John Rodriguez


The Herding Dog

common training and behavior problems

Herding dogs come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Originally bred as herding or working stock, these dogs have heightened instinctive herding abilities derived from primitive hunting instints. The various breeds were developed for specific tasks to help us manage domesticated animals such as cattle and sheep.

These incredible working dogs are still used today, not only for herding animals, but also as police dogs, rescue dogs, therapy dogs and an endless variety of jobs suited to their intelligence, willingness to please and agility. Owners of dogs in the herding group call us with a variety of issues, the most common are:

  • Pulling and other poor leash manners
  • Jumping up on people
  • Fearfullness
  • People aggression
  • Dog aggression
  • Dominance issues
  • Excessive attention seeking
  • Chasing animals, people or cars
  • Knocking over the kids
  • Rushing out the door
  • Digging
  • Car sickness
  • Not coming when called
  • General obedience

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Herding dogs

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

herding dog working sheep A herding dog, also known as a stock dog or working dog, is a type of pastoral dog that either has been trained in herding or belongs to breeds developed for herding. Their ability to be trained to act on the sound of a whistle or word of command is renowned throughout the world.


In Australia, New Zealand and the United States herding dogs are known as working dogs irrespective of their breeding. Some herding breeds work well with any kind of animals; others have been bred for generations to work with specific kinds of animals and have developed physical characteristics or styles of working that enhance their ability to handle these animals. Commonly mustered animals include cattle, sheep, goats and reindeer, although it is not unusual for poultry to be handled by dogs.

The term "herding dog" is sometimes erroneously used to describe livestock guardian dogs, whose primary function is to guard flocks and herds from predation and theft, and they lack the herding instinct. Although herding dogs may guard flocks their primary purpose is to move them; both herding dogs and livestock guardian dogs may be called "sheep dogs".

In general terms when categorizing dog breeds, herding dogs are considered a subcategory of working dogs, but for conformation shows they usually form a separate group.

Australia has the world's largest cattle stations and sheep stations and some of best-known herding dogs, such as the Koolie, Kelpie, Red and Blue Heelers are bred and found there.

Herding behavior

All herding behavior is modified predatory behavior. Through selective breeding, man has been able to minimize the dog's natural inclination to treat cattle and sheep as prey while simultaneously maintaining the dog's hunting skills, thereby creating an effective herding dog.

Dogs can work other animals in a variety of ways. Some breeds, such as the Australian Cattle Dog, typically nip at the heels of animals (for this reason they are called heelers) and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi and the Pembroke Welsh Corgi were historically used in a similar fashion in the cattle droves that moved cattle from Wales to the Smithfield Meat Market in London but are rarely used for herding today.

Other breeds, notably the Border Collie, get in front of the animals and use what is called strong eye to stare down the animals;[5] they are known as headers. The headers or fetching dogs keep livestock in a group. They consistently go to the front or head of the animals to turn or stop the animal's movement. The heelers or driving dogs keep pushing the animals forward. Typically, they stay behind the herd. The Australian Kelpie and Australian Koolie use both these methods and also run along the backs of sheep so are said to head, heel, and back. Other types such as the Australian Shepherd, English Shepherd and Welsh Sheepdog are moderate to loose eyed, working more independently. The New Zealand Huntaway uses its loud, deep bark to muster mobs of sheep. German Shepherd Dogs and Briards are historically tending dogs, who act as a "living fence," guiding large flocks of sheep to graze while preventing them from eating valuable crops and wandering onto roads.

Herding instincts and trainability can be measured when introducing a dog to livestock or at noncompetitive herding tests. Individuals exhibiting basic herding instincts can be trained to compete in herding trials.

Basic herding dog commands

  • Come-bye or just bye - go to the left of the stock, or clockwise around them.
  • Away to me, or just away or 'way - go to the right of the stock, or counterclockwise around them.
  • Stand - stop, although when said gently may also mean just to slow down.
  • Wait, (lie) down or sit - stop.
  • Steady or take time - slow down.
  • Cast - gather the stock into a group. Good working dogs will cast over a large area.
  • Find - search for stock. A good dog will hold the stock until the shepherd arrives. Some will bark when the stock have been located.
  • Get out or get back - move away from the stock. Used when the dog is working too close to the stock, potentially causing the stock stress. Occasionally used as a reprimand.
  • Hold - keep stock where they are.
  • Bark or speak up - bark at stock. Useful when more force is needed, and usually essential for working cattle and sheep.
  • Look back - return for a missed animal.
  • In here - go through a gap in the flock. Used when separating stock.
  • Walk up, walk on or just walk - move in closer to the stock.
  • That'll do - stop working and return to handler.
  • Hey's of shame - just repeat hey... that's all thank you.

These commands may be indicated by a hand movement, whistle or voice. There are many other commands that are also used when working stock and in general use away from stock. Herding dog commands are generally taught using livestock as the modus operandi. Urban owners without access to livestock are able to teach basic commands through herding games.

These are not the only commands used: there are many variations. When whistles are used, each dog usually has a different set of commands to avoid confusion when more than one dog is being worked at one time.

Herding dogs as pets

Herding dogs are often chosen as family pets. The collie breeds including the Bearded Collie and Border Collie are well known. Although they make good family dogs and show dogs they are at their best when they have a job to do. These dogs have been bred as working dogs and need to be active. They retain their herding instincts and may sometimes nip at people's heels or bump them in an effort to 'herd' their family, and may need to be trained not to do so.[1] Their activity level and intelligence makes them excellent canine athletes. The Shetland Sheepdog, Rough Collie, Smooth Collie and Old English Sheepdog are more popular as family companion dogs.

Wikipedia contributors. "Herding dog." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 Sep. 2012. Web. 16 Sep. 2012.from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Herding_dog&oldid=511213237

Herding Group The Herding Group is a classification of dog breeds that assist humans in moving, or herding, livestock. Various kennel clubs may use different categories to classify the breeds listed below. Dogs that primarily guard livestock are not typically included in this group. They include:
Australian Cattle Dog | Australian Shepherd | Austrian Kelpie | Basque Shepherd Dog | Bearded Collie | Beauceron | Belgian Shepherd (Tervuren) | Belgian Shepherd Dog (Groenendael) | Belgian Shepherd Dog (Malinois) | Blue Lacy | Border Collie | Bouvier des Flandres | Briard | Canaan Dog | Catahoula Leopard Dog | Cierny Sery | Collie, Rough | Collie, Smooth | Corb Shepherd | Croatian Sheepdog | Cur | Dutch Shepherd | English Shepherd | Entlebucher Mountain Dog | German Shepherd Dog | Huntaway | Icelandic Sheepdog | Koolie | Lancaster Heeler | Laponian Herder | Maremma Sheepdog | Norwegian Buhund | Old English Sheepdog | Pembroke| Picardy Shepherd | Polish Lowland Sheepdog | Portuguese Sheepdog | Puli | Pumi Dog | Pyrenean Shepherd | Rafeiro do Alentejo | Reindeer Herder | Shetland Sheepdog | Samoyed | Schipperke | Scotch Collie | Spanish Water Dog | Swedish Vallhund | Welsh Corgi | Cardigan | Welsh Corgi | Welsh Sheepdog | White Swiss Shepherd

Breed Specific Behavior

We encourage the potential dog owner to fully investigate individual breed and bloodline characteristics before acquiring a new dog. We will continue to add to and update this section over time.

Call 203.232.8018 or email John to discuss how we can help you and your herding dog live happily ever after.

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