I just recently got a 4y/o Collie/Heeler mix (the Collie part of the mix is a guess, but you can definitely see the Heeler in her), Maggie, and she has a *huge* drive to herd. She 'herds' small children, my cat, and my other smaller dog (never with any nipping or barking, just circling and 'pushing' them gently in the direction she wants), and tries to herd my horses and the cattle.
Now, my horses are all really tolerant of dogs, and pretty much just ignore her, (though sometimes the younger two play along for awhile), but I know not all horses are that tolerant. And I don't mind her herding the cattle, but I'd like for her to herd them when I ask her to, rather than just go nuts when she sees a cow and try to chase it.
She's got a very good recall (I call her name and she's right back at my side. Sometimes, for cattle/horses, she'll try to sneak off again once or twice, but always comes back as soon as I call; we're working on 'stay' for that very reason.) and will usually follow me off-leash (not staying by my side, but she'll only wander a few feet away).
My question is, how can I train her to only herd the livestock that I want her to, when and where I want her to? I sort of accidentally trained her to 'herd' my other dog back to me (Moco is a sometimes-runner when she gets outside, and Maggie has taken to 'fetching' her when I call.), but I'm pretty sure that's not quite the same as working with cattle and horses.
I'd be happy even if I could just call her off the horses/cattle, but I've never worked with a dog that had quite so strong a herding instinct, and it just seems like it'd be unhealthy to completely squash it.
(Yet another reason we oughta get a sheep! )
Any opinions? Tips? Help in general?