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Chrissy herding

Herding is a task that Corgis were bred to perform, and for many Corgis today, the skill and desire to move stock is still an integral part of their genetic makeup. To see their natural herding abilities and their power to control the stock, whether it be cattle, sheep, or ducks, is fascinating and incredible. Dogs who have never been exposed to stock in their lives “turn on” to the task with a joy and an intensity that is quite remarkable.

Not all Corgis, of course, have this innate desire to herd. Few of the breed live on working ranches and farms any more, and herding ability is no longer one of the primary considerations for most breeders when planning a litter. So many of today’s Corgis are reluctant to leave their sofas, their toys, Mom’s side, or whatever, to chase sheep.

For those people interested in finding out if the instinct is lurking just under the surface in their dog, there are clubs, either affiliated with the American Kennel Club or herding breed associations, that run herding instinct tests. Many of the regional Corgi clubs now sponsor such tests. Clubs also sponsor clinics on herding, or you can go to a trainer who will test the dog for you. If you discover that he enjoys herding, the trainer can work with you to hone your dog’s skills, teach you how to work with the dog, and perhaps prepare both of you to enter tests to earn titles.

Through training, your dog can learn to work with you to move the stock in a controlled way and in the desired direction. AKC herding tests give dogs of the herding breeds the opportunity to prove they have the instinct and the skill to control stock, and to earn titles while doing so. These preliminary pass-fail titles are HT (Herding Tested) and PT (Pre-trial Tested). Trial level titles allow for competition that showcases the dogs’ abilities to herd with precision and control, and to work with the handler to move the stock through specific courses.

I started participating in Herding in the Spring of 2004, and earned three test level titles on two dogs. Pete, introduced to sheep at nine years of age, earned an HT and a PT, and Chrissy earned an HT. Chrissy has a lot of natural talent, and it’s great fun working with her.

The following pictures were taken in 2004, early on in our training while I was still learning where I was supposed to be in relation to the dog and the sheep. I often found myself in the wrong place, on the wrong side of the sheep, or trying to move while sheep were cutting me off. If you’re worried about being bumped, tripped, or possibly knocked down by the sheep, keep out of the pen.

Herding - Cone practice

Cone practice

Herding - Pete moves the sheep

Pete moves the sheep

Herding - Trying to get around the sheep

Trying to get around the sheep

Herding - Susan & Pete

Susan & Pete

In the past couple of years, we have added an attempt at duck herding to our training. So far Will has earned a Herding Started title on ducks. Ducks are much harder to move where you want them to go than are sheep!

Herding - Bring me the ducks

                   Bring me the ducks

Herding - Keep them moving

                  Keep them moving

Herding - Penning the ducks

   Penning the ducks

Herding - Penning up

Penning up

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