Saturday, June 7, 2008

Performance VS Herding

There is a never ending difference in opinion between serious sport handlers and serious herding handlers on how to correctly bring up a Border Collie. I've raised puppies both 'ways'. I've raised some that I taught oodles of tricks and behaviors to that have zero to do with herding, and I've raised several that have learned "only" a few simple, but important behaviors prior to being old enough for actual training on stock. Some people have the opinion that because herding is an instinct the puppy/dog does not need to have a bond with his owner to work. Here's a quote from another Border Collie blogger. "A puppy needs a lot of one-on-one attention in order to properly bond with their handler. A puppy doesn’t need to bond with a handler in order to work stock. Some handlers use a dog’s often all-consuming desire to work as a means to overcome temperament issues that may not have been a factor if the puppy had been brought up properly. Because it is not an instinctual behavior, there must be a bond between handler and dog in order for the pair to be competitive in agility, obedience or other performance venue." So there needs to be no bond between the dog and handler when sorting stock, or when having to listen, and respond to the owners commands at several hundred yards away in drive, or when he's to single off a particular sheep and hold it to the handler? Maybe it's just me, but that doesn't make a lick a sense. My own opinion is that the kind of bond you build with your dog has much less to do with your chosen "venue" (if you even have a venue!), and a lot more to do with what kind of owner and handler you are. Indeed, some herding handlers/owners are not all that interested in an intense relationship with their dogs. But that is not to say all herding owners aren't, and to say a bond isn't even necessary?!! That's just inaccurate.
The closer the relationship, the better the partnership- no matter the venue! I personally require (and have) a close bond and relationship with each one of my dogs. I have rehomed a few dogs that I just could not connect with for whatever reason. Looking into my dog's face and seeing his soul is a necessity for me. Even above the stockwork itself. I would take a nicely talented dog that I could communicate with thru just near thought, over the spectacular dog that I just didn't connect with any day.
I find it's a lot easier to communicate with someone you know, you trust, you respect, and mostly- you admire and it's no different with the dogs!! If I know them heart and soul and they know me heart and soul, many times words aren't even needed!
It's disheartening to hear that some people think if a dog isn't taught all kinds of behavioral tricks and the owner doesn't spend every waking minute keeping him busy, that there is not an intense bond. Oh well. I know the truth- at least with me and my own tight-nit family. :-)

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