The instincts of a rated herd dog are that of a modified variation of predatory behavior. A herding dog will accept responsibility for the entire herd as its sees them as belonging to him.
A dog whose purpose is to guard sheep is not the same as a herding dog, although it’s often looked on as similar behavior. The sole responsibility of a herding dog is to keep the flock together, and to move on as instructed. If a predator is noticed, it will defend against a attack, but isn’t likely to be the one to make the first move.
The technique to herd sheep can differ with each individual breed. A Border collie for instance, might head off the flock by staring down in an aim to achieve dominance. While a Australian Cattle dog is known for following a herd and nipping at the heels of the rear flock members, and resulted in the nickname of ‘heeler’ being given. Other breeds, might take a more direct approach and attempt to jump on a herd back to entice movement.
All three methods can be just as effective with the ideal training and suitable dog, with the methods known as back, heel, and head.
The size of a particular herding dog is all related to size of its flock. A Welsh corgi, a small member of the herding dogs, where bred short, so able to avoid being kicked or trampled. A larger breed if required might be able to protect its herd if a predator should appear.
Australian Cattle Dogs, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Border Collies are all agile and quick for moving around a flock to get a straggler or two moving back in the ideal direction. Sheep and cattle are animals commonly herded, although poultry herding is known of, as well as reindeer controlled with herd dogs.
Physical appearance or characteristics of a herding dog is often related to its specific duties. For instance, a dog to operate in areas of coyote or wolf attacks is more in need of a strong, large dog with a thick coat. Weather extremes are a further consideration.
Herding dogs are seen as some of the more intelligent breeds in the dog kingdom. Border Collies and Collies are well suited to herding large flocks of livestock. Response time to commands is quick and often able to anticipate movements in a herd or individual animals. These dogs are perfectly suited to take on agility trails and obedience competitions.
The overall package – intelligence, patience, and physical appearance make these dogs perfect family pets. Although, some of the dogs might attempt to herd other family pets or small children, which can all be an interesting watch.
As household companions, a herding dog is inclined to check on unusual noises, or a hiss of a cat or a crying child. These dogs can be extremely gentle to offer a endearing quality.
Exercise routines for these dogs often vary with breed, although with their high intelligence levels these dogs are in need of frequent interaction. A dog able to learn tricks and obedience commands with ease. With their quick minds, able to excel in agility trails and often more content when given a task or duty to perform.