I have owner Belgian Tervurens for over 12 years, but until a year ago I had never done any herding with my crew. I have a friend with a young Berger Picard who needs an outlet for his energy and may crew is always up for something new. So we decided to give herding a try. We packed up all of the dogs-one Berger Picard, one Rottweiler, and two Belgian Tervurens, as well as three naive people. Not a single one of us had any herding experience. Fortunately for us Kelly Martin, the trainer at Findley Vue Farm, we were working with has a lot of experience with different breeds.
All of the dogs stayed in the round pen the first day. It was interesting to watch each dog work differently, or in Salza's case not work the sheep at all. Needless to say Salza's herding career was short lived-she spent more time playing in water puddles. On the other hand, Cayenne, quickly showed us she knew what to do and why had we waited so long to do this!
The young Berger showed good instincts, but we realized we needed to add more control before he was ready to have freedom with the sheep. But we will take him back in the future. And Moon, the Rottie, stole the show. She showed great natural instincts and talent.
So two of the four continued their herding training and have since continued to excel. It is an addictive sport so be prepared if you give it a try!
There are multiple associations that host herding trials in this area. I have decided to stick with AHBA (American Herding Breed Association) and AKC trials for simplicity.
For anyone who wants to give herding a try with their herding bred dog, let me know. I can put you in touch with trainers in the area. Even if you have no desire to compete, it is amazing to watch your dog do what she/he was bred to do.
Boo Donoho, DVM