My short bio: I completed an AMA a number of years ago, it was a lot of fun and thought I'd try another one. I train working Border Collies to help on my sheep farm in central Iowa and compete in sheepdog trials and within the last two years have taken on students and outside client dogs. I grew up with Border Collies as pet farm dogs but started training them to work sheep when I got my first one as an adult fifteen years ago. Fifteen years, a lot of dogs, ten acres, a couple dozen sheep, and thousands of miles traveled, it is truly my passion and drives nearly everything I do. I do demonstrations for university and 4-H students, I am active in local associations and nominated to serve on a national association. I've competed in USBCHA sheepdog trials all over the midwest, as far east as Kentucky and west as Wyoming. Last year we qualified for the National Sheepdog Finals

Ask me anything!

My Proof: My top competing dog, Kess

JaderBug.12 on TikTok

Training my youngest

Feel free to browse any of my submitted posts, they're almost all sheepdog related

Comments: 286 • Responses: 80  • Date: 

YouMakeMyHeartHappy89 karma

What are your thoughts on border collies as city pets?

JaderBug12187 karma

As long as their mental and physical needs are being met (emphasis on the mental), I have absolutely no problem with Border Collies being kept as pets. They need a job but they do not need to be herding dogs- that job can be dog sports, hiking, running, brain games, etc. My first BC as an adult lived with me in an apartment in town. But you have to understand what it takes to maintain a high drive dog.

NeuralHijacker83 karma

I think that working dogs aren't pets, they are a lifestyle. Everyone I know who has them successfully, including me has made big changes to their day to day living to accommodate the dog's substantial needs.

JaderBug1258 karma

Completely agree. This is a huge lifestyle commitment

doctorlust24 karma

What are some tips for mental training?

JaderBug1255 karma

I used to do a lot of trick training and training classes with my first dog before I had regular access to sheep, I've heard that nosework is a great mental exercise for dogs as well. Work on things that have right and wrong answers to make them think and work towards the correct answer/action- retrieving a ball or frisbee over and over is not mentally taxing for them. /r/dogs would probably have some better resources for mental exercises

TinKicker15 karma

I had an elderly relative to took in a border collie as a house pet. He loved that dog but that poor girl was loosing her mind to sheer boredom. All kinds of OCD behavior, like incessant licking, barking etc. High-drive working dogs NEED a job.

I always told him to just take his girl down to the park and let her herd kids! (Or ducks or squirrels or whatever).

JaderBug1250 karma

I had an elderly relative to took in a border collie as a house pet. He loved that dog but that poor girl was loosing her mind to sheer boredom.

This happens a lot, unfortunately.

I will advise though- herding behavior should not be encouraged unless it is an appropriate outlet for it, in a controlled environment where something can be learned. Siccing herding behavior onto any random animal or kids is inhumane or dangerous.

wildebeesties2 karma

This is why I stick to English Bulldogs 😅 they have their own unique needs but it fits with my lifestyle. Moderate activity, needs LOTS of attention, sleeps a lot, makes ridiculous expressions, and just as medically complex as my chronic conditions haha. I hate seeing people getting the wrong breed in comparison to their lifestyle and the dog just looks so miserable not having its needs met. 🙁

JaderBug125 karma

I have a friend with an English Bulldog... I don't think I could own one lol

Mitoria65 karma

Are sheepdogs naturally workers, naturally protective of livestock, or a bit of both? I've seen them gently herd baby chicks with some tiny nose boops, and was always curious if they were taught to be careful with livestock or if it was just instinct.

JaderBug12116 karma

So this is a common misconception- herding dogs are not equal to livestock guardian dogs. The instincts and traits it takes for a dog to be a capable herding dog are directly contradicting to the instincts and traits it takes to be a quality guardian dog. Herding works off of prey drive (which you don't want in an LGD), livestock guardian work comes from protection drive (which isn't what herding dogs work from). The two traits cannot functionally exist in the same dog. You might find a dog like an English Shepherd that kind of? does both, but doesn't do very well at either. English Shepherds are kind of an all around farm dog. Jack of all trades, master of none.

-Butterfly-Queen-18 karma

If you have a flock of sheep, can you have a herding dog and a livestock guardian dog or will the LGD get angry with the herding dog?

JaderBug1240 karma

Yes you can have both, many farms do. It's rare but an LGD attacking or even killing a stock dog does happen. Most, however, know what dogs are there to move and help their stock and which canids are there to cause harm. And generally if the shepherd is out there they know what's going on. That is of course if they are raised accustomed to stock dogs.

stpfun13 karma

So why does a sheepdog gently herd baby chicks? The sheepdog’s instinctive prey drive, or it’s training?

JaderBug1243 karma

It's modified prey drive- not all dogs have the finesse to move baby ducks, lambs, kids, etc. Most of that gentle work is after a lot of training but there is still a lot of intuition involved, either the dog has it or doesn't. There is a lot of variation in these dogs, some cattle line dogs are not quiet enough to work sheep and many sheepdogs are not gritty enough to work cattle.

A_bird_in_the_hands61 karma

Could you train a random shelter mutt (pitbull + chow + lab for example) to do the same job with similar results? I'm one of the few people who advocate for reputable dog breeders whenever I see people on the /Aww sub who say "Adopt don't shop, ever" and "All breeders should be shut down and fined/murdered/tarred and feathered." It gets a bit old sometime. I appreciate the sentiment but I fully believe that some breeders are there to improve the breeds and continue good bloodlines and it wouldn't be the same without that. Sheepdogs, rescue dogs, hunting, tracking, sled, etc etc.

JaderBug12144 karma

Could you train a random shelter mutt (pitbull + chow + lab for example) to do the same job with similar results?

Absolutely not. You might luck out occasionally but generally it's going to be 100x harder, take more time and effort with less satisfactory results than it will be to start with a talented, purpose-bred dog. You're absolutely right with your sentiments about responsible, purpose breeding. I've had this argument countless times with people who think you can achieve the same things with a shelter/rescue dog of unknown background.

I am absolutely not detracting from shelter or rescue dogs, every dog deserves to be loved. But your odds of finding the talent I work with in a shelter are next to zero.

ScribblesandPuke13 karma

In Ireland the shelters are full to the brim with collies. Some would be rejected working dogs, true, but the majority are often pups from working dogs that the farmer, who didn't get their dog fixed, also can't be bothered to look after.

JaderBug1237 karma

I can certainly believe that but keep in mind, responsibly bred dogs do not end up in rescue.

Kamakazieee13 karma

Have you spent much time trying to train random breeds for this work? Or really just started with border collies and never deviated?

JaderBug1293 karma

My first trainer was an all-breed trainer, I had a lot of exposure to Australian Shepherds, Belgian Tervurens, Corgis, German Shepherds, Shelties, Rough Collies, Bearded Collies, etc. I've been to a lot of all breed herding trials like AKC- there is absolutely no comparison to the "work" those other breeds do vs the work from well bred Border Collies. Most other herding breeds have been ruined by the show ring - the Border Collies you find in the show ring for example are absolutely laughable on stock - and programs like AKC have dumbed down their working requirements so much that the people who participate in them now believe that less than mediocre work is something to be celebrated. Kind of blunt but I have very strong feelings on this subject.

KibudEm-31 karma


JaderBug1239 karma

Is that one dog the extent of your experience with herding dogs? What type of facility did you take him to? How much time on stock has he had and to what level has it been trained? Do you understand the difference between chasing and working? Most people who answer like you have do not. Showing interest in stock is NOT the same as quality working ability.

KibudEm-14 karma


JaderBug1228 karma

Again, what type of ranch? Is the training just lessons or real, actual work? Is it work that could be completed with a grain bucket? How broke are the stock? Your experience does not negate the fact that it is still unlikely (note I didn't say impossible) to find capable working dogs in shelter and rescue.

AcetyleneFumes10 karma

Is it work that could be completed with a grain bucket?

Thank you for this comment

JaderBug125 karma

It's pretty effective lol. If your dog is doing "work" that you could do without them, they're not proving anything.

Cogitotoro44 karma

How much English do you think your dogs understand?

JaderBug1282 karma

Quite a bit I suppose. They pick up on words I don't mean to teach them, they're pretty clever. They probably know quite a bit more than I think they know lol

hamhamham035 karma

If you ask the dog “who’s a good boy” without telling them “you’re a good boy!” do they know that they’re the good boy?

JaderBug1211 karma

I actually don't use a lot of praise in my training- the sheep are the reward and often times me getting all gooey with praise makes their brain fall out. They get praise elsewhere but if we're training on stock they get very little other than maybe a very calm and quiet "good boy"

oblivious_tabby43 karma

What are some ways that your dogs have surprised you with their intelligence?

JaderBug1277 karma

That's a tough question because I already think they're pretty clever... I guess I could answer relatively to other dogs.

I have a dog in for training right now who is close in age to my youngest- the client dog is not that clever and I've had to work hard for everything he's learned, whereas with my own young dog, I can show her the same thing once or twice and then she's out-thinking me and anticipating what I want from her. I really have to stay on my toes with these dogs because they're often thinking ahead of me which can actually be detrimental if I don't keep ahead of them!

karma_dumpster29 karma

Why BCs over Australian Shepherds or Heelers or Kelpies?

JaderBug1250 karma

Border Collies IMO can out work Aussies and Heelers in every capacity. It's much easier to find quality working BCs than any other breed (as stock dogs), and the instinct and ability is much more intact than most other working breeds. Australian Kelpies are right up there as well.

Aussies, Heelers, and BCs all work very differently from one another too- BCs have a very focused drive, Aussies are a little bit more 'aloof' (which is because they are what's called 'loose eyed')... and heelers are just born to bite which I don't care for in a stock dog, I don't want my stock having holes put in them by a dog. I like both those other breeds just fine but I wouldn't really want to work them. I've seen good heelers but they're few and far between.

SwaggersaurusWrecks14 karma

Have other herding breeds become obsolete with the widespread usage of border collies?

When would you want to use an Aussie, Heeler, or even a Corgi over a BC?

JaderBug1220 karma

Basically yes, I've seen instances where native or heritage breeds in certain areas are becoming endangered because of the rise and influx of Border Collies, who can do the job better.

Aussies can be better in smaller areas as Border Collies are often more comfortable in larger spaces, heelers are good for when you've got hard cattle and dogs who can handle getting hurt. Corgis are already obsolete, there really aren't any out there anymore who can handle anything besides dead broke stock.

Truthfully there are very few situations where a good Border Collie shouldn't be the first choice, maybe some areas of rough landscape and rank livestock

FunkyPete6 karma

Aussies can be better in smaller areas as Border Collies

It seems like Aussies (who are bigger and more muscular and bulky than BCs) are more willing to bump livestock with their bodies and physically move them. It makes sense that the physical style works better in a small space than getting some distance and glaring.

Also, an Aussie's top speed might be similar to an BC, but the BC can do it ALL DAY and an Aussie will tire before the BC would, which also backs up your larger space comment.

JaderBug124 karma

Yep this is very accurate. That close work and occasional body contact is also why Aussies are docked and BCs are not.

FerretPantaloons3 karma

I'm curious why corgis are obsolete - not doubting as seeing videos of BC work are awesome, and our family pet didn't seem as clever, just curious. I'm not sure what dead broke stock means either - old animals?

JaderBug1213 karma

Corgis haven't been bred as functional working dogs in god knows how many generations, the instinct and ability is all but gone. Herding ability is extremely fickle and is easy to lose even when you're breeding for it, so when a breed hasn't been maintained as a working dog, it's lost.

AKC programs are notorious for using 'dead broke stock' which means sheep that aren't challenging, that just kind of move off a dog with no hesitation, are usually glued to the handler's legs, or know the course and routine so well they do it themselves, and then people think their talentless dog has accomplished something. Sheep get accustomed to being worked and their fight or flight instinct is severely diminished so you're not proving your dog by working stock that are dead broke.

GreatApostate12 karma

This is a confusing read as an Australian, lol.

Aussie shepherds are from California, and we don't really have them here. Heelers are an Australian cattledog, and kelpies are an Australian sheep dog.

JaderBug126 karma

Yeah idk whose brilliance it was to call an American dog an Australian Shepherd but here we are lol

jarredshere9 karma

What does loose eyed mean? Not sure I'm understanding.

JaderBug1211 karma

So this is the trademark eye that Border Collies use to move their stock, it's that stare that they're known for. That gaze intimidates stock and that's what they move off of. Most other breeds don't utilize that gaze, they don't stand there and stare at their stock, they move around a lot more. That's what "loose eyed" would be.

surfergrl894 karma

do tell more about aussies! :)

JaderBug1214 karma

They're very bouncy lol. I don't have a lot of tolerance for them, I don't really understand how they tick as they're very different in working style from Border Collies. Border Collies have a very focused drive- Aussies still have a lot of drive but it's kind of in every direction.

White_crow60625 karma

Border collies are known for the "eyes", is there any other dog breed known for their signature herding style? Thanks

JaderBug1257 karma

Yes that's a great question- Border Collies and Kelpies are the two breeds that utilize 'eye' in their work, otherwise you have 'loose eyed' breeds like Australian Shepherds who move stock with their body movement and bark. Border Collies, Kelpies, and Aussies are all known as 'gathering' dogs, which are breeds who go out, gather stock, bring them back, or move them from point A to point B, influencing the direction of the stock. Then you'll also have 'droving' dogs like heelers, Rottweilers, and Bouviers to name a few whose job it is to get behind stock and push, not really controlling the actual direction, they just want them to keep moving. Last you'll have 'tending' breeds like German Shepherds, Belgian Tervuren, etc. who act as a living fence- they don't necessarily move stock around but they travel the perimeter of the herd to keep them grouped in a certain area. There are also mustering dogs which I don't know a lot about, my understanding is that they go out, find stock, and mob them together until the handler arrives to move them.

phonein6 karma

I'm insanely late to the party, but mustering dogs etc are ike huntaways from NZ. They are bred (traditionally) to be able to work independently in steep country to go grab a flock or herd and move it back toward the shepherd. Is that what you mean by mustering dogs?

On another topic, have you ever heard of a Smithfield? Used to be working dogs in cattleyards and ended up in Tasmania, where they were used as working dogs for a long time until they got bred out. Theres actually a smithfield festival wherre any dog deemed a "Smithy" can compete. Basically it was a more rangy English sheepdog and got interbred with various other working dogs like collies and kelpies/coolies. The working drive ones still have the eye. Or at least mine does. He's definitely not a working dog but the one time he got into a paddock with a mob of cattle he did the Collie eye and got low then chased them across the paddock keeping them grouped up. He then shit himself when they turned on him and ran the whole way back, but its interesting that the prey drive/herding genetics were there in part.

JaderBug123 karma

I've heard of Smithfields but it's not a breed I ever remember until I've heard it again lol. Mustering is completely foreign to me, I don't know much about it and to me I have a hard time seeing anything but some hound-looking dogs running around barking a lot lol. Not saying they're not working or they're not invaluable, I just don't understand them haha

RvP02023 karma

Have you seen Jeremy Clarkson's failed attempt at trying to herd his sheep using a barking drone? Do you think it would've worked under different circumstances and is there really an alternative method to herding using a border collie?

JaderBug1275 karma

I love the episodes of Clarskon's Farm with the sheep, they're spot on with how frustrating it can be and I was amused and not surprised at the failure of the barking drone lol.

Working dogs are absolutely invaluable with livestock- I wouldn't keep sheep without one. You certainly can keep sheep without a dog but they make it so much easier. Keeping sheep without a dog requires different types of facilities, more equipment, and more manpower. As far as other things to herd with- you can't manufacture a dog's intuition and ability to think. Sheep are much more clever than people give them credit for.

I was told this once- if sheep are so stupid, why does it take the world's most intelligent dog to work them?

keitchi20 karma

Are you concerned sheeppig trainers will render your job obsolete?

JaderBug1233 karma

It is truly one of my biggest fears in life. If they get a foothold in this market, we are done.

WT5Speed18 karma

Do you use livestock guardian dogs as well with your flock? If so, how do you negotiate between guardian animals and herding animals?

What other breeds have you trained?

Have you ever herded anything other than sheep?

JaderBug1229 karma

Do you use livestock guardian dogs as well with your flock?

My farm is not big enough to need an LGD, nor do I have a heavy predator load in my area and my fences are all very secure. If I needed one, I would absolutely get one. But I have worked sheep at many farms that have LGDs- it's rare but an LGD attacking or even killing a stock dog does happen. Most, however, know what dogs are there to move and help their stock and which canids are there to cause harm. And generally if the shepherd is out there they know what's going on. That is of course if they are raised accustomed to stock dogs.

What other breeds have you trained?

My personal training experience is limited to Border Collies but I got my start with an all-breed trainer, so I have had a lot of exposure to other herding breeds. IMO none except Australian Kelpies hold a candle to a working Border Collie.

Have you ever herded anything other than sheep?

I have worked goats, chickens, and ducks with my dogs, and I have trained several dogs who have gone home to work cattle. I don't work cattle with my own dogs as I don't have a need to, I don't own any cattle myself. I have been thinking about starting to work cattle though since there are a lot of cattledog trials in Iowa and not many sheepdog trials here.

WisaG0ld17 karma

Have you ever tried to train a pig as a sheep dog?

JaderBug1217 karma

That's on my bucket list

The_Blind_Star15 karma

Do you find there's a big difference between "pet-line" BCs and "working-line"? I grew up on a sheep farm and the collies the farmer had were unstoppable balls of energy and cleverness, and while I know pet BCs are also very intense and need lots of mental stimulation, I've never seen a pet that could match a working collie's energy and stamina. I was told this was specifically to do with separate breed "stock" but I've wondered if that's true or if it's purely that working collies will, by definition, do more work and have a level of fitness accordingly?

JaderBug1234 karma

Absolutely, 100% there is a massive difference.

In Border Collies there are actually several breed splits- you have working bred dogs that are bred from long lines of working parents, show lines who are bred for the conformation ring to look a certain way, sport lines that are bred to go fast and be high drive, and then pets that are largely backyard bred with no purpose behind them. Most of the lines will still be high energy dogs but the farther away you get from dogs that have been extensively worked and bred for their working ability, the more neuroses and less ability you find. There are a lot of people who think that any dog of any specific breed still qualifies as that breed and therefore capable of doing the work- which couldn't be further from the truth. It's easy to lose working ability in these dogs so yes there is a massive difference in ability from working bred to pet bred.

captainfarthing10 karma

What problems are you referring to when you say neuroses?

If someone is looking for a BC as an intelligent pet & hiking buddy, can you give advice on red flags to watch out for?

JaderBug1226 karma

Fixation and OCD, inability to settle, behavioral issues, just generally being wired wrong. All of these dogs have some weird quirk but most well bred dogs those quirks are not detrimental to their well-being.

I'd look at the parents and the breeding- look at what the parents do and how they act. Or if you're going the shelter/rescue route, try to find out if the dog has any fixation issues, have someone who knows the breed evaluate them.

DareyFathom13 karma

I've handled and trained working dogs for military, police, and now private security consulting. I tell everyone on the importance of genetics to be successful is well over 75% and routinely hear the ignorant refrain of, "it's all how you raise them." How much of the herding work is genetic and how much is environmentally learned?

JaderBug1216 karma

Exactly the same as your experience, perhaps a higher percentage of genetics and instinct. I've seen plenty of dogs who haven't necessarily been raised the best but when they're put on stock they turn into poetry in motion. How they're raised and handled certainly plays a part but it's mostly genetics.

kolibrionextasy12 karma

Thanks for doing this!

I have an Australian Shepherd and I've always wondered if I'd hypothetically train her for sheep herding what kind of things would she naturally learn faster than for example dog breeds that are bred for a "different" purpose like hunting or retrieving?

And do you think herding breeds are happiest when they get to do the job they were bred for or could they get this kind of mental and physical stimulation else where and be just as happy?

JaderBug1217 karma

If I'm understanding your first question correctly- ideally your dog should pick up on things that should come naturally to herding breeds, their ability to read and rate stock and control their movement. They should understand how their body language affects sheep and adjust accordingly. But, a lot of this natural ability is contingent on breeding and genetics.

And as to your second question- I could take my dogs off of the farm to never see sheep again and they would be perfectly happy as long as their physical and mental needs were being met. They love working sheep more than anything in the world but they want to do what I want to do.

johannthegoatman10 karma

I once rented a room from a 5th generation Vermont farmer in an old farmhouse. There was a retired border collie that lived there with me. He was a good boy but pretty neglected it seemed to me. He had a giant open wound on his back he would chew :( meanwhile the newer younger dogs were all healthy and lived in the farmers house. Is this common? It felt like the farmer saw the dog more as a tool he didn't need anymore than a being in need of love.

Side story about zip the dog: one absolutely freezing winter night my friend and I wake up to the sound of cars honking, phone ringing repeatedly, wondering wtf is going on. Then someone yells from the road "your cows are out! Your cows are out!" turns out the cows got loose and were all over the place including the "highway" (vt single lane). I felt like I had to save the day so I put gear on and run outside. I have 0 farm experience and have barely seen a cow before this so kind of dumb. As soon as I got out there I was pretty afraid. But zip was with me. His eyes were wide seeing this mayhem and he looked at me, I just said "yes bro go get em" lol and he rounded up all these cows so fast, it blew my mind. It's one thing to see a YouTube video but seeing it in real life, this old beat up dog rounding up these huge animals in the dark with so much confidence and joy, was awe inspiring. Eventually the farmer came (his house was miles away) and fixed the fence etc but that's my cool story about Zip.

Bonus question - what do you think is the best resource for people training their pets of any breed? I wish more people would take the time. Do you think sending a dog to a training school can be effective, or waste of money?

JaderBug124 karma

Living arrangements vary from handler to handler- most people keep their working dogs in kennels and not in the house, mostly because they get dirty when they're working and it's tough to keep a house clean with a working dog. There are plenty of people who keep their working dogs in the house though, one of mine does and the rest are in my walk-out basement. They are all house trained though.

There are pros and cons to any way of housing

TherealTizedes9 karma

I am from Hungary where we have a traditional sheepdog from our neck of the woods. The Puli. Have you ever encountered or worked with one? If so what are your thoughts?

JaderBug123 karma

I've never encountered one but I would imagine the ones you are seeing are more capable than the show bred ones we see over here. There are very few herding breeds over here that are still capable of doing real work, but if you're in their native land it's more likely yours can still work.

doomdoggie9 karma

I wanna do you train away and come by?

What is the reward-punishment system you use, especially at a distance?

JaderBug1231 karma

So all commands and everything we teach these dogs in working is based off and only relative to the stock- the commands are all meaningless away from stock. Basically I use my body language to move the dog in a circle or flank around the sheep, once they're comfortable going both directions and are moving off of me correctly, I just start applying the word to the action. So if I move off from my sheep to the left, that should send the dog clockwise around the sheep and I simply apply the word "come bye" as they're going in that direction, just the opposite for "away". For a while I don't enforce it, just saying the words. After they're used to traveling around correctly I'll start to ask for the flank verbally without moving my body, and work to enforce it. They usually figure it out pretty quickly.

Most of my corrections are verbal or physically blocking movement with my body, flag, or stock stick (like blocking movement/direction, not making actual physical contact). If the dog is not responding to verbal pressure at a distance, that tells me the dog doesn't have the skill solid at hand, so I'll bring them back up close until they're more solid, then build distance again.

I never, ever use shock collars and anyone who does is a lousy trainer. Shock collars can be excellent tools for a lot of dogs and al lot of disciplines, but they should never be used on herding dogs. My corrections and pressure are mostly verbal- pressure on if they're incorrect, pressure off when they're right.

LegendOfArcanine13 karma

Shock collars can be excellent tools for a lot of dogs and al lot of disciplines, but they should never be used on herding dogs. 

What makes you feel that shock collars are particularly unsuitable for herding dogs in specific? Is it their sensitive nature? I have dabbled in a few disciplines under my belt (mainly trailing, tracking, detection and a bit of formal obedience) with a few friends that are active in KNPV, shock collars are banned in my country and none of us ever felt like we missed out on something. I strongly feel that while some dogs' training may benefit from it, the tool has the greatest potential of abuse and fall out, out of any tool that is commonly used in training dogs. Seeing amateurs on social media buy a shock collar and slap it on their dog makes my skin crawl.

JaderBug1217 karma

Their sensitivity is definitely a huge factor in why herding dogs shouldn't have shock collars used on them but moreso than that, timing is crucial and most people don't have good enough timing to effectively use a shock collar. Interactions between the stock and dog happen SO quickly that if you're not 100% correct in your timing, you end up correcting the dog for the wrong thing, which confuses them, hurts their confidence, and hinders training.

xthatwasmex3 karma

Shock collars are illegal in my country, but I often claim that if you are good trainer enough to have the timing and pressure 100% right 100% of the time, you are most probably good enough to train without it. And that it should never be used by people that do not have that ability.

It is, however, common here to use "adversive" methods such as shaking a can of gravel at a herding dog - to shock them/scare them out of a stare or whatever you dont want them doing. Would you say you find it necessary to do so, or could you do that simply by adding/removing your body/changing your body language?

JaderBug124 karma

I'll say for the record- stock dog training cannot be done without adversives. And by adversives I don't mean shock collars- I mean use of tools like flags, sticks, rattle cans like you mentioned, shouting, etc. Most of it is auditory or visual pressure but there are people who think positive only training is successful and it absolutely is not. We of course use rewards (access to stock and release of pressure) in training but not in the way the R+ community thinks. Most training is done with body pressure and body language but sometimes more is necessary especially if the dog is harassing the stock.


That's very interesting. I am a dog trainer. I don't work with working dogs. From what I understand most people are still using e-collars with their BCs in some form. If you're working without an e-collar and you qualed for nationals that's pretty incredible.

If you're interested I would love to chat with you about what you're doing and do a short interview if you're up for it.

JaderBug122 karma

From what I understand most people are still using e-collars with their BCs in some form.

That's unfortunate and I hope you're mistaken. There is very little shock collar training within the working world, it produces bad results but there are people who do it and you can tell in the way their dogs work. Hardly anyone who is qualifying for the national sheepdog finals is using shock collars, I would be surprised if there were any.

I'd be happy to talk with you!

TrainerDusk8 karma

In your experience, at what age do Border Collies get over their "bite/chew everything" phase? I've got a pet collie puppy with an excellent temperament, but he's still exploring the world with his mouth.

JaderBug128 karma

oh, five or six months or so, typically. I correct and replace chewing inappropriate items

Dez_Champs6 karma

How do you feel about the great Canadian rock band The Sheepdogs and which is your favorite song of theirs?

JaderBug123 karma

I've never heard of them and for that I am deeply sorry

Moldy_slug5 karma

Do you have any stories of dogs making mischief or showing a sense of humor? I had a neighbor who trained German shepherds as service dogs and she had quite a few stories of dogs “playing pranks” on their trainers/handlers.

JaderBug1224 karma

Nothing comes to mind as far as pranks but I've had a few events at trials that were pretty funny.

My first dog was not very talented, we learned together and got our feet wet with herding. She wasn't a confident dog either. I was at an arena trial once, somehow she got the sheep backed into a corner and neither of us had the right tools yet to know how to get ourselves out of that situation. Instead of 'scooping' them out of the corner like we should have, she kept cautiously walking into them, putting more and more pressure on them when they couldn't go anywhere. At one point the ewe put her head down and jumped at my dog- the ewe never made contact but it scared my dog. She turned around, tucked tail and ran away SCREAMING across the arena. Everyone who was there went running to the fence like "is she okay?!" thinking that she'd been pulverized by this ewe... and I'm left standing there in disbelief like "the sheep didn't even touch her!"

I've come a long way since then XD

KatenBaten3 karma

Do you have any tips for increasing confidence in a nervy younger BC?

JaderBug125 karma

Brain games, work on activities that the dog can 'win' at. Losing games of tug can help but make sure the game still ends on your terms. Positive reinforcement training.

Nixplosion4 karma

How hard would it be to train my 7 year old Corgi to start herding? I can tell he has clear instincts for it but he's never spent a day on learning it.

JaderBug1218 karma

Seven is way too old to start a dog- the window really starts to close around two years of age. They need to be physically and mentally mature enough to handle the pressures of training, which usually starts around a year of age.

It's also a misnomer when most people think their herding dog has 'natural herding instincts' when what they're really seeing is chasing or arousal. It may start that way but it's rare for most pet quality dogs to be able to get past that state of chase/arousal and turn into a useful dog- there's so much more that goes into working ability than just the drive to respond to movement.

AmexNomad3 karma

What do you do with the extra puppies that are not needed?

JaderBug124 karma

We try to put puppies from working breedings in working homes but they don't always turn out, they'll often go to pet or sport homes if they are considered "herding washouts". I've bred one litter and both the pups I kept from the litter are now in pet homes- they wanted to work and they enjoyed it but they didn't live for it and didn't have what it was going to take to be top class working dogs. One of my young dogs right now I am currently beginning to weigh that option as well.

NotYourMothersDildo3 karma

When you train a dog to your specific whistles, do you then teach those whistles to the person buying the dog or paying you for training?

JaderBug126 karma

Usually I'll ask if there are specific whistle commands they want me to use, otherwise I use my preferred whistles. I have a dog in for a tune up now who I did not train, I struggle to get one of his whistles out so it's definitely a learning opportunity for me as well.

JibletsGiblets3 karma

What names have you used for your dogs and can you tell us a bit about how you choose them?

They always seem to be short sharp and shoutable... No "Chauncery von Snuffles the Third"s.

JaderBug125 karma

That's exactly right, we limit names to one or two syllables because anything more than that is difficult to shout out quickly. The working registries (American Border Collie Association, Canadian Border Collie Association, International Sheep Dog Society) have character limits so long ornate names cannot be registered, the ISDS even has a two syllable limit.

The top five popular names recorded over the past thirteen years for dogs are Ben, Roy, Moss, Glen and Spot, and for bitches they are Meg, Jess, Nell, Fly and Jill.

The dogs I've had over the years: Joey, Cody, Rocko, Sasha, Jade, Pepper, Kess, Polly, York, Tad, Luke, Bruce, and Peach. Dogs I've had in for training include Tig, Two, Kaya, Ace, Joe, Lexi, to name a few.

Repeat_after_me__3 karma

Have you ever tried to train a Pitbull breed to do this job? If not, why not? They’re apparently very nice gentle docile nanny dogs.

JaderBug1226 karma

Lol. The number of people who intentionally breed pits into their herding breeds is disgusting, "Guaranteed to bite." Tell me you're a shit stockman without telling me.

Gerbille3 karma

Which do you prefer—ears up bc or floppy?

JaderBug125 karma

Prick ears, definitely. But I wouldn't decide for or against a dog based on it, just a preference.

Stroomschok3 karma

You think Border Collies bred today are superior in intelligence and applied instincts to when the breed was established? Do you feel like there is still room to further improve their genetics much in this regard?

JaderBug123 karma

I've heard over and over by people who have been in the breed for decades that we don't have the same quality of dogs that we used to, that the dogs today are much weaker than they used to be. I always wonder if that's true or if they are being nostalgic. I do agree the work has changed, the shift to heavier use of trial dogs has definitely changed the game and changed these dogs. Quality work dogs don't always have the finesse that it takes to compete in trials, and trial dogs don't always have the grit it takes to get some work done.

nebbbben2 karma

I go to the soldier hollow sheepdog trials every fall. Are the handlers in those cases usually the trainers as well (since the dogs were puppies) or is there a handoff between what you do and those handlers?

It is some of the just interesting and riveting "sport" that I've ever attended, btw. The drama when sheep are stressed from heat and when one goes nuts while the handler whistles for one thing and you can see the dog juggling the decision should I listen to handler or do what I know is right because I'm a dog in the fucking field with these sheep is so intense.

JaderBug124 karma

I hope to make it to Soldier Hollow someday, it's an incredible trial and an invitational so it's only the best of the best.

Yes the majority of those handlers also trained the dogs they are running, though there are occasionally dogs who are bought or sold as young dogs or trained dogs.

wintonian12 karma

Are you aware of One Man and His Dog, that used to televise the sheep dog tries in the UK?

JaderBug125 karma

Yes! There is a new series on YouTube called A Way With Dogs which is similar

p0iznp0izn2 karma

I've heard a comparison of german shepherd to be as smart as a 6 yo kid. What would be your evaluation for BC?

JaderBug123 karma

Probably about the same, they're both incredibly intelligent

ElectricalRabbit15722 karma

Do you think people in your line of work will ever resort to something like drones to herd livestock? Half a day to learn how to fly it vs months of training a talented dog.

I don't think it will because tradition.. but i wonder if it would be easier and cheaper for farmers

JaderBug123 karma

Nope, definitely not. A drone doesn't have intuition, can't stand up to a challenging animal, can't go easy on an animal that needs more care, can't think for itself to get the job done. Of all the innovations that have come and gone through the history of agriculture, the working dog is steadfast and always will be. People have developed handling systems that eliminate the need for dogs but those are only effective with up close handling, plus they still require more manpower.

ASSperationalHorizon2 karma

Based on some of the comments here, a BC isn't a good idea for someone who's not home during the week for 8 hours a day, right? I love these dogs and really want one, but our being at work for so many hours a day wouldn't be fair for the dog....

JaderBug124 karma

I work from home but I have had 8hr work day jobs while I've had Border Collies- crate training is your friend and you need to make sure the dog's needs are being met in the rest of your available hours. My dogs sleep all day but are ready to go at a moments notice. If you live an active lifestyle outside of your work hours and you want to include your dog in those activities, they can still work just fine.

Awotwe_Knows_Best2 karma

Let's say I bring my dog to your farm(I don't know the breed of my dog). With no human interaction at all,will your Border Collie be able to teach my dog to herd?

JaderBug122 karma

Nope, they don't learn from each other. Common misconception. They can pick up on jobs from each other, they'll maybe learn different tasks, but they have to learn this stuff from humans.

oakteaphone2 karma

Due to the size of my screen, it looked like the title of this post was "IamA Sheepdog".

If you were a sheepdog, what would your favourite foods be? (Including things you maybe shouldn't be eating?)

JaderBug121 karma

I have a friend that says "it takes a lot of sheep shit to make a sheep dog"... and based on some of my dogs' dietary choices........

1320Fastback2 karma

How many goodest bois and girls do you have?

JaderBug127 karma

This is an outdated photo of my current lineup...

From left to right:

  • Jade, she was my gateway dog who got me into herding. We lost her last fall, she was almost fifteen years old.

  • Pepper, my first Open (top level competition) dog. She just turned twelve, she's retired now but occasionally helps with chores.

  • Kess, my go-to working dog and one of my current Open trial dogs. She is nine years old.

  • Tad, my other Open trial dog. He's the only dog I have that I did not train myself. He'll be eight in July.

  • Bruce, one of my young dogs in training. He'll be two in July. Struggling with his training some, it happens.

  • Peach, she's currently 16months old and will be entering her first Nursery trials next month. She's coming along really well, really excited about her potential. There's a video clip of her in the introduction of this post.

lostjedi142 karma

Hey! two time border collie owner here. First one was a rescue, VERY VERY nervous. Didn’t have kids at the time and walked her a lot. Took a lot of work to get her to just be “normal” but she was an amazing dog around kids and other animals and very chill. Fast forward 15 years and I now have a 15 month old registered border collie who is amazingly well behaved with just adults but struggles holding it together with children. Any tips to break the “stare” or “one leg hopping” or “following” the children around?

JaderBug127 karma

I just tell them to knock it off when they're doing stupid stuff like that 🤷🏼‍♀️ I don't encounter that behavior very often, I also don't have kids running around. They can understand what behaviors are and are not acceptable, try redirecting the behaviors onto appropriate things.

willflameboy2 karma

What's the cleverest thing you've seen a dog do?

JaderBug121 karma

They find some pretty ingenious ways to gain access to stock...

SmthngAmzng2 karma

What reality tv trainer gets it right? Or are they all terrible?

JaderBug124 karma

I don't follow a lot of the TV or social media trainers as I don't do a lot of pet or behavioral issue type training but yeah most of them are off their rockers, or they just can't stay in their lane. Got into it with a YouTube trainer on TikTok who was talking out his ass like he knew the first thing about training working dogs. That's what I see most often- these 'popular' trainers who don't truly understand drive and instinct in these dogs.

Altril20102 karma

What do you think the top 5 major differences between BC and ES are? I have my own opinion having been around both all my life, but I’m curious to hear yours (since I saw a reference to ES in a rely and people rarely know the breed).

JaderBug121 karma

I don't know if I can name five? Border Collies are much more energetic than the ES I've been around, most of the ES I've seen do not have great temperaments. ES couldn't work their way out of a wet paper bag but they're also not designed to do it like a BC. If I wanted an all around farm dog to lay on my porch all day I'd go with an ES but otherwise I've never been impressed with them. They're fine if you're wanting a bidable dog that doesn't have the same drive as a BC, that's why my in-laws got one a number of years ago

medival1101102 karma

When a sheepdog interact with a sheep, what is it like? Does the sheep sees the dog as a guardian or a predator? I always wondered how they think of each other when they are not working(herding or being herded). Do they ever form any personal relationships?

JaderBug122 karma

What you're describing is the work of a livestock guardian dog- LGDs live with their sheep, the sheep see the LGD as their safety and will go to them if they feel threatened for afraid.

Herding dogs work off of prey drive, the interaction of herding dogs only works because of the predator-prey dynamic. The sheep respond to the dog as a prey animal does to a predator, and the dog interacts with sheep the way a predator does to prey. So herding dogs like Border Collies won't develop 'relationships' with stock the way LGDs do. A herding dog can be 'on' or 'off' around stock, that will affect how the interaction is playing out in that moment.

MercurialMadnessMan2 karma

I’ve just recently seen my first sheepdog competition and I was really impressed with the use of different whistle tones to communicate with the dogs. Is this practice used in real life in the field?

I’d love to watch a video that describes what each of those whistle tones mean!

JaderBug124 karma

Yes the whistles are absolutely used in practical application. There are a few whistles that are generally the same for certain commands (the lie down is almost always universal for example) but the flank commands can vary from handler to handler.

I have a playlist on my TikTok channel that covers whistles

GreenLightening52 karma

do the dogs ever develop a bond with the sheep?

JaderBug123 karma

What you're describing is the work of a livestock guardian dog- LGDs live with their sheep, the sheep see the LGD as their safety and will go to them if they feel threatened for afraid.

Herding dogs work off of prey drive, the interaction of herding dogs only works because of the predator-prey dynamic. The sheep respond to the dog as a prey animal does to a predator, and the dog interacts with sheep the way a predator does to prey. So herding dogs like Border Collies won't develop 'relationships' with stock the way LGDs do. A herding dog can be 'on' or 'off' around stock, that will affect how the interaction is playing out in that moment.

Onlydogcanjudgeme692 karma

Curious to know your thoughts on heelers. I have an almost 5-year old heeler and he is bonkers smart and an asshole, which is a common trait as far as I understand and makes them ideal for herding cattle because they are tough and stubborn and can be aggressive when needed. My impression has always been that border collies will try to anticipate their handler’s commands and are eager to please, while heelers mainly anticipate the handler’s commands in order to try to outsmart them and get what they want. Do you see heelers successfully herding anything other than cattle commonly, or are BCs pretty much universally the choice for non-cattle driving?

JaderBug121 karma

I don't see a lot of heelers anymore but generally their motto is "if you're gonna be stupid, you'd better be tough." Not saying they're not smart, they are, but like you said they're stubborn and determined, and they'll get the job done come what may. I don't know that heelers try to outsmart their handlers so much as they are just going to do what they want. I've seen heelers work sheep but it's not pretty... but honestly anymore BCs are the go-to for all types of stock work, I'd put a proper cattle line Border Collie up against every other cattledog breed every day of the week. The top cattledogs in the country are all Border Collies.

Robobvious1 karma

Any advice on getting my dogs to not bark at dogs in video games? They're Australian Shepherds.

JaderBug121 karma

Tell them to shut up?

Aussies are barkers, there's not a lot you're going to do about it. I don't have much tolerance for barking but BCs also don't bark much to begin with.

Icy-Letterhead-28371 karma

My son has a border/lab mix. Ever heard of skin diseases or anything affecting mixed breeds? The vet we've used has refused to test him for anything and just threw pills at it. Over a grand, and the condition is still there. Know of any decent vets in the KC area that might take this seriously?

JaderBug129 karma

I can't even begin to answer this question nor is it anywhere in the purview of what this AMA is about.

billabong0491 karma

How do you get an Aussie who nips at kids - only when they’re getting too wild while playing - to stop nipping? Can that be trained away? I had assumed this was a herding thing, but maybe not?

JaderBug124 karma

There's a lot of people who say just let them grow out of it but I don't like having needle teeth sunk into me.

Do with this what you will but every time a puppy bites me and they're not accepting a no or a redirect for an answer, I'll either roll their lip over their own teeth or press my fingernail into the roof of their mouth. Doesn't hurt them just helps them learn there are consequences to putting your teeth on a human.

surfergrl891 karma

first time owner of an aussie shepherd (11 months). any tips? also, will my pup ever earn to walk without going crazy over other dogs/dog smells? and will he ever stop assuming my 13 year old cat wants to be bff’s and playmates with him? lol.

JaderBug123 karma

Not in my wheelhouse but Aussies seem to stay immature for longer than the BCs I work with. Don't have a lot of suggestion for pet type training other than set and maintain rules and routines. If you have a rule or an expectation in your house, don't let yourself slide on enforcing it.

Ok-Feedback56041 karma

Daily diet chart for a pet sheepdog?

JaderBug126 karma

I don't really follow labels- I feed a quality affordable kibble and adjust as necessary. I get my hands on the dogs to really check body condition every few weeks and adjust as necessary. This is applicable to ALL lifestyles of dogs.

CerseiClinton1 karma

Specific question here, how do I get my Belgian Terv to stop screaming? I mean that literally. He’s a chill dog until he’s over stimulated. He can become over stimulated by oh say a leaf blowing in the wind. And he screams. He doesn’t bark, or make any noise known to dog-kind, he screams as though he’s a young girl who saw a spider. He’s 7, has had five different handlers during his show career, and every training I can think of.

JaderBug122 karma

have you tried a bark collar?

CerseiClinton1 karma

I have not. Would you recommend one? His previous handlers warned me against them and said his breed is very “emotionally sensitive” and a bark collar could lead him to showing aggression instead 🤷‍♀️

JaderBug125 karma

I have a Garmin bark collar which is nice because it is rechargeable, has a vibrating setting, an automatic setting and I think nine different levels. The automatic setting works by activating at the lowest level and upping if the dog continues.

I will not use radio shock collars as a stock training tool but bark collars are not the same, it's within their own control to figure out and doesn't have any affect to their stock work.

Knilchmithonig1 karma

Did you ever had to train a doggo that just was no fit for the job or did you encounter people that ruined the dogs afterwards?

JaderBug128 karma

Absolutely, happens all the time. I've sent a couple of dogs home who showed some instinct but didn't have what it takes to continue training, maybe they got so far and stalled out.

I had a dog last summer that I really liked and tried to buy- they wanted her back and I told them they needed to keep a handle on her that she would be challenging to run. Received a message about a week later that they just let her loose on sheep and she took down three before they could catch her again. Some of these dogs are really intense and it takes the right handler to work them.

I have a dog in right now who is talented as hell, he's here for a tune up mostly because his owner won't enforce rules in her house, and I'm sure everything I'm doing will be for not because she'll let him slide back into old habits. Hopefully I can get through to her on how she needs to manage this dog.

Knilchmithonig3 karma

Sometimes the owner should also get some Training, right? (Like it's with pet-dog owners too)

JaderBug127 karma

Yes, absolutely. It's far more difficult to teach people how to train, work, and handle these dogs than it is to train the dogs themselves. They were genetically engineered to do this work, we weren't. The learning curve is steep, I know many people who have been heavily involved in dog sports their whole lives and say that herding is by far the most difficult thing they've ever worked to learn.