Have you ever stopped to think about the amazing instinct that propels a dog to herd sheep or cattle? The fact is, your furry assistant is a wolf in dog’s clothing. Herding is hunting—without the kill.

Teaching the Rules of the Hunt

In Teaching the Rules of the Hunt: An Introduction to Herding, Dawna Sims and Cathy Sumeracki help humans understand the herding process from a canine perspective. Their premise is that you cannot teach a dog to herd, simply because it already knows how. Instead, your role is that of pack leader.

This excellent incremental approach is geared not toward micromanaging a situation, but toward channeling your dog’s natural instincts in a productive way. With that in mind, you will find out what goes on in a pack of wolves on the hunt, and how to read both dogs and stock.

Then comes a systematic approach to herding for both beginning trainers and inexperienced dogs. This process is broken into four phases:

  1. Build or curb drive (depending on the dog).
  2. Achieve distance, flow, and ownership.
  3. Work on specific behaviors and teaching commands.
  4. Learn to drive stock with commands.

While this book is geared toward competitive herding with sheep, some of the information is useful for working with livestock on small farms (you may find Stockdog Savvy more helpful for specifics of more intense working situations—read our full review). But for anyone who wants to better understand a herding dog in any situation, Teaching the Rules of the Hunt is a must.