As the owner of Crazy Dogs, a Poway dog-training facility with expansive acreage, Nichole Hartmann has the freedom to try different techniques when it comes to working with animals. Take the sheep arena, for example.
With the help of five wool sheep and an Alpaca named Joe, Hartmann says sheep herding is especially beneficial to dogs that need confidence building.
“Moving a flock of 150-pound sheep makes them feel good about themselves,” Hartmann said.
As is the case with Daisy, an orphaned Shepherd mix that is currently looking for a home.
“Daisy was terrified of everything and I put her in with the sheep and it was like a light bulb went off,” said Hartmann. “She loves it, and it makes her feel powerful and it helps.”
She added that another dog is “so confident now that we have to watch him. He has a tendency to bite the sheep really hard.”
Hartmann lives on the property with her husband and has three dogs of her own― an English bulldog named Tigger, a corgi mix named Shelly, and Jude, a young border collie. And because she can provide constant supervision, she offers a range of programs, from daycare to group classes to board-and-train options.
“I’ve worked with my own dogs since I was really little,” Hartmann said of the dusk-till-dawn days. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do,”
On Thursday, Nov. 1, Crazy Dogs is hosting an open house for pet owners wanting to learn the basics like heeling, recall and leash leading. For $10, dogs can take part in a sheep instinct test to see if they might be good herders. For more information, call (619) 916-6767 or visit crazydogs.info.