“Come by!” “Lie down!” “That’ll do!” are some of the phrases you’ll hear during a stock dog trial. Lori Perry and her dog Ivy compete throughout the U.S. in stock dog trials. They also compete at the national finals. However it’s not all fun and games. It takes a lot of patience to train a stock dog.
“We start training our dogs at around six months and they are ready to compete at around age two or three,” explains Perry. “It’s not just the dog that needs training, but also the handler.”
The dogs are first exposed to sheep and taught basic manners, such as coming when called. As the dog gets older, they are given more structured training. This includes directional commands like lie down, walk-up, and flank commands.
Border collies are the most commonly used breed for sheep herding. However other breeds such as Heelers, Aussies, Catahoulas, and Huntaways are also used.
“During a competition, judges look for a calm and controlled manner from the dogs,” says Perry. “The sheep must be moved in a straight line from one obstacle to the next, and points are deducted for any deviations.”
She adds that the most important thing is patience and to never give up on your dog if they make a mistake. If you keep at it -you’ll become a great team.