Robert leader of the pack

Cat­tle dog trainer wins na­tional ti­tle

The Northern Star - - NEWS - Sa­man­tha El­ley sa­man­tha.el­ley@north­ern­star.com.au

IT IS lucky the John­stons are build­ing a new house – they are go­ing to need more stor­age for Robert’s tro­phies.

The Tatham cat­tle dog trainer has come home with a swag of buck­les, a tro­phy and a cheque for $10,000 from the in­au­gu­ral Aus­tralian Cat­tle Dog Chal­lenge in Tam­worth.

He is also try­ing to ne­go­ti­ate how to get 72 bags of dog bis­cuits back to the farm.

Not bad for some­one who has only been in the game for 11 years.

“It’s the big­gest prize money for cat­tle dog tri­als ever,” Mr Johnston said.

His dog of the mo­ment is Zach, who is one of 16 bor­der col­lies he is train­ing.

“I can of­ten have up to 25 dogs at any one time.”

Mr Johnston’s tips for train­ing a dog in­clude start­ing as early as pos­si­ble in their lives.

“When you put the food in their bowl, they don’t eat un­til you tell them,” he said.

“Put them on a lead and tell them to ‘stop’, us­ing one word. At the last com­pe­ti­tion one of the judges’ com­ments was that I kept my in­struc­tions sim­ple.”

He has had no qualms about get­ting rid of a dog he didn’t get on with or, in one case, a dog that couldn’t cope with trav­el­ling.

“I had one dog that would hide when he saw me hitch­ing up the car­a­van,” Mr Johnston said.

“I had to give him to (some­one else) as the dogs need to get used to trav­el­ling.”

Mr Johnston trav­els across the state to at­tend cat­tle dog tri­als, and has been to 38 this year alone.

“When you go in the ring it’s be­tween you, the dog and three head of cat­tle,” he said. “You have to com­plete the course in five min­utes and it in­cludes a ‘hold’, a ‘get’, a ‘race’ and a ‘put away’.”

Glen Innes is the next show this week­end, af­ter which Mr Johnston and his dogs will have a break un­til Fe­bru­ary.

PHOTO: SA­MAN­THA EL­LEY

TOP OF HIS GAME: Robert Johnston, of Shady Acres, sur­rounded by his ador­ing bor­der col­lies and pup Crys­tal on his lap.

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