Saturday, August 2, 2014

For The Love Of A Good Dog: How To Train A Cowdog Part II

*Click HERE to read Part I of How To Train A Cowdog

Ben starts his dogs on ducks before he ever introduces them to cattle. “Ducks stay herded very well and that helps those pups play off of their instincts. Don’t use chickens!” he warns with a laugh. “If you have access to them, I like to move on to sheep before I start my pups on yearling cattle. You just want to make sure and set it up so that they don’t get hurt. Graduate slowly and build that dog’s confidence up.”

Jon agrees, “If you get them kicked too young, you can get the confidence kicked out of them and they’ll never get it back. I started using this one dog pretty hard at 6 months and she got cow kicked and she would never bite a cow on the face again. I got her run over too soon as a pup.”

Both men agree that the ideal situation would be to start off with either ducks or leppy calves in a small pen where you can control the situation. Another handy pointer is to keep your long lead trailing behind them, because if your pup gets excited and you start to get into trouble, you can chase the lead around and get everything slowed down.

“The first time I take them outside and horseback, I like to put a front foot in their collar.” says Jon. “It slows them down, it tires them out and makes it so if there is a wreck I could probably catch them. If you’ve got a really high powered dog that you’re taking out on cattle for the first time, if they’re tired enough they’ll listen to you easier, and then you can start the real work.”

Both Ben and Jon agree that there are a lot of similarities between starting a dog and starting a horse. According to Ben, the biggest mistake people make is inconsistency. “Stay consistent with your commands. You’re not helping the dog much if you try out one set of commands and then start using something else. Most people don’t even realize that they’re being inconsistent, but your dog does. Pay attention and really work at providing your dog with the some consistency with his commands.”

Ben also warns against taking a young pup on too long of a day at first. “You can cook a dog in the heat really easily, especially if they’re willing to work. You can also hurt their joints when they’re young, so take them on short, easy days at first.”

Jon thinks the worst habit people can get into with a young dog is letting him work without you. “If that dog starts working by himself, he’ll learn that he doesn’t need you, so it makes it harder for him to trust you and want to listen to you when it comes time to you guys working together. A lot of people use their dogs around the corrals to push stock up the alley or work them in the pen….that’s a really tough thing for a young dog. If your dog gets in the habit of working animals on the other side of the fence from the livestock, I’ve seen where dogs get to where they almost can’t work stock unless they’re on the other side of the fence. They use it as a crutch. If you can avoid that until they’re an older, broke dog, you’ll save yourself a lot of headache.”

Special thanks to Matt Mori, Jim & Julie Dunlap, Ben Hay, and Jon Griggs. Without their help this series would never have been written!

*First published in the Nevada Rancher. Like them on Facebook or call 866) 644-5011 for a free copy. 

1 comment:

  1. Awesome article of an amazing girl!!! You already know I adore your style Miss Katy 😘