Many Poodles display a natural inclination toward herding and can successfully pass a Herding Instinct Test. A person with knowledge of livestock and herding dogs works the dog during this test. Sheep are most often used, although ducks or cattle are occasionally substituted. A dog with herding instinct will show sustained interest in livestock. The dog will keep the stock grouped together, gathering and moving them toward the handler, move them ahead of the handler to drive them, or a combination. The dog should not uncontrollably chase the stock or split individuals away in a manner that resembles a hunter in pursuit of prey, but instead bring any that break away back to the rest of the flock. The dog should instinctively show an understanding of the distance from the stock that will most easily move them without causing them unnecessary worry and work with the tester to move them as a group.
Clubs and individuals offer these tests. If the dog passes, he will be awarded the title HIC (Herding Instinct Certified). The American Kennel Club (AKC) does not offer a HIC title for Poodles and does not recognize those from other organizations.
There is a growing interest in competition herding with Standard Poodles in some parts of the United States. The American Herding Breed Association (AHBA) allows Poodles, as a multi-purpose breed, to compete in their Herding program at the test and trial levels. The Canadian Kennel Club allows any breed to participate in its herding program provided the dog is registered with the CKC. Poodles are not currently allowed to compete in the AKC Herding Test/Trial Program. Only those breeds included in the Herding Group plus some breeds from the Working Group and Kerry Blue Terriers are eligible.
Herding is one of the several areas from which points can be accumulated in order to achieve the VIP Versatility Certificate or Versatility Certificate Excellent award.
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