Understanding WorkingDogs


Strength in Working Dogs is often a very misunderstood concept so I have included this piece from Arthur Hazlett, whose opinion I hold in high regard.
Strength in working Kelpies
by Arthur Hazlett
What I am writing about is the strength of a dog while working on stock that have been worked in a quiet manner and have been educated to stop and think as a group or a mob.  I want my dogs to break over their hocks to enable them to get around a run away, to get directly in front of both eyes, then stop.  If the animal keeps coming, then the dog must come straight in at the head of cattle. Nose bite if required. If the beast is just standing the dog should just walk in and apply the pressure needed to handle the situation.  On cattle as well as sheep, they must come off the head so as to give the animal enough room to stop and think, so it can then turn back to the mob.  When a dog turns a animal back, they must have the thinking ability to let the animal rejoin the mob.  A dog should not chase or drive a break away hard and fast back into the mob.  Then to have the natural ability to stop at the right distance so that the mob can feel relaxed and not pressured. This is how I want my dog to educate stock, by making it hard on a break away, but be relaxed and comfortable place to be once they have rejoined their mob.  I work sheep and cattle in a similar way. When working sheep a strong dog must be able to walk a sheep backwards as far as you need it to.   I want a clean heading dog that can apply the necessary pressure to be effective. The dog must also know when to release the pressure, as my aim is to get the sheep stopped to get them to think so they will go back to their mates.    
Weakness :-  Those dogs that are not true heading dogs,  dogs that start at the shoulder looking for the head at that angle all they can see is one eye.   Dogs that are not true heading, of this type, start from back near the animals shoulder looking for the head and the eye. The angle that they come at the sheep or cattle means they can only ever see one eye. These dogs are consistently at their stock, putting pressure on them, constantly jamming or bumping them unless stopped or called off.   Most Kelpies in Australia today are of this sort. This weakness causes a large number of working  problems when trying to educate sheep and cattle in a calm and orderly manner.
Another weakness :-   Those dogs that have the wrong sort of eye, their focus is only on one animal at a time and they loose sight of the rest. You also get when breeding from these types of weak dogs, a hard eyed dog that either will not come up or rushes straight in to bite and hang along the side of a sheep. Coming in too straight and not caring about keeping the mob together. Too many dogs being bred today lack any proper caution. It is my belief that a dog should only bite in self defence and then on the nose.  Another weakness :- dogs that run about a lot with no real purpose. Most have plenty of yap or bark but it is ineffective.