Suggested Scoring: Excessive Commands
by Carol Delsman, Executive Field Representative
Chris Mosley with her
Pembroke Welsh Corgi in Minnesota
with her ACD in Louisiana
Wade Cambell with his
BC in Louisiana
Hildy Morgan with her
Collie in Colorado
The Herding Regulations have a section for each course on "suggested"
scoring. This is for judges and exhibitors to have a guide as to what
points are deducted for a less than perfect run.
Excessive commands is one of the categories that a judge may take points
off but just what is "excessive".
In order for a dog and handler to get the livestock through a course,
there has to be communication between them. These communications comes
in all forms and are considered commands. Some examples are but not limited
to whistles, verbal commands, body language, or movement of stock sticks.
Tone of voice and threatening use of a stock stick are also taken into
There is no set number of commands necessary for any given situation.
Course, livestock, area conditions, weather condition and a host of other
variables make each trial situation unique and there for it is a judge's
call as to what a "perfect" run would be under those conditions.
Excessive commands is not a given number but more a judge's call of when
a handler is commanding a dog more than desired for a perfect score.
A handler who needs to continue to encourage their dog in order to keep
them moving the livestock would have more points deducted than the handler
whose dog continues to move livestock without the extra commands. A handler
who needs to wave or drag their crook in front of a dog to keep them back
off the stock should lose more points than the handler who walks quietly
without using the stock stick.
There are handlers who just babble or whistle their way through the course
and the dog ignores them and does their job in spite of what the handler
does. This should be penalized but not as heavily the dog that is micro
There are situations where the dog hardly moves a foot without looking
at the handler asking where to move to and how fast. The handler is placing
the dog in strategic locations and the dog is really not working the livestock.
In this case, the run should be heavily penalized and may not qualify
if in the judge's opinion, the dog is not working livestock even though
the stock may have gone through the obstacles.
If a handler continues to yell at their dog or continues to use their
stock stick in a threatening manner, the judge may call the run for loss
of control or may penalize heavily for excessive commands.
The picture you want to present as a handler is of quiet confident control
of livestock. You communicate to the dog where you want the livestock
and the dog puts them there. Minimal use of commands is desirable.
As a handler, you need to make choices. If those extra commands in fact
get you a qualifying score where as not using them might get you a "thank
you" from the judge, then it might be worth the point deductions
to give them. That is part of the strategy of trialing.
As a judge, remember to reward the team that does the best work. You
are judging each dog and handler team against the perfect run.