What is the process of training a cowdog?
First off like I’ve said earlier, no two dogs react to training the same however an overview of the process is:
Right from the start your dog and I go for long walks. This gets your dog used to being around me and builds trust. Your dog will let me know when he or she is ready to go to the next step. In fact it is really up to your dog when we proceed to the next step every time.
Once the trust is established, we start working on basic obedience. This is done on a rope with as few distractions as possible (no livestock, other dogs, etc.). During this stage, sessions are really short. Again, focusing on what your dog is “telling” me as to when to stop or proceed.
We will be working on the following commands at this phase, Down, Here, Back, and Kennel. Some trainers don’t like to work on these commands except on stock and that is fine. This is what works best for me.
Once your dog has these basics down we will introduce him to stock in a small pen. Your dog will be on a rope at first to keep him out of harms way and learn to work close to cattle without diving in and biting out of control. Sure, a cowdog needs to bite a cow sometimes but under control and with confidence.
Once your dog has learned to work off of a rope and with confidence in the small pen we move on to bigger pens until we are sending him several hundred yards in open pasture on his own to gather and fetch the calves. Bringing them to the lot and driving them through pens, etc.