Herding Mayhem

herdingmayhemWhen we got Bronte the LGD, I was a bit worried about how things would go when she was first introduced to the Border Collies. While she was penned with the sheep in the small pen, if the Border Collies passed by outside the pen, she would snarl and threaten them. Which is good, it’s her job to deter strange dogs that look like they want to eat the sheep. But, clearly it would be ideal if the Border Collies could work without having to to lock up the LGD.

It turns out, there was nothing to worry about. When I first moved the sheep down to the pasture, a few times I had to work them, to get them into theirĀ Electronet pen. So, IĀ just did it, to see how it would go. And Bronte was OK with it. The only annoying thing is she definitely gets in the mix. She is curious about the Border Collies, and wishes they would play. But, they ignore her, like she is a gnat flying around in their field of view, not a nearly 100 pound pup trying to pounce on them! They have zero interest in play or fraternizing with other dogs when there are sheep to work.

So, it makes for challenging herding. Bronte switches between getting in the way of the collies and getting in the middle of the sheep, and then sometimes throws in some llama-hassling for fun, too. It’s good practice for the collies, they really have to handle a lot of different pressure points when there is a dog running randomly through the sheep, the llama is sparring with the dog, and then the ewes are all stubborn and protective of their lambs and don’t want to move.

In this photo, you can see Maggie way in the back, behind the llama (who is showing her Angry Ears at this process). Maggie is trying to get this crowd bunched together and moving towards me. But Bronte is strolling through the middle, with her tail high in delight over the mayhem. The ewes are all spread out, and they turn on Maggie and stomp if she pushes too hard. But, she is able to get the job done, with some patience and an occassional, warranted grip.

I haven’t been working Gene as much, because this is very difficult for her and takes more time. Gene will feel too much pressure and kick out “into orbit,” and it’s hard for me to call her in to work the sheep consistently with all this chaos, she doesn’t like it. And, if she is off contact, the sheep spread too much, Bronte starts pulling on lamb tails and legs, and I start to yell! Hopefully a little later in the summer Gene will get some more chances to work, once Maggie has the lambs all dog broke.

Maggie is also the best tempered for the chore I am doing every three days now: moving the Electronet “square.” Maggie is “sticky” – she loves nothing more than to get sucked into the sheep, using her eye, and get them in a deadlock where nobody is moving. This is a very annoying trait when I want her to move them and she is frozenĀ in space and time, and no amount of verbal commanding can un-stick her.Ā But, it comes in handy when I need her to hold! I can park her anywhere holding the sheep and leave her, and she’ll keep them there.

So, when I’m ready to move the square, I park Maggie in the sheep in one corner of it. I move the other corner, then move Maggie and the sheep into it. Then I move the other half and box them all back in, and call Maggie off. I find that having Maggie hold the sheep in a tight bunch makes things less risky while Bronte has access to the sheep. She is less stimulated by that, versus having the sheep spread out in the pasture, where she can start to chase them and get to tugging on the lambs. I don’t want her to get in the habit of this, so I try to keep things very boring for her when she has a few minutes “in” with the sheep.

One thought on “Herding Mayhem

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *