E245: Barb Buchmayer - "Positive Herding"

Interested in learning more about herding - but want to approach it from a positive training perspective? Barb and I talk all about what that means in today's podcast episode! 


Melissa Breau: This is Melissa Breau and you're listening to the Fenzi Dog Sports Podcast brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, an online school dedicated to providing high-quality instruction for competitive dog sports using only the most current and progressive training methods.

Today I have Barb Buchmayer here with me to talk about herding.

Hi Barb, welcome to the podcast!

Barb Buchmayer: Hi, how are you, Melissa?

Melissa Breau: Good. I'm excited to chat. To start us out, do you want to share a little bit about you, your current pets crew, what you're working on with them.

Barb Buchmayer: I'm basically a farmer, and that's been my background over the years. We had dairy and sheep, and now we have beef cattle, and at one time we did milk processing and delivered our own milk to stores; it was organic milk. So my background is basically farming, and that's what I wanted dogs for is to help with the farm.

Currently I have two dogs, two Border Collies. I have Sir, who is 6. He's quite focused when he's on stock, but he can be kind of nutsy when he's not, but he's really been the dog I've worked the most with positive herding. Quest is my other dog. He is 11. I started with positive herding with him, but it was more of a crossover with him because I was learning and he was learning.

And they're completely opposite. Quest is a very sideways-moving dog. He's not very pushy, and Sir is very pushy. With Sir, I'm working on self-control still. He's 6 years old and I'm still working on, "Can you let the stock go? If I ask you to flank or circle them and they're going to get away, can you stop?" So that's what I'm working on with him. With Quest it's a little different because he's starting to lose his hearing at 11. So I let him do gathers and fetches to me and some driving, if I'm close to him, so he can hear. But he generally now is retired. We go on walks and things, but I'm not doing any really specific training with him at this point.

Melissa Breau: Makes sense? You mentioned that you've been in the farm world and that's why you got dogs. Is that how you originally got into the dog world?

Barb Buchmayer: No. I've been in farming a long time, but in one place where I lived, I heard an advertisement for training a guide-dog puppy. We had always had dogs at my house, but I'd really been into horses. I showed horses at a low level for years and years, and they were the love of my life as I was growing up.

But then I heard this advertisement. I thought, "That would be really cool. I'd love to raise a puppy that would be really helpful to somebody." So I got involved in the program, it was through Guiding Eyes For The Blind, and I raised Clay, who was a black Lab. That was my first introduction to traditional dog training. He went through the program, and I took him through it.

He was part of my life. He went with my husband and I down to Florida. He was at our wedding. He was my introduction to having a dog in the house and having a close relationship with a dog. And he went on to be a successful guide dog, so that was a really cool thing, way to start, I thought, and I even thought of becoming a guide dog trainer. But my love was really farming, and so that's how I ended up staying with the herding.

My first dog training was in 1980, when I got Clay, so that was a long time ago. But he was really fun, and I think because he was so useful to somebody and he made somebody's life so much better. And the man sent me little snippets of what Clay was doing. He worked in Colorado, and he said, "Oh, he's so great, because the people love him. They'll come up and ask me about him, and the people at work, all the women love him." He was quite enamored with him, and it gave him that freedom that he didn't have before. So that was really wonderful.

Melissa Breau: You mentioned that was back in the '80s. Did that lead you into positive training? What got you started on the positive side of the training world?

Barb Buchmayer: Let's start with the how I got into herding, because that came first before I got into positive training. It's funny, I was interested in dogs after raising this guide dog, and I had some Golden Retrievers that I raised and did some obedience with, and that was really fun. But then I visited my sister-in-law in Ohio, and she had an Australian Shepherd that a friend of hers had won at a horse show raffle.

He was really beautiful dog, and I thought, "I could maybe do some herding with this dog," so I took him home. We lived in New York at the time. I took him home with me because she really didn't have a use for him. He was young dog, he was only 2, so he came home with us and I started worrying about, or looking into, how do you herd.

I took him to an instinct test for Australian Shepherds, and I tried him on my dairy cattle. That's what we had at the time, we had a dairy, and he would go around them and he acted like he was herding, in my mind. But then as soon as they would look up to see what was there, he would back off. So I thought, "I don't know if he really has instinct or not."

So I took him to an instinct test, and the woman was so excited. She said, "He looks like an Australian Shepherd with the herding lines. He doesn't look like the real foo-foo ones." And so she put him in with her sheep and he was afraid of them. She said, "I've got some lambs here. Let's put him in with some lambs." She put him in with three little lambs and he was afraid of them. She turned to me and said, "Well, what do you want to do with him?" and I said, "Herd dairy cattle." And she said, "That's never happening with this dog." So I said, "Okay." I think he did have the instinct, but he didn't have the bravery, the confidence.

At the time, I was working for the Post Office and I delivered express mail. I had met a man who used a Border Collie to move his dairy heifers, and so I got to talking with him, I found out where he got his dog, and ended up getting a puppy from Virginia. And that was the start.

Then, of course, I had to get some sheep, because they say that's the best thing to start on. I got some … they're called Barbados. They look more like goats than sheep, and they kind of act like deer, but they're really light or they move very easily. And so I started working with the sheep and the dog. That was Brooke, my first Border Collie.

I tried to find a trainer, and I found a woman in Pennsylvania. She was pretty much a big hat in herding. I would go down and visit her and work with her. But it was so far, it was like six hours away, and I could only go once every few months, so it was kind of slow going. But eventually I got him going a little bit.

I went to a friend of mine and she had sheep. She allowed me to work her sheep one time and she watched me, and her conclusion was, "You always move the wrong direction." And I thought, "There's so much going on — the sheep moving, you moving, the dogs moving."

I persevered and we made progress, but then we moved out to Missouri in '96 and I found a trainer that was within an hour of us. The first thing I said to him was, "I want to learn to train my dog, but I don't know where to move." He said, "You don't have to move." And I thought, "Ah, what a relief. Now only two things are moving: the sheep and the dog." Eventually you do have to move, but in the beginning it really helped me to eliminate "Where do I go? This way? That way?" So that's how I got into herding, and I worked with him, took weekly lessons for eight years, to learn.

And that's how I got into positive training is I got really tired of saying to my dogs, "No, not that. Don't do that. No, no, not that. Get out of that. Stop that." This man's idea of training was you never said anything good to your dog. You never said "Good dog." If you said "Good dog," he said, "What did they do that was so great?" It's like, "Well, I like to tell them when they're right."

I was doing better and better all the time. You start out at the lower levels, of course, and work your way up in the trials, and I got to the highest level. I won a trial and won a beautiful dog box with a beautiful Border Collie stenciled on it, picture of it. At that point I decided, "I have to make a decision. Either I try and run with the big hats, the big dogs and the big field trials, or I go a different direction." I couldn't afford to be gone every weekend because of the farm, and I didn't really have that desire. I mean, I like to win, but I really enjoy training my dogs. And so I decided I'd like to find a way to train in a more positive way.

So, of course, get on the computer, what everybody does, and I found balanced training. Well, I was a balanced trainer for like three days, and then I realized that's probably not the way to go. So I looked into positive training. I picked up a clicker, I clicked it three times, and I thought, "How hard can it be?" That was probably a mistake, but I was committed.

And so I started and I did what everybody does. I took courses online, and I read books, and I watched DVDs, which is what I had done for herding until I found somebody. It was pretty slow going, but I loved it. It made complete sense to me, and so I kept going.

Finally I worked with Kay Laurence some, and took different courses, and then I found Bob Bailey. They were starting up their chicken workshops again and I went to one. I came home, and I had worked with my dogs on "lie down" and that type thing, like everybody does. I came home, and in five minutes I had a better, quicker "lie down" on my dog than I did after months before. And I said, "This is the answer."

So I started going back to him. I traded classes for driving the chickens back and forth to where they set it up, and helping set up and helping tear down, and all that good stuff. But it was just such a tremendous learning experience.

And to work with a chicken is so different. Because dogs try and help you, they want to help you, they want to please you, if you set them up to guess, they'll guess, and they'll try and they'll work it out. Chickens, now, either they get it and do what you ask them or they do what you ask them, even though it's not what you want. They don't want to please you, and if you don't give them enough reinforcement, they just leave and go somewhere else. To me, that was a real turning point, because I started to really understand what positive training was about and what a poor positive trainer I was. And so we kept moving forward.

The other problem I think I had, that a lot of people have, is I was a crossover trainer, and so it's very easy to revert back to what you know, all those years of experience. The problem with traditional training is it's so darn reinforcing to the trainer. You get good at your timing and you learn how to use punishment. Not that you're mean with it, but it works, and so that's so reinforcing.

That's still something I struggle with. Not when I'm working with my dogs in the house so much. But when I get out with stock, I have such a long history of that traditional training that if it's not fun, I have to stop myself and say, "Why isn't this fun, and how do I get back on track?" So that's something I still struggle with. But that's a long history.

Melissa Breau: Absolutely. And just like our dogs, the thing we learn first is sometimes what we revert to when we're feeling a little stressed.

Barb Buchmayer: That's exactly right. The first dog I took to this man to train, we had this problem that she would rush in. I said, "Can we get her over that?" And he said, "Yeah, but when there's a lot of pressure, when she feels stressed, she's going to go back to it because that was what she learned first." So very true.

Melissa Breau: So that's what got you started. How would you describe where you are today as a trainer, or your current training philosophy?

Barb Buchmayer: Along the way I have to bring Sally into the conversation, because through Kay Laurence I got this email that this woman from South Africa had contacted Kay and was looking for a positive trainer for herding. Sally had never done any herding, but she was a very good positive trainer, and she had taught agility and obedience, and she liked to train tricks.

She contacted me and we got started together through Skype, email, and YouTube. She got a puppy, and over the years we worked together and she really helped me to explain things to somebody and see what problems they had. She had a great sense of humor, but she felt, I think, really isolated because she was 9000 miles away. I couldn't go help her, which was very difficult for her.

She told me one of the things I really believe in is that the dog has to engage with you near stock, because the stock is a huge, huge distraction. What I wanted her to do is put the stock in a little pen and then work her dog till she could get the dog up, close the pen, and could first take treats, tug, whatever she did, and then sit and down and then do the herding cues, which we had taught away from stock.

I think it was three or four weeks, she told me it was not possible for her dog to do this and that they needed to move on. I was like, "You can't move on, because if your dog can't take a treat, if your dog can't sit, how can they take a herding cue? It's just not possible." Now she says that was one of the most important things, that step. People want to get by that because it's a big wall to get over. But she did, and then we moved on. She became very successful with Wren, and it was a wonderful experience for me.

It basically proved that my method worked, the positive training worked. And it was all starting without stock, with cones and flirt pole, except Sally wouldn't use a flirt pole, so she used tugs and balls. So we proved that you can do it without a flirt pole. She went through the whole the whole training as it was developed. And the training, I would say, is all based on positive herding, and it's all based very similar to how people train agility positively, because that's what I studied. Because agility dogs need to be fast, and they need to be precise, and that's exactly what you need in herding — you need a dog that will react fast, but to criteria.

That's one of the big things I've come up … I call them the track skills: timing, rate of reinforcement, and criteria. But of those, criteria, criteria, criteria. That's because the dog starts to cheat and we don't see it, and then pretty soon you look and it's like, "Oh my gosh, where did that come from?" But the problem is you know you let it happen.

I've trained my dogs to do things, and I have no idea how I did that. I know I did it. Honestly, I've taught my dogs things. One time I taught Quest not to walk past me, and I don't know how I did it. I just took him away from stock, and he's still with a tug out beside me. He would not walk past me. So I just turned my body sideways so he was walking in front of me, and he could do that. I slowly kept the tug the same and just turned my body till he's walking past me, and we just grew it from there. But how I trained that — I have no idea.

So I'm not going to tell you I'm the greatest positive trainer. But I can look at a problem and break it down and find a way to build the behavior I want. But I make tons of mistakes, and I wish I could do better than I do. But no one that I've seen is perfect yet.

Melissa Breau: No. Everybody is always on a continual improvement journey, at least if we're good. If you think you've got it all, then you may need an outside eye to look at things, point out where you've still got room to grow.

I invited you to talk on the podcast because you're going to do a webinar for us in the not too distant future, specifically on herding. Looking through your description, there were some things that jumped out at me and caught me by surprise. You mentioned in the description that a dog doesn't necessarily have to have herding instincts to join in the fun. Do you want to just elaborate on that a little bit? Can any dog learn to herd, or are there just skills there that we can play with?

Barb Buchmayer: I would say any dog could learn to herd. But I think dogs that are high energy would really enjoy it more because there's a lot of movement involved, and for a lot of dogs that's inherently reinforcing, just to move. If you have a dog, that's low energy, they could probably learn how, but I don't think they'd really enjoy it as much. But any dog that's got high energy.

The thing is, when you have a dog with herding instinct, it's a double-edged sword. They want to control stock, which is helpful. But then that also means they don't want to take your cues all the time because they're driven to do what they instinctively want to do. So it's great when you get to that point where the dog will control the stock and you can turn things over to him. But you're always fighting that until you get to that point.

And then if you have a dog that doesn't have instinct, you don't fight that. And so the dog becomes what I call obedience around livestock. The dog will flank when you ask them, they'll stop when you ask him, but now you have to be the one reading the livestock and deciding where will the dog be? When will they move? Will they walk in? Will they stop? Will they flank? The responsibility for reading the stock falls all on you. Where with a dog with instinct, they'll control the stock, they'll keep them on line if you train them right.

One thing I've heard people ask me, and I'd like to throw in at this point, is people are afraid that if they train the basic herding skills away from stock, and using cones, flirt poles, toys, whatever, that their dog will be mechanical or robotic. I do not like robotic dogs. I feel like if I have a dog with herding instinct, I want them to use that instinct. To me, that's one of the most beautiful things to see is a dog controlling stock without me telling them, anything. I would never want to take that away from a dog.

Traditional trainers look at this method and say, "You're going to get a mechanical dog." But traditional trainers make dogs mechanical too. It's not like it's not possible to do it traditionally. So people worry about that. My dogs aren't mechanical. Sally's dog isn't mechanical. It's just how you integrate these skills with livestock.

If you allow your dog that chance, let's say the dog is bringing you the stock and the stock is starting to go off line. You pause just that moment to let the dog flank over and correct themselves, and if they don't, then you ask them to. But you have that little pause. Where if you don't have that pause and every time you tell the dog to do it, well, pretty soon they depend on you.

So it's not impossible to make a dog mechanical. I mean, people can do it if they want to. And dogs that don't have instincts are going to be more mechanical because they don't have the instinct to tell them where to go and what to do. So if your dog is a dog that doesn't have instinct, you're probably going to have mechanical dog to a great extent. And if the dog has any instinct, then you're going to allow them to use it.

Melissa Breau: Good stuff. You mentioned some stuff in there, and I want to zoom in a little bit on some of that. What skills are important that we're talking about when we're talking about herding? And how are you breaking some of those things down into the behaviors that you're then actively training?

Barb Buchmayer: First of all, I believe you should train all the herding behaviors away from stock because stock is just too distracting. Sheep are the most distracting thing in the world. Maybe a squirrel might be more distracting, but not much. That's why I like using a flirt pole, because it's like having a squirrel on a string that you control. You can use your Premack easily because you actually can control that squirrel and fly it back into your hand.

The skills that the dog is going to need for herding, first of all, that we work on at every stage is engagement, because if the dog can't listen to you, can't hear you, is so laser-focused on the stock or even on a tug that's moving in front of their face, then they can't do what you're asking them to do. So that's the first thing we work on is getting engagement. And then moving that, we start at a great distance, because stock is so distracting that the dogs just can't deal with being very close. With Sir, I think I started 200 yards away from stock. He could see them. He was a puppy, but he just couldn't sit. The things he could do around the front yard, in the house, couldn't do them. So we start with engagement.

At the same time, we're working away from stock on teaching the stop and the walk-in and then directionals, which are right and left, which become your flanks, and flanks are the circles that the dog makes around the stock. So "come by" is a clockwise circle, and "away to me" is a counter-clockwise or anti-clockwise circle.

I teach all those, and in my book I also teach the "close" and "out," which is, as the dog is flanking … most young dogs flank too close to their stock, so you need them to move farther, so farther away from as a circle. We teach "close" and "out," because some dogs tend to run too far out. That's the thing with the dogs is they all have their own characteristics. You have to deal with what you get and adjust it, and move them towards what you would like to see, but then they're always trying to move back to where they're more comfortable. That's where the criteria comes in, because you have to keep track of if they're moving away from where you want them to be, or if they're holding criteria.

The other skills are … I teach the "bite away from stock," because I'm not expecting my dog to bite very often, but that's the only defense they have. One thing I tell people is, "You are the protector of your dog." If one of the sheep stands up to your dog, especially when they're young, you need to step in and help your dog be successful and turn that sheep away.

Some people try and take the bite out, because at a sheepdog trial, if the dog bites, they often are disqualified. But on the other hand, a dog can lose confidence if they don't have any way to protect themselves. So I teach a bite and I like to put it on cue. That way, you're usually not getting it just showing up. The dog knows, "Okay, now I can go in and bite." And most dogs that have a bite never use it on sheep. It just gives them confidence.

So those are the skills that I teach.

I use cones, I love flirt poles, I use treats, I use tugs, all that. I've had people that are just looking to do some new training, some different training that isn't tricks, that's more movement-oriented. They say, "I'm not really interested in herding." But they'll get to foundation, and if they ever decide to move forward, they can.

You don't need to have sheep to work with your dog. If you wanted to start engagement, you could get three ducks and put them in a little pen. And so it's something most everybody could do. But the dogs see the rat on the end of the flirt pole, that tug, as a squirrel, and it's amazing how much you can train just with that because you can make it move away from the dog, run away. They see that rat as prey, and so if you can get your dog to listen to you while the prey or the rat is in the picture, you're partway there.

It's really amazing that the flirt pole is so useful. That's why I'm so enthusiastic about it. And the dogs love it. I'm working with a woman, and she's says her dog, when she walks past her flirt pole that's in the corner, the dog gets excited. And it's so much fun. I don't ever use a flirt pole that I don't laugh, because the dogs — they're so into it. They're so intense, and yet, if they make mistake, it's no big deal. You haven't run sheep into a fence or you haven't had a big train wreck. It's very forgiving.

Melissa Breau: I was going to ask which skills can be taught before introducing sheep or ducks, but it sounds like you're really saying most of the skills can be taught off livestock. Is that right?

Barb Buchmayer: I teach all the skills off livestock. I even teach the advanced skills. Not so much penning, because there you've got all the components in place. But shedding, which is when you, in the highest levels of herding at the trials, maybe run four sheep and you'll shed off one, which means you'll take and separate one off and hold that away from the others, or you'll split them in half and you'll separate two, and then maybe they'll say, "Shed off two and take them and pen those two, and let the others go."

I start that in my front yard with … I use empty dog crates because they're big. Sally used 50-gallon barrels and asked the dog to come in between those. I just set up dog crates. I start out with a line of cones, ask them "come through," and then you always want the dog to turn in a certain direction, which is toward the head of the stock, because that's how you really shed is they take them off.

What I do is I turn my body and I ask the dog to come through. Once they come through the cone circle, then I throw my tug and have them turn in the direction I want them to turn. Then I replace the cones with, for me, dog crates. You could use garbage cans, anything — something big, because you're going to be asking them to come through stock, sheep that are pretty good size — so they get the idea.

When I take it into the field, I pen the sheep. First thing I do is I ask the dog, "Can you even run by them?" because the dog wants to flank out around. We get that skill down, and then I pen two groups of sheep. "Can you come in between them? Can you come to me?" Each time, I'm asking the dog to increase their skill and move a little bit farther forward in what I actually need. Instead of just taking them in to the sheep and splitting the sheep and asking them to come to you, I do that in about twenty steps, and I set it up so that the dog is successful each time. When they're proficient at that, then we do a little more, a little more, and then, at the end, they have a much better idea of what I'm asking them to do.

Traditionally they'll just put a rope on a dog, and they'll call it, and then they'll yank it and make it come into them. But, as you know, it's pretty easy to force a dog out by pushing on him or stepping into them, but it's real difficult to get a dog to come to you once you take off that long line, if you forced them to come.

Someone asked me this in a group: "How do you work with pressure and release?" I don't. When I'm teaching a dog to increase the distance between them and the stock as they flank, I set up two sets of cone circles concentric, and I start out by standing in-between the circles. First, the dog has to learn to flank inside each circle so they can do it on both circles. And then I just stand in there with my flirt pole, and I flip the rat out and I lure them a couple times to go to the outside. And then the next time I just release them. If they even turn their head or look that direction, then I go ahead and tell them to get it and let them go out get it. Pretty soon they're understanding, and then I add the cue.

But I don't step into them and say, "You've got to move away from me," because the problem is, people will ask the dog … they'll push them out. They'll push them out, push them out, push them out, which is great, it's easy, and you don't have to be that hard on a dog. But the problem is eventually you're asking the dog to shed and come to you. Well, if you've spent months telling the dog "Get away from me," now all of a sudden you're saying "Come to me," and they're like, "Whoa, I don't think so."

Now you're having to undo all that training and try and change it, and that's why people end up putting a rope on them, because the dog pretty much has learned to stay off of you.

Melissa Breau: The dog has learned what you taught.

Barb Buchmayer: Yes. That's, I think, a very profound thing you said, that when I have dogs do things and I know I've taught him that, but we don't always know how we did that.

Melissa Breau: I love that. I like that way of thinking about it, too. We talked a whole bunch about herding in general. I want to switch gears and talk a little bit about the webinar itself — who would really benefit from signing up, anything that we haven't covered that you want to mention that you are covering in the webinar. Can you just talk a little bit about the webinar and who should join us?

Barb Buchmayer: Sure. I think I have some videos in the webinar of all the five stages, so that people can see how I actually do it and how I've done it with Sir. I think people that are interested that have high-energy dogs, people that are … I have a lot of people that would like to herd, but they don't like how traditional people treat their dogs. So this is a way to look at it and learn it positively. So people that are just starting. I have people that are partway in and they would like to train more positively, and so I have those people would be interested.

And then people that are partway in and are having problems. It's like, "I'm stuck. My dog does this." One woman I talked to — her dog was too pushy. As it would drive the stock, it would push them too fast. The trainer she was working with, the solution they had was throw a can filled with rocks or pebbles at it. You do something like that, let's say you hit the dog, the dog thinks the sheep did it, your dog may say, "I'm done with sheep because that's enough of that."

A lot of people put a lot of pressure on dogs, and they do quit. All I told her was, "Start stopping your dog, and only allow it to walk in when it's right and when it's calm. And get some distance. Let the sheep drift and get a little distance." It was such a simple thing. I'm not sure why her trainer thought that throwing something was the answer. But most traditional trainers would do the same thing I was suggesting.

So people that are started and having problems. So really it's a whole gamut of people. I've had people interested in positive herding that just want something else fun to train. And believe me, if you work with a flirt pole, there's a caveat: you want to make sure you're very careful with the flirt pole that when you whip it up out of your dog's way … let's say you ask your dog to walk in and stop, your dog doesn't stop, and it dives for the flirt pole. You want to whip the flirt pole out of the way so it doesn't self-reinforce. But if you don't whip it high, the dog can jump for it and twist, and there's a possibility they could get hurt. So I try to get people to practice with a flirt pole so they can place it where they want, and they can fly it back to either hand and have control.

One of the things you were saying, "What do you want people to know?" —the main thing I stress is safety, because you're working with livestock at some point. You're working with dogs moving, you're moving, and so you want to all be safe.

But the other thing is I really implore people: If you take your dog somewhere and they start to do something, and you're not sure because "I'm new to this, I don't know, it's all new," but if, in your heart or in your gut, it doesn't feel right, then you need to step up and protect your dog, because many people have talked to me and told me stories of things that have been done to their dogs that have set them back a long way.

If you don't feel it's right, then you need to step up and protect your dog, even if it's embarrassing to you. Or at least step in and talk to the person, see what they want to do. But if you're not comfortable, you're just going to have to step up and do what you feel is right for your dog. That's probably the most important message I have for people.

Even if someone's working with me, if they don't feel that's right for their dog, I want to talk about it. What's going on? Why? Why aren't you comfortable with this? Because they probably have a good reason. And like I said, most people don't know enough, so mentally, rationally, they don't know the reason. But a lot of times in your gut, you know, or in your heart, you know, something's heading downhill. So that would be one of the main things is please protect your dog.

Melissa Breau: Good to know. To round out our chat, I've got one last question for you. If we were to drill down all the things you've been talking about today, drill down the conversation, into one key piece of information you really want listeners to understand and take away from this, what would that be?

Barb Buchmeyer: I think the thing I would want to say is when you're looking for a positive trainer to work with — which I know people are, because it's very lonely working by yourself, which I have done for years and years — a lot of people that are traditional trainers realize people are looking for more positive-type training, but they don't really understand positive training. They think that it means saying "Good dog."

So when you're looking for a positive trainer, to me, the key is do they teach all the skills away from livestock. If they don't, then in my mind they're not truly a positive trainer. If you're out there looking for some help, and you're talking to a trainer, ask them, "How do you teach the skills?" because to me that's the litmus test of a good positive herding trainer — training all of this away from stock, and then step by step building it around stock until you have a dog that really is a proficient and wonderful partner.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast, Barb. This has been a super-interesting conversation, so thank you.

Barb Buckmayer: You're welcome. I'm glad to be here, and thank you for having me very much.

Melissa Breau: Absolutely. And thank you to all of our listeners for tuning in! We'll be back next week with Heather Lawson to talk about the AKC's Canine Good Citizen program.

If you haven't already, subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or the podcast app of your choice to have our next episode automatically downloaded to your phone as soon as it becomes available.


Today's show is brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Special thanks to Denise Fenzi for supporting this podcast. Music provided royalty-free by BenSound.com; the track featured here is called "Buddy." Audio editing provided by Chris Lang.

Thanks again for tuning in — and happy training!


Today's show is brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Special thanks to Denise Fenzi for supporting this podcast. Music provided royalty-free by BenSound.com; the track featured here is called "Buddy." Audio editing provided by Chris Lang.

Thanks again for tuning in -- and happy training! 

Positive Herding 101: Dog-friendly training (an ex...
E244: Kim Brophey - "Working Toward Harmonious Coh...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/