Herd Dog Tips and Tipping Point

kip2The development of our Ride Along Dog reached a tipping point recently.

At seven months, Kip has matured physically and mentally. Weighing 40 pounds, she’s all speed and agility. On the last few pasture walks, her herding nature has blossomed in full form. She’s done with being intimidated and confronts the horses with new authority.

This confident attitude reminds me of our young mare, Jodi, when she first arrived. They both seem to say to the other farm animals:

I’m here and I can make you move.

She’s figured out how to stress the horses alright. And therein lies the problem.

While Kip generally stays clear of danger, I’ve realized obedience – not instinct – is what is going to keep her safe and the horses sane.

“Have a good ‘down,’ a good recall, and a good ‘off,’ “said Dr. Cynthia Reynolds of Searsport, Maine. “It will save her life in a lot of situations.”
For those unused to those dog commands:

  • Down: Lie down wherever you are.
  • Recall: Come to me.
  • Off: Leave whatever you’re interested in right now.

Aside from working as a veterinarian with acupuncture and chiropractic expertise, Reynolds is also an avid herding dog trainer.

kip1She also suggested leashing Kip, walking her around the horses in a calm manner and then leading the horses around Kip. It’s important to use a lot of positive reinforcement, always rewarding her for calm, added Reynolds.
Just like horses, the more you extend training to different scenarios, the more likely your dog will behave.

“You can have it perfect when it’s just you and her, but then you get around livestock or other dogs and it’s a different story,” said Reynolds. “Take her to different places so it gets really solid. Obedience classes are really helpful.”

  • Obedience class – check
  • Positive reinforcement – check
  • Field trips – check.

Thanks, Dr. Reynolds!

Posted in Dogs and Horses, General.

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