Puff, Marlin and Fern show off skills at Beef Australia
“Puff and Marlin to me,” said Neil McDonald on the second last day of Beef Australia.
“Walk in a tiny bit, Puff.
“Sit down, Fern. Sit.”
Mr McDonald’s working dogs are poetry in motion as they skilfully manoeuvre the cattle around their holding pen, ever attentive to their master’s commands.
Since he began his first training school in 1989, Mr McDonald has helped countless property owners master livestock management with the use of working dogs.
“Some people, they see their dogs fly in and smash up the herd, they start yelling, ‘steady, steady’,” he said.
“Problem is, the dogs get to associate the word ‘steady’ with attacking.”
Mr McDonald waits until one of the friskier dogs settles down and then he tells it to steady.
He is training the dog to correlate his commands with the desired behaviours.
“Dogs learn through natural instinct and, if you train them the proper way, they won’t see learning as an imposition,” he said.
Mr McDonald then introduced his offsider, a “young rooster” named Scott who won the prime judging competition earlier in the week and got to speak with the Prime Minister.
“We’re going to train him up as a stock agent,” said Mr McDonald as the youngster led the dogs through their paces.
“And, after that, he’s going to be a politician.”
Imagine that…. an Australian politician named Scott.