Herding cats isn’t easy! If you don’t believe me, you can ask my border collie, Jake. We live on a ranch, so Jake is a working dog. He has a JOB. When the cows need to be herded from point A to point B, it is Jake’s job to get them there. Jake loves his job, and he is really good at it. He wouldn’t dream of playing with the cows — that is his work — but Jake is a border collie, and border collies are born with a natural herding instinct. So, Jake herds the cats (or tries to) just for fun. He hasn’t had a lot of luck with that yet, but he will never give up.
The Challenge of Training a Border Collie
Training a border collie, regardless of the popular opinion, isn’t easy. It isn’t difficult to train a border collie because they are dumb. Border collies are anything BUT dumb! No, the problems that arise when training a border collie are because they are just TOO smart. A border collie WANTS to obey his master. He wants to do exactly what his master wants him to do. But there are problems training border collies because the trainer can send mixed signals without even realizing it.
For example: You can teach a border collie to sit on command in only two or three tries. But then the next time you give him the command to “sit,” he will look at you for further instruction. Why? Because you raised your arm in a different way or used a different tone of voice when you gave the command, so he thinks this is a different command. He needs to figure out what you want him to do. Consistency is the key to training a border collie. You must use the same commands (both voice and hand signals) in exactly and precisely the very same way every single time.
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