Dogs have long been known to be a man’s best friend, but certain farmers know that they can also be man’s best employee.
Cattle dogs, also called stock dogs, are used on the farm for a number of different tasks. Dogs that are properly trained can be more valuable than a hired hand on the farm. Not a replacement for important farming machinery, these dogs act as an additional asset to any farm environment by helping to herd farm animals and keep them in line. Having a trained cattle dog to help along with the farming equipment can save the farmer thousands of steps during the day – a valuable investment when you are sometimes working grueling 12-hour days.
The training for a cattle dog is far more extensive than normal obedience training, and takes much longer. Dog trainer Travis Crane has been training his dog Taz for over a year and Taz is only considered halfway through school. However, even with the limited amount of training Taz has gone through he could still sell as a “started” dog for about $1500. A dog that is fully trained for herding sells for at least $3000. Body language is key in cattle dog training. Crane starts out by showing the dog where to go, then adding key words, and then a whistle to tie in all the commands and keep the dogs attention on you regardless the distance. Crane says that cattle dogs are not for everyone, and it is sometimes a difficult task to find the right dog for each owner.
Border collies are certainly the most popular herding dogs, but the American Kennel Club actually identifies 25 different breeds of dogs in their herding group. The Australian Shepherd, Old English Sheepdog, and the Australian Cattle Dog are also popular breeds used to work and herd. Getting a fully trained cattle dog may cost thousands, but the payoff is incredible. Most working dogs pay for themselves in no time because they cut the costs of paying for hired help and additional equipment.
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