We Share a Soapbox

Posted September 29th, 2019 — Filed in Stockdogs

Thank you very much.  A little background. I have been working cattle with dogs for 40 years.  I have been to many clinics and trials. I have learned a lot at them many of the things have been helpful but it is just not what I do with dogs in real working situations. My dogs were too mechanical and lost their ability to think on their own. I mostly use my dogs to gather and pen. I have problems having dogs that are strong enough to fetch the cattle  so  sometimes they hold them up and I have to move the cattle myself. Some of this maybe due to the fact that many of the methods I have been taught back the dogs off in the early training. I have never been to one of your seminars but I have purchased some of your videos and studied Bud’s methods. The stock dog articles just make sense to me. For example you can spend hours downing a dog to teach rate and some of them just don’t understand and if they do it takes forever. Yet a dog that learns a job when to push and when to back off understands rate. At many of the stock dog clinics people tell you that working sheep and cattle is the same when in my experience this has not been true.  When I am called to pen cattle for people the biggest problem is stopping the spoiled cattle from running off into dense timber etc.. To me this is a totally different situation from cattle that are in a group and you just need help moving them. When my dogs locate cattle out of my sight that are trying to run off knowing commands doesn’t  do much good. It is just a different deal when holding up cattle that are trying to escape than it is with cattle standing in an arena or open field while you work a dog on flanks , walk up , down , get out etc.  At a trial more points are awarded for the outrun , lift and fetch  with maybe 5 points for the pen.  In real life if the dog makes a perfect outrun and lift but you don’t pen you don’t get to market which is what it is all about if you are raising cattle to sell.  I’ll get off my soap box just glad to find information on working a dog in real life situations . Thanks again for the website and information.

Pup Harassing Horses

Posted March 29th, 2019 — Filed in Stockdogs

Question:    We adopted a red heeler/border collie cross pup.  She is now 6 months old.  We’ve worked only on basic commands – come, sit, off.  She has done very well.  About a month ago she started chasing the horses.  She is still somewhat scared of them, but is super excited when they turn and run.  She seems to be very instinctive about coming from behind and turning them to us, but has also been testing her teeth with nips to their feet.  Once she’s focused on a horse or a cow, she will not come when called.  We have a very small herd of cattle – 38 cow/calf pairs and we don’t want to start her working them because we don’t want to ruin her.  She’s much more instinctive than the heeler we previously had. I can’t seem to find any advice on getting her to stop pestering the horses though – aside from one guy who told us that a stock dog can never be loose unless it’s working.  Is this true??

Answer:     A pretty good way to ruin her is to scold her for not coming to you when she is chasing the cattle or horses.  In her mind you are scolding her for working.  If you are successful in teaching her not to harass the horses at her age, it’s a pretty good bet she won’t make much of a cow dog when she grows up.

Bud wrote a lot about starting a pup on our website.  I know it is a lot to wade through, but if you are serious about making you pup a good stockdog I think it will be worth your time to read them.

The guy who told you “a stock dog can never be loose unless it’s working” is pretty close.  We made pets of all of our stockdogs,  but unless we were with them, they were either penned or tied.   The last thing we wanted was for our dogs to “make a life” that didn’t include us.  This is especially true of a young dog.

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.

Next Page »