Wild Goose Chase Northeast
Wild Goose Control with Trained Border Collies - Since 2002
Wild Goose Chase NE
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Eric Johnson, owner-handler, has worked with Border Collies for over 20 years. He has managed farm programs in Open Air Museums, and lives on a small farm in eastern New York with his family, gardens, assorted poultry and a few sheep.

The Wild Goose Chase NE Border Collies
Eric Johnson and the Wild Goose Chase NE Border Collies have been offering effective solutions to keep residential, business and public properties free of wild geese since 2002.

Our border collies got their start as working dogs herding sheep, poultry, cattle - and even pigs. Extensive herding work gives the dogs the experience and discipline they need for goose control work. We train daily - with farm herding work as a basis for the goose control work. In addition, our dogs have competed in sheep dog trials throughout the Northeast and every Wild Goose Chase NE Border Collie participates in herding demonstrations several times a year at festivals and fairs.

Rhos (Roz), Tarr, Ben and Skye thrive on the work we do. Rhos (a Welch name) is 9 years old dedicated and hard working collie in the mold of Lassie. Tarr, at 4 years of age, is very talented at herding and extremely determined at goose control work. Ben, our young male, is gaining experience and learning his lessons at herding. He is gaining remarkable poise and shows a great love for water. Skye, Rhos' daughter, is a mature and eager pup who loves to show off her growing skill. Faith and Will, who are seen on some of this site's pictures, were the Wild Goose Chase NE's original Border Collies. They were our "old pros," went on many goose control trips together, were always eager to work, and were much loved - we miss them both very much.


Tarr, Skye, Rhos, Ben, and Faith

Tarr using herding skills and the Border Collie "eye" to herd ducks.

We use a kayak on properties with large bodies of water - large ponds, lakes and rivers. The border collies are good swimmers - in fact Rhos can out swim geese - however when the water gets choppy, the kayak increases the effectiveness of the visits.

The Wild Goose Chase NE border collies have worked heavily infested areas - chasing off up to 400 wild geese from some properties. In 2002 when Eric Johnson started using his working dog skills to offer a service to property owners with wild goose problems, few such services existed in other areas beyond metropolitan NYC. Now our trained border collie services are recognized throughout the Northeast as a humane way to manage wild geese where they cause safety and health hazards.

More about the history & characteristics of Border Collies...

Border Collies are perhaps the best known of "farm dogs." They come from a long tradition of working farm dogs that date back to Roman Times and beyond.

Farming peoples have always shared a relationship with dogs. These dogs hunted and protected both people and farm animals. They also herded, and at times, were used for "draft," pulling loads like small carts. The German Shepherd was at one time a breed that both protected and herded the livestock.
Faith, Rhos and Tarr herding ducks on the farm

Border Collies trace their ancestry to these multipurpose dogs. They were developed as a breed in the British Isles and were given the breed name Border Collie as late as the end of the 1800s. Today they are known as a specialist and as the best herding breed, although other breeds, such as the Kelpie from Australia, have their supporters.

Border Collies are popularly known as "sheep dogs." Although it runs against the popular press, predators such as coyotes and foxes, do great damage to small livestock, like poultry, sheep and young cattle. Border Collies are not usually good guard dogs for warding off predators, but some Border Collies are more multi purpose than others and still do a good job "watching for trouble."

Wild Goose Chase NE border collies chase wild geese from a school playing field

Historically the breed was used to herd all sorts of livestock like poultry, cattle, and even pigs. Today you can still find BCs working on cattle ranches, open range poultry farms and diversified farms. Border Collies are even used to lead sled dog teams because their personalities allow them to cooperate closely with their "handlers." BCs are also used as rescue dogs. Some owners have found their high energy level and cooperative natures makes them great agility dogs. Some people have turned their BCs onto a sport called Flyball.

Outside of the farm situation, BCs are well known for their ability to compete in sheep dog trials, where they are almost without peer. These trials are set up to judge the individual dog's ability to herd. Small groups of sheep are herded through a course in a field, usually through "gates" and into a pen. In the most advanced of the 4 levels of "classes" in these herding trials, the dogs are told to "shed" or separate the group of sheep.

Golf course operators, schools and owners of properties with grass and water have found that the border collies instincts to "move" almost any type of livestock makes them a perfect solution to controlling the increasing problem of over population of wild geese. Commonly called "goose chase dogs," they will herd wild geese off a property usually by "pushing" the wild birds till they fly away.

Unlike most breeds we find in this country, BCs are not bred for looks or ability to be a "pet" but for their instincts and workability. Many BCs are loving affectionate dogs but they make bad "pets." Most people can not live with BCs because their instincts and high energy level make them unhappy in the common modern home.

This breed has many personality types. Some are aggressive, some are meek, some are very instictive, some BCs are a bit lazy or do not like to work. They are bred for different working attributes needed on the farm. For example, some BCs need to be bolder say, on a cattle ranch, some quieter on a sheep farm. BCs also come in different sizes, colors and hair lengths.

BC breeders and handlers can tell, early in a pup's life, something of his or her personality and working instincts. Socialization starts before 4 to 6 months of age. The pups are given plenty of exercise and playtime. The young pups should be "introduced," be around, the livestock they will be working with in their lifetime. For example, if the pup does not associate with cows at a early age, that pup will be nervous or even scared of cows.

Will herding ducks

When a young border collie starts its first lesson on how to herd with a handler, they work with quiet sheep or even ducks. Most people do not know, that sheep can be aggressive, depending on circumstance, breed type of sheep, or time of year.

The pup's earliest training will work from its instincts to "circle" the sheep or ducks and - it is up to the handler to teach balance. This means the pup needs to learn to "mirror" or get to the opposite side of the group of sheep from the handler.

Then the pup is taught to stop, and gather itself from what is almost always an excited disposition at this young age. The handler will then tell the pup to bring, or fetch the sheep to the handler.

Later, directions are taught to the pup, again in a circular fashion. These directions are to teach the pup to go to the left and to go to the right. "Away" or "away to me" is the usual command to go to the pups right, "bye" or "go bye" is to the left.

After this, the pup is taught to "drive the sheep" which is to move the sheep away from the handler. Most handlers will replace the verbal commands taught at an early age with whistle commands. It takes a few months for the pup/dog and the handler to learn these basics of herding. But it will take longer to fine tune both the handlers' and the dogs' skills.

Border Collies make a great addition to farms and lives, but it is important to invest time in understanding and honing their behavior, and developing one's own relationship to their unique abilities and characteristics.

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Wild Goose Chase NE
Eric Johnson, owner
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