vom Shepherd Gate German Shepherds
 

 

Tending

Our dogs were trained in the German Tending style of herding with large flocks of sheep achieving the HGH or “Herdengebrauchshund” Title (German Herding Utility Dog).  This title is considered to be the equivalent of a Schutzhund 3 in working dog titles.  We trained with Ulf Kintzel, who came to the United States from Germany – where he was a professional shepherd and a high level competitor in regional and national herding competitions.  From Ulf we learned so much about handling our dogs, reading and understanding our dogs behavior, how to read and understand the behavior of a large flock, the handling of the shepherd’s crook, and finally how to pull it all together and end up with a successful result in the herding trial.
The HGH Trial is based on a real life shepherd’s day in Germany – where flocks are large, (often a thousand sheep) and they are tended in unfenced open fields.  Many of these fields are next to fields planted with crops and the tending dog acts as a living fence, keeping the sheep out of the farmer’s crops.  The shepherd must lead the sheep along roads as well, because the grazing fields can be miles apart.  The herding dog must be able to help move the flock, keeping the sheep on the road and if needed move the flock to the side of the road to allow cars to safely pass the sheep from either direction (from the front or the back of the flock) – the dog runs along the side of the flock between car and flock until the car has safely passed.  This takes great courage on the part of the dog, and a sharp eye on the part of the shepherd.
The HGH trial is a miniature version of a shepherd’s day.  The elements include an exit from the pen, the narrow road, crossing a bridge, a narrow graze where the shepherd must show that he or she can send the dog where needed to keep the sheep contained without disturbing the sheep while they graze.  The sheep are then gathered when the shepherd commands by the dog and are moved along the road to a wide graze. Here the dog must show diligence and independence – containing the sheep in the wide graze as they are allowed to graze again peacefully.  The sheep are finally gathered again and led along the road where the shepherd and dog must show that they can move the flock to the side of the road so that cars can pass the flock safely.  The final step is the re-pen where dog and handler must get all 150-200 sheep back into the pen without injury to sheep or pen.  Unlike AKC herding trials, the dog must also exhibit a “grip” – where the dog is allowed to control an unruly sheep with an appropriately placed bite without damaging the sheep.  This must be handled by the shepherd in a controlled manner – showing that the dog is strong enough to be respected by the flock, but also reliable enough to respond to the shepherd when he or she tells the dog the job is done.
All of this takes years to learn, and the best results are achieved when the shepherd and his or her dog have achieved a true partnership.  The score is based not only on each element, but  also how harmonious the entire run looks from start to finish.

Berta is working the narrow graze, allowing the sheep to graze peacefully without allowing them to cross the border.

Here Becket is actively keeping the sheep on the road as Peter leads them to the narrow graze.

Daphne leads the sheep along the road and across the bridge.
Berta stands at the post of the bridge where she must stand until the last sheep has safely crossed.

 

 

 

 

 
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