Herding is a task that Corgis were bred to perform, and for many
Corgis today, the skill and desire to move stock is still an integral
part of their genetic makeup. To see their natural herding abilities
and their power to control the stock, whether it be cattle, sheep,
or ducks, is fascinating and incredible. Dogs who have never been
exposed to stock in their lives “turn on” to the task
with a joy and an intensity that is quite remarkable.
Not all Corgis, of course, have this innate desire to herd. Few
of the breed live on working ranches and farms any more, and herding
ability is no longer one of the primary considerations for most
breeders when planning a litter. So many of today’s Corgis
are reluctant to leave their sofas, their toys, Mom’s side,
or whatever, to chase sheep.
For those people interested in finding out if the instinct is
lurking just under the surface in their dog, there are clubs, either
affiliated with the American Kennel Club or herding breed associations,
that run herding instinct tests. Many of the regional Corgi clubs
now sponsor such tests. Clubs also sponsor clinics on herding,
or you can go to a trainer who will test the dog for you. If you
discover that he enjoys herding, the trainer can work with you
to hone your dog’s skills, teach you how to work with the
dog, and perhaps prepare both of you to enter tests to earn titles.
Through training, your dog can learn to work with you to move
the stock in a controlled way and in the desired direction. AKC
herding tests give dogs of the herding breeds the opportunity to
prove they have the instinct and the skill to control stock, and
to earn titles while doing so. These preliminary pass-fail titles
are HT (Herding Tested) and PT (Pre-trial Tested). Trial level
titles allow for competition that showcases the dogs’ abilities
to herd with precision and control, and to work with the handler
to move the stock through specific courses.
I started participating in Herding in the Spring of 2004,
and earned three test level titles on two dogs. Pete, introduced
to sheep at nine years of age, earned an HT and a PT, and Chrissy
earned an HT. Chrissy has a lot of natural talent,
and it’s great fun working with her.
The following pictures were taken in 2004, early on in our training while
I was still learning where I was supposed to be in relation to
the dog and the sheep. I often found myself in the wrong place,
on the wrong side of the sheep, or trying to move while sheep were
cutting me off. If you’re worried about being bumped, tripped,
or possibly knocked down by the sheep, keep out of the pen.
Pete moves the sheep
Trying to get around the sheep
Susan & Pete
In the past couple of years, we have added an attempt at duck herding to our training. So far Will has earned a Herding Started title on ducks. Ducks are much harder to move where you want them to go than are sheep!
Bring me the ducks
Keep them moving
Penning the ducks