a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Herding Behavior

Monday, November 06, 2006

Herding Behavior

SUMMARY: Tika flunks, Boost passes

The Arizona Herding Association was giving herding instinct tests this weekend, so I signed up my Aussie-probably Tika and my all-Border-Collie Boost--at $20 a pop for a 5 or 10 minute test, wow, but I've been wanting to do this since Remington was so interested in livestock way back when.

Tika ignored the critters (goats) for a bit, which I saw with a couple of other Aussies who went in at other times, then ran and lunged straight in at them, barking, and the lady bonked her (or right next to her) with a bottle on a stick to make her back off some, and I just forget how soft she is--she backed way off and wanted out of the ring, and it took some coaxing to get her to come in at all, and she'd come in and bounce forward a bit at them barking, then move away again; peed off to one side although I had pottied them before coming over (obviously very nervous). The woman--who had said that Tika looked like she had a lot of husky in her (about the 20th person this year who's said it, no wonder I always call her Sheba in moments of odd stress), said that Tika was exhibiting chasing behavior but not much in the way of moving or herding the goats.

Boost started quarter-circling almost immediately; came in once or twice a bit nervously to try to nip at them and the woman just blocked her off with her stick, so she went back to circling; took a few minutes before she worked her way up to circling all the way around. She started by wanted to circle behind and next to them, the way she does when "herding" all the other running dogs, and the woman said that she just needs to build up her confidence on working in front of them. But she went into circling behavior just beautifully and naturally, watching the goats' every move, and then didn't want to quit when our turn was over. Very much fun to see, and someone taped it for us; I'll see whether I can get a small version online.

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