Generally speaking, what is required of someone who is interested in herding training for his dog?
Does he have to be committed to turning his dog into a real working/herding dog, or are owners allowed to dabble in that area of training?
I guess I want to know what the procedure is for someone who is looking into the possibility of training his dog to herd.
Surely the owners of the sheep don't look kindly on just any dog being allowed access to the sheep.
What are the guidelines?
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Generally speaking, what is required of someone who is interested in herding training for his dog?

someone who is willing to learn about the livestock in addition to the dog. Not taking the time to get acquainted with the basics of livestock behavior, will most often cause a person to screw up the dog's abilities.
Does he have to be committed to turning his dog into a real working/herding dog, or are owners allowed to dabble in that area of training?

Depends on the trainer. My trainer is comfortable with hobby herders, some are not. For the most part if they've allowed themselves to be listed as trainers they will cater to hobby herders, although that still may vary from casual to serious.
I guess I want to know what the procedure is for someone who is looking into the possibility of training his dog to herd.[/nq]Its pretty straightforward. You can start with going to some trials that hold some version of a herding instinct test. That will by its nature sort you into the group of people who are at best hobby herders. People with serious working aspiration rarely bother. There are SOME cross overs - people who do serious work and serious trialing but also understand the herding for a hobby crowd. But many serious herders distain hobby herding. Anyway the herding instinct test often does not require any classes at all, just an experienced handler and your more or less obedient dog.

If you don't want to test in public or can't find one many trainers will do an introduction for the same cost as a lesson. Based on what they see they can discuss with you whether it is worth persuing and if they or someone else would be the most suitable trainer choice. One thing about most of the herding trainers I've come in contact with - they are less apt to be offended by trainer shopping than say - obedience trainers. Many trainers actively encourage their students to take occasional lessons from others for the broader insight and perspecetive.

Not ALL you understand, but more than in most dog sports I've been involved with.
Surely the owners of the sheep don't look kindly on just any dog being allowed access to the sheep.

Most trainers that start dogs own the sheep they train on. And they carefully select the sheep used for starters dogs. And they know exactly how to keep things under control. They work very hard to keep both livestock and dog safe.
What are the guidelines?[/nq]There are very few things you can practice off sheep but the most important command can be. And that command is STOP! or lie down or Stand - give it whatever name you want it all means stop where you are, hold your position. I had to put a good stop on my dog before my trainer would accept us. I worked on it at the dog park, letting him get a full head of steam in play then **** him. Obviously I didn't start with that. I started with rewarding quick downs (that old clicker training thing), then quick downs while moving, then quick downs from a distance, then quick downs from a distance while moving etc.

The reaction to "lie down" became a habit and thus worked even if something more interesting was going on. In other words the behavior was built on reward but practiced to the point of conditioning. A good down and good recall is all a dog needs to start in herding. Oh - but if your dog has any herding drive STOP will have to be retaught with stock around - a great stop can go all too hell with stock in the picture.
Diane Blackman
Generally speaking, what is required of someone who is interested in herding training for his dog?

someone who is willing to learn about the livestock in addition to the dog. Not taking the time to get acquainted with the basics of livestock behavior, will most often cause a person to screw up the dog's abilities.

That is surely the truth and there is certainly a lot more involved in that task then meets the eye. I learned this first hand in some of the exercises in the Herding Clinic I recently attended. The two humans part, where one of us was a dog and one was a handler gave a pretty good perception of what all is involved. Not that I have much of a clue but it was a very helpful exercise to say the least.
Most trainers that start dogs own the sheep they train on. And they

carefully select the sheep used for starters dogs. And they know exactly how to keep things under control. They work very hard to keep both livestock and dog safe. Diane Blackman

Absolutely. That is what the trainer I am going to does. She selects the sheep that she knows will work for starter dogs. It sure won't work for a starter dog and a green handler to be put in a pen with very flighty sheep.

Gwen
Does he have to be committed to turning his dog into a real working/herding dog, or are owners allowed to dabble in that area of training?

-) Diane just about covered it. Yes, there are lots of trainers these days who are willing to take on once-a-week (or even once-a-month) students. You may have to be prepared to travel - I drove 1.5 hours each way once a week or more for years to train before I got my own sheep. But it's a great hobby - the dogs love it, it's good for them, and (at least in my case) it really opened up a whole new understanding of dog behavior.
And I will confess to having encouraged a number of the herders here to take it up. Just be forewarned: herding is addictive!
Dianne
& Patience HX ATDd OTDs STDc
Does he have to be committed to turning his dog ... are owners allowed to dabble in that area of training?

:-) Diane just about covered it. Yes, there are lots of trainers these days who are willing to take on ... the herders here to take it up. Just be forewarned: herding is addictive! Dianne & Patience HX ATDd OTDs STDc

Raising hand for both. I travel 1.5 hours each way myself. Once a week is all that is practical for me.
I can't wait until Saturday morning.
Gwen
$(Email Removed):
And I will confess to having encouraged a number of the herders here to take it up. Just be forewarned: herding is addictive!

Sure is, which makes it suck that much more when you can't afford it.

-Abby
Pems, Aussie, and a Pug
*Remove shoes to reply*
I guess I want to know what the procedure is for someone who is looking into the possibility of training his dog to herd.

Diane & Dianne covered it, but I'd also add that you'd want to work with a trainer who is willing to work with GSDs (not all are). Fortunately, you're in No. Cal., where there are an abundance of good herding instructors, most of which will work with hobbyists, and about half of which like to work with GSDs.
Lynn K.
Do you have any web site addresses?
I guess I want to know what the procedure is for someone who is looking into the possibility of training his dog to herd.

Diane & Dianne covered it, but I'd also add that you'd want to work with a trainer who is willing ... good herding instructors, most of which will work with hobbyists, and about half of which like to work with GSDs.

There seems to be a decent sized herding community in the N.Cal, Ore, Washington triad. I know that a judge we had last summer (Debbie Pollard) has GSDs, amongst other breeds. I've never been there, or heard of how she is (she was a nice & fair judge), but I've heard her facility is wonderful.
Shelly & The Boys in Oregon
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