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TRIALING AND TRAINING
DOG FIRST AID
MADE IN THE USA
SHEEPDOG HERDING LESSONS
Today we all went to San Luis Obispo to a Humane Society fund-raiser. I was asked back in the spring by one of the managers if I would consider bringing sheep and doing a sheepdog herding demonstration. I have spent a lot of time the last few days getting ready for that event. I was also going to have a booth at this "dog fair" and hopefully sell some dog supplies.
My husband Matt was rooked into going, as I needed the help. He wanted me to bring Decker, thinking the exposure would be good for him, aiding in his desensitizing. So all five of us packed up the sheep, and all of the accouterments for the sheepdog herding demo, and all of the dog supplies that I had brought in for the event, and tables, ezy-up, chairs, etc. On top of that, I have been having truck trouble and yesterday was changing the spark plug wires, distributor cap and rotor. All of which I succeeded in messing up. I was in total despair with the truck, and called out to a friend who is a mechanic and he came over and rescued me.
So today we get up early for an early start to the Humane Society event. I put Decker in the truck while Tam and Kate loaded the sheep. I thought it would be fun for him to watch, and also contain him not letting him interfere with the loading too. All of the morning loading went fine and we only left 15 minutes later than I had originally planned.
We arrived slightly after 8am and was immediately disciplining Decker for growling at a parking helper helping me with where to park the horse trailer full of sheep. This was just a taste of what was to come.
Decker was the most anxious that I have ever seen him be. He wouldn't settle down, he wouldn't stay on the Coolaroo bed that he always uses at home, he started anxious whining and wouldn't quit, and the whining was just about to drive me crazy. He was constantly moving. He would barely settle for a second or two! This went on all day.
I would correct him, then Matt would correct him, over and over again. Being at an event like this, we have to be careful how we discipline a dog, we never know who is watching. Lots of people don't understand about correcting a dog, let alone correct a dog in a weird or strange way. I usually will correct my dogs like other dogs would correct them. I try not to hit or yell. I much prefer to correct with a touch on the side, or a submission down, just like a alpha dog would do in a pack. It did not matter what kind of discipline Decker got, it was not working. I basically gave up on making him be still. We started putting him into the cab of the truck. We should have brought a crate for him, and the next time we go to something like this, we will. I guess, this was all to much for him.
He did want to work sheep, but he has never acted like that at Sandy's house. He is fairly calm. But when I first brought him to Sandy's, I would immediately put him into a crate. I fear that is what he needed for today. He would have been more secure in his crate, and probably have been a smaller step for him.
I didn't let him work the sheep as I only had temporary electric mesh fencing set up and it was not energized. If the sheep would have had too much pressure from a dog, the sheep would have pushed the fence, and we would have had lose sheep.
At the event, my friend Nancy came to help me with her dogs. She was letting interested people work the sheep with her dog briefly in the temporary pen. This worked out fine.
Later, I was doing a demonstration. Steve, the Humane Society manager and I had met for lunch one day and came out to the event site to discuss the logistics of dealing with the sheep. There was a steep large hill right next to the event and still in the park. I wanted to set the sheep half way up the hill by the fence, then with everyone being able to see, send a dog on an outrun to retrieve them. When the time came for me to do the demonstration, it went pretty much like clockwork. I put the sheep on the hill, then sent Kate to bring them back. They really gave her problems, but she was finally able to convinced them to come back down the hill. Tam was not quite as successful.
The sheep were quite happy being up there on the hill and away from the crowds of people. She was trying to lift them and taking direction from me, but two of the sheep were giving her trouble. I let her struggle for a little, then released Kate to back her up. After Kate made her way back up the steep rocky hill, the both of them were able to bring them back down. Steve and I had talked about bringing the sheep into the "ring", and working them in there also. I remembered about that right after I had the sheep brought down the hill for the second time. So I leashed Tam and had Kate fetch the sheep as I walked over to the ring.
Booths were set up in a circular fashion around the ring. So I had to squeeze the sheep between two booths with about three feet of space, and lots of people and dogs around. The sheep were very reluctant about going between booths, and I had to have Tam help Kate and I had to also help. They needed a little pushing from me to get going. Once we were all in the "ring", I let them work the sheep around a bit and then took the sheep out. I wish I had thought of demonstrating a shed with the girls, because that is pretty cool to watch.
The funniest thing happened when I was taking the sheep out to put them away. They didn't want to leave, of course! But also, they were stopping and looking at all of the dogs, nose to nose. They have never seen little dogs, and that is the ones that the sheep were curious about. They were sniffing them, trying to see what they were.
The sheepdog herding demonstration was successful and I have been asked to come back next year. I told Steve, the manager that I would, unless I had a sheepdog trial scheduled.
On the way home, none of the dogs made any movement, they were all fast asleep all of the way home. Decker must have worn himself out!
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