Back to school for dogs ... and their owners

Participants at the Monaro working dog workshop. (Inset) A producer’s top farm hand.

Participants at the Monaro working dog workshop. (Inset) A producer’s top farm hand.

ON a cold and blustery Monaro weekend, 18 producers turned out with their dogs, to attend a two-day, working dog school.

The school was hosted and coordinated by Monaro Farming Systems and delivered by Jamie Barclay of Barclay Livestock Management Services.

The weekend – despite the weather – was both informative and enjoyable and really brought home the contribution a good working dog can make to on-farm labour efficiency.

No-one can deny the tension and often frustration felt when a dog is not working effectively with you in the yards or the paddock. 

Jamie taught how you need to get inside their minds to really understand how to work with your dog and not against it.

Participants commented how with expert tuition, slight changes to your dog’s behaviour can save a lot of hard work, and that starting a pup in the right direction will pay-off in the long run.

The school focussed on each individual’s challenges with their dogs with a particular focus on getting their dog to the back of a race and bark on command as well as forcing and holding sheep in yards. 

Having an all-round dog is very difficult and one of Jamie’s suggestions was to recognise and work to your dog’s strengths rather than try and make them do what may not come naturally. 

Although a controversial point, some in the industry believe that breeding makes up 90 per cent of a dog’s ability and the handler contributes the other 10 per cent.

Several of the participants at the school felt that the school was even more useful and 

relevant for the handlers, rather than the dogs themselves.

Special thanks go to the Murdoch family at Bibbenluke for enabling the use of their yards, shed and sheep, and to Jamie and his wife Kate for their volunteered time and efforts over the weekend.

- Nancy Spoljaric

MFS Coordinator

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