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How to train a border collie to herd?

Border Collies are herding dogs. This means herding is innate in them. They like to work and they are highly intelligent so you can train them to help you with household chores and farming tasks. However, even if herding is natural to them, you still need to train your Border Collie so that he will surely be gentle around your chickens and herd them back into their coop. It would surely be great to have a dog who can help you around the house. Those who have chickens in their backyard can have peace of mind knowing that they are free to roam around without fear of being attacked. This is also a good stimulating exercise for your doggo.

Observe your dog’s behavior

You can observe if your Collie displays natural herding instincts. For example, he might like to go in circles around you or other animals trying to influence you to go in the direction he wants you to go. This is usually a good sign that you can easily train him how to herd. Your dog’s bones should also be mature enough to handle herding.

Training your Collie how to herd

Training your Collie how to herd involves a series of commands that you have to teach your dog prior to this. He needs to learn these basic commands: come, sit, stay, and down. If he has mastered these, then you can proceed to train him how to herd.

You can teach your Collie these commands to train him how to herd: Walk up, where he knows how to approach the flock but stop at a certain distance; Away to me, where he approaches the flock from the left side moving them to the right; Come by, where he approaches from the right side moving the flock to the left; and To me, where he approaches from behind to move the flock closer to you.

For your training, you will need chickens, a training pen, a leash, and treats. Be patient throughout the process. Put around 6 chickens in a pen and give them some food so that they can stay calm and relaxed during training. Put your Collie on a long leash but keep it short as you give him the Walk up command and let him approach the chickens. Stop at least 2 feet away from the chickens and ask your Collie to Sit. This will give him time to get used to the chickens and for the chickens to be comfortable around him. Then give him the Come by command and walk around the chickens in a clockwise direction. When you reach the starting point, go counterclockwise and give him the Away to me Command. Practice this for several weeks. If you see some progress, try extending the leash a bit longer. Then you try standing at the starting point and allow your Collie to move around according to your commands. Next, ask your dog to come to you, have him sit and take the leash off. Then give the Walk up command and work him through the other commands. By this time, he should be able to herd the chickens around the training pen. You can then take him outside to meet the rest of the flock and start training him again on how to herd a larger number of chickens.

Give you Collie a reward each time he follows your command. It can be through verbal praise, affection, or treats to reinforce the behavior. It will take some time before he gets used to herding but with your patience and guidance, he will learn how to herd the whole flock in due time.

What do you think?

Written by Susan Sullinger

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