Today's Quote

“If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Training Shotgun

Well we have had little Shotgun for about 3 weeks or so now. He is coming along nicely and is an extraordinarily smart dog. He definitely shows the rottweiler "thinking" ability. He didn't get off so good a start in life with his former home. Being in an apartment, I don't think he got outside much. This means that he was "taught" to use the bathroom in the house. So we are having housebreaking issues with him. He is still young, 9 weeks now, so I am not all that stressed about it. We are just persistent and he will catch on. I also don't think that he was handled much at all by humans before coming to us. He did a lot of fear growling and snapping in uncomfortable situations. He has gotten much better at that as 1. He has grown used to us and developed trust and 2. We force uncomfortable situations and correct the undesirable behavior. He is a tough pup to work with at times because of this. Dakota has helped tremendously in teaching him things he should have been taught by his mother and litter mates. Because he was removed so young from that situation he never learned those things. He is also learning his basic commands and is getting a good handle on "no mouth" with playing and learning to sit on command. With all this being said we are raising him to be a working dog and he is showing tendencies to want to work. He does feed chores everyday with us. When we get to a particular livestock area he has a spot where he sits and watches. The other day the pigs got out and I opened the gate to go and herd then back it. He was taking every step that I took and as I started to herd them he was taking it all in. I got three in the gate and then went to get the 4th who didn't want to cooperate very well. As we got close to the gate she started to turn and run the other way. At that point shotgun jumped ahead of me and nipped her to move her through the gate. I took my walking stick and placed it in front of him and told him that would do. Now this is the important part...he sat down. There is a huge difference in the prey drive of a high prey drive dog and a high prey drive herding dog. The prey drive must be able to be used at willed and turned on and turned off. Him sitting down means that he is able to control his prey drive according to my wishes. This is a good thing. We had another incident with a chicken. As a chicken was crossing in front of his path you could visually see the prey drive switch click on. As he started toward the chicken I stepped in front and told him no. He started to go around me and I again stepped in front and told him no. He broke his focus on the chicken and turned back in the direction that we had been heading to start with. It may not be much and I have no idea what I am doing in trying to train a dog to herd, but I think for a 9 week old puppy these two things are a very good sign. I don't expect him to become a trial dog, but it would be nice to send him after wayward animals and have him bring them back to me while I stand at the gate instead of having to walk the pastures and woods myself. It would save me a lot of stress and anxiety. The only work we have done with the goats is to sit among them in the barn with me keeping a close eye out for his safety. I want him to be confident among them and not be frightened by them. It is important if he is to herd them that his confidence not be broken by the livestock that he is to herd. All in all he is doing well for being so young. We still have some issues but I have confidence that we will have those things worked out soon. Have a great day!

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