When I begin one of our puppies with the sheep, I take her out
when I know she has very good "recall" and will willingly follow
me. Since Esja arrived from Iceland already well trained to her
name, and eager to please, I felt she was ready this first week,
even at just 12 weeks old. Yesterday I took her in with the
weanling ewe lambs and she explored the field happily, enjoying
the large open space. Today I took her into the adult ewes' field
and I let her approach the sheep. Patsy
(top) and Wynona (right)
were very curious about Esja as well. I keep a close eye on the
ewes to make sure they are not going to hurt or chase the puppy,
because that first experience with the flock can be devestating if a
pup becomes fearful or hurt. I like to see a confident puppy, who
doesn't immediately run and bark, but rather explores and also
doesn't run away in fear. Then when I was ready to see how
she'd react to the sheep, I clapped to get the ewes moving and
gave Esja the "ok" to follow them. She immediately gave chase,
barking and moving behind them, as the Icelandics are
"programmed" to do. As you can see in the photo below, she was
very eager and ready to herd the flock for the first time.