Handling sheep includes several tasks such as moving the sheep, catching the sheep and restraining them. The first thing that a handler needs to know is that sheep like other livestock need to have a personal space to move about and the handler should respect that. However, there are ways to become an effective sheep handler and the first thing on the list is to understand the sheep’s primal behaviors.
The sheep’s instinct is to flock and tag along a leader that they recognize. The sheep’s leader may be another animal or a human being. They have an emotional instinct beyond intelligence. Sheep can read and feel their herder’s emotional state through facial contortions, so it is best to keep a careful yet calm façade when handling sheep. Also, people who are handling sheep must keep in mind that the they can sense their handler’s anxiety and may mistake them as threat. When they feel threatened, they will panic and yelp loudly and endlessly which will make handling sheep a taxing chore.
A very effective way to deal with sheep is to entice them with food. Once the sheep has associated its herder as its provider of nourishment, the sheep will recognize its handler as a leader and soon handling sheep will be an easy task.
Once this happens, it is now the herder’s duty to maintain a harmonious relationship with the flock. The first rule to adhere to is to never initiate panic. Sheep tend to get fidgety with the slightest irregularity. So it is best to avoid some sources of panic for sheep like slippery floors and uneven shift of lighting. Also, avoid leading sheep to mirrors or any surface that has a reflection. It is because when the sheep that are walking ahead sees their followers through a reflection they can get distracted from walking and might turn around instead of walking ahead.
This amazing creature are also trainable. They can recall past lessons like its herder’s noise or catcalls when moving them. The herder can vary each noise for each purpose, like one catcall for walking, and another for halting.
As mentioned, sheep can recognize their handler but what is amazing is that they can remember human faces for years and may even be trained to distinguish their handler’s name and keep it in their memory for years.
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