I try to have the rule for me, as I go about looking for Shelties that fit my idea of what they should be: They need to turn on to stock the first time they see it (4 mo and older), unless they have been severly punished for showing herding behaviors in the past (in which case they need to turn on by the second exposure). They need to have responsible watchdog barking. I like them to show concern for animals that are not quite right (injured, stuck in fence, babies, etc). They need to be adaptable in new environments, with low startle reflex. I get tired of talking and arguing with breeders that tell me that Shelties just bark, and that it takes a long time for them to kick in. ..... So, I am basically holding them to the farmcollie standard - which works for me... Always hard to evaluate - how much is learned and how much is genetic. Pow's breeder believed that the barking was genetic, and would not keep barky shelties. She had no problem with improper barking in her dogs. I suppose we all have to think about how much risk we want to take with the hard heads, barkies, etc - how much risk do we want to take personally when breeding that that undesireable trait may be genetic and not learned in this particular dog. Some of us may have lower thresholds than others on the risk. Since I know that the good herding Shelties I have worked with are silent workers from their first time on, that seems to me to be a good indication that the yappy working ones that are still barking 3 lessons in are ones that I can place as high risk for genetics being an influence.
It is hard though - it doesn't take but 2 weeks for someone to ruin a puppy, simply by misreading its body language!
Boy..sometimes your dogs just kill you with laughter.
I was having Pow take all the poultry (40 ducks and 15 chickens) down the yard to near the road, to graze. Just as he got them down to the grass, a young roo took off up the hill back to the house. Pow in hot pursuit. They reach the house, and the roo comes up against the first fence and veers to his left, flying over the large kiddie pool I filled yesterday for duck baths. Pow flew over it too (6' broad jump, about 16" high). Roo turned into the inner yard, and headed for the front steps of the house. Pow didn't have time to turn him, and the roo disapeared into the house. The people house.
I had left the door open.
Pow disapeared into the house, by now snarling since obviously that roo was not doing as told. There was the sound of light things crashing. Sounded like cassette tapes. Lots of cassette tapes. Roo yelling his head off. Snarling.
Just as I reach the stairs after the boys, the roo almost hits me on his way out of the house, skidding across the kitchen linoleum at a high rate of speed. Pow follows him, stops at the door and looks up at me, grinning.
My day is now much much better. I have been officially entertained. And it explains the muddy paw swipe on the top of the PS2.