Farm Dogs vs. Trial Dogs
I love hearing people say “I need a good farm dog, I don’t need no trial dog”. Logically you would think there is a difference but in practice that’s never true. Well almost never. I’ll admit that I’ve seen some winning trial dogs that aren’t quite so handy at home. My old dog is a good example. But that’s only because he’s weak and a lot of trial sheep are flighty. If I ever get stubborn sheep, I never win. Consequently that means he’s not really the best trial dog. So the point still remains, good farm dogs are good trial dogs. You don’t even have to take my word for it. Church mount sheepdogs has a great podcast where he interviews the top handlers from around the world. They all say the same thing. At the end of the day trials are an extreme challenge of the practical applications you use at home. The winningest trial dogs are the ones used at home. I mean it’s hard to train covering and shedding but shedding off lambing ewes or sick ones teaches it quick. The same goes for working cow/calf pairs. The only difference when you get to the trial is it can show the people that are more concerned with getting the job done than how they get the job done. And I know there are those farmers out there that say “what difference does it make? The job got done”. But it makes a huge difference. I’ve seen lots of stock, cattle and sheep. And you can always tell how they were handled at home based off how they work for you. Take biting stock as an example. The more your dog bites, the more they need to. If you set the standard that you are going to move stock calmly and effectively your stock will do the same. That’s not to say that getting gritty is wrong but it should be a weapon in the arsenal, not the only weapon. People are no different. If you set up that you can only lead someone through violence then it’s becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. The good trial dogs and the good handlers are typically good stockman at home and are simply competing to show off their own talent.