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Christa Lochner, France - Val de Marne




Alternative Herding:  PONS herding their families



Herding is the process of guiding individual animals into a group, and moving the group from place to place or any combination of those activities. PONS belong to a group of dogs that are customarily trained in herding or are a member of a breed genetically developed for herding. This is their traditional "job". When their lifestyles change because of domestication, they still need to fulfill their inborn instincts and find alternative ways of herding a flock which often results in their herding family members. These herding activities are most apparent during a typical family day.

Most PON families no longer rely on alarm clocks because their PONS wake them up around the same time every day, once they have established a time frame for the family's sleeping habits. If members go to bed early, they find themselves being woken up earlier to compensate the time difference.If families have more than one PON, they notice excellent team work in this respect. Once family members are awake, they are often politely herded through their bathroom rituals and encouraged to get on with breakfast, walks and other early morning tasks. If an owner makes a mistake in routine, he is corrected by his PON. They are remarkable with details.

Herding behaviors vary among breeds and include staring down animals, nipping, barking at them, etc. Also, some herding breeds jump in front of their flocks in an effort to control their movement. Do some of these behavior patterns sound familiar ?  Although nipping is not acceptable, other herding behaviors have been reported by PON owners as they follow daily schedules. Families with consistent schedules tend to have more content PONS because they thrive on living well organized lives. Although they tend to get along well with other animals, they rely on relationships with their human counterparts.

PON lovers have often commented on their PONS protective barking at home and some find it annoying. It is important to realize that barking is part of herding behavior and may take place when a PON attempts to control his stock, which in this case, means controlling and protecting his human family. The PON is a sensitive, responsive dog and care should be exercised in handling protective behavior, as even the most stable  PON can be stressed or turned off if corrected too strongly. They have excellent memories and will remember all training mistakes and need to be treated with a great deal of respect and consideration.

Most families report that PONS love to play with balls, which is part of herding dog behavior. Other herding breeds also exhibit great fondness for ball playing which illustrate their  fetch and gathering tendencies. They become very dedicated to these activities and in fact, will bark at their owners in an effort to remind them that it is play time. Forgetful owners will be reminded of their duties by a wide range of barking signals.

Intelligence, willingness and inner drive are all part of Polish Lowland Sheepdog characteristics and regardless of a change of lifestyle from strictly herding their flock to applying their inborn abilities to family members, they continue to enrich our lives. Let us protect them and contribute to their future well  being by becoming active in national club committees.