Help With Heeler Training

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Help With Heeler Training

Post by Heelers » Tue Jun 18, 2019 2:26 pm

My first post... I've looked through some past posts but haven't seen this type of question for my area.

:help: I have two heeler puppies, boys, from different litters. One ~3 months and one ~4 months. I have cattle and sheep, and want to train these puppies to be proficient at herding them from one field to another on a regular basis (especially the sheep that don't like crossing my muddy gates). I also wouldn't mind if they could help get our pigs into the trailer once a year (if that's even possible?)

I have a full-time office job, and the farm is my morning/evening/weekend. On top of our other commitments ... that doesn't leave me much time with the dogs (I wasn't planning to get them for another few years ... but they're here now and I'd really like to make this work). I've worked with exactly 0 properly trained herding dogs, although I've been googling a fair amount. We've been working on general manners and commands, but I've seen no herding instinct from them with the livestock.

What I'd really love is to be able to send them to a "herding dog camp" for some amount of time and have them come back well trained (and the trainer could teach me before I bring them home). Second best, someone that would come to my house to train them and me maybe once a week or something? I live in Western PA (zip code 16141).

Any leads for this type of trainer would be very much appreciated. TIA!



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Re: Help With Heeler Training

Post by jehosofat » Tue Jun 18, 2019 4:01 pm

I know a couple good guys in Alabama and Mississippi, but not in your area. Welcome and hope you find someone.

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Re: Help With Heeler Training

Post by M-5 » Tue Jun 18, 2019 4:29 pm

You can train a dog to do pretty much anything. But it's a full-time job to get them to where instincts work with training. The first step is being able to control them start-stop and come to you without that you'll never get them to herd anything.
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Re: Help With Heeler Training

Post by wbvs58 » Tue Jun 18, 2019 5:58 pm

Healers have a very strong bite and tend to be best from behind and pushing hard. They can be trained to herd but the likes of Border Collies an Kelpies have much more of that natural instinct. You will have to watch them close as they may be too strong for sheep.

I would train them to be patient chained in the back of vehicle and only let one off to work at a time otherwise they will feed off each other and working will be more of a hunting party for them and you won't be able to control them. I would get that routine into them now.

Ken

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Re: Help With Heeler Training

Post by Red Bull Breeder » Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:20 am

To many heelers been bred for pets and show dogs in the US today. Had to come by ones that work cows for a living.

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Re: Help With Heeler Training

Post by 76 Bar » Wed Jun 19, 2019 12:09 pm

IMO You've received some excellent insights regarding your chosen bred and respective advice thus far. All due respect but ultimate success is dependent in equal measure on the quantity and quality of both you and your dogs and your desire to make it happen.

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Re: Help With Heeler Training

Post by Heelers » Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:56 pm

I really appreciate everyone's advice! Like I said, I really wish I had a lot more time with them, just not feasible right now ... An hour a day is what I've got.

They both came from working parents. They weren't trained to move on command specifically (the "come by" etc that I've seen video of), but their parents could move their cattle from one field to another when they knew it was time, or get a calf back through the fence.

Seems to be a lot of different opinions on how to introduce them to stock. Should I take them in the UTV and let them run in the field while I do chores? They haven't been aggressive to livestock when I've done that in the past - mostly disinterested / stayed away from the stomping mama sheep. Should I only do structured training around stock?

Also if somebody wants to recommend a specifically good YouTube channel or similar, I'm all ears. Thanks all!

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Re: Help With Heeler Training

Post by Hippie Rancher » Fri Jun 21, 2019 12:52 am

heelers get obsessive and need a lot of work/exercise. don't know if he taught about heelers specifically but find anything from Bud Williams...it will help you the herder regardless of dogs.

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Re: Help With Heeler Training

Post by jschoolcraft86 » Fri Jun 21, 2019 8:36 am

I don't know much but I would definitely wait a little while to formally introduce them, and do it a little at a time in a structured way. From what I've read, dogs can get their confidence broken if you put too much on them too early so don't let them get rolled by a stomping mama sheep ;).

I'm curious to see more feedback, I'm doing some research about this myself.

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Re: Help With Heeler Training

Post by cow pollinater » Fri Jun 21, 2019 1:37 pm

A lot of trainers won't work with heelers. They have a much different style than gather type dogs and they tend to be one person dogs so you won't get the same respect that the trainer will or vice versa.
I like heelers and have had a bunch of them just because I like having one around. I've never really formally trained one the way I have with the border collies and mcnabbs. A good heeler will kind of figure out how to help you push stock around. Then once they figure out the routine they'll do it on their own. I've had them get to where I could stand by a gate and they'd bring the cattle to me like a border collie but it was only because they'd helped me push cattle out of the pen so many times. The same can be said for loading tubs, trucks etc.
The good thing about heelers is that if they want to work, they'll do it and they're so tough that you almost can't hurt one bad enough to change their minds.

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Re: Help With Heeler Training

Post by Boot Jack Bulls » Fri Jun 21, 2019 3:57 pm

After nearly 30 years of breeding and training ACDs, here are some key points:
1. Basic obedience is a must. There are few things in life like having to "euthanize" a dog that just won't call off.
2. They either have a natural drive to work stock, or they don't. It just isn't something I've ever found could be trained into one.
3. They are very often one person animals. They may be friendly with others, but there is no mistaking how they react to and handle for "their person". As mentioned above, this is part of the reason most trainers don't train ACDs for other people. They are fiercely loyal dogs.
4. Consistency is key. Use the same commands every time.
5. They are strong willed dogs. They need to have respect for their handler.
6. They like routine. As mentioned above, they get really good at working stock through gates and pens if you do it the same way every time.
7. Be aware not all ACDs work quite the same. Some are sharp, some rely on brute force. A razor sharp dog may be useful on horses or goats for instance, but a brute strength dog may be more useful on a waspy old cow who refuses to pen up.

I have 3 right now. A 7 year old female, a 2 year old female and a 5 year old male. The older female is my razor, she works low and fast. She does the fine work sorting in pens and can work horses or goats without ripping them open. The male is a big brute. He is my sweep dog when bringing pastures up to the barn. He will go back and get anything he missed without direction and will go to head if necessary (not something they will all do). He's just too big and rough in his style for working horses or small stock and isn't ideal for pen work. The younger female is a recent addition, so she is just starting on stock, and hasn't developed a style yet.
Boot Jack Cattle LLC & Boot Jack Boers

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Re: Help With Heeler Training

Post by cow pollinater » Sat Jun 22, 2019 6:17 pm

Boot Jack Bulls wrote:
Fri Jun 21, 2019 3:57 pm
7. Be aware not all ACDs work quite the same. Some are sharp, some rely on brute force. A razor sharp dog may be useful on horses or goats for instance, but a brute strength dog may be more useful on a waspy old cow who refuses to pen up.


Yes. Most that I've had are more brute force and that's the kind I like. I put my old bytch down about six months ago and she was my guardian angel for many years. My ex beat her for chasing chickens enough to where she finally quit working(only heeler that I've ever owned that quit working) but I could take her anywhere and the minute something blew a little snot at me it was going to regret it in short order.
Her pup out of an accidental mating with a kelpie that was really to much for my taste turned into the fastest, sharpest dog I've ever owned. I'd send my border collies and by the time they got there she'd have the lead cow spun around three times but never really got ahold of them. She learned right away to get a front leg instead of the head.

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Re: Help With Heeler Training

Post by Red Bull Breeder » Sun Jun 23, 2019 7:08 am

Here in the US there is way to many heelers been bred to show or just look cool riding around in someones pickup. I agree with CP the good ones will do it on there own. A good healer will need dental work.

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Re: Help With Heeler Training

Post by Silver » Tue Jun 25, 2019 11:45 pm

As Boot Jack says, basic obedience is a must. I’ve never made a highly trained stock dog, but have got by with instilling excellent basic obedience. Any fool can turn a dog on, shutting him down an bringing him back is another deal altogether. Without that you don’t have anything IMO

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