A working dog education workshop run by master trainer Stephen Condell was hosted by Henty Machinery Field Days on Friday.
Pleasant Hills sheep producer Rick Clancy organised the training school after having difficulty with a young working dog of his own.
He had lost his old working dog in an accident and replaced it with a pup but was unsure of how to train her.
Rick bounced the idea of a local working dog training school off a few local farmers and immediately received a positive reaction.
He received $1500 sponsorship from the Bendigo Bank to support the training day and selected the Henty Machinery Field Days yard dog trialling site as the venue.
“I have been coming to the Henty field days all my life and thought the site was under utilised – this was the best venue for the school,’’ Mr Clancy said.
“It was a perfect location with the permanent sheep yards and amenities.’’
He was encouraged by the number of young men and women who attended the training day, including five aged under 18 years.
Working dog breeder and trainer, Stephen Condell, of Downside, NSW, took participants through an intensive lesson on using the natural instincts of dogs and sheep combined with body language of the handler to achieve a low stress technique.
Mr Clancy said participants attended from Holbrook, Pleasant Hills, Walla, Milbrulong, Bidgeemia, Henty and Cookardinia, with sheep provided by Dugald McKay, Henty.
“There is so many things to learn at these schools about dog training, yourself and your yards,’’ he said.
“Key messages for me were training in the sheep yards with a short chain, having a stick to direct the dog in her and my working space.
“The health and welfare of your dogs and livestock is of utmost importance these days.
“I have never been a dog training school before – I have learnt in the past from stockies turning up in a semi-trailer and basic commands from my father.
“There is so much more in coaching your dog how to enjoy work – it was about pressure and release, positioning your body in the right spot, and having clear messages for the dog.
“On-farm there is often not the time to train dogs so days like this are perfect for upskilling with the latest techniques.’’
Mr Clancy said further working dog educational schools would follow, depending on demand, and he can be contacted on 0429 207 754.
HMFD chief executive officer Belinda Anderson said the field days hosted one of the major yard dog and three sheep trial events on the national calendar.
“We are happy for the yards and amenities to be used throughout the year for working dog schools, particularly by TAFE college and agricultural students, to encourage good stockmanship skills,’’ Mrs Anderson said.