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Orchard Hill English Shepherds
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TRAINING

Most English shepherds come with a whole set of working instincts. They are bossy and want to be in control of livestock. They want to help their person. Sometimes, just being on the job, doing routine chores with their owner, is all it takes for the dog to figure out his or her place in the scheme of things on the farm. Sometimes, especially if the work is varied and variable, they need more formal training to learn their job. Either way, they learn the rules of the "work game" quickly.

Here at Orchard Hill Ranch, our cattle are out in a large pasture most of the summer. We bring them in to the corral to vaccinate them, to wean calves, or sort them for sale. Our large pasture is in a steep, rocky canyon. For years, we gathered cattle on foot, until I decided I needed some four-legged help. The cattle would split and run around us, and require us to start the gather all over again. Mace arrived to be my helper. At four months old, he found out he could move cattle when one of the neighbor's calves was out in the road. Mace barked and bounced at him, and the calf hopped back through the fence. Boy, was THAT fun! He wanted more. Since he was our first working dog, I wasn't sure how to train him. So I took him to a herding clinic taught by
Patrick Shannahan. I stood with my mouth open, watching this five-month-old pup circle the sheep, and then quickly settle down to move them along calmly.
Here Mace is at his first clinic, learning to circle these calm, quiet sheep. Calm, quiet stock are most effective for training a young dog. They let you be closer to the "action" to correct things like diving in....
Occasionally, he would try to dive in on the sheep. I pushed him out by pointing the stock stick at him, or hitting the ground with it and giving him a growly "ank".
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Here, Mace has settled down to work, quietly fetching the sheep to us as Patrick and I back up across the round pen. I still am in awe of what this dog was doing at five months of age! What great instincts!
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