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TRAINING, Page 2
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Well, that clinic was fun, but I didn't have calm, quiet stock to work with at home. We didn't have sheep then either, and our cattle were range cattle that had never been working by a dog before. They thought dogs looked a lot like those coyotes they had learned to ward off. I took the advice I found in many books, and didn't introduce Mace to working cattle until he was a year old. He met them "informally" when we walked the pasture to check on them, or worked on the fence alongside their pasture. This was a good opportunity for him to learn that just being around stock didn't mean it was time to work. He wasn't afraid of them, and tried moving them a little, but we called him off before things got out of hand. There were a couple of cows that wanted to fight him, and he wasn't yet coordinated enough so I could be sure he wouldn't get hurt.

Meanwhile, he went to more herding lessons with Lynn Leach of
Downriver Farms when he was eight months old. That summer, we got four older lambs, and started practicing what we had learned. In retrospect, four lambs probably was too few. But he learned how to relax around livestock, and how to bring them in for feeding, and take them back out of the pen. We did "walk-abouts" where I would walk around the pasture, and Mace would bring the sheep along, keeping them close to me.

He learned "that'll do", though it took a few scruff shakes to convince him I really did mean for him to quit working. But in the end, he could be moving the sheep along, and they would stay at least 15 feet away from him. I could tell him "that'll do" and you could visibly see him relax, his stance was relaxed, his ears and tail let down, and he could walk right up to the sheep. They knew the difference too!
English shepherds are not driven to work stock constantly. Here Mace is relaxing while the sheep eat their grain. Because he's relaxed, so are the sheep.
That same spring, Mace did get his first introduction to "real" work. Our bulls got out of their pen near the barn. I took Mace out to help us put them back. The bulls were intimidating, but Mace, at seven months, stuck with them, turned them, and walked them back to their pen.
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