On 4/21 we were lucky enough to attend a beginner herding workshop with Tenley Dexter, one of the top stock dog trainers in our area. I didn't know what to expect out of Tripp, but figured it would be something fun and different to try. This boy never ceases to amaze me; he truly is a testament to the Poodle's endless versatility.
After an educational morning learning about herding, training and behavior (much of which was applicable to other sports, or simply living with dogs), we got to try the dogs on stock. The Poodles (mine and a friend's pair) were the only non-traditional herding breeds there. Most of the dogs were inexperienced. Even after learning that herding is not all instinct, but requires more training than most people think, I was astounded at the seeming lack of instinct, or at least initial desire, for herding in some of those sheepdogs. Incredibly, there were several dogs in the pen who would not even acknowledge the existence of the sheep. Or simply couldn't care less about them. These were Border Collies, Aussies, Shelties, and the like! Of course some others were naturals, and most showed some degree of interest, but the fact that any of them didn't even try to herd was so surprising.
And then enters the Poodle. Tripp remained well composed, full of unfamiliar drive, and went right to work. He certainly has what it takes. Obviously it was somewhat crude, being untrained, but there was a definite attempt at controlling the movement of the sheep. Not just chasing, but actual herding. He circled this way and that, maintained a good distance, and took direction from the trainer well. It was very exciting to watch this new instinct surface, and Tripp obviously had fun. He was so happy afterwards, even into the next day. And I was happy that he actually didn't get filthy, and could postpone bathing for another day. LOL
Hopefully we will find other opportunities to do more herding in the future. (Many of the herding people encouraged us to continue - me, with a Poodle - that really says something!) I would like to at least try an official Instinct Test (for HIC or HCT title - oh yeah, we need more titles, LOL) although I'm not sure I have enough interest - or time to commit to training - for actual herding trials. It would be facinating though. Regardless of where we go from here, it was an awesome experience. We both had fun, and that's what really matters.
Most of these wonderful photos were taken by Lisa Tofsrud. I am so thankful, because I only got a couple good shots on my camera. Unfortunately video was not allowed at this workshop.