|Anyone that has been around livestock long enough knows that in
every breed of animal there is a social status, including humans.
Goats, sheep or cattle are no different. Within a herd, there will be a
lead animal and many times more than just one "leader". They are the
top of the social status. They eat first, drink first, walk out of the gate
first, first to the barn, and first that walks up to you --- they have social
freedom. Experienced herding dogs know this. If you will watch your
more experienced dog (one that has natural instinct and talent), he will
be keen to the leader(s). If the lead animal(s) move, the rest will follow.
Livestock are very keen to inexperienced dogs or dogs that are lacking
in confidence. Take a new dog into the pen to work stock and they
know immediately if this dog means business or is lacking in herding
skills. Sometimes, the lead animal will try the confidence or experience
of the new dog.
Some people are under the impression that a dog absolutely,
positively, must-without-any-doubt, bite to be an effective working dog.
This is simply not true. Biting IS warranted in some instances and
sometimes is a must. BUT, a dog that continuously rushes in, bites and
backs out is a dog that is lacking in confidence. One that bites when
not necessary (just for the fun of it), continues to harass the stock will
initiate the stock's fight or flight instinct. Even though livestock are a
prey animal, when a dog continues to show disrespect -- biting the
stock when not necessary, the animal will fight the dog. This is
stressful, causes weight loss and other problems which can lead to an
economic loss for the producer.
|IT'S ALL ABOUT BODY LANGUAGE
Notice the body language on the goat out front. This is "Spot", she is
one of the lead goats. The other goats are leaning *AWAY* from Gus.
He isn't growling, isn't biting, isn't showing any teeth....he is simply
exerting his body language to convince the goats that movement is not
a good thing, even though they could run-away if they wanted. Goats
are prey; dogs are the preditor.
|Check back from time to time, as this page
will grow and update often (or at least
when time allows).
|To view pictures larger, just click on them.
|THE COMFORT ZONE
All livestock have a "comfort zone". This is the distance between them
and what ever is approaching, rather it be another animal or human.
When their comfort zone is breached -- their fight or flight instinct
kicks in and they either stand their ground or move.
Gus is learning how to "rate" the goats, or find their comfort zone. He
was too close causing the goat to start to break from the herd --- he
saw this and moved over.
|THE POWER OF THE WALK-UP
Gus isn't in any hurry to move the goats. One of the lead goats, Spot,
is nearest to Gus. Look how her ear is cocked -- "listening" and she's
watching Gus out of the corner of her eye. Gus is using his presence
to move the goats