Herding Commands

Author Jane Rothert

1st Published in July 1999 Malinois Performer

Come bye, Away to Me, That'll Do, Walk Up, Get Back, Get Out, In, Go Bye, Get Around, Come Away, Stop, Lie Down are all common herding commands. The one most of us learned from "Babe" is "That'll Do!" "That'll do" is a recall command. It says "we're done working now so stop what you are doing, ignore the sheep, quit working and come to me." It does not mean, "that's enough so stop it"as in "you are doing something wrong so quit". It should not be used as a correction or as punishment for when the dog is doing something wrong.

If taught correctly, "That'll do" means the dog stops working willingly and comes to you. For beginning dogs it is important to call the dog off and then resend the dog to the stock so that the dog doesn't feel the command means time to quit. If, especially during training, you don't let the dog work again after calling the dog off, you'll have a dog that doesn't obey the "That'll do" command and won't call off. Many people call the dog off and quit working, even a young, beginning dog. With a beginning dog, this can be certain death for a quick and efficient call off or "That'll do". How many times have you seen a dog disobey a recall? Teaching "That'll do" improperly can make the dog dislike and disobey this command as easily as it can and will disobey any other formal or informal recall. Some people think that a dog lacks interest in the stock if it calls off easily. No, not necessarily, although it is generally easier to teach a call off on stock for a dog that is less intense than one that is very intense. The trick is not to make a "That'll do" mean the end of work time on the sheep.

Teach "That'll do" on sheep and then reinforce it off stock. Teaching a dog herding commands off the stock is called "dry work". Some training methods suggest teaching ALL commands off stock and there are people that are very good at this. Other people are adamantly opposed to doing any dry work at all. Reality for most dogs is somewhere in between. Once the dog is taught "That'll do" ON stock, enforcing it and getting the dog comfortable with it OFF stock will only help the dog when on stock. Remember "That'll do" is NOT a punishment and it doesn't always mean the fun is over. It just means come back to the handler for a little R & R before getting to go back to whatever it was you were doing.

"That'll do" means the dog totally disengages from working the stock. He might come to you directly through the flock, he might avoid the stock by going around the flock, or he might just turn away and walk back to you. However the dog does it, even the sheep can tell the dog is no longer working and often will ignore the dog at this point. This is most obvious in stall work where a dog will walk through the remaining sheep to leave the stall after a "That'll do" command and the remaining sheep totally ignore the dog. "That'll do" is often used to redirect a dog while driving. It can be used to pull the dog off the sheep and then resend the dog when the dog is in a better position, especially helpful when the dog is feeling a draw and you want the dog in a position the dog feels isn't quite right and is fighting a flanking command because of that. "That'll do" is not just a recall or is not just stopping work, but is both and should be responded to in a fast, happy manner.

Now for an update on the AKC herding rule changes. The AKC Board of "Directors approved two amendments to the Herding Regulations. The first, effective January 1, 2000, will provide for course and stock specific titles as the various courses and types of livestock provide different challenges and test different skills. The second change, effective September 1, 1999, would enable event chairpersons to participate in events where they are acting in that capacity."(quoted from the June Board Highlights as published on the AKC World Wide Web site.) There are still some questions about how the new course and stock specific rules will be enforced, but basically it means that if you earn your HS (herding started title) on ducks on the A course, instead of having an HS behind your dog's name, the title will be HSAd. If you have one leg towards a title going into 2000, both of the last remaining legs will need to be on the same stock and course, but not necessarily on the same stock and course the first leg was earned on. If you need only one leg to finish a title after Jan. 1, whatever course and stock the last leg is earned on will determine what title is earned. No titles will be lost. Once a title is earned on a specific stock and course, that same title can be earned on the same course, but different stock or on the same stock and a different course. In our example once an HSAd is earned that dog could still continue to compete in started and earn an HSAc, an HSAs, an HSBs, an HSCs, or an HSBd. In other words it will be possible for one dog to earn six started titles, six intermediate titles, and six advanced titles. From my understanding, there will still be only one HC or Herding Champion title. The HC will not be course or stock specific.

I need to make a correction to last issue's article. "Traveler", U-Ch, Ch. Klaar Trew Charisma, HX, had his name all messed up somehow in the last issue. My apologies to his owners.

It's time to say "That'll do!" So until next time, Happy Herding!

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