Following on the heels of the last post, this post is Coyote Mic and I taking the flock out in the morning.
To gather the sheep and bring the flock home in the evening a stock dog is definitely an aid, but for taking them out in the morning a dog is not really necessary. A dog does save us a few steps but the reason I chose to use a dog is to give a young dog exposure to flock work when the task is a pretty simple one. Young dogs get overwhelmed trying to gather numerous sheep that are spread far apart on pasture but when the flock is a tidy bunch as they are in the morning, the dog can experience the numbers without having to push for distance at the same time.
I’m giving Coyote Mic the exposure to this many sheep because she’s a straight running dog (little evidence of a natural cast) and convincing her to bend out around sheep that are spread out is proving to be a challenge. She prefers to cut in and collect the first sheep she sees. Doing this job will hopefully help her see more sheep and realize we want them all. We have done this job several mornings in a row now and it’s the first time I see a hint of her understanding.
Ready to go.
Trying hard to lean out and get around and still keep her view of the sheep.
At the first gate the ewes that have passed through must travel back up along the fence line, which causes the animals still on the inside to want to follow before they get through the gate. It’s a nice little job for the dog to have to cover them and keep them moving through the gate.
Traveling through an intermediate paddock to the next gate. I often wonder if this part even feels like work to the dogs but it’s a great way to introduce the idea of working behind the livestock with me, (in driving mode) rather than always fetching stock to me. With this many sheep no finesse is really required and it is pretty easy for the dog to grasp the job. All I say to her is ‘let’s walk them up,’ and nothing else. Just let the task be the information in this case.
Asking her to wait so we don’t pressure to much and cause a jam at the gate. Look at her ears. :-)
Then another little task of working the last few sheep through the gate so they all keep up with the flock.
Guardian dogs are fed and sheep are out to graze, that'll do Mic, that'll do.