The Berger is a very lively herding dog.  His liveliness is often not appreciated by other herding breed enthusiasts and he can also be apt to bark and bite to get the respect of the stock and the job done.   He has good common sense and a good imagination to work through problems and unlike the Border Collie, who always has his eye on the stock, the Pyr Shep always has his eye on his master awaiting  the next command.   Once he understands the job that you are trying to perform he is more than happy to aid you.  I truly hope that anyone taking up herding with their Pyrenean Shepherd will learn first about the breed's working aspect and appreciate and respect their unique traits while training him to his optimum ability.   He is what he is and for centuries he has been a valued and versatile farm dog in the Pyrenees used to work with sheep, ducks, chickens, geese, pigs and cattle.  His energy is indefatigable and his high spirits keeps you smiling  Their natural talent and intelligence enable them to work with minimal direction, and they can be trusted with livestock if unsupervised.



As hard as it is to believe, there are sheep on these mountainsides and it is in this environment that our little sheepdog of the Pyrenees originated and is in his element.

  It is no wonder the Pyr Shep needs to be so agile!
Watch this video of a flock of sheep in France being brought home from their summer mountain grazing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwPr6IfxjE4



If you would like to experience this challenging  sport or if you just want a useful helper on your farm you first need to have access to a few sheep to start your dog's training.  Usually 3 sheep are enough to create a mini-herd but the more the merrier as more sheep are easier to control than a few.   There are trainers all across Canada and the United States that will help you get started.  An instructor at your local dog training school may be able to put you onto the closest sheep herding facility in your area.   A herding instructor will show you what the sheep are doing and what your dog wants to do with them, and where you come into the picture.

There are only a few commands that your Pyr Shep needs to know;  "STOP", "AWAY TO ME",  "COME BYE", "THERE" AND "WALK UP" .  The most important command which can be taught anywhere and anytime is "STOP".  You can start your puppy or adult dog learning what "STOP" means by stopping his movement, on a leash, and saying the word "STOP".  He will quickly learn that "STOP" means to stop moving.  Any herding instructor will appreciate you being able to stop your pup's enthusiasm when first starting out herding.  Often a young dog will get caught up in a game of chasing sheep and if you have a reliable "STOP" on your dog it is the quickest way to regain control of him.  A useful exercise is for you to just stand or sit among the flock of sheep with your dog calmly standing and watching the animals.  This relaxes the dog for the purpose of ease of training, and it also is an opportunity for your dog (and yourself) to watch and learn about the sheep.  There is a lot of communication going on between animals that we are not aware of and this in itself is a training exercise.

   
"WALK UP" is the command you give when you want your dog to move in a straight line towards the sheep.  This pushes the sheep away from the dog.  You can tell your dog to "WALK UP" and then "STOP" when the sheep have moved the desired distance.

 

The above pictures shows a young Pyr Shep circling clockwise at the back of four chickens.  This is a "COME BYE" command.  Circling anti-clockwise is an "AWAY TO ME" command.  Once the dog is where you would like it to be then you say "THERE" and that should indicate to the dog to stop around that spot and take the next command, usually a "WALK UP".


The natural desire of the Pyr Shep is to keep the sheep with the shepherd.
This dog is keeping her distance back so the sheep move quietly and do not push in front of me.  This is called "balance" and some dogs have a natural ability to balance sheep to the handler while others must be taught how close they need to get to the sheep to influence the livestock. 


 



Here our Pyr Shep, Hoopla, is helping me take out three lambs for a graze.  Our first stop is the apple tree.  While the sheep are eating apples the Pyr Sheps also indulge in an apple or two.
When all is calm there is no need to keep your dog working the sheep.  It is handy to have an On and Off switch.  Most Pyr Sheps are very happy to oblige and their main focus is their master.



After stopping at the apple tree I set off to different areas of the neighbourhood which provides the sheep with lots to eat and the dogs with lots of chores to perform.

Then over the bridge and  into the woods          

  On the other side of the woods is the grazing pasture. 

 "THAT'LL DO" is a command you often hear which tells the dog that you no longer want his help and to stop working. 

Visit our Blog to see pictures and videos of our dogs with our livestock.



Ch.Chaparral's Niveole HT  lives in California helping out with the sheep in the vineyards of Manzanita Organics
 as well as training up the team!  She has even been reported to have attacked a theatening Bobcat & Coyote!


Chaparral's Dusky Bear lives on a small sheep farm with his owner Amy.
He is learning the ropes to start entering in herding trials.



Chaparral's Pansy keeping the cattle in line at her
 farm http://www.refordbeef.ca

Chaparral's Pooka 2nd watches over her flock grazing at Amblecroft Farm


Many of our dogs are used on farms and have proven themselves invaluable.



HERDING  LINKS: Visit  YOUTUBE  and search "berger des pyrenees troupeau" This will bring you to some excellent videos of these little dogs working in France.



L'Alliance Bergere


Elevage Font d'Andiol
Veronique Farnoux


Visit to see pictures of 
Bergers working cattle too


Elevage des Transhumants
Pierre Trolliet and his working Bergers des Pyrenees




  Herding on the Web


  The Transhumance & Their Dogs


back to Trialing with Pyr Sheps