Rear Pressure & Side Pressure
Understanding movement of stock
Understanding how prey animals see the world can help you understand where you need to position yourself to move them. Predators such as humans, canines etc. see on the horizon and have limited peripheral vision as their
eyes are placed more forward on the head.
While prey animals such as sheep, cattle etc., have their eyes placed on
the side allowing them to see nearly 360 degrees around their body. Therefore when we move livestock around ,
even without dogs, it is important to understand what they see, and how they
There has been many books
and article written about effectively moving livestock. The books are presentations that Temple
Grandin has provided have changed the way the beef cattle and feedlot industry
manages and handles livestock for slaughter.
Her intuitive nature and seeing things in pictures, allowed her to
understand cattle and inspired her to design more stress free handling
facilities now adopted by over 50 % or more of the US livestock feedlots and
Bud Williams, famous for
teaching the world about Low Stress Livestock Handling Methods had several
fantastic catch phrases I like to quote.
My favourite was “ you can’t get direction until you create movement”. (
check this quote) Although he wasn’t as well known as a herding dog trainer, he
was probably the most well known advocate in the industry travelling and
offering seminars on low stress livestock management. Another wonderful expression was …“ It is
important that the movement of the herd “dies a natural death” . You can stop their body from moving but
that’s not the important thing. You must
cause their mind to want to stop.” Bud
Williams, Settling Livestock, March 24th, 2014.
So how does this help us
in herding. For those of you who are
already fairly seasoned – the three paragraphs above will have already made
sense to you. For those of you just
starting out, understanding how your livestock think and move and work, will be
an asset that will set you three to five years ahead of the same person
skipping this step. How livestock move
and think and respond to pressure and the release of pressure is critical to
understanding what you are asking of your dog.
It is also critical if you are going to be of any assistance to your dog
in training or everyday work.
When we discuss moving
livestock we will assume that you should first know how they have evolved as a
prey animal or as a predator. How they
physically see – as in what their natural field of vision is when facing forward
and why. Whether they see in colour or contrast is also important. But one of the most important things to
understand is there is pressure that will come form the rear or back end of the
animal and there is pressure which will come from the side of the animal.
Now where you or your go needs to be depends
on a number of very cool things starting with what does the prey animal
see. For simplicity sake – rear pressure
comes from behind – causes forward movement.
Again to keep it simple – side pressure has some impact on both forward and
backward movement but can also effect speed and direction. The primary reason for this is the dog is
positioned on the side – often in order to catch the eye if required to control
the speed and direction of the stock.
Example – Diagram……
HOW SHEEP SEE – and what
they can’t see and HEAR
HOW CATTLE SEE – and what
they can’t see and HEAR
HOW DOG’s and most predators see – and what
they can’t see or HEAR
And how a dog will line up
behind or on the side depending on the draws and the flight zones of the prey
To see more on how sheep
see, there is more detail in the courses on sheep, cattle and ducks. What’s on the ground – do shadows count?
Making sure the stock see the opening.