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Tuesday, November 12 2013


I have a love/hate relationship with this dog.

He is troll in every sense of the word. Trace is food aggressive, dog aggressive, and is so rough on sheep and goats that he has been banned from working them.

Trace was bred to be a cow dog, he was purchased as a cow dog, but since he's such a hard-headed SOB, we've been hesitant to actually put him on cattle since we've got some ole momma cows that won't hesitate to stomp a dog. We needed to start him on calves, and we needed to get his attention. Trace is a very obedient dog - unless livestock is running away from him. Then he blows you off.  (which means he's really NOT an obedient dog!)

Anyway, since we have neither the time nor the money to drive back and forth to a professional trainer, and Other Half flat-out refuses to send Troll Boy to Boot Camp, we took the advice of some BC friends of ours and pulled out the e-collar.  I've never been a big fan of electronic collars, since timing must be flawless, but Other Half insisted on training the dog himself, and he needed to be able to "reach out and touch" Trace at a distance when the dog was blowing him off.

So yesterday, armed with his e-collar, Other Half and Trace marched out to play with five unsuspecting calves. I urged him to start small - put them in the round pen. Baby steps.  Other Half is not big on baby steps. He's more a 'jump in the deep end' kind of person.  (I have no idea how his dogs have survived so many years.) I like to start small and build a foundation first. Other Half just wants to stride out there and let genetics and his relationship with the dog take over.  I expected a train wreck. Wonder of wonders, they did just fine.  Trace figured out that he couldn't run through the electricity and got zapped a couple of times but that was it.

They moved cows into the roping arena, and then into a pen.  I was impressed. (Shocked actually!)

I was so shocked that I didn't get any pictures.  So today while Other Half was in court, I took the little red monster out there myself. He calmly rounded up the calves, moved them into a pen, gently pushed them through the chute, and then took them out to pasture. I zapped him once. Overall he did a great job. He has so much more talent than Lily and Cowboy but has never been able to use it on the cattle because of his attitude. He took his own sweet time, but he is FINALLY getting useful with cattle.


Watching him work the calves made me realize that not only are we training the dog, we're training the calves. In less than a week, I forsee Trace being able to calmly gather this little group and load them into a cattle trailer. They are learning about pens, chutes, headgates, and dogs, with no fear. That makes things a lot easier on us and on the animals.

And really, isn't that what handling livestock is all about?

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 11:18 am   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
Can yall bring Trace to visit our cows? Tweedle Dum STILL has a lawn chair on his head
Posted by Holly on 11/12/2013 - 01:22 PM
Oh good grief! That cow STILL has the lawn chair on its head?!!!
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 11/12/2013 - 03:05 PM
The rage in dog training is no corrections but I remind myself that dogs learn in 2 ways. If they get a reward then they tend to want to repeat an action. OTOH if they get a correction, they tend to NOT repeat an action. The lessons we remember best are the ones we learned from our mistakes. Now both Trace and the stock can settle into learning how to behave without the fear and chaos.
Posted by Jan on 11/16/2013 - 11:33 AM
Although I was dead set against the shock collar, it was just the thing he needed. This week he was able to actually work the dog-aggressive adult cows and did just fine.
Posted by Forensicfarmgirl on 11/19/2013 - 04:57 PM

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