Living with a Herding Dog

Living with a herding dog is fun and challenging.

If you are thinking of adopting an Australian Shepard, Border Collie, Cattle Dog, Sheltie, or other high energy herding dog, be prepared.

You already know they have lots of energy. They need to run. They love to chase things. Hopefully they are chasing a toy rather than herding the neighbor’s child. To be successful living with a herding dog, it’s important that you direct all this energy.

You know that. But wait, there’s more!

Five things to know about living with a herding dog

1. They hate to be wrong

If you see a herding dog make a mistake, pretend you didn’t see.

Until I had my sweet girl Tala, I had no idea a dog could look embarrassed.

Please, look the other way.


 

2. They are stoic

You probably will not know if your dog is in pain.

You have to be really observant. It helps if have been living with a herding dog all its life.

When I adopted Huff, I had to guess. It took me a while to realize that he is happier with a several short walks than one longer one.

3. It's all about trust

Living with a herding dog is all about trust.

You can trust them to do their job. But remember, they expect you to do yours. They are bred to work as a team. Your job is to be a good alpha and lead your team.

You can trust them to leave human food within reach alone. With training of course!

With my herding dogs, I could walk away from a food dish on the coffee table. When I came back into the room, my food was still there.

I wouldn’t try that with a beagle. Ahem: Sandy.

4.They must work

Living with a herding dog means everyone has a job. 

When I did not assign jobs beyond walking and catching the ball for these girls, they found their own jobs.

Tala was kitchen master. She let me know if the pan on the stove started to sizzle or the toast popped up. This became an issue for Sandy who had to work hard to retrain me.

Olie was in charge of getting everyone into bed at night.

No falling asleep in front of the television to spend the night sleeping on the couch! You would be nudged, prodded, and relentlessly licked in the face until you got up and went to your proper place.

5. They will judge you

Herding dogs have opinions and they are eager to share them. 

Your golden retriever may always look at you with adoring eyes. Border Collies, not so much.

Huff was willing to let me make my own mistakes. Like all working dogs, he was obsessed with schedules and has a lack of respect for weekends.

He would dutifully wake me at 5:30 (am!). He made certain my eyes were open and I was forming words.

Then he accepted that I preferred to stay in bed. He collapsed to the floor with a loud “huffff” and curled up on his blanket. I am so glad he couldn’t form sounds like “tsk, tsk.”

Being judged is all part of living with a herding dog!

So is being loved and challenged, protected and snuggled. The snuggles make it all worthwhile! 

I love my found family.

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