Should I get a herding dog?

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Should I get a herding dog?

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  • Is owning a herding dog worth it
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    10-25-2010, 09:56 PM
Should I get a herding dog?

I have a herd of 12 goats, 2 llamas, and 2 alpacas. I also have 3 horses, but they aren't so much of an issue.
They are penned in an acre pasture with a shelter, but we let them out on a 35 acre pasture. My problem is getting them in and keeping them in. They all push through and get through and then it's impossible to catch them. The grain bucket is no longer enticing to them. I've done research and would like to get an australian shepard to herd them, but I've herd so many bad stories about the dogs killing or hurting the animals they are herding. If we got another dog he/she would be a pet first and foremost and a herder just when I needed him, which wouldn't be everyday, but close. Anyone have any thoughts on this?
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    10-25-2010, 10:07 PM
Sure, if you wanna add another animal to the zoo. :) just kiddin. Idk
    10-25-2010, 10:32 PM
Herding dogs don't automatically know how to herd properly, they just have a strong chase instinct that is particularly suited to being molded and trained into being a proper herding dog. Without proper herding training all you will have is a dog that randomly chases, scatters, nips, and potentially harms the animals.

I adopted an Australian Shepherd that had been locked up indefinitely in an outbuilding on a farm (his previous home) because he would endlessly chase, nip, and harrass the horses. Even after his leg was shattered by an angry horse, in the absence of any training or supervision, he continued to chase and chase and chase them. That is what he is driven to do, and if I wanted him to become a herding dog it would take a lot of hard work to harness and channel that energy into what you would think of when you think of herding: seamlessly collecting, driving, and seperating stock on command, under complete control of the shepherd.

If you do want to get into herding, though, it can be great fun as well as practical if you have livestock to move (livestock other than horses). There is a place here in WA that teaches owners how to teach their dogs to herd; Perhaps there is a similar facility in your area. Don't underestimate the amount of time and training that goes into a good herding dog, but if you want to do it go for it.
    10-26-2010, 12:00 AM
GuitarChump this is just some of the zoo! I also have 2 ferrets, 1 cat, 2 dogs, 2 lizards and tons of fish. :0) That's the way I like it, though.
Cupcake, that's for the info. I should have explained more on getting a herding dog. I do realize they need trained, but I was thinking just basic herding. Still, I have herd of dogs that have been highly trained and then, on a day off, killed an animals. I just don't know if the risk is worth taking.
    10-26-2010, 12:21 AM
Well I have a border collie from the pound. She was definitely abused because she HATES the car. When we first got her she would bite, nip at our heels, and was EXTREMELY territorial. With good training she turned into a great dog. She's spoiled from my mom and is very smart. If she wants a treat she'll take a pillow off the couch or a sock or something until my mom "switches" for a treat. She loves to chase mice but if we tell her leave it, she walks away and minds her own business. I think it depends on how loyal they are to you.
    10-26-2010, 12:45 AM
Green Broke
I agree, I had an Aussie. Once his herding instincts kicked in it was all down hill. At the time I was pretty young so once he got the idea I couldnt get him to stop. As I got older I was able to control his behavior more to the point where he completely stopped but it took quite alot of work. But he made a fantastic trail dog, one of the best trail dogs I have ever had. You could get a herding dog but you have to take the time into training it properly so it learns not to "herd" the horses.
    10-26-2010, 01:23 AM
The problem with many normal people owning herding dogs is that they are so high energy that if they don't have a good, steady job, they will often become very destructive. My family has been breeding and training border collies for about 20 years and we have never had one that was overly aggressive toward stock. However, we breed now for a bit more courage than your standard BC breeder because we work cows instead of sheep and tend to need more bite.

Most herding breeds make very good family pets because they are very protective of their 'pack'. Plus, they have the energy to keep up with kids too LOL. If you want one, then I would get one from a trainer that has at least the basic commands down. The most important thing is being able to call them off and if you can do that, you're good to go because they will naturally want to bring the prey to you.

One thing to consider though, when you aren't working them, you will likely want to keep them either penned up in a yard or chained because they will work your stock constantly otherwise. Sometimes even aggravate your neighbors stock. We woke up one morning to all of our neighbor's cattle in our front yard when one of ours got off the chain in the middle of the night.
    10-26-2010, 01:31 AM
This spring I bought a year old border collie bitch that had been started on calves to help me with my cowboy job. I worked with her nearly every day and it took a good 4 months and a shock collar to get her to the point where she was more help than trouble. She has a very strong herd drive and cannot be left unattended around my horses as she will not leave them alone. I wouldn't own a dog that was any other way if I wanted a working dog. Any dog that will be any help to you herding will have too much drive to just quit when you decide. I have to kennel my dog or bring her up to the house away from the barn to keep her from wanting to herd. I think your time would be better spent redoing your fences than training a dog unless you really want to be dedicated to one.

Most of the time when herding dogs kill animals they are either very small or they chase them untill they die from exhaustion. They don't generally kill them like a wolf would. If you had the dog contained and paid even a little attention to it then you would have nothing to worry about.
    10-26-2010, 01:35 AM
Dang, Kevin. Sorry you didn't have such good luck with your pup.
    10-26-2010, 01:40 AM
I didn't mean to sound like she wasn't a good dog. Most of the cattle were bad dog-fighters and it took her a while to get to the point she would bite thier faces when they turned on her. She is doing quite well now and will drive cattle in front of me and fetch cattle to me when I ask. She works quite well with very little guidance now. In fact when we were gathering cows a cowboy that didn't have a good thing to say about anything tried to buy her from me.
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