Bindi (Celhaus Mireya Bindi Satchke Umida) Herding on her Dairy Goat Farm

Bindi is from the MM Litter and these photos were taken at 22 Weeks (first week of December 2017)

Bindi is doing great at herding on her farm, and when I shared the latest post about what she’s doing with another GSD breeder, she sent me this link to pass on to Bindi’s owner about how GSD’s herd:

That page had links to two also-fascinating pages:

Explanation of large-flock sheep herding and the relationship with the dog that makes it happen (mutual respect):

And a fascinating article on selecting the GSD for herding: 

The article on developing a mutual trust relationship between dog and handler is worth reading for everyone!

Narrative by her owner:

I finally got some good basic pictures of Bindi Herding!

First, you can just see her start on her gathering journey…you can see only her tail by the post. She will have to go to her right to “go around” 

The second is following up behind on the gather. We have to “go around” (following hand signals), “easy” to nudge them in from the tire toys…She has just earned her “off leash” status back – as it was sometimes a free for all! I was so pleased with her head down, calm and focused attention! 

Heading them on around “easy” so they can be locked in the “catch pen” as necessary…well – there was a bit of extra enthusiasm – but the goats deserve it! 

Battery connection pooped out on the pictures going TO the dairy – where she has to stay “behind” and “easy” and sometimes gets a stern “That WILL do!!!”

Next photo is waiting (“wait”, which then becomes “by me” and/or “behind” and sometimes “back-off!” 🙂 as we head to the dairy with two) by the gate for me to release two to go to the milk stanchions – she is VERY good at this – the minute the last two are through the east gate after being milked – she swings right around the dairy and heads for this west gate…the ball is her favorite “treat” – sometimes it gets mixed up in the fray just for fun too – along with lots of “woo hoo’s and YEAH BINDI’s!” and pets and loves. 

Next is waiting by the cooler while I unlatch the head stanchions and let the goats out the east door after milking…she used to always go outside and turn around and try to keep them in (I suppose?), so now I have her wait – another lesson in following rather than heading them…she can sit, stand or lie down as long as she stays where she is supposed to. 

Rosemary and Sonata…both challengers…Bindi does NOT back down! This and the next two pics illustrate why I have her wait by the cooler before releasing the goats to the east exit…She still tends to go around in the circular, heading/gathering pattern. (wait, by me and behind are starting to make sense to her..) You will see though – that she is looking at me in the 2nd photo of this set…gets around and behind as the light dawns on her again! 🙂 

…Rosemary is a pill and has bowled her over more than once…she is a brave and tenacious pup! YES! Got it! going around and staying behind! Bindi turned back around to the right (fourth photo) on her own brains – still facing the goat – but stayed behind…AWESOME!..Rosemary then scampered out the gate! Game over!!

Here – Chummy is headed where she belongs – so she had to head back to Zenaria (Peeking out the door) “around behind!”…PERFECT! WOOHOO! Bindi! 

The gather and return for Zenaria – who is looking out the door in the first picture – was executed perfectly…as you can see! “That’ll do” just fine! It helps when the goats are at least a bit intimidated and not wanting to play bash heads! ALPINES!  Gotta love em! 

I usually lead Bonnie in – after I’ve safely had Bindi help me “hold her” in the corner…(I keep her on a leash “By me” for Bonnie as she’s actually really bopped her before!) Bindi is doing a great job of “behind”…very hard for her as she is a natural circular gatherer and header-leads to bopping, chasing matches with these girls! Here her mind was beginning to wander to a stick…

Yesterday – I let her “all out” on Bonnie – and after several dashes around the yard – Bindi was REALLY paying attention to my commands of “go around, behind, easy, wait, hold her”. She had gotten excited in the beginning and let Bonnie ‘have it’ – but never broke skin – barked some – all GOOD (I think!)
Came when I called and started showing some real signs-not the first time-of understanding she had a job to do! (Bonnie deserves everything she gets…I’m never quite sure if I’m doing the right thing by letting such a young pup on to such an aggressive goat?)

Bonnie will stand there and try to argue and I don’t want to get Bindi in the habit of taking her on – which she has zealously offered to do! – when she is so young and still rather unpredictable…But there are days where it is tempting to see who would come out on top!)….

Last night-on Bonnie and June Bug – (always the last two) – she did an awesome job of following commands (for the most part), and the finale was a “hold her-wait”, while I walked up to her and June Bug and led them in….GREAT practice…I was really excited! I know that probably part of this will iron out once the goats realize that the game will go on as long as they refuse to take the easy route to the dairy…I know that the one herding workshop I took Lucy and Duffman too – Donna Simms was saying it is really hard to teach a pup on stock that isn’t “dog broke” themselves…Bindi is doing an awesome job on some really stubborn does! I comment regularly on the mantra…”Same deal – different day, gals…what’s the scoop?”…they’ve always been like this… Some days as compliant as you please – and other days as if they’ve never even been touched!

I’m SO pleased with all of this – as I see that on some level – the goats embark on this as a game (Zen and Chummy are the only ones that are really ‘scared’ – and therefore behave themselves and it is all good!). I can’t believe she just turned 5 months old!

Bindi has never – (after getting a reprimand or two) – gone in on her own and harassed the goats – which she can still easily do – slipping under the fence by the gate…Which tells me-she seems to make the connection between life and job time. The cats are still a bit of a challenge 

We are often out in the pasture with the goats and she totally ignores them! Sometimes I will find her in the feed pen nosing around – but harassing neither goat nor chicken…(just snuffing for fresh manure…GACK)

As you may know – that is something that a border collie has a terrible time with…”NOT WORKING MODE!” In fact – Sue’s border collies used to lie outside the pen and “watch the goat channel” as she called it…for hours…never letting up…and then we realized they were moving just enough to keep them away from the feeders…so we had a lot of dogs in the house (five most of the time!)…while Sue was at work. That ‘off button’ of the German Shepherd is so appreciated by me…and she has it just fine – provided she gets her good ball, walk and herding time! LOVE this pup! Such an earnest little worker bee! I get such a kick out of her brains!

A later comment:

It IS really hard to find videos or still format photos of GSD’s herding…other than the ones that already pretty much know what they are doing! 😉 Or videos and photos of them doing “border” patrol…which is not what we are after here at all…I’m asking her to cut out two at a time, pushing them into a specific area, leaving them be and pushing them out again – heading back for two more…remain calm, quiet and mostly behind the focus of our goal… Her getting out in front is our biggest obstacle for the most part and I know it is just genetic by everything that I read and see..I started to teach her how to open the gate today – I’ll let you know how that goes…I hope I don’t regret it! 😉

Sheep are really different from goats too – and to tell you the truth – I haven’t even begun on the Barbados sheep because THEY are a nasty piece of work on a dog! Run straight at them with their head down…Lucy wouldn’t even go into the pasture with them about! They chased her all over the yard one day when they got out and she never forgot it…poor wee thing! Up and over the deck and down and around…She finally jumped in the back of the pickup!

At least the goats just rear up or nod their head at them for the most part – but they don’t try to ram them going full speed!…And – they stay within a given area much better…The sheep just scatter or chase.

I know that people are probably wondering why the goats are so “touchy”…but I don’t discourage their semi-feralness when it comes to dogs or other people (something dairy animals have anyhow to a certain level)…because we do have coyotes and naughty dogs in the neighborhood – and I’d rather they not be that dog friendly…

I’ll be glad when they quit giving Bindi quite the hard time that they do! It was kind of funny that when she was a wee thing – they were very benevolent to her – but now it is as if they want to keep her in her place…and she is a “dirty dog!” …They are all “heating around” in the winter months and would rather dink around and be ornery – than go in same as every day…get carrots, grain, tums and calf manna and a good brushing…go figure…

That’s great that you have others interested in herding! I think any of your dogs would do it just fine to tell you the truth…She figured out the job angle pretty quickly – and from here on out – I think it is just building on her basic obedience for the most part…She bites at them when frustrated – but it is not a gripping bite…amazing considering how mouthy she’s always been!…But yes – that and barking aren’t allowed in competition that I know of – but if a dog is going to get something done in real life – I’d much rather they use the tools they need to – as long as they have bite inhibition. I did really get a lot out of the book “The Farmer’s Dog”…he talks a lot about the general all purpose farm helping dog vs the competition herding.

I didn’t tell you – she brought the goats on around on her own this afternoon!…she was out cleaning stock tanks with “Dad”…heard me coming and zipped under the fence and brought them all into the holding pen! Just as calm as you please!..but then – she was a bit too enthusiastic trying to get the Bashing Bonnie into the dairy – and had to go back on a leash…but it was all ok…

All good training huh?

More Comments:

11/6/17 (18 weeks):  I have another Bindi Brag-but I honestly can’t believe it…She is SO young…

You know I’ve been taking her to do the goats with me every day…and as soon as I got that herding video-I started using the lunge whip as a “fishing pole lure” to help her understand where I wanted her body-“behind, go around, walk up, wait”…etc…

Now-yesterday-it was cold and windy-the goats were in heat-and they are as brainless as dogs when they are…The lunge whip trick is really helpful-especially since she likes to be REALLY close and I don’t want her to get the idea to start nipping…had a renter’s dog tear a goat udder doing that. I can get her attention to catching the “tail” of it-(In the dvd-they have a stuffed toy tied on the end-but she eats anything-so the tail of the whip is just as good) and it automatically places her body in the vicinity of where I want her-and when she gets there-or is doing what I want-she gets a “GOOD dog!”

So-the last set of two went sproinging out of the dairy after they were done-heck bent for who knows where in the wind (Like I said…brainless…same thing-different day-can’t figure it out after how many years?)…

I was “unprepared” with the lunge whip-and while I got it-one of the goats tore off to the east and back around the building…Bindi in hot pursuit…CRAP…I got around the building-and there she was-circling that goat in GS form, keeping her right by the other gate, just as calmly as you please-and she helped me to get them into the other gate…fluke-right?

Today-again-everyone was silly in the wind-including Bindi :), and they got out the door a bit too enthusiastically-she between them…June Bug gave her a good shove with her head-Bindi gave her the “eye”, but didn’t come back at her and went to circling, came right back when called, and we went “behind” and got them out the gate just as pretty as you please…fluke right?

This is one smart pup…and she is figuring out-(I think)-that her cheekiness is good-but she isn’t allowed to bite and play…I can see the wheels turning. The one herding workshop I went to stressed-just like the nose work-to let them do their thing and try to just step in when needed to keep the stock safe-so that is what I am trying to do…using some of those “long arm” assistance tools to help me make a point when needed (through a light flank touch)or a guide…or even to tell the goats to lay off the pup! 🙂

You know-I forgot to tell you-when I put the herding dvd on-she sat up and watched the tv very intently…maybe she’s already figured it all out…reminded me of your fish tank dog!

11/9/17 (18 weeks):  Also-she is generally SUCH a good pup-that I ordered a highly recommended e-collar with a multi level vibration and a beep-I do not think she’ll ever need a shock…but we do a lot of off lead work-and she is definitely getting to be a teenager…I’d rather not get tempted to raise my voice! 🙂 If I have her attention-she almost without fail follows through-but she is starting to wander and that is a fact of pre-hormonal life! 🙂 Snigger! 

11/20/17 (20 weeks):  And…surprise REALLY surprise…I put the e-collar on her yesterday…and amazingly-she paid NO attention to the beep OR the vibration! She was chasing a goat ALL over the yard and would not call off-so I did try a wee (the lowest charge) shock..that made her flick an ear…so two notches more (there are 100 levels)…and she paused long enough for me to get a word in edgewise…I would have never imagined…but she can be stubborn!

She went the rest of the five milkers routine really thinking-instead of the whole hog chase and grab-Got LOTS of praise and even a goody…squirt of milk to re-enforce “behind” and “back off”…I was VERY pleased! She just keeps trying-which is to her credit! There are glimpses of her figuring it out-and then-of course-she goes into play/prey mode-which was why I had her back on the lead…I still prefer this though to a jerk on a lead…it seems to get the point across better.

She is essentially a header and a circler-which is from all my understanding-the modus of the breed…She has to link in moving the stock there…either from the side or back-which I see they catch on to in the u-tube videos-but not to always go in front blocking them or they stall out!…which of course at this stage in her education is SO much fun-as then she and the goats go round and round!

I don’t know who has more “fun”…but nobody is scared and that is a fact…I am VERY pleased that she does NOT chase them when she gets in to the goat yard by herself (sometimes without permission)…That tells me that she has connected we are trying to accomplish something together at milking time…and she is putting together the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle…You should see her sit stays! AWESOME! Even when she wants to follow or head off the goats!

12/27/17 (25 weeks):  I was just SO proud of her today! Bonnie the basher chose to be last again…as usual…and Bindi had brought Chummy out the gate-a bit too enthusiastically-but all ok…(I keep reminding myself she is a PUPPY!)I called her back with a “We forgot this one, Bindi”, and she looked at Chummy’s retreating butt and back at me-and came back…I said “Now-remember-go BEHIND and easy”…and you know what? She DID! And that silly Bonnie went into the dairy just as twitty as you please-tail up and right to the stand!!! You could tell that Bindi had an “aha!” moment with that sequence and was SO proud of herself! She got lots of pets and loves-a ball throw AND a cat kibble…

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