Interestingly, for the last several months I have been receiving emails, phone calls, etc. involving BEHAVIORAL issues w/ dogs.
I have been expecting this for quite awhile.
Thanks to internet and many publications about various dog breeds, people are doing research before getting a dog. This is a good thing.
However, everybody wants a SMART dog, thinking it would be easier to train and play with. What breeds are among the “smartest” that people are acquiring??
The dogs bred for work NEEDED intelligence to be able to sort out the tasks and challenges of a herding dog. Some had to use barking, biting, shoving, eye to accomplish this. They also have to react QUICKLY as livestock are unpredictable and need a dog that can be in two places at once. Great on a farm or ranch.
Lousy in Dog Park.
Now dog owners have dogs w/ these incredible herding behaviors that are destructive in a social situation. The more the dog attempts to “herd” other dogs, the likelihood of a dog fight ensues. After all, what dog wants another to nip it’s heels, grab at it’s face or force it into a circle w/ other dogs. This carries over into behavior on people, too. Many have told me of the holes in their sock and pants from puppies grabbing them. Of course, don’t forget the dog that wants ALL the children in the swimming pool, even nipping ones getting out.
So I get the unhappy owners who can’t take their dogs anywhere calling me for help. But does herding actually solve this problem?
Herding does two important things:
It gives the dog an outlet to vent this pent up need to keep animals together in a constructive and INstructive environment.
It also allows the owner to learn how to control this behavior. Herding is about discipline and obedience while they dog is in full drive. If owners can control their dogs on sheep, the dog park dogs are EASY!
So if you have a herding breed that is driving you CRAZY, train the dog to drive SHEEP instead!