NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: Tips to introduce dogs to sheep  (Read 7280 times)

kate7590

  • Joined Jun 2014
  • Powys
Tips to introduce dogs to sheep
« on: June 16, 2014, 12:53:49 pm »
We are in the process of registering to be able to keep some pet sheep/ lawnmowers.
We have 4 Border Collies (just pets) and were really looking for some tips to introduce them to the sheep without causing problems.

We realise it may be a long process but we would love to eventually be able to trust the dogs around the sheep and know they won't chase/ worry them.

The dogs have been allowed in our fields since we bought the land, and the sheep will be living in these fields so we would like to be able to still allow the dogs freedom to go into their fields.

Any help greatly appreciated :)
Living the 'Good Life' in our little Chapel in the rural welsh countryside.
Proud owner of 3 Border Collies, Giant Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Chickens, Runner Ducks, 3 'pet sheep' &  Jacob Sheep.
Loving life :)
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Bionic

  • Joined Dec 2010
  • Talley, Carmarthenshire
Re: Tips to introduce dogs to sheep
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2014, 03:09:59 pm »
Kate,
Plumseverywhere went on a great course when she got her dog. She might have some good tips or even recommend where you can find a similar course.
Life is like a bowl of cherries, mostly yummy but some dodgy bits

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Tips to introduce dogs to sheep
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2014, 04:18:02 pm »
What is their general obedience like?

Which commands do they know? How well do they follow them?

I don't know too much about collies but guessing that they will be interested in sheep (being collies  ;D). Maybe not too much at first but soon their instinct will kick in.

Helpful to know about their general obedience.

Alistair

  • Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
Re: Tips to introduce dogs to sheep
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2014, 04:39:21 pm »
Mine would just organise them, make them look tidy in one place

Mind they where pups when they first saw sheep

AndynJ

  • Joined Sep 2010
  • uk
  • Says it as it is. don't like it don't look
Re: Tips to introduce dogs to sheep
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2014, 04:52:52 pm »
My advice go on a course well worth the money, you will learn to either train the dogs or not but training them not to bother the sheep is as important as anything

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Tips to introduce dogs to sheep
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2014, 06:33:51 pm »
I have two working collies who are superb workers.  I would never let the younger one be with sheep unsupervised.

Prior to being a sheep farmer, I had pet dogs, mainly collie crosses, who I taught it was naughty to even look at sheep.  They were superb, would come back to me as soon as they saw any sheep, and keep their heads behind my legs so they wouldn't look at the sheep.  Bless.

But I would still never have let most of them be with sheep unsupervised.

So what I am saying is that you can train your dogs to behave around sheep when you are with them.  But with 4, it is, IMO, highly unlikely improbable that it will be safe to leave them loose with the sheep if you are not present.

You may be lucky and have one, or even perhaps two, that can, in time, be trusted with sheep when you are not there.  But only on their own with the sheep, not with the other dogs and with sheep.

Get yourself a copy of Barbara Sykes' book Understanding Border Collies, and read it.  Twice.

I am sorry to be so blunt, but to think that any four dogs will be safe unsupervised with sheep is misguided; to think you would achieve it with four collies unrealistic. 

It is better that you get your head around that now, before you get the sheep, than later, after you have had to learn the hard way.

And don't forget, once your collies have learned how much fun it is to chase sheep, you can never ever let them off a lead safely in the countryside ever again.

I would consider other livestock, not sheep, in your circumstances. 
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

in the hills

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Tips to introduce dogs to sheep
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2014, 07:11:26 pm »
SITN has said perfectly what I was thinking. I was waiting to see whether your ' freedom in their fields' meant they had freedom to roam on your land unattended and to understand how obedient your dogs were in general before I answered.

I have 2 retrievers. Neither are at all interested in sheep and the young one is scared of them. I wouldn't however leave them unattended in my fields with my sheep at all. I don't think they would chase but you just don't know, especially with 2 dogs together. 4 collies I think could get into real trouble .... IMO.

How you introduce them I think depends partly on how obedient they already are.

Alistair

  • Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
Re: Tips to introduce dogs to sheep
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2014, 10:18:49 pm »
I should point out I did do what Sally suggested, and bought that book, do it

Both of mine have been, well 1 is and 1 is a part trained sheepdog

 Listen to sallyintnorth she knows what she's talking about, I was being flippant, I shouldn't have been, I have to go into the corner now, the naughty corner, cos the collies said I have to, it makes me look tidier

kate7590

  • Joined Jun 2014
  • Powys
Re: Tips to introduce dogs to sheep
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2014, 10:21:15 pm »
Thanks everyone for replies :)

I wasn't very clear in my original post, we wouldn't be leaving the dogs alone with the sheep at all. We are always with them when they go in the fields anyway.

I think we will start with 2 at a time (hubby and I can have one each) and work really hard with them.

They are all very friendly and quite obedient. Its just 1 that Im a little worried about, so he will be watched very carefully.
Living the 'Good Life' in our little Chapel in the rural welsh countryside.
Proud owner of 3 Border Collies, Giant Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Chickens, Runner Ducks, 3 'pet sheep' &  Jacob Sheep.
Loving life :)

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Tips to introduce dogs to sheep
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2014, 11:01:44 pm »
I have to go into the corner now, the naughty corner, cos the collies said I have to, it makes me look tidier

 :roflanim: :roflanim:
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

plumseverywhere

  • Joined Apr 2013
  • Worcestershire
    • Its Baaath Time
    • Facebook
Re: Tips to introduce dogs to sheep
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2014, 09:51:44 am »
The lady who's course I took our Murphy on also runs one in Wales (I notice you are in Powys)  drop me a PM if you want more info. 

Murphy is a "terrier x probablybordercolliebutno-onereally knows." so has the herding instinct but also the "I cant' hear you" pigheadedness of a terrier when you try to call him back sometimes.  the course was really good and I can now walk in the field of sheep with murphy and he sticks with me (unless I ask him to 'bring them in' which he can also do)
Smallholding in Worcestershire, making goats milk soap for www.itsbaaathtime.com and mum to 4 girls,  goats, sheep, chickens, dog, cat and garden snails...

plumseverywhere

  • Joined Apr 2013
  • Worcestershire
    • Its Baaath Time
    • Facebook
Re: Tips to introduce dogs to sheep
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2014, 09:52:21 am »
PS can someone let Alistair out of the naughty corner now... its quiet...far too quiet...
Smallholding in Worcestershire, making goats milk soap for www.itsbaaathtime.com and mum to 4 girls,  goats, sheep, chickens, dog, cat and garden snails...

Alistair

  • Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
Re: Tips to introduce dogs to sheep
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2014, 12:34:28 pm »
Got let out yesterday....

Been really, really busy with dog agility stuff, training my own dog, one to one lessons to the most useless couple I've ever come across with a dog that has actually got some aptitude and then a couple of agility demonstrations and training principles teaching for a local 6th form college, and I've got to do that again next week, pretty much knackered and tired today, and it's my birthday tomorrow, so inevitable disappointment again, I've only asked for a Lego vw camper van, for the third year running, I'm not expecting one, I'm expecting a worm or a centipede or something from my oh, basically something she found in the garden, and if Father's Day is anything to go by, bugger all from the kids

Anyway it the solstice tomorrow so I'm going to paint my arse blue and run round the woods, highlight of the year

plumseverywhere

  • Joined Apr 2013
  • Worcestershire
    • Its Baaath Time
    • Facebook
Re: Tips to introduce dogs to sheep
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2014, 01:08:47 pm »
Ahh poor you... see, I can do sympathy. just about.     A lego VW camper? you should have nipped down to the dubs festival I worked at 2 weeks ago - most of them looked like they were held together by lego. Apart from the ridiculously shiny ones that by the end of day 3 were plastered in mud  ;D
Be careful painting your arse blue and running round woods... you may be mistaken for a Uraguayan footballer and get said arse kicked.
Smallholding in Worcestershire, making goats milk soap for www.itsbaaathtime.com and mum to 4 girls,  goats, sheep, chickens, dog, cat and garden snails...

waterbuffalofarmer

  • Joined Apr 2014
  • Mid Wales
  • Owner of 61 Mediterranean water buffaloes
Re: Tips to introduce dogs to sheep
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2014, 01:09:47 pm »
To introduce dogs to sheep, bring them into the field, or paddock, on a lead and gradually get them used to the sheep. Also when you feed the sheep bring the dogs into the field with you and keep them well supervised. It shouldn't take long before they are used to the sheep. I usually bring the dogs into the field when they're pups and that way they're used to the sheep from a young age. By the way how old are the dogs?
the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, loving concern.

 

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