Teaching a Dog to Guard the Gate

Posted February 14th, 2018 — Filed in Stockdogs

Question:   One thing that I wanted to quiz you on Bud told me he could teach a dog to watch an open gate in a day, I would like a few tips on this please.

Answer:   This is the way Bud inadvertently trained two different dogs to guard the gate.

In about 1960 we were working on a sheep ranch back in the hills in Northern California.  One day a timber cruiser stopped at the house looking for a line-marker.  Bud and he got to talking about dogs and we had a Border Collie pup Bud was pretty proud of.  Patsy was only about 8 months old but was already well on her way to being a very good dog.  The entrance to the sheep corrals was a narrow spot between two houses.  It was a very difficult place to put the sheep through.  There were about 50 sheep in sight so Bud sent Patsy to bring them in.  She had a little trouble getting them through the gate, but she really impressed our visitor and managed to do the job.  As soon as they went in the corral, Bud sent her to bring them out again.  He fooled around with her putting the sheep in and out of the corral while he talked to the timber cruiser.  A week or so later, we had to corral the sheep.  We had about 800 ewes with their lambs heading right for the gate when Patsy ran to the lead and turned them back.  After regrouping we got them going again and she did the same thing.  We finally had to put her on a leash in order for the other dogs to be able to corral the sheep.  By sending her too quickly to bring the sheep out of the corral when they went in, Bud accidently made her think he didn’t want them in the corral.

Fast forward to about 1970 . . . We had a young Border Collie that just didn’t have enough force for cattle so we gave him to a friend who ran sheep.  In about a week Tommy brought Moss back along with a trailer load of sheep and said “This is a great dog and I don’t want to ruin him.  Will you get him started on sheep for me?”  After a couple of weeks Bud could stand in one spot and direct Moss to put the sheep in any pen in the corral system.  He was hard-pressed to find anything to challenge him with so one day we opened the people door to the barn which led into the area where we kept the saddles and grain, etc.  It was pretty dark and full of stuff.  The sheep gave Moss a real work-out but he was able to put them all in.  Since we really didn’t want the sheep in there Bud quickly sent him around to bring them back out.  When he asked him to put them back in again, Moss would hold them right at the door, but would stop any that tried to enter the barn.  Remembering what caused Patsy’s problem Bud put a leash on Moss, helped him put the sheep in the barn, stopped for just a few seconds and said “Good boy” then sent him in to bring them back out.  All it took to make the correction was to let him know he was right to put the sheep in the barn…  Now, new project … we want you to bring them out of the barn.

People often think they want a really smart dog, but a dog that is a little slower is often a lot easier to handle.  If it takes 5 repetitions for a dog to “get it” chances you won’t make the same mistake 5 times in a row that is inadvertently teaching something you don’t want.

Sorry to be so long-winded, but I guess by now you can figure out how Bud would teach a dog to guard the gate.


Puppy Manners

Posted March 30th, 2017 — Filed in Stockdogs

Question:  The situation is that we have a 4 month old border collie puppy that we got 2 months ago. We also have an 8 year old lab cross family dog. The older dog is a companion animal and keeps the coyotes and bears away. That is what we hope for in the younger dog too, besides being our 10 year old son’s dog. The pup is totally keyed into the older dog and it is very difficult to take them on walks without constant pulling on the leash. If I take them separately, the pup stays tuned into me and it goes nicely. However, it’s not getting any better when I try to take them on a walk together.  The older dog can go on a leash, but is used to running along on loose voice commands. I realize that I may have to change her habits in order to walk them together.  Do you have any suggestions or ideas on what I need to be aimed at to help this young dog to be tuned into us, rather than the other dog?

Answer: I’d take your pup out on a long line with your older dog loose when you go on a walk.   A 20′ length of 1/4″ nylon cord works well.  You can probably drop your end and  let the pup drag it. Every so often call the pup to you.  Your pup needs to be solid on coming to you when you call it anyway and this is a great exercise for that.  At first you will reel him in fairly gently, with lots of praise when he gets to you. But soon, if he ignores you, jerk hard enough to up-end him, say COME, COME angrily as you roughly reel him in, with you backing up all the time.  When he gets to you change your tone to praise and tell him what a good boy he is.  Then say OK (or another release word) and let him have the length of the line again to wander and play with your other dog as you go for your walk.  Since your Lab will probably stay fairly close to you the pup won’t be at the end of the line and pulling even if you are holding on to the end.  Soon, the pup will stay tuned to you, even when he is interested in something else just in case you call him.

I’d also walk the puppy alone on leash and teach him not to pull.  I’m not into gimmick collars, harnesses, etc., just a regular flat collar.  Be sure it is tight enough that you can barely slip 2 fingers between dog and collar.  NEVER hold pressure with the leash on the pup’s collar, but tug and slack.  All dogs love to lay into pressure and pull, so never let them feel steady pressure to pull against.  I’ve had some dogs that were especially stubborn about this so I would carry a switch and tap them on the rear or back legs when they insisted on pulling.


Dog Information Testimonial

Posted July 7th, 2015 — Filed in Stockdogs, Testimonials

Please find enclosed a check for $200 for the 2 hour Starting a Colt DVD set. If it helps my horses as much as the Stockdog handling information on your website has helped my dogs it will be worth every penny. Pushing the dogs around the cattle, changing directions and letting the dogs learn how to work the cattle without me trying to control their every move has helped my dogs a bunch. They have gotten better in 3 days than they ever were in 3 months of prior training methods. Dog are happier and more relaxed and so are the cattle. Thanks …

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.

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