Jessie, my kerry blue terrier, has found a new calling -- chasing, er, I mean, herding sheep. I took him to his first ever sheep herding lesson last night. Biggest challenge was getting him into the enclosure with two sheep and a goat. He had to walk in calmly, paying at least some attention to me, and not pulling on the leash. This took about 7 minutes of starting and stopping. Every time he pulled and started scrambling and barking like a maniac, I would just stop. When he calmed down and looked at me, I'd start towards the sheep again. Eventually he figured out if he wanted to get to the sheep, he had to walk there like a gentleman.
Once in the enclosure, the instructor, Jean, gave me a plastic rake. I used this to keep his body and head straight as we walked on a loose leash around the enclosure with the sheep moving out of our way. Jessie did pretty good at this, quickly realizing that he just had to walk calmly with me. Then Jean had me drop the leash when he wasn't paying attention to me, and walk over to the sheep.
The exercise we did was that I had the sheep behind me, right close to me. I kept Jessie back and in front of me with the rake. Once he stopped fighting this and calmed down, I would just use my body and the rake to gently bring him around to move the sheep. He'd run the sheep around in a big circle until they were back behind me, and then I'd stop him with the rake and we'd do the same thing.
It is amazing to do something like this after years of obedience and agility. There were no need for treats, or commands, or anything like that. Jessie knew what to do and wanted to do it (move the sheep). My only job was to start and stop the action. I would guess a dog either does it or doesn't do it. I can't imagine, like in obedience, trying to "train" a dog to do this.
That said, it was also a lot of work! Both of use were completely exhausted after two fifteen minute sessions. Jessie seemed just a touch sore this morning, but not bad for an almost 8 year old kerry!