Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Herding Instinct: Does Your Dog Have It?

This weekend I attended a Herding Instinct Test held at the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. That'll Do Australian Shepherd Club put the test on for any breed in the area - in retrospect I should have taken Rookie with me as I think he would have enjoyed meeting goats and sheep :). He has been hanging out with my friend's border collies and picking up bad border collie habits, LOL. You will have to excuse the quality of my photos as I using my iphone and sometimes I swear it hates me.

Goats! They are so cute!!
A Herding Instinct Test is just a simple test to determine whether or not your dog has the instinct required for herding. You cannot make a dog herd - they have to want to do it. The goal of an instinct test is to create a positive setting where the dog is allowed to succeed at attempting to herd livestock. The goal should be made as obvious to the dog as possible :), some dogs need to dig deep to find these abilities and instinct so making it as obvious and easy as possible will be key to their success.

Caris is interested in those goats!!
Sheep are typically used for the herding instinct testing, but there were also goats available for the smaller dogs (like Corgis). Plus, the goats aren't as imposing or move as much as the sheep so they are ideal if your dog is a bit on the shy side. For this test, dogs were only worked one session on the livestock, which is typically called an exposure to the stock. Generally, the second time in with the stock dogs do a much better job and have a better understanding of what is expected.

Moses meeting sheep. Most of the dogs approached
the stock like they were aliens :).
Moses seemed to get it figured out :).
I thought the test was really interesting and I was kicking myself for not entering Rookie :). Bourbon has too high of prey drive for this - he would have totally ate a sheep. Without a doubt he is a hunter not a herder! Monday also has an intense prey drive but she may have done okay. Vito of course would have been scared shitless :). Oh well, maybe we'll have another one of these come up in our area and I can test Rookie.

My friend's dogs seemed to have a great time:

Do you think your dog would be a natural at herding?


  1. I have two dogs who "herd" me everyday. Poor things. I feel bad they have to live in a house without goats and sheep! They love to herd the cat!

    1. I'm sure the cat appreciates that ;).

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