The majority of today’s herding dogs and herding dog breed mixes never come across a flock of geese or sheep or goats. But that doesn’t mean their herding instinct is dormant. People who share their lives with these energetic and intelligent dogs know how easy it is to trigger a round of (often annoying) heel nipping and other classic herding behaviors. They also report that no amount of exercise can induce the blissful tiredness they see in their dogs after a couple of rounds on the field with the sheep (or ducks, etc.). Given the number of herding dog breeds—there are more than 70 worldwide—and their popularity as companions, it’s not surprising many people take up herding recreationally.

A typical sheepdog trial commonly involves using whistles and calls to direct your dog to move three sheep through an obstacle course into a pen. But there are many different herding events and different courses. Also, plenty of enthusiasts never compete, but simply go once a week to have fun with their dogs. Interested in herding with your dog? Check out Fido’s Farm – fidosfarm.com. If you’re outside of the Olympia area, Google the term plus your locale—or check out herding breed associations’ websites for info on sheepdog or cattledog trials.