Wednesday, November 18, 2009

That. Was. So. Cool.

Yesterday, Duncan and I went to Pittsboro for a herding session. The trainer is letting me swap work for training, so I don’t have to pay cash for the lesson. We did about 30 minutes of herding, then an hour of work, then another 30 minutes of herding. It worked out really well for everyone, I think.

After our regular herding practice, we decided to try Duncan on boundary herding. Instead of moving the sheep around the fenced area, the point of boundary herding is to have the sheep in a big open area while the dog guards the perimeter. The dog isn’t allowed to cross the boundary into the grazing area, and the sheep aren’t allowed to cross the boundary out of the grazing area. The handler is essentially just supposed to hang out while the dog does all the work. The trainer is hopeful that working boundaries will build Duncan’s confidence and teach him that he doesn’t need to be right up on me when we’re working the sheep (which would be very useful when we’re doing the other style of herding).

This was our first experience with boundary herding, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. Duncan was thrilled when the trainer asked him to gather up the entire flock and move them. He got them into the grazing area with no problem at all. The boundary was a path around the grazing area – one side was just the path, the next side was the path along the fence line, the third side was the path along the tree line, and the fourth side didn’t have a clear path – it was just the tree line. I was in the process of asking the trainer “How do you teach the dog the boundary?” and I’d just gotten “how do” out of my mouth when Duncan came to a screeching halt at the edge of the path. The trainer: “You were saying?” Me: “Never mind.” Duncan picked up the boundary idea very fast – the few times he tried to cross it was to come to me, not the sheep. As the sheep moved farther away from us, he figured out that he needed to get closer to them, but he stayed on the path. We only showed him the open side and the path along the fence line – he figured out the path along the tree line on his own. And watching him run the boundary, especially the side that was just the tree line, with no instruction from either of us, was absolutely amazing. Within just a few minutes, he learned a herding method that was entirely different from what he’s been doing. I am so proud of my boy!


Anonymous said...

That sounds awesome to watch and sounds like Duncan has found his nitch in the herding area. Mary B.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, you should be proud of your boy!!!! I'm proud of you!!!:)Love, Mom