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Working Insight: Steve Waltenburg

I started Herding with dogs in 1995; I’ve been judging for over ten years. I have continually trained and competed with my dogs during this period, however I did take a couple years off to have a malignant brain tumor removed. I competed six weeks after I got out of the hospital. That was a goal I set for myself.


I’ve competed, judged and given clinics from one end of the U.S. to the other and in Canada. I’ve worked or trained almost every breed of herding dog and many that are not.


In 2013, my ACD Sage has finished her ASCA and AKC Championships, and her AHBA HTCH. I guess to sum up my trial history with Sage finishing her AHBA Herding Championship, my total earned Herding Championships number fifteen.


I’ve also won four ACDCA National Cattle Herding Championships. I qualified my first BC for the USBCHA National finals in 1998. I have no plans to stop any day soon.


After I lost my job, as a result of the effects from my Brain tumor experience. We lost our ranch, moved down to the city and care took for Julie’s mother. Two gals were starting a dog sports center and wanted to include herding. They found out I was in the area and contacted me about training. I jumped at the chance. I turned it into a seven day a week job. After four years of training dogs everyday the business really grew. We moved to retire and I turned the reins over to the owner and she’s still going strong today.



1) Where did you get your first registered working ACDs?


We got our first registered ACD from Jackie Juniker, Tenanja Kennels, San Diego, CA.



A) What drew you to the breed?


A friend that I roped with had a Queensland Heeler that brought the cattle back up the lane from the catch pen to the chutes. I was very impressed with the tenacity of this little dog. That little dog really loved his job.



B) Who were your mentors?


My trainer, Terry Parish , my friends Craig Watson, Kent Herbel, Larry Painter, Cappy Pruett. These guys set the bar when I got involved in herding and I was very Blessed to get to spend time with each one of them.



2) What do you feel are the minimum standard working traits that a working ACD needs to have naturally (not trained)


A desire to control movement of livestock and a big heart, able to take pressure and a strong work ethic.



3) What do you think is the most important trait and why?


They all are the most important if you want a complete dog



4) Who was the best dog you owned and why?


The best ACD I owned was Tenaja's Cattle Kate Osage. She accomplished more than I ever could have imagined.



5) Who was the best dog you didn’t own and what did you like about that dog?


013 DC On The Lamb Ride An Old Paint (PJ) HXACDs, HIBs Breeders: Sara-Jo Gahm,Chris Ann Moore,Robert R Moore Owner: Sara-Jo Gahm.


I got to watch the most amazing cattle run I've ever seen. This dog showed every trait an exceptional working dog should have. Heart, courage, no quiting , and the ability to be handled. 2013 ACDCA Cattle Herding Champion.



6) If you no longer work ACDs or have added another breed, what were the factors that lead you to that decision?


I have been retired from training dogs for several years now. I owned three Border Collies over time. The last dog I trained was my BC Bud. He was just the best dog I've ever trained. He did it all. I needed a dog with more range than an ACD could give me. Bud gave me that and more.



7) What do you look for when picking a puppy?


I like the Bold one. I like compact. It's all a crap shoot. Start with a Breeder that has a line with a proven record.



8) If applicable, what is your breeding philosophy?


I'm sorry, I was never the breeder of the family, I just worked the dogs.



A) Do you think linebreeding or breeding to a dog with known work is more important for retaining working behaviors?


Breeding to a dog with known working results is more important to me.



B) How often do you outcross and how do you chose a dog to breed to?


We didn't do much breeding when we were active in the breed. My wife Julie did all the research when we bred.



9) How do you bring up a puppy?


Love, handling, socializing, a recall and obedience.



A) At what age do you start them on stock (sheep? Cattle?)


I always tested a dog before a formal lesson. Always on dog broke sheep. When the dog had a good foundation on a gather,  a stop, and a real walk up, meaning when the command "walk up" was given, and the handler didn't move. The dog would walk into the stock and get them moving. After this was completed I would introduce the dog to well dog broke cattle in a small pen. It's more a question of maturity than age. The dog has to be able to take pressure from the handler and the stock. If not, the training doesn't get very far.



B) What training do you do before stockwork?


Basically, a stop and a recall.



10) What can breeders do to preserve working ability in the breed?


Breed to working dogs. Craig Watson told me many years ago. Form follows function, and I've found this to be true. So if you are breeding for ears or tails, you are not breeding for working ability.



11) Please share any other thoughts you care to about working dogs and working ACDs.


If you are going to work your dog on stock. Seek out a Trainer that has a record of success with ACDs.


Have a Blessed 2020, Steve Waltenburg




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