Why Are Herding Dogs Running the Figure 8?Herding dogs instinctively run the patterns that are best suited for herding sheep or cattle.
Lore Bruder in Alberta, Canada, who herds range cattle with her Cardigan Corgis, says that running the figure-8 is a move essential for a herding dog and she describes a bitch acting this way.
An old and wise bull did not want to leave the pasture he had been in for the whole summer. So he backed into a clump of willow that was too thick for either horse or dog to get into behind him.
The Cardigan began to run figure-8s, with the crossover being right under the bull's nose. Each time she went by, she leapt up and bit. But the momentum of the figure-8 carried her out of his range before he could react. At each pass by the dog, his head came lower. Finally, the bitch judged his head was low enough for the next stage - she ran up his face, grabbed the base of an ear and shook it, then was gone. This time the bull was mad enough that he charged after her, and that got him out of the bush. There was a blur, and she was at his heels.
This is a great technique for out on the range with rangy cattle. However, when working sheep it is important that the dogs control this natural habit of running figure-8s and do proper out runs!
Lore Bruder finds working the Cardigans on sheep very interesting! One of her dogs Remi (CanCH Bluetrix Remington Ranch Hand, RN HT) did a set of four all breed trials and got two reserve high in trials and one high in trial.