What is an instinct test

Herding Instinct Test

The first step taken for most dogs and their handlers is to participate in a Herding Instinct Test. This test, as the name suggests, tests the dog's instinct to herd. It allows you to see how your dog works, his drives, style, strengths, and weaknesses. During the test, a qualified tester will assess the dog and give you helpful information, tips, and strategies on how to work with your dog.

The Instinct Test is usually done in a round pen or smaller area. This is to ensure that the sheep don't hold up in a corner, making it more difficult for an inexperienced dog to move them. — Occasionally, however, a larger space is more suitable for some dogs who appear pressured in the small round pen. The dog is brought in on leash with the evaluator or tester taking the dog and introducing him to the sheep. The evaluator observes how the dog and sheep react to one another and will determine if and when the leash should be removed. The dog is encouraged to move to and among the sheep as the evaluator judges the dog's actions.

During the Instinct Test, the evaluator is watching to see if the dog is non-aggressive, watching the stock, and controlling or trying to control the sheep's movements. The tester evaluates whether the dog is "gathering" the sheep or trying to "drive" them. The tester will also watch the way the dog approaches the sheep; whether the dog likes to work wide or close; whether he barks or works quietly; if the dog is easily distracted or adjusts well to direction; how responsive the dog is to the evaluator; whether the dog groups the sheep or tries to split them up; and whether the dog has a natural "balance" on sheep.

Another variation of the Herding Instinct Test involves the use of five or six ducks as opposed to sheep. In this situation, the tester takes the dog on leash behind the flock and tries to encourage the dog to keep the flock together and move them at a slow, steady pace around the enclosure. Depending on the dog's response, the exercise may be attempted off-leash as well.

Once a dog has had his instinct tested and has shown evidence of herding instinct, the next step is to find a facility and trainer. The trainer will provide individual instruction and attention to both the handler and the dog, and the training facility should have stock suitable for beginners as well as those who are more advanced.

The Herding Instinct Test is not a CKC recognized test and is open to all breeds, registered as well as non-registered. 

Passing Dogs will receive a certificate.

What to bring

Leash, collar, kennel sometimes it is too much for the dog and they might have to be removed from the area so a kennel is nice to have so they don't get into trouble.