Portia excelled when she was gathering sheep at Dean Farm today!
In the picture above, after returning the sheep to their field, Portia took a dip in a water tank.
“Get in the car!”
Apart from not wanting to get into the car! (I still have to lift her in). Portia was very impressive when we gathered sheep at Dean Farm today. To be fair, she has rarely travelled in a car until recently. So while she’s learning that the car often takes her to sheep (so it must be a really good thing) Portia is still reluctant to travel.
She’s getting better every time though. I expect her to start jumping in quite soon. We have a video tutorial about how to get a dog to jump into vehicles. It’s called “Use a reward to get training on board“.
The sheep we were gathering this morning were four fields away from the buildings at Dean Farm where we would be drafting the lambs out. To speed the job up, I decided to take Portia to the field in the car. We left the gates open along the way so that we could bring the sheep straight through.
A dog will usually bring the sheep more quickly than it’s comfortable to walk, but I had never worked Portia from within a vehicle before, so I was a little worried that it might go wrong. She took to it immediately though.
“Keeping clear of the car!”
Some dogs are blissfully unaware of the dangers of running close to moving vehicles, but Portia was sensible. She kept a reasonable distance at all times. She also took her voice and whistle commands just as she does when I’m standing out in the field with her. Her pace was steady and controlled too.
Bringing the sheep into the yard at Dean Farm involves turning them around a pond in an old orchard. It’s a place where the crafty ovines sometimes make a dash for the bottom end of the orchard, near a railway line. Re-gathering the sheep from there, can be difficult and time consuming, but I needn’t have worried. Portia instantly realised what the sheep had in mind. She blocked their escape with the skill of a highly trained sheepdog. I was proud of her!
Working in the yard
Once the sheep were in the yard, Portia remained sensible and calm. She quietly pushed her charges into the handling pens, and the lambs were drafted out. She likes to jump from one pen to another, instead of waiting for a gate to be opened for her, and I was worried this might startle the sheep, but she was so graceful when she jumped that the sheep were not disturbed at all.
Gathering the sheep at Dean Farm today was a productive session. The sheep were brought in quickly and efficiently sorted in the handling pens. I’m hoping that on the next gather, Portia will jump into the car like a proper dog!
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