Shepherd School is a course in which handlers (the shepherds) will learn how to communicate with their dogs recognising olfactory cues and utilising gestural cues. Literature informs us that these are preferred by dogs and, fortunately for us, olfactory and gestural cues are also key to successful traditional herding. That means we can play herding games, using the activities involved in TS herding to learn how to deepen relationships with our dogs and share responsibility for self regulation with our dogs.
We don't need sheep to do this and no sheep are involved. Dogs already have the skills required, they need to learn very little to be able to recognise key environmental features and how to act upon them. This is very useful and means that everything learned in Shepherd School is transferable to everyday life. One of our 'shepherds' describes it as "life skills with bells on".
The onus is on us, we learn how to 'move' to sustain an engagement with our dogs which directs them and they have the greatest fun 'reading' us and performing increasingly complex chains and actions. Accentuation of their observation skills effectively puts the dog under self control, and control is something many dogs crave.
The effect is reduced frustration, increased voluntary co operation and genuine team work. For these reasons, dogs that have struggled with their emotional/behavioural lives flourish in Shepherd School, they gain control and choice in our safe, informed environment which of course is reinforcing and for some, breaks the cycle in long term potentiation of behaviour issues.
Recent published literature is beginning to corroborate and explain what Shepherd Schoolers are achieving, the 'how' and 'why' are discussed in a Shepherd School group to which participants are invited.
Learning fine tuning of body movements like a traditional shepherd, is initially a little bit challenging, but, once you're underway is extremely effective and results not only in deep, more secure relationships between people and their dogs, but also enables dogs to define clearly the type and amount of reinforcement that they want.
We have 10 different breed types in Shepherd School and an age range 6 months to 12 years, all breed types and ages welcome.