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Success with Stock Dogs

By   /  September 11, 2017  /  17 Comments

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Stock dogs can be an incredible asset to a livestock producer or they can be cause for frustration.
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About the author

Denice Rackley's life seems to have always been connected to animals. Degreed in biology and veterinary technology she has owned her own dog grooming business, worked as a obedience trainer and veterinary technician. Denice added freelance writer to her list of occupations a couple years ago. She is a regular contributor to ACRES USA and SHEEP! and has written for other publications, web sites and blogs. She has run a commercial sheep operation since the mid-1990's. Her flock has included many breeds but is predominately a grass based program with North Country Cheviot ewes managed with the help of her Border Collies. She purchased her first dog as a pup in 2000 to assist with her growing flock. Her passion has become educating livestock producers to the vast benefits of stockdogs, teaching them how to use and incorporate dogs into their operations. Denice raises and trains working Border Collies and organizes clinics, gives lessons and demonstrations. She feels there is no better partner for livestock management than a natural, thoughtful working dog. More info at www.clearfieldstockdogs.com

17 Comments

  1. Frank Egan says:

    G’day, here is a link to a short clip of my young Kelpie “Max” working ewes and lambs for the very first time.He inherited his skills from his sire and dam and so few words are spoken when he is working.
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/SHEEP-Farmer/489540237795665

    Note the way he gets control of the little lab and by just using “eye” persuades it to go back to mum.Frank.

    • Frank

      Max looks good. I find the with really talented dogs the less I talk the better. I am not kidding anybody, the dogs are way better than I will ever be. It is learning what and how to ask for what you need and building that partnership with a dog that is naturally talented that makes it all possible.
      There are not many Kelpies here, some on ranches out west and in Canada for sure. I have contemplated trying my hand with one just to have the experience.
      Denice

    • Geralyn Devereaux says:

      His “eye” might be the thing that works but the whole stance of Max is predator like to me. I had no idea how willful a little lamb can be even in the face of all it’s elders respecting that dog! Yay for workin’ dogs and thanks for the video!

      • Frank Egan says:

        G’day and thanks for the comment,here is some more you may enjoy (although not my dogs).
        http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-22/the-hard-yards:-the-ultimate-test-of-canine-and/8734608
        In the reply post on FB there is a pic of my two old dogs ,Jack now retired and Ruby.In Ruby’s past an ancestor of hers was mated to a wild Dingo(this was common among “old bushies” as it improved endurance in the pups) and the pups were bred back to pure Kelpies,she carries the Yellow gene and when she “pups”there is always at least one yellow one.Unlike many farmers I work the stock from the rear using the prey instinct of the flock.The dog guides the mob towards the objective with little help or stress on the flock or farmer.Frank

    • Frank

      Max is lookin’ good. I don’t get to see many Kelpies here. They are more popular out west with range cattle folks.
      Been thinking about trying my hand with one…

  2. Grant
    I would be happy to point you in a direction depending on your goals and livestock.
    Having a clinic here in NOV – check out my web site or face book group page Success with Stockdogs
    If Indiana does not work have friends I trust in MO, WY, WA
    Feel free to give me a call
    Denice

  3. Grant says:

    I would really like to use stockdogs the way you describe. Are there any particular trainers, and/or breeders that you would suggest? I have no ability to have stockdogs now, but I know that anything I can do to prepare will help in the long run.

    • Charles Taplin says:

      It’s been a long time but when you found a dog that suits you and you him or her the breeder may be able to help you. I trained my pups to react to simple commands of obedience and the new owners would teach the hearding part. BC’s need to mind a then heard which mostly comes naturally.

    • Grant,
      I know of folks across the country that I could suggest depending on your location and your goals. There are herding clinics held around the country. Most are set up to help those folks that compete in herding venues with their dogs. As herding has become more of a ‘sport’ the people and dogs that are involved in herding has changed. Even the dogs are bred with different goals resulting in different selection of individuals. The training is very similar but the goals are different so the focus of training is very different.
      Harder to locate True stockman who use dogs for help with livestock management. That is why I have put together workshops at my place for those producers wanting to learn about stockdogs. I have a clinic scheduled in Nov that will include Demonstrations of dogs helping with chores, training progression from a pup to finished dog and then an hands on skill training portion so folks can get help with their own dog.
      There will be two clinics designed like this one next year also. There is always new skills to learn and each dog has it’s own unique challenges. Learning to use and train dogs is a steady progression, the more you see, the more dogs and stock you work the more you learn.
      More info can be found on my web site http://www.clearfieldstockdogs.com or my face book group page Success with Stockdogs.
      If you would more info or have specific questions give me a call

    • Grant
      I typed a reply but will try again…I know of a few folks I trust that I could refer you to depending on your location. There are clinics help across the country for folks wanting to train herding dogs but most of those are focused on the Sport of herding and competitions rather than livestock management. The goals are different so the training focus is not the same although the training is similar for the dogs.

      There are few true stockman that use and train dogs and are able to educate and help others. Teaching someone to use a dog is much tougher than simply training the dog. Even after 17 years using dogs I still mess up more than the dogs do.

      I have three upcoming clinics in the next year to help livestock producers learn to use stockdogs. the clinics will include demonstrations of dogs helping with chores, training progression using dogs at different stages and then a hands on portion where participants work with a clinician and their dog to improve skills.

      More info on my web site http://www.clearfieldstockdogs or face book group page Success with Stockdogs. Feel free to contact me with questions, give me a call if I can help.

      Denice

    • Grant
      I would happily recommend avenues to pursue with more info – location, what your goals are, stock…
      There are herding clinics across the country to help folks train herding dogs, unfortunately most are focused on herding competitions. Stockmen that use and train dogs are few, fewer still delve into educating other producers more than 1 on 1 assistance.
      I have always opened up my place for producers wanting to learn about stockdogs because I see a real need for practical hands on education. The Success with Stockdogs Workshops will address this very thing. There will be Demonstrations of dogs helping with chores, training progression will be shown from pups just starting to finished dogs. Then a hands on portion where participants work with a clinician and their dog to improve skills and efficiency or foundation needed skills. First clinic is in Nov, second one next April. Third clinic next fall. More info at Success with Stockdogs face book group page or my web site http://www.clearfieldstockdogs.com

      These workshops will get you headed in the right direction and lay a solid foundation that is built on each day.
      As Charles alluded to the right dog for the job that suits you is critical – the workshops allow you to see lots of dogs work giving you an idea of what to look for in a dog. Not just every herding dog is really bred to help in livestock production. Herding instinct can be lost in 3/4 generations if it is not used as the primary selection criteria.
      I have friends in WY, MO and WA if any of those are closer
      Feel free to give me a call if I can help or answer questions
      Denice

    • Patrick Tobola says:

      Go to stockmanship.com and read what they have under the stock dogs tab. There is a lot of free information there that Bud and Eunice Williams has published over the years.

      • I have read Mr Williams website. I wish I had known him, a wealth of knowledge and experience some of which is recorded on the web site.

        It is interesting to me that those who take the time and opportunity to listen and learn from their animals often draw similar conclusions. Watching my dogs work sheep has taught me an immense amount about livestock, herding dogs and myself. I think to be a good team member/trainer you have to willing to set aside ego and learn lessons the animals are trying to show you. As Bud said – “Asking WHY” will lead to answers and help you become a better stockman.

  4. Charles Taplin says:

    Raised and trained Border Collies “way back when” with dairy cows in the hills of Vermont. They were a tremendous asset to me with a 100 or more on pasture. Many of my female’s pups went on to herd sheep some out West and Canada.

    • Charles

      The amount of work my dogs help me amazes me to this day. They assist with gathering stock, medicating, hoof trimming, vaccinations, pasture rotation, watching gates, moving stock off feed bunks so I can safely put feed in, watching gates, hold a ewe for me to pull a lamb….I have yet to find a job that is easier to do by myself. Having a dog that is very natural, has tons of instinct and having that great relationship makes all the difference.
      Denice

    • Charles
      I am continually amazed by my dogs, even after using them for years. There is nothing I do with them. Yes they gather and move stock. They also move stock away from feed bunks and gates. Hold sheep so I can medicate, trim feet, pull lambs…I can take one ewe from a pasture or 10 or everyone. I have yet to run across a situation where a dog and I can not get it done.

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