Can an older dog teach a younger dog how to to work stock?
Well, that is a common question.
In stories everyone has heard of them take a young pup out and introduce them to the older sheep dog with some sort of comment like, “Let Rex teach him how to herd sheep”, or “We’ll see if King thinks he is good enough to herd sheep.”
We are still learning, and do not claim to know it all. Our opinion is just that, and may change as we get more experience.
But, contrary to what most people think, our opinion is that an older dog can teach a younger dog very little.
When an Older Dog Does Help “Teach” a Younger Dog
Now, that said, there are times I’ve seen people use an older trained dog when teaching a younger dog. But the older dog was not teaching the younger dog much, other than it is fun to work stock, and helping to boost a weak dog’s confidence.
In some cases the trainer had the older, well trained, dog there just in case. But, it was suppose to lie down quietly until the trainer needed it.
The trainer was the one teaching the young dog how to work stock. He needed the dog to learn to go to any position around the stock, so that the cattle would move in the right direction.
But, if the stock got out of hand, the trainer would send the well trained dog to fix anything the younger dog couldn’t handle.
After the trained dog had the stock gathered and back under control, the trainer would have the trained dog lie down again.
Then the trainer would continue his training session with the younger dog.
And I have seen trainers use an older dog show a younger dog that it is fun to work stock. (Sometimes you come across a dog who isn’t interested in stock at first or who lacks confidence.) An older dog working stock in the presence of a younger dog can get the younger dog excited, and show him how much fun a dog can have working cattle.
Too Much Help Isn’t Help
But, you have to be careful. Because if you just let your young dog follow the older dog around all the time, it can learn to depend on the older dog to be it’s leader, and will be at a loss without the older dog.
Our goal is to train each dog so it can work separately. So, once the young dog is engaging with the stock, we like to train it by itself. That way it learns to communicate with you. And it learns to rate stock and think for itself, instead of letting the older dog think for it.
Once the dog is pretty well trained to work by itself, then we will work it with other dogs.
So, In Conclusion
I have never seen an older dog teach a younger dog how to work stock. But, I have seen a trainer use a well trained dog to get a young dog excited about working stock, and to help keep a situation under control when he is teaching a younger dog.
So, if you don’t know anything about training dogs, and you are hoping to buy a trained dog and an untrained dog, then have the older dog teach the younger dog, you might be disappointed.
But, don’t get discouraged, because YOU can learn how to train a dog.
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