Bud Williams Stockmanship and Livestock Marketing

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Bud Williams Stockmanship
Eunice Williams
1519 E Erie St, Apt #206
Springfield, MO 65804
417-719-4910
eunice@stockmanship.com

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Sorry, I don’t know of any scientific material that has documented the stress on livestock that are being worked with a dog. Our personal experience has been that at GOOD dog calms livestock down and makes them more gentle.  A BAD dog does just the opposite. The problem is, that the difference between a good dog and a bad dog is in the eye of the beholder.

I would have to disagree with your statement that  “a good dog should be able to both trial and be a good ranch dog.” Perhaps I should qualify that. An “excellent” ranch dog will never be an excellent trial dog. He may be an OK trial dog, but he will never be willing to obey unconditionally if he knows that the handler is “wrong.”  Since you are working under a time limit, you often ask your dog to do things that you hope will get the job done, but if you are wrong, there is always another trial. You would never do this in a ranch situation because your goal is not only to get the job done, but to teach your stock good things so they will be easier to handle the next time. An “excellent or good” trial dog will maybe be an OK ranch dog if he was started properly and actually learned how to handle livestock on his own before he was taught to work under tight control. The reason I say that is, looking back at some of our very best dogs I know that they did not take kindly to us putting in our “two-cents worth” when they were working. These dogs have their mind totally on the stock. Other than indicating the animals you want and where you want them to go, the person giving commands is a distraction that an “excellent” ranch dog resents. Buck, one of the best dogs we have ever had for gathering wild sheep in the mountains, would back off and come back to you if you insisted that he “bring ‘m up” rather than push the sheep when he knew that they weren’t ready to be pressured and would likely split up. I’m sure we could have forced him to do this, since in a trial with a time limit and you must occasionally “take a chance,” but this would have certainly taken away from his ability to use his own best judgment (which is better than ours) as to how to work wild sheep in rough country. 

Mitzy, one of our very best cow-dogs, was another who knew how to work cattle better that any person you will ever be around. Bud and I regularly drove up to 500 head of cattle through the mountains. We always had other dogs with us, but you could be sure that Mitzy would always show up where she was needed. Often she would be there before we could see a problem. We learned the hard way that she had a reason for being there, and you’d better leave her alone.  We used to have a lot of college kids come and visit.  They loved to work the dogs, so we would let them take Mitzy out in the pasture. If what they were telling her was correct, she worked great for them. If they told her to do something wrong, she would just set down and look back at them until they got their act together and told her to do the right thing.

We have had some “good” ranch dogs that would have probably made “OK” trial dogs. They were willing to do what we told them to do even though they knew we were wrong. An “excellent” trial dog must be absolutely willing to turn his mind over to the handler without even a “second-guess thought” in his mind, and they must love doing it. Many of the dogs we have had in the past were given to us because they couldn’t take the “trial-type” training and handling.  We found that many of these dogs were the ones with a lot of instinct and intelligence and made excellent ranch dogs if they were allowed to work with a minimum of commands. By the way, when I am talking about a ranch dog, I’m not talking about working pastures where the stock and the dog are nearly always in sight. 

Bud has been reading this over my shoulder and said “I know that I could have never been a trial dog.” His Naval career will attest to that. He spent a lot of time in the brig.