I had several dogs come for herding lessons this summer where I realized that the most important thing that I could teach their owners was manners around livestock, other dogs, and other people. Dogs would leap out of their cars plunging, barking and dragging their owners across the parking lot. As we approached our stock to start our lesson their dogs would continue this behavior and at times my injured rotator cuffs were seriously tested. Once the dogs were turned loose with the stock the behaviors of course continued and often the dog’s arrousal levels were too high to allow them to think. Often we would spend the entire first lesson on walking nicely on a leash. Whether you are someone that wants to herd ducks, sheep or cattle, or someone that wants to go to their boarding barn without a cool collected dog that makes a great first impression this class is for you. This class is for any breed of dog and at the end of class we will have a little Ranch Dog Manners skills test.

In 1996 I got my first dog, a border collie/lab, who was the kindest dog I have had. Calvin could go to any farm and walk amongst the livestock without the animals expressing any fear. When I got my first horse and went for my first trail ride he heeled behind like he’d been doing it all his life. He worked as a reading therapy dog, and was the first Montana dog to earn an agility title in 1997. My next two dogs were amazing fast agility dogs that placed high in National Championships, but neither had enough chances in herding to do much. My trainer worked on a 50 acre pasture and if your dog couldn’t hold the sheep on their first day the sheep were gone. Both those dogs were pretty predatory and never did learn off leash farm manners. This class is designed with those dogs in mind. My next three dogs have all been Border Collies off of classy working lines. Nero moved to the Open level at 5 years old and immediately earned qualifying points for the Nationals. Nero is a kind gentleman who has rarely been on leash on a farm. Prim, who passed away at just two years, ran in a few arena trials and one cattle trial. At her first cattle trial she placed first against 10 experienced dogs. Prim was a feisty loud girl and spent much of her first year at herding class in a crate in the car. Rey is the baby of the family and is my Zen herder at three months. The instinct is all there with no excuses. While I’d rather be cruising around a large pasture with her flock of sheep for the next few months we’ll be concentrating on manners so that the first time I go to the post in a trial we’ll look cool and her obedience will look as Zen as her herding.

Nero’s Puppy Class Graduation Video

Prim Agility Foundation’s Class Graduation Video