July 21, 2006—I have a question for you about my dog. He is one now and has a desire to work. I want to start working more with him and have some already. My problem is getting him to listen when he is around cattle. He listens to me pretty well when he is not around stock. I take him with me to check cows, and he sticks with me for a while. Then he takes off after a cow when I don’t want or need him to, and I can’t get him off for anything. I am very firm with him when he gets in trouble, but he definitely knows when I can’t get to him. I thought about an electronic collar. I don’t know. Any ideas?
July 22, 2006—I used to love to get that kind of pup. He is telling you that he really wants to work. I like to take our pups with us when we feed and check cattle, but as soon as they want to work we don’t take them unless we are going to let them work. If you have a dog of that age that is willing to stay with you and is easy to call off, it probably isn’t going to make the kind of cowdog that I would want.
Have you read the information we have about working a pup on our web site? If so, you should realize that we don’t expect our pups to “listen” in the early stages. They should cue off of our position to learn to work stock, but commands come later on.
A few years ago we had a phone call from a friend we hadn’t seen or heard from in several years. He said he was out fixing fence and let one of his pups go along for the exercise. He wasn’t paying attention and the first thing he knew the pup had taken off after some cattle. He said “B-B” (before Bud) he would have chased after the pup and scolded him, but remembering the talks he had with me he walked out, positioned himself so the pup was in the right place and encouraged him to work properly. He kept the pup working for a half hour or so, then called him in and told him how wonderful he was. Then he snapped a leash on him and tied him to the fence until he was finished with the fencing job. When he got back to the house he said he just had to call us and tell us about it. He said instead of being frustrated and angry at the pup, he and the pup both had a wonderful day.
It can be pretty tough when the dog has learned that he doesn’t have to mind when he knows that you aren’t in position to be able to control him. I have never used an electronic collar but I don’t have anything against them. Personally, I would let the pup have a lot of cow-work before I started cracking down on being able to easily call him off of cattle. At this stage, I wouldn’t take him to the cattle without a rope on him unless I was going to let him work. Talk about teasing!
Remarks: July 25, 2006
I worked him last night in a smaller set of pens with some of our roping cattle. He did a good job and we both had a good time. I appreciate the advice. I just need to keep giving him a chance to work and progress.