A good cattle dog can make life on a livestock farm much easier. But how does your farm dog stack up? And how do you train your young dogs to be useful helpers in working livestock on your farm or ranch operation?
Those questions could be answered at the popular Stock Dog demonstrations, running daily at Husker Harvest Days, Sept. 10-12 at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., along the north side of Flag Road just outside the exhibit field. Thanks to Tim Gifford, Gifford Border Collies of Harrisburg, Neb., and a member of the National Cattledog Association and U.S. Border Collie Handlers Association, audiences can learn how to train cattle dogs to work stock, using the natural instincts the dogs already have.
The Stock Dog demonstrations will vary from young, inexperienced dogs to seasoned older dogs, to give visitors a chance to see a wide range of experience in action. Gifford has been working with stock dogs for more than 12 years. He has been on the ranch all of his life, so he also knows livestock.
Today, he runs a cow-calf herd and backgrounds calves, and he uses dogs extensively in his operation. “I use my dogs to gather cattle, move cattle from pasture to pasture or sort cattle in an alleyway,” Gifford explains. “I work alone a lot with my dogs.”
Gifford also travels around the country for cattle dog trials and competitions, as well as for training clinics and workshops like those at HHD.
Visitors to the Stock Dog demonstrations can expect to learn how to properly raise a puppy that can become a successful ranch dog, and how a working dog can be useful to the farm and ranch. “Everyone starts out with a puppy that seems a little out of control,” Gifford says. “But it is fun for audiences at Husker Harvest Days to see the progression of training, and how the dogs come along.”
Have pros work with your dog
Now in their ninth year at HHD, Stock Dog demonstrations also provide a unique opportunity for you to bring your own dog to be worked by professional dog handlers. This gives your dog the chance to work with experienced dog handlers and trainers, to bring the dog along on the training journey. If you bring your own dog, remember that the dog must stay in the demonstration area and is not allowed on the HHD exhibit field. If you are interested in bringing your own dog or would like more information on the Stock Dog demonstrations at HHD, contact Gifford at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 308-631-0387. There will be a fee to work your dog, and you must sign a waiver.