Wednesday, January 25, 2012

To Herd or not to Herd... That is not the Only Question!

In my never ending quest to find the perfect job for Gilda, I am, in the midst of Agility and Treibball,  considering Herding lessons for Gilda...
The way I see it, a dog that is, at every waking moment,on the very verge of herding, clearly lives to herd!

{The closest thing to a
sheep Gilda could find}

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across the blog of a Blue Lacy dog owner. (True Blue Lacys Blog)These are fascinating dogs (well, to dog people anyway) and they are bred to hunt and bay wild hogs. The blog author writes:

"Lacys are a 19th century dog in a 21st century world. If you think a true blue Lacy is going to adjust to your lifestyle, you're in for a big surprise. For over 100 years they've been bred to hunt, herd, track and tree dangerous animals. These instincts were a matter of survival, meaning only the dogs who had the right skills went on to produce the next generation. And trust me, those genes aren't going to change simply because you live in a downtown Austin apartment. If you want a truly happy, healthy, balanced Lacy, you must provide them with an appropriate Lacy job. "

{Blue Lacy Dogs In Action}

She further explains that until she let her dog hunt and bay wild boars on a regular basis, she was unable to progress well in Agility and other activities. This made me think of Gilda and her constant attempts to herd.

While we ponder new undertakings, our training continues...

We worked all week on Gilda staying directly across the ball from me and on her pushing the ball toward me. In Treibball class #2, the practice really paid off and she was pushing the ball more forcefully across the floor than she had all week! She started class very well but was frustrated about midway through and completely done by the end of class. I was thankful that the instructor was able to recognize this and suggested that we end on a positive note. I am thrilled with how well Gilda is handling the stress of a new environment, and how well she is working off-leash during class while the other dogs work.

I contacted a local Herding instructor by email and found many of her thoughts very intriguing. Everything I've read about Treibball equates it to 'Herding for dogs with no sheep'. According to Kelly M.:

"Treibball is not herding. It's learning to chase and move balls physically. Herding is learning to move and manipulate the bio-magnetic field or flight zone of prey animals. The term Away in herding means: Turn 90 degrees off of the BUBBLE of the sheep counter-clockwise, and go around without DISTURBING them in any way. It doesn't mean go around counter-clockwise around the PHYSICAL body."

This was eye-opening to my novice mind. We will continue in our classes as I think it is benefiting both of us! Gilda gets the experience of working with new distractions and I am able to learn more training skills since there are far fewer variables in Treibball than there are in Agility!

I have plans to visit Kelly M's farm tomorrow to audit a Herding Class in an effort to learn as much as I can before making a decision. Exciting things are happening in the little world of Gilda!


Anonymous said...

I am new to Austin and am looking for a farm to take my dog to to herd with her. If you have any suggestions they would be much appreciated.

WonderPupsMom said...

You may want to post your question to
Gilda and I are nowhere near TX...
Good Luck!