It infuriates me when a sheep chaser /worrier is described as an aggressive dog. Is a cat condemned for catching small birds and rodents? Are they accused of being aggressive or nasty for doing what comes naturally? NO! So why persecute dogs for doing the same thing - what comes very naturally.
If a terrier is a good ratter or a lurcher a good 'rabbiter' they are admired for their skills. If a dog chases and occasionally catches a squirrel, whilst we may not like it, it is generally accepted. It is just considered to be just the dog's natural hunting instincts.
This behaviour can be really annoying and can totally mess up an otherwise perfect Recall but it is not said then that we have an aggressive dog. Chasing livestock is quite rightly unacceptable in our society. How do our dogs know this. As with many we make for our dogs this probably doesn't make any sense at all to them!
We can teach our dogs not to chase sheep and we can prevent it happening in the first place. Angela runs Livestock Socialisation Classes and Workshops where dogs are introduced to stock and then taught how to behave around them. Potential chasers are identified at an early stage and the problem is solved before it develops. Please contact Angela if you would like details of the Living with Livestock Workshops
Livestock worrying is no laughing matter when you live in a rural area. Trying to avoid sheep on Exmoor is like trying to avoid a cab in London! Sheep seem to be the main problem here in Somerset. The cows are too big to argue with! In an area where Collies are the predominant choice of dog for the average family, sheep worrying can be quite a problem.
Most people, in this area, have to exercise their dogs near livestock. It is therefore essential that these dogs are taught how to behave around livestock and that their owners have full control of them at all times. Whilst it is acknowledged that dogs should be kept on leads when livestock are present, there is always the possibility of a stray animal suddenly appearing.
Farmers, understandably, are not sympathetic towards dogs when their livelihood depends on their livestock. They have permission to "shoot on sight" and they do so without a second thought. So you can understand why, here in Somerset, concentrating on teaching dogs ( and their owners) how to behave around livestock is of the utmost importance. So where do you start?
Firstly, it is important to recognise that most dogs accused of sheep worrying are not sheep killers but simply have a chasing problem. Simply? It can feel like a major problem to the owners of such dogs but as you probably know, there are simple ways of teaching a dog to control his predatory drive. There are also ways of reinforcing control of a dog when 'in chase'