Herding Boot Camp

Herding Boot Camp


with Carolyn Wilki

FMI: TELEPHONE — (610) 674-0160

You’ve taken your dog to a herding instinct test and perhaps to a few herding lessons, but not enough for either of you. Your dog looks at you hopefully every time you bring out those old, dirty sneakers, the ones you wear when running amuck (in the muck) amidst sheep. You yourself crave your herding “fix”-- not only is your dog hooked, but you can’t forget the thrill of that occasional moment of smooth control amidst the bedlam and confusion of chasing dogs and stampeding sheep. Alas, your herding lesson seems to be over in a flash. If only you and your dog lived on a sheep farm...

Herding Boot Camp is designed for the novice or intermediate handler and dog with herding instinct who wants to plunge head-on into herding. Although we cannot guarantee that you will have a trial-ready dog by Friday, you should see noticeable improvement in calmer attitude and increased skills in both your dog and yourself by the end of your stay.

Herding Boot Camp gives you a chance to experience total immersion sheep herding, Monday through Friday. You and your dog will have ample time to practice various herding maneuvers and training exercises. Both supervised lessons and free stock time will be available for you and your dog.Positive reinforcement is emphasized in all Raspberry Ridge dog training, including herding.

Training Emphasis for week: In my view, herding training proceeds in 3 different tiers which inevitably overlap. All 3 tiers are pursued, according to the needs of the individual student during Boot Camp:

1. Foundation: Basic relationship and training vocabulary of simple words, gestures, and behaviors are first established between dog and handler. Many of the words, commands, and training protocol used in herding can be learned first away from livestock.

2. Middle Habituation Tier: Dog learns to respond to you in the presence of livestock.

Picture the Middle Tier training problem this way: Imagine a dog’s brain flooding with the color “Blue” when you give it a command it knows away from livestock, such as “Stand/Stay.” Livestock stimulates predatory urges in a dog, and the dog’s brain floods with the color “Red.” When you say “Stand/Stay” to a beginner herding dog in front of sheep, “Blue” PLUS “Red” EQUALS “Purple.” Your dog doesn’t recognize the meaning of “Purple” yet and doesn’t obey. Our goal is to teach your dog how to respond correctly to “Purple.”

3. Top Technical Tier: The technical, finesse moves specific to herding, necessary for successful herding trialing as well as effective livestock control. These behaviors are both cued by the situation and commanded by the handler. Once Tier 1 and Tier 2 skills are mastered, simple, basic herding tasks (equivalent to AKC HT level) of Tier 3 can be successfully mastered in less than a week! More difficult tasks in Tier 3 can take up to 2 years for the dog to master, 10 for the handler!

Depending on how much stamina you and your dog have, theoretically, you two can have as many as 8 to 16 (or more) short, productive training opportunities on sheep per day. After he has mastered a particular lesson, your dog will be given down time to rest and process what he has learned. During your dog’s rest, you, however, will have the opportunity to remain busy as you watch and learn from others, sharpen your skills by role playing with other students who play the parts of dog, sheep, and shepherd, and listen to lectures and watch video about herding and training. If herding and dog training are two of your favorite subjects, you’ve signed up for the right vacation!

Your dog should be in good, hard, physical condition for Herding Boot Camp before he arrives. This is something you can prepare for at home. Your dog’s stamina should be gradually increased through regular, daily exercise (starting at least one month before camp) so that your dog can easilysustain a trot daily for a minimum of a half hour period. This training regime should help your dog concentrate both mentally and physically and will reduce the potential for annoying muscle pulls and foot pad injuries that otherwise might occur. Of course, it helps to be in reasonable shape yourself!

LIMITED TO: 8 Dogs (You can bring extra, not-for-training, companion dogs if you like, or bring more than one dog for training, although we highly recommend that you bring just one lucky dog for a special week of bonding!)

DOGS: ALL BREEDS, AGES 8 MONTHS & UP. All dogs must be healthy, up-to-date on vaccinations and not been in contact with any dog with communicable diseases within the previous 30 days.

TRAINING FACILITIES: On our 67 acre sheep farm which is set back from the road, we have a 40 acre fenced-in field, a 100' x 200' fenced-in arena, and a 100' round fenced-in arena, as well as other, fenced and unfenced fields and woods. We also have a large, in-door barn to work in during inclement weather or in the evening and an in-door lecture living room with TV and VCR. There are off-site areas that we will take the dogs to if there is interest-- for example, a quiet boat launch on the Delaware River for canine/human swimming and an out-door ice cream/hamburger stand. An extensive library about sheep, farming, flora, fauna, the natural history of the Pocono region, and dog & herding training is available for reference.

CAMP DAY: Camp Days will run daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., unless forecasted weather (for zip code 18013-- too hot, over 90 ° days will begin at 7:30 a.m. with a long siesta midday and resume at 4:00 p.m., continuing until 8:00 p.m.) or herding tasks (flock grazing which can occur very early in the morning or late at night) dictate a different schedule! Each Herding Boot Camper will be given up to 2 private lessons per day, generally 15 minutes to a half hour in length, on any subject of the camper’s choosing. There will be abundant opportunity for you and the dog to work livestock by yourselves-- ambitious campers should be able to get at least 4 unsupervised stock time training sessions in per day in addition to their private lessons. Campers may be given rotating livestock care, watering & feeding chores each day.

The following list show typical topics that are covered during Herding Boot Camp. Topics are addressed per the needs and wishes of campers. You can choose to ask about or participate in all, some, or none of them. Private & Group Activities will be scheduled. You choose when and where you want to be.

· Herding instinct explained, beginning herding training theory, and glossary of herding terms

· Herding tasks, herding breeds, herding temperaments-- how they differ & how to start developing them so that they understand their herding tasks more easily

· Training Progressions: Developing and achieving training goals— structuring your dog’s education

· Getting the Dog to “Listen” to You Around Livestock

· Signals: body, voice & whistle signals.

· Teaching Yourself and the Dog to Rate Livestock

· Reducing Confusion: Show a Dog his Work Zone

· Positive Reinforcement Training Basics

· Reinforcement in Herding

· Associative Learning in Herding

· Teaching Yourself How to Read Your Dog--5 keys

· Criteria to Interrupt, Ignore, Remove, Help, Move On, Repeat, or Try Again

· Herding Tasks and Maneuvers: Outrun—cast, lift, fetch-- Fetch Drive, Cross Drive, Pen, Hold, Shed, & (for tending) Pen & Gate Work, Border, Traffic, Hold, Graze, Switching Side & Borders, Handling Stray Sheep, Grip & Release, Placement Exercise, Bridge

· Exciting the Low Arousal Dog

· Unsticking \"Frozen\" dog

Herding Boot Camp
Camp Dates 2024 (recent)
A la carte registration available within each session.