It is a struggle learning how to train a stockdog on your own. Finding good resources can be extremely intimidating not to mention costly in time, money, and error. With that in mind, we have put together some basic information that will help you come up with a good plan for you and your dog. At the very least, give us a call and we will do our best to help you find someone in your area that can help you.
When we first bought Beau, the internet was a relatively new thing and our resources came more by word of mouth and establishing contacts with people experienced in the art of training Aussies, involved in their local affiliates and serving on the ASCA Board of Directors and in the various committees that oversee their respective ASCA programs. With all the information out there today, we find that the best resources continue to be those close personal contacts made with long time breeders, trainers, and mentors within the breed.
Start with your local ASCA affiliate club. These are the people who organize, host and work the events local to your area. If they don't have the answer, the odds are pretty good they can direct you to someone who does. The ASCA event calendar is another good resource for finding local ASCA events. To search for only Stockdog trials, click on the green select button that says "Stockdog" at the top of the calendar and only Stockdog trials will be displayed. Also note that if there is more than one event for that weekend you may have to select the option at the bottom that says "view all events". There is a separate button that says Farm/Ranch if you want to filter for Farm or Ranch trials. Plan to attend a trial and visit with people, make connections, offer to assist with the trial - that is an excellent way to learn about working Aussies.
An invaluable resource is Working Aussie Source which a list of breeders, current litters, and an amazing library. Many breeders are active in their local affiliate clubs, participate in committees within ASCA, and often give lessons or host clinics and playdays. While you might not be looking for a puppy, they can be invaluable resources for training, access to livestock, and sources of information regarding where to find trainers and clinics and other educational events.
An excellent source of historical information and topics regarding working Aussies, check out the Aussie Info website.
Keep in mind, training a dog to handle and control stock effectively is a lengthy process and there are as many ways to do it as there are dogs working stock. The single most important point we have to share is to ALWAYS be your dog's advocate. If something doesn't feel right about the training method you (or the person working your dog) are using, stop and assess the situation. Not all methods work with all dogs. There are times a method can be detrimental to your training. So if it doesn't feel right, or you dog doesn't look right, trust your gut and stop. Ultimately both you and your dog should be happy with the process. If you aren't happy, odds are your dog is having WAY too much fun. And if your dog isn't happy, its likely because the training method does not suit him.
Just like most things in this world, if you come across one bad apple, don't let that person turn you away. There are many great people in the stockdog program and there is always someone out there willing to help you. It is a fun and rewarding venture with your working dog, be persistent and find a group of people that you connect with that can help you reach your goals. If you need some help connecting with people, give us a call. We'll be happy to talk with you and help you find some connections in your area.
Working Aussie Source maintains a fairly comprehensive booklist as well as a list of training DVDs that apply to Aussies and/or other breeds of working dogs.
...primarily a working dog
Mike and Melinda May * Fredericksburg, Texas * 830-456-2941 * e-mail
"It all begins with a dream for the future, and it all happens with what you do today" ~ Unknown