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Sheep Herding For City Dogs

Story: Jenn Carrington
Published On : Jan 21, 2021
Sheep Herding For City Dogs
City people who own herding-breed dogs as pets may find this all too familiar. Chasing cars, birds, rounding up other dogs at the park, and ignoring recall are most likely signs your dog is simply trying to herd.

Working dog breeds that are domestic pets who play in back yards, visit the local park, and have never seen a sheep, often transform in front of their owner's eyes in their first visit to trainer John Borg.

“The problem is we are trying to communicate with our dogs with human language, human instinct, and human emotion,” John said.

“The issue is they are dogs, not humans, and we have to learn to talk to the dogs in their own language, which is body language."

John has always had an affinity with animals, and began training and competing at sheep-herding shows in 2012 with his first working dog, Bindi.

Born and raised in Redcliffe, John competes against farmers and sheep-station owners, and  learned that by using sheep to train people’s dogs, he could help city dog owners understand their pets.

“I tend to have a natural connection with dogs  and they with me, so my training started evolving and I don’t train like a lot of other guys; I’m more in tune to the animal and the dog,” he said.

John said he learned that it was not about domination, but respect.

“Because I’m surrounded by dogs all the time and have 14 of my own, I see the body language between them," he said. "My pack leader, the alpha, does not dominate the other dogs, they all show mutual respect.

“So that’s what I try to convey to people now and that helps change the way they communicate with their pet, by understanding their body language.”

With more than 200 city dogs a week coming to see John, he said the most rewarding part of his day was seeing the enjoyment the dogs got from doing something instinctive.

“I love the new dog when the light comes on and they realise what they have got to do; it’s a moving thing,” he said.

“Then when their humans see their city pet – never been on a sheep farm before – naturally work the sheep, they are just so happy and proud.”

All types of sheep herding breeds can come to the farm, such as Border Collies, Kelpies, German Shepards, Samoyeds, Rottweilers, and even Corgis.

If you’re looking for a fun activity for your dog, and to build trust and better communication with your pet,  you can find out more information at www.sheepherdingforcitydogs...