This first video is just Yamir and Bella waiting for the gate to open so the new sheep on the other side can come through,…..something Bella and I have been working on with Yamir. Today, we exchanged Bella, who has been helping me teach Yamir proper sheep etiquette since weaning her puppies a few months ago, for Harley. The idea is to observe Yamir’s behavior without my close supervision, or fear of reprisal from Bella. This video is basically just Bella reminding Yamir who the boss is as they wait for the gate to open.
This second video is of Yamir and Harley modeling correct behavior when welcoming a few new sheep. Notice they are NOT welcoming them, they’re keeping their distance and almost seem to be ignoring the sheep. These are new sheep, who have only been exposed to herding dogs in the past and panic when they see dogs approaching. This can result in injured sheep and dogs, plus we wouldn’t want them running through our awesome, super secure fencing along the back of this pen……
While bonding between livestock and their guardian dogs is important, the shepherd/dog bond is all too often ignored here in the US. How can you build a bond and communicate what you want to your dogs if you don’t spend time working with them? The only dogs who are put in a pen next to the sheep are my 4 week old puppies and their mothers. By 6 weeks of age they are going out with mom and me into a pasture with sheep and other pack members for the day…I’m digressing….
Anyway, 18 month old Harley was born here and has been raised in a pack environment surrounded by sheep, while 2 1/2 year old Yamir spent his first several months in a kennel, with no exposure to livestock or even open spaces. Yamir is a big dog with a big personality and while he has been great with older sheep and goats who are used to dogs, (and surprisingly, poultry) he has had to learn to reign himself in with new livestock…this is his first experience completely on his own without me or Bella there to correct him. While it is hot, most of his panting is due to excitement. I swear he had test anxiety! However, he really did exactly what I was hoping for. These new ewes don’t have the opportunity for distance on a small pasture or pen, so it’s important for the dogs to understand the concept of giving them the space they need to acclimate, and eventually become familiar with their new surroundings. Yamir and Harley did a great job, but Bella will be going back in just to keep an eye on things for awhile.
Just be warned, for some reasons, the questions were edited out so it sounds a little like I’m just arbitrarily jumping fromThanks so much to Sean and Bulldog Social Club for taking an interest in the breed.
The Stars are now 6 weeks old and have graduated from their puppy pen. They are now spending their days with mom, some of the other pack members and the sheep. This is a very important learning experience for them, as they learn to live in a larger space, and to interact with other pack members and of course, the livestock. I really believe these weeks spent with other pack members, livestock, poultry, and children on a regular basis is why our puppies are so confident and ready to learn when they arrive at their new homes. Because they’re way too young to spend nights out, of course they do still go back to their pen in the evening at feeding time. Here are some still photos and videos along with their 6 week individual photos, enjoy!
Last Saturday I woke to my dogs pitching a fit. It was cold, late, and I really didn’t want to walk outside, but they were showing no signs of slowing down. I went outside with a flashlight to check….nothing. I told the dogs “that’s enough” and went back to bed. I could still hear growling and intermittent barking…that’s not normal, so I didn’t go back to sleep, instead I turned the tv on. About 15 minutes later everyone was at it again and I could hear some of the dogs jumping at the fence, so I grabbed my flashlight and went back out. This time I didn’t need my flashlight because the reason was apparent. There was a group of abandoned mobile homes on fire about 1/4 mile across the road. FD was called, apparently someone thought it was a good night to commit arson….anyway, next time my dogs all bark for nothing in the middle of the night, I will definitely take a second look!
I love watching these pups run❤️
They love it when I open the gate to this little pasture in the morning❤️
Lambs can be pretty obnoxious. Especially when the lamb is a single with no other lambs to play with. The obvious answer is to pick on one of the dogs. In this first video, our two week old ram lamb decided to pick on Tomas. Tomas, who is normally a very patient soul, forgot himself for a minute and played back. This is not acceptable, and Bella who stepped into the role of dominant female and protector of puppies and lambs in Marcias absence, gave Tomas a gentle reminder.
Apparently, Tomas learned his lesson well and later that afternoon, decided to pass it on to 5 month old Dixie, who did a fabulous job of tolerating and moving away from the little monster lamb….she really didn’t deserve the reprimand he gave her at all, as her behavior was perfect. Tomas, obviously learned a lesson from Bella’s reprimand, now he just needs to be a little more judicious in handing out discipline.
I posted these two videos, and will actually be posting more for educational purposes. It’s easier to understand body language and behaviors when you can see them. Finally, here is a video of Harley and the same lamb. Harley seems to be very affectionate towards the lamb and many people will allow this behavior. I do not…with a puppy this age it is way too easy for this to escalate into more dangerous behaviors. I stopped the video to correct Harley before this could go any further. This is also why we cannot always depend on mentor dogs for training, and why puppies this age still need training and supervision.
This morning we woke up to find a new member of the flock. I didn’t have a breeding date for this ewe and didn’t expect her to lamb for another week because she just didn’t look that far along yet. It turned out she was just carrying a single. Besi, was dozing near the fence line, and Rylie and Nellie were in the puppy pen with Dixie, Opie and Harley. This left Bella and Tomas in charge, as Faith and Yamir are with goats and Cabo and Marcia are in lockdown on opposite sides of the property while Marcia is cycling. Bella is 15 months old and Tomas is only 13 months, they did an amazing job! See for yourselves….notice the calming signals these two young dogs are sending to this new mama and baby? This is not something I train into my dogs, and it shouldn’t take two years to get there. These dogs were never left in pens next to the stock, they were started indoors and introduced to our routines, taught basic obedience, and taken out and socialized. This is an instinct that comes from centuries of selective breeding. It cannot be destroyed by bringing your puppy indoors, and bonding with it. Training and socializing will not ruin it. To the contrary, it will make a better guardian. We as breeders must preserve and promote these traits always by continuing to take temperament and instinct into consideration. Thank you Natasha Prudnik and Luis Martin Lopez for producing such fabulous dogs❤️