…That's what owners of our old fashioned farm collie puppies say. We love the way our farm dogs think, work and nurture!
Benji is off to Virginia! He will keep his name, and be a farm hand, to help his masters with goats, wool sheep, lamas, ducks, chickens, and take care of and watch over his new family.
Word from the owner-
Nov 11, 2016 – I’m having too much fun with Benji and the kids. He’s doing great, and we couldn’t be more pleased! Benji has surprised me in that he has very tightly bonded to me. I guess I didn’t know what to expect, and knew this might happen as I’m the trainer, but didn’t expect it this fast! He’s truly Velcro for me! We’ve walked our acreage twice with him now, and I’m always following everyone to be sure no one needs help, etc. He doesn’t lunge eagerly ahead, but is instead very watchful of the crowd and me. I’m even finding that I have to be very careful where I step as he will push extra hard against me when he needs hugs or is showing extra love. He is very gentle with the kids and perceptive and wanting to get along with the animals. I am careful to encourage him, but not push. I figure all this will come in time. He usually has a light line attached, but we’re not having to use it much. He hit a sad spot yesterday, and I figured that he missed you and his other family. He’s been great today though!
Nov 15, 2016 – A chicken somehow scaled the fence today. Benji saw it run into the thicket and drove it out and helped hold its position while we captured the vagabond! Yea Benji! I’m so impressed!!!
Nov 17, 2016 – Benji (6 months old) on our farm! Jazzy (Short for Jasmine, our current farm dog) is great! She is a tremendous help, but we needed to add someone with a bit more intuition for managing stock as our farm continues to grow. Benji is an old fashion farm collie with outstanding working parents! We are excited to have his help and gentle care. Already, Benji is earning his keep! He has helped to retrieve an escaping chicken from the dense thicket, and helped the girls search out and find a dearly loved multi-tool that was dropped in our dense fall woods. Yea Benji! We have high hopes for you!
Nov 19, 2016 – Benji took a walk in the woods with my girls. Mind you, this dog is 6 months old and had been here 2 days. One of my daughters had lost a beloved tool and Benji, on his walk, suddenly refused to move. Very strange behavior for him thus far! Lo, and behold, Benji had sniffed out DD’s tool and wanted someone to notice! YeaBenji! Here’s to all the adventures to come!
Nov 23, 2016 – I’ve never seen anything like this dog before! Just wanted you to know how pleased we are. He even notices new books on the shelf and gives a bark at them! Wanting to keep him unaltered and am continuing to train him. He’s very special!!! Having the kids and my husband work through his commands now so he’ll respect everyone. Thanks for one good farm dog!
Dec 7, 2016 – He’s learned to kiss. No, not the slobbery kind. He picked up on those not being the preferred method by deduction. Now, he digs his nose into our hands and faces just like a “real” kiss! I kiss the kids, so does he. Morning must start with kisses and body hugs! Very cute! Also, I may never get any indoor pics again. He closes his eyes every time the camera flash beep goes off. I don’t blame him! But I still want those pics! 😉Love our Christmas dog!
Dec 11, 2016 – Question -We are struggling to know exactly how to start our good dog, Benji. He is about 8 mo. old, and I know he followed around for chores with his most excellent breeder and had some basic obedience training before we got him. (He has had basic obedience work with us at least twice a day since we got him.) What I don’t know is what experience or breaking in he has had in livestock and herding before we got him and what to expect and where to start here on our farm (poultry, goats, and sheep mostly). I have, at this point read multiple educated opinions and even watched a video for starting a young dog. We have ducks and I may begin there. Benji follows us watching while we do chores. I have taken him in with us as well, but truly not sure what to encourage. Our sheep are NOT dog broken, and would try to butt him (I step in for him), but our other dog knows this and navigates around them just fine. They all seem to have an understanding and mutual respect. Our other dog (collie + mutt) simply doesn’t have enough intuition to be helpful in moving animals when it is time…. or we could have discouraged her in holding her back when she was young and ready, not knowing any better. That being stated, we do NOT want to make that mistake with Benji! We are wanting to do this right. Any suggestions or experiences would be most helpful!
My reply- I had Benji around all our animals (Calf, ducks, chickens, and cats) starting from an early age- 4 weeks old. At first around age 4 to 5 weeks old what I do with the puppies is get them acquainted with the animals, then at age 5- 8 weeks old I encourage all the ‘moving’ of the animals they do, mostly with the duck/chickens/cats, but never are they allowed to be alone with the stock, all it takes is once to spark a bad habit, so all of his time with the animals was always supervised. I kept a leash on him so I could grab and pull back giving him the no command if he did something I didn’t want.
After the pups felt comfortable around the animals, and could move them, I worked on just plain relaxing with the animals so they would learn that they didn’t need to be moving the critters all the time. I would let the ducks or chickens out and have Benji loose with them with a long leash I followed him around and if he started to chase, or nip, I’d turn it into herding and putting the chickens where I wanted them.
I tied him up in the chicken yard, and told him what I was going to do and what I expected of him. I would herd up the chickens and then turn to make sure he was watching. “see Benji? that’s how it’s done,.” I’d do this a few times and then say “now you try.” taking the leash I’d have Benji help me move the chickens into the coop again.
He did very well with the animals I even started him on herding our young steer.
So I advise you start him on the animals right away. you let him know what you want, and show him what you expect from him. Benji is very biddable, and once he knows what you want he’ll try his best to please him.
Jan 10, 2017 – Thinking Benji might have some snow dog in him!
Jan 27, 2017 – Getting so tall!
Feb 28, 2017 – Benji’s very good at his job. He loves to gather and bring to me. The only problem is that his owner doesn’t always think things through! We were wanting to round a skittish llama into her pen, and decided to try using Benji to help speed up the process. Trouble was, he didn’t fully realize what we were asking of him. Here I am throwing myself into the thicket and yelling for my husband to help save me as Benji keeps redirecting a terrified, screaming, and spitting llama my direction over and over again!!! Mad llamas running at you panicked and head-on don’t generally bounce off. I was so thankful for that thick stand of brush and trees to hide in! Most of the time, Benji and I have a great understanding and work well together. This time, we had a miscommunication. Lesson learned! Still so glad he’s so fearless and driven to help.
My reply – Herding is a Steady learning process. I’ve found it easier to train my dogs to push/drive rather than gather, for a dog to gather stock naturally is not too common. Benji is special.
Herding starts when my puppies are 4 weeks old, I take them out to the small animals like chickens, cats, ducks, and a calf. This first experience with the animals is just to get used to different creatures, and I encourage the puppies to run at the animals, rewarded highly with praise and a treat.
From 4 weeks old to 8 weeks old I continue this, at 8 weeks I do a little more directing in their ”herding”
They have had obedience lessons with no, sit, and come by week 6, and they know I’m their boss.
I train dogs mostly with first ‘telling’ the dog what I want and then ‘showing’ the dog what I want by – first I have a leash on the dog and have someone hold the dog, (This second person is handy in case something goes wrong, buddy system.) I explain to the dog in words what I want, (this helps me visualize what I’m going to do and what I expect from the dog, more then helping the dog get the picture, nevertheless it is an important step.) Now that I have their attention I start herding the animals on foot (in a enclosed pen) saying the commands out loud to myself, with the dog watching I do this 2 to 3 times.
After I’ve moved the animals on foot, I take the dog’s leash and walk them through the pen with the animals moving them about.
I use hand gestures, words, and I move myself to direct the dog,
Herding is done with a long leash I hold on to, and it stays on for the first few months of herding, then it comes off for short periods of time during the next 2 months, and I take the leash off completely when the dog has about a year of herding under their belt.
I suggest working with chickens, then sheep, and last move on to your lamas. But however you find it best to work with your dog great!
I hope you found this helpful! Brina~
Benji is a tough puppy, he’s the type type that would do well to herd stock like cattle, yet at the same time he is gentle around kids, a great all around farm dog. He is quick to “discipline” other puppies if he thinks what they are doing is not the “Right” way, but doesn’t question my orders, and does his best to mind the “little masters.” He takes great interest in the mice that live in our coop, he sniffs in their holes. Every morning I let the puppies out of their pen and loose onto our 2 acre yard, the pups burst out of the pen and go running around the house playing tag, what impresses me about Benji is when all the other puppies first run out of the pen, he stops turns around and comes back and gives me a lick to say “thank you, I love you.” and then he will go play with the other puppies. He recognizes that I’m the boss and he doesn’t try to push my rules. Benji is an excellent companion to have around. Benji is expected to grow up to be around 70lbs, he resembles his Cedar creek English Shepherd ancestors in his build, with a natural bob tail, broad head, and intelligent eyes.
Herding the Ducks- Benji had seen other puppies herd the ducks, so when we got to them he was ready to go! Benji moved the ducks away from me mostly, like he was trying to keep me ‘safe’ he sat between the ducks and I, if they tried to come back he moved them further and returned to his post. he found that giving orders to his litter mates was easier then telling the ducks what to do, but Benji kept at it. He comes immediately when called, “Good dog Benji!”
Benji guarding me from the ducks.
Visiting the calf- We went into Joey’s pen during his afternoon nap. Benji and I came to the calf from the front, I rub the calf as usual to get his smell on me, I let Benji smell, his tiny stump of a tail wiggles, he looks around for where the smell comes from. Benji circles Joey and approaches him from behind, stretches out to sniff, then comes back to lay by me and watches the calf. Benji latter came to joey’s head, to say Hello. “Attat boy Benji!”
Pictures of Benji-
at 19 weeks
at 12 weeks
at 4 weeks