CHISAGO CITY, Minn. — Just on the outskirts of Forest Lake, Minn. lies a beautiful farm site in where herding dogs are hard at work learning and training to compete in a variety of events.
“It’s rewarding to watch people come and see the dogs learn to do what is instinctive for them,” JoAnna Yund said.
Yund runs Training Camp Inc. near Chisago City, Minn. The camp started in 1980 where Yund teaches dogs and their owners the finer points of herding. Training includes dogs gathering the stock and bringing them to you; and later advancing to driving to a specified point, dividing and holding, catching the injured, loading a trailer, and so much more.
Yund grew up in Minneapolis and trained and showed dogs in obedience competitions. However, when she got her border collie, McDuff, she unfortunately didn’t have a place to train for herding.
“There was no place I could go to learn how to herd,” Yund said, “and a city girl couldn’t teach herself.”
After multiple searches, Yund came across a retired farmer, Dellas Seaman, who had sheep.
“The dog became proficient and I was able to find a competition for him to compete in,” Yund said.
Later, Seaman passed and Yund was able to take over sheep and rent land in order to teach others.
“I train for competition,” Yund said. “This is more than just practical livestock work.”
The farm is set up to train dogs and matches most herding-style arena competitions.
“When I started, nobody in this area was willing to take on city people,” Yund said. “Now the sport and clinicals have grown a lot and evolved to allow more people. It’s fun to see.”
Yund trains dogs one-on-one with staggering times.
“You're working a learning dog and sheep could be injured,” Yund said. “People can always come watch.”
Yund also hosts an introduction to herding a couple times a year.
“I see if people can make the commitment to the time and distance; and then we schedule individual lessons,” Yund said.
If an individual is interested in coming to watch or participate in a herding lessons, they are encouraged to visit the website trainingcampinc.com. which lists all of the events and scheduled lessons times.
“In a normal year we would also have a herding trial at the State Fair,” Yund said. “Hopefully next year we will be able to have another one.”
Yund enjoys dogs and loves seeing them form a working partnership with their owners. The dog has to be old and fit enough to train so it can keep up with the livestock. And people have to put in the time and effort.
“It takes a different kind of commitment that can’t be practiced at home,” Yund said.
As far as Covid-19 goes, Training Camp Inc. has been greatly affected because people can’t gather to watch, there are no herding trials, and people stay at home.
“But the dogs in training won’t forget because the training is built on instinct,” Yund said.
In the future, Yund hopes to continue to provide a place for people to bring their dog to learn herding techniques in addition to many other activities such as agility, dock diving, obedience, and so much more.
“I’ve had many great mentors over the years and met several special people who have become great friends. It’s a very welcoming community,” Yund said. “I’m glad to see everybody make the commitment to their dogs and bring out the most in them.”