him and he stays 12 o’clock of us, and seems to do what is right. He seems to get to close to the goats and pushes them harder and harder. We know this is hard explaining, but nine times out of ten when you and Bud tell us something a light bulb goes on and we can figure out what we are doing wrong.

Answer:     There are times to play with the pup and times to work they must be separate. With the working dog they have a job to do that is difficult.  They must be serious and realize it isn’t playing. With a young dog  I would have never let them “mess” with 3 goats.  If for some reason I was going to use 3 goats I would be sure the dog was serious and knew it was work.

Everything you say about what the pup is doing is about what the pup should do. What isn’t being said is what you are doing. Our job is to move around so that what the dog is doing is right with very little correction (use position not commands) from the person. Our job is to create the situation where the pup can and will succeed not just expect the pup to do what we want just because we want it. All the pup needs is to know what is right and what isn’t right.  This can be done if the person moves to stop what isn’t right and allows what is right. At first what isn’t right doesn’t have to be completely stopped the pup just must know that it isn’t right until it learns not to do the wrong thing.   A young dog that will be any good will probably over-work and push stock too fast,  That’s why I tell people to be where they can walk and push the dog around the stock until the dog learns to slow down.  This is more difficult to do with 3 animals. What you do or don’t do and how you act will usually be what causes the dog to over-work.

Learning how to have a good working dog is difficult, learning how to give commands is easy but that doesn’t mean there will be a good working dog just one that knows commands.

Questions About Stockdogs (more)

Posted October 16th, 2012 — Filed in Stockdogs

We often get questions or comments about working dogs. Most of the questions are not about dogs, but about some dogs doing things the person doesn’t like. What is strange about this is that the questions should really be about people as they are the problem or the solution. If someone saw a Dodge Pickup go through a red light, then a little bit later saw a different Dodge Pickup speeding through a school zone would that person then say they would never own a Dodge because it is always breaking the law? It is the person driving that is breaking the law not the Dodge. It is the same with dogs. When dogs are doing the wrong thing or doing things that a person doesn’t like – the person is at fault not the dog.

We’ve had many working dogs and seldom kept one for more than a year or so, yet these dogs did more work and less wrong than the people. The dog will do what you have taught it to do. Most people don’t realize that they teach the dog to do most of the things the dog does wrong. People spend so much time trying to teach a dog commands without realizing all the other things the dog is being taught by mistake. If people would spend less time trying to make a dog learn commands and more time understanding the dog and what it really needs to learn, there wouldn’t be all these dogs doing things people don’t want.

It is easy to let the dog do the good things and stop the dog from doing the bad things, if people would only learn how to let a dog do the good things. People spend so much time making dogs do things that most dogs learn to hate doing some of these things. I was watching some trained dogs recently and seldom did any dog stop when the dog was told to stop, yet I am sure many hours were spent on teaching the dogs to down or stop. In fact, most of the things that are written about training a stockdog will tell people to have a good down on the dog before ever going to stock. If a dog is worked properly it will know when to stop or the slightest indication from you will have the dog stop even if the dog has never been taught to down. Working dogs love to work and really like to please their owner unless they are trained to the point where the dog doesn’t like to work that much or will just do what it wants in spite of the owner. There are some dogs that like to be told every move to make, most dogs don’t really like one command right on top of the last command.

My working dogs wanted to get the job done and wanted to please me. The dog was happy to work, come, stop, down or just follow me, what ever was needed. Dogs that do all kinds of miserable things are not bad dogs they just don’t have the right owner.

Eunice’s 2-cents worth. . . . . Maybe I can help you with some of your dog questions. The only dog trainer I know of that I agree with is Cesar Millan. He has a program on the National Geographic Channel on television. He emphasizes the importance of letting a dog be a dog and teaches people to be the “pack leader.”

The leader of a dog or wolf pack is always in charge of the food. Subordinates must wait until the leader has finished so don’t feed the pup at the table or share food that you are eating, with him. Tug-of-war is also a No-No. There is no way that a pack leader will allow a subordinate to take anything away from him. Living with any kind of dog and ending up with a normal, happy, obedient animal is about your everyday interaction with him (“him” might be “her” I am not into political correctness), not the “training sessions.” It is very similar to raising children (or the way you should raise children).

You don’t, one day, decide to set down and teach your youngster his ABCs, or numbers. You take the opportunity to point out letters and number on the cereal box etc., all through the day. For instance make the pup sit quietly when you put his feed down, then say “OK.” When the pup runs up to you and wants to jump on you, bend over, set him down and pet him while he is setting quietly, talk calmly, then stand up, turn your back on him and walk away.

You don’t tell him to do something (or not to do something) unless you are in a position to make it happen.

You don’t confuse him when you play with him. For instance, the last time we were waiting in an airport a little toddler had wandered too far from her mother. The mother made a playful run at her saying “Stop, stop” then scooped the running baby up over her head and carried her back to her seat. If the mother had said “Run, run, I’m going to catch you” they would have still had the same pleasant interaction without encouraging the baby to ignore a command.

Be careful of anything the puppy does that makes you laugh. Many of the problems that Cesar Millan is called in to correct are things that escalated from such things as a dog biting at the water coming our of the hose, chasing a dot from a laser pointer etc. Many of the dogs featured on America’s Funniest Videos are doing just such things. While most people are laughing, Bud & I are feeling pity for the poor dog with a screwed-up mind. There is nothing wrong with throwing a ball or stick for your dog, but if you see that he is getting too excited it is time to stop and pet him quietly until he settles down.

Don’t worry about what other people do, it’s not necessary (though it would be good) that he feels that your wife or children are higher-up on the social scale for him to respect you as the leader. If you do your job right he will respect them as part of your pack.

People often ask questions such as “How can I break my dog from chasing cats, cars, etc.?” My answer is always “I just tell him not to.” I realize that that is pretty simplistic but if you have done the proper groundwork, that’s all that it takes. One mistake that people make when correcting a dog is that they are too late making the correction. The time to say “NO” is when the dog is thinking about the action. In other words the correction should be made when he first pricks up his ears at it, not when he is in full chase. We had a dog given to us because he killed chickens. The ranch where we were working at the time had LOTS of poultry running loose. I’m sure, that when we first got Scotty, Bud or I probably said “NO” to him when he pricked his ears at a chicken but I don’t remember it. A few months later I was changing the hay bedding in his dog house and found a nest full of eggs where a bantam hen had been going everyday to lay.

I used to work grooming dogs. One of my regulars was a male Shih Tzu that was a really miserable little dog who had his owner completely buffaloed. After bathing and grooming him you could count on him messing in his cage and rolling in it so that I would have to bathe him all over again. Instead of putting him back in his cage, I got to where I just put him on a chair. It only took a couple of times of putting him back when he jumped down for him to stay there until his owner came to pick him up. The ground-work of the several grooming sessions I’d had with him had convinced him that I was pack-leader and as soon as he understood what I wanted he was happy to do it. Maybe these examples will give you an idea of what Bud and I are talking about.

Questions About Stockdogs

Posted October 14th, 2012 — Filed in Stockdogs

Question: . . . .so my first question. I am interested in getting a stock dog. A neighbor . . . . . who has taken your class before and holds you in high regard is helping me with the process a bit and has lent me your dog VHS cassette which I have not watched yet, but will soon. So If any of my questions are answered there please let me know that and I couldn’t find answers to the questions I am about to ask on your site. So I am looking for a stock dog, but also a companion. I am getting married next may and hope to have kids soon after. My question is:

Can I have a stock dog that is also a family dog?

My next set of questions are related to that.

From what I understand you do not want to teach your stock dog too much obedience as it could short out his instincts. That being said I don’t want a dog that is out of control or bites people, children, runs at cars, jumps on guests etc. Will I be able to keep the stock dog form doing these things or is a stock dog a stock dog and you don’t expect to walk in town with him without a leash if at all? How much obedience is it safe to teach him? My guess is I will have more specific questions about this as I get one. Sorry in advance.

Next. As I select for a young pup is there anything you look for specifically.   . . . . . says he waits until they are four months or so and watches them work sheep and picks based on their style during the instinct test. He looks for a strong header. However the man . . . . . I am looking to buy them from says he has many folks buy them as pups at 8 weeks old. So I don’t want to wait too long and miss out and get stuck with the left overs.

Any thoughts on pup selection and the best age to select at? Lastly….do you have a preferred gender?

Answer:    Actually I don’t answer question about working dogs.  A working dog now is more a personal thing than what was considered a working dog in the past.  All of the working dogs we had, learned how to work stock instead of being trained to work with commands. Today, people want to have control of the dog instead of the dog having control of the stock being worked.   The way I worked a dog will not be used anymore as the trial mentality has taken over the training of working dogs.

Now to your questions.

#1- “Can I have a stock dog that is also a family dog?”    Yes.  Most if not all of our working dogs were or could have been good family dogs and we’ve had lots of dogs over the years.

#-2- “You don’t want to teach a dog too much obedience as it could short out its instincts.”      You totally misunderstand what I want. What I will have is a dog that is probably more obedient, more disciplined than most people’s dogs are. What I do want is a dog that works because it knows how to work stock and isn’t just able to work because I have taught it a lot of commands.

#-3- “I don’t want a dog that that is out of control, bites people, children, runs at cars, jumps on guests etc.”  Why do you think that the dogs I had did all of these terrible things?  Because I don’t use a lot of commands when working stock people think I let a dog run wild. Anybody that has ever seen our dogs work always commented about how well they minded. The people that don’t understand how to have an excellent working dog without all the commands will trash what I do by saying that the dogs must run wild. Teach the dog all of the obedience you want and teach it all the command you want. When or if you get a dog it is about you and not about what I do or don’t do.  After reading your message and answering this question I realize you probably should NEVER get a dog.

#4- “Any thoughts on pup selection and the best age to select at? Lastly….do you have a preferred gender?”    You are getting information from too many people and trying to pick out what is best from all of this information. Probably no one knows what will be the best pup and many don’t even know after the dog is grown and ready to start working. Knowing how to guess what will be the best pup to buy would be like someone showing you how to buy the winning lottery ticket.

Now to finish this – you have asked these question from the worst possible person.  If you watch the video of our dogs working it is easy to see the dogs are not out of control, biting people, children, running at cars, jumping on people etc., why you thought our working dogs did these things is hard to understand.

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