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.