Stock Dog Work - Sometimes Complicated is Effortless

Even though I tipped our stock dog scale in favour of the kelpies, with the addition of Burradoo BJ to our pack, I still have Fynn and Jayde and they certainly aren’t going anywhere. Indeed, Jayde is my main dog, while I figure Cajun out.

We have a group of 50 sheep in a paddock with the horses, llamas and as of yesterday the cows were placed there too. These ewes are there for breeding to specific purebred ram lambs. We wanted the sheep moved into the shearing shed to sort the rams off. As soon as the sheep see a herding dog coming they draw to the larger ruminants, so the llamas and the cows often end up coming in with the sheep. The horses always manage to sort themselves out of the group rather quickly. I don’t make it regular practice to work the dogs where the horses are because I feel it’s a dangerous thing to do when you’re not sitting on the horse in a position of some control. But sometimes you end up doing things you shouldn't.

I didn’t think Jayde understood ‘leave the cows’ but today she did the most beautiful and natural sort on her own. I’m not sure how she read the situation but she did. She swept around the sheep, who pulled to the horses and cows and mixed among them. Jayde did not stop her movement but pressed forward, keeping the sheep movement going. I smartly kept my mouth shut and let her work. I wasn’t sure I had any better advice for her anyway and was willing to take all the animals if she brought them.

She slipped through a gap between the horses and the cows, keeping the sheep grouped but seperating them from the horses, cows and llamas and leaving all the larger ruminants standing still, looking like they too were wondering how that just happened. It was so slick and there was no way for me to tell Jayde via commands to do what she did so effortlessly. She’s a remarkable little dog. 


  1. Isn't it great when they show you how much they understand? I used to purposely teach my kelpies the meaning of "sheep" vs "cows". It was useful! Also taught each dog to only worked when asked - to "down" and stay while another dog worked. Fun when you have the time to play with them! Judith

  2. It was one of those moments you wish everyone could have seen! I love working ranch dogs. I really haven't put a lot of impression on teaching them cows over sheep but they've picked it up.
    Teaching one to remain still while another works is quite the feat. I can get Jayde (the border collie) to abide for a short period only but can't do the same with Cajun yet.


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