October 31, 2005

Clarence Herding Trial

We had a great weekend at Uralla for the Clarence District Kennel Club's inaugural herding tests and trials. Four in all offering Instinct Certificate Tests, Herding Tests, Pre-trial Tests, and Herding Started A - all on sheep.

The test/trial process is a complicated one, but the requirements for each event are straightforward, and our judges, Jenny and Robert Cox, were generous with their explanations. There is nothing on the RNSWCC site about herding regulations, and if they are on the ANKC site there they aren't immediately obvious. To find the regulations you need to go to the CAWA web site.

I had been building a strong reinforcement history with Dusty for a downstay and recall so I was fairly confident of this part of the test, though in the yard with the sheep at the beginning of the instinct test was a new experience. I have also tried to keep to the really reliable recall guidelines, and her recall off the sheep has been good in the past. But she is still a puppy - she was just old enough to enter by a week, and she has only seen sheep twice in her life, the last time over a month ago.

"For both the first and second leg tests, the passing dog should show good, sustained interest of such a nature that the dog appears to be ready to begin preliminary training. Strong desire and a well adjusted, willing attitude should be demonstrated. The overall impression should be that the dog has the potential to be a useful, practical working dog. Constructive herding activity, not chasing should be evidenced."

Dusty did seem to be herding, keeping to the outside of the group and trying to keep them together, not rushing at them or trying to get them. It was hard, though. The sheep that we train with were attacked by dogs during the week, so were replaced by fresh sheep - nowhere near as accustomed to being herded by dogs.

But she did it. She gained a qualification in each of the two tests, so now has a Herding Instinct Certificate, and is ready to begin training in earnest.

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