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September 26, 2018 7.7°C

Man’s best friend is also a pretty darn good coworker

Posted on January 12, 2018 by Maple Creek

Scott Schmidt
Maple Creek News

“A good dog will save you a lot of work.”
Those are the words of Maple Creek’s Dale Montgomery, a more than 30-year veteran of stock dog training, who will join Jamie Gardner of Sheep Creek Farm (near Shaunavon) on Jan. 20 and 21 in Eastend for a special clinic.
The clinic is full — Gardner says sessions with Montgomery sell out in a matter of hours — but the 11 handlers lucky enough to take part are going to see just what it takes to train a dog to the highest level.
“I’ve been custom training dogs for just about 30 years,” Montgomery says. “I just like working with dogs, and I really love working livestock with them.
“A good dog, a well trained dog with good breeding is a really good way to handle livestock. It’s low stress.”
That, Montgomery says, is the key to success of any relationship a dog has with livestock, and a major part of what he teaches in training. The last thing you want is a dog overly aggressive in their technique, he says, adding that a calm dog keeps calm livestock.
“You need the right kind of dog in order to do that,” Montgomery says. But that dog needs to be trained properly. If they’re not trained properly, they can cause you a lot of problems, too.”
Gardner has known Montgomery for many years and says he’s the absolute best. She says if he can’t train a certain dog to handle stock, no one can. But she also says it takes at least 1,000 hours to take a dog from no training to, say, being ready to compete in stock trials, so a clinic like this is simply to offer the basics.
“It’s a clinic for beginner handlers on how to train your dogs to work livestock,” Gardner says. “The livestock we’ll be using is sheep.
“We’re basically putting tools in their chest so they can go home and work with their dogs.”
Montgomery says he doesn’t usually take on a dog much younger than a year old, as they tend to learn faster once they’ve gained a little mental maturity. A dog with some maturity will absorb more information in a shorter period of time than one that’s only seven or eight months old.
And training a dog to a high level in stock takes several weeks as it is, which is why a lot depends on how coachable the dog is. A two-day clinic won’t have handlers leaving with a pro-novice dog ready to compete at trials, but it will be a great chance to see just where their dogs are at.
“I will be able to assess the dogs and see what they’re like, and hopefully there will be dogs there in different stages of training, from very beginner to more advance,” says Montgomery, adding that greener dogs being around more advance ones will give handlers a good look at how to reach that next level.
Gardner agrees. A clinic such as the one in Eastend allows less experienced handlers to watch advanced dogs at work.
“We’re going to give them the tools and the basics to work on the things they need to work on,” Gardner says. “What’s really nice about a clinic like this is there will be different dogs at different levels.
“So they’ll be able to see puppies who are just getting started, and they’re going to be able to see dogs working other (more advanced) things. That way they’ll know what they’re striving for.”

SUBMITTED PHOTOS COURTESY JAMIE GARDNER

Dale Montgomery with Peg.

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