Coat Development and Care: The fuzzy Bergamasco puppy's transformation includes a few steps. At about 9 months to about a year or so the wool will start coming in. Together with the goat hair lumpy areas will appear. Brushing the coat very lightly to keep untangled helps but when that wool starts coming in you have to change techniques. If you want the head and chest from shoulders forward free of flocks you continue to brush so the Flocks don't form. The other areas or if you want Flocks everywhere you just brush lightly the long hair to keep tangles out leaving the wool and goat hair to do its thing. After a while natural mapping or separation will start to occur. I start in areas where it is thick and you can see this forming. I separate using the maps as a guide and as the coat continues to form and grow out I will separate in other areas. Usually the legs and rear are the first areas. Its important to keep the legs and elbows free from very thick areas for full movement. The flocks are not like matting which forms near the skin. Flocks form about 1/4 to half inch from the skin letting air get to it for a healthy coat. You can separate by pulling apart to desired thickness and the widths should be a little wider on the rear. I stagger where they overlap like shingles on a roof if possible. Areas that are too thick to break by pulling apart I use scissors just to get started being very careful. They go through a really rough stage like an ugly duckling until they grow out nicely. As they grow out its important to check that they don't grow back together to I separate and if needed I pull some wool out with my fingers. Once the flocks are grown out you just check them after bathing when dry and off and on so they don't grow back together. It helps when you separate down to the skin and pull out excess wool very lightly where it is separated.
Bathing and grooming: I bath my Bergamascos either before a show or whenever needed. I use any shampoo diluted down and lather up squeezing the suds in the flocks with my fingers. I then rinse out the soap usually doing two rinses and making sure no soap is left in the flocks. The last rinse you can use a little vinegar in the last rinse in a bucket of water to help control smell. I then squeeze out all the water I can with my hands then use a few towels to get as much water out of the flocks as possible. You can line the bottom of a crate with a few towels ,changing to drys ones every so often, and use box fans around the crate. I have a blaster I use carefully, blowing out each flock separately and carefully because you can burn the skin if heat is used. I do this two or three times and if still damp in the morning will do it again.The key to a nicely smelling Bergamasco is to thoroughly make sure the coat is dry. I have heard some use a shop vac drawing out as much water as they can. When bathing I put cotton balls in the ears to help keep the water out of them. When throughly dry a day or two later I will go through their coat and separate the Flocks that need separated. I use a tool on their muzzle to help keep the knots and food out. I also brush their ears and trim beards when they get too long. I trim the hair on the bottom of their feet and check for anything that is in between them. Nails are cut and feet trimmed if hair is touching the ground. I pull the excess hair out of their ears with my fingers and clean when necessary. I brush out the muzzle and ears for my own preference. I hate thick ears and flocks on the face. My preference.
Training: I have had great success with positive training techniques. I have used clicker training and some capturing behavior techniques. Distance training is great. Most work with their dog by their side. So this is new to some. A perfect stay and recall are essential. Herding dogs in herding need to learn to work away from you. Never use any harsh training and I couldn't imagine using a prong collar or anything like that. They are a very sensitive breed and respond much better with love and patience. I think the best class I took used no verbal commands just hand signals. You weren't allowed to talk in class. Agility is a lot of fun for both owners and dogs. We do some for fun and confidence in our yard. If you are handy building things there are sites on the web where you can build a lot of your own equipment. Barn hunt is interesting. The key to that is noting their signal when they have found the rat. My Bergamascos are very soft with that not like some ratters...Lure Coursing is interesting and I believe some will have fun with that. I encourage anyone with a dog to participate in any activity to strengthen the bond between the owner and furry companion. Some things they are better at that others.