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    Westward, Cumbria
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    Shepherding and farming

Ludi's Achievements


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  1. This may or may not help, since I can't see your situation in person, and my advice may change if you can show some video footage of an average lesson with your dog. I've had the chance to get involved with the training of quite a few young dogs now, ranging from 4 to 18 months, and your case isn't really that shocking or surprising. A cool customer turning into a pushy devil isn't new nor worrying. So fret not! You mentioned that his excitement hits the roof when the car rolls into the farmyard. Is he travelling in a crate in the car, or loose and able to see out of the windows? I assume you're putting him on a lead to go out to the training pen or field. How is his behaviour then? Is he scrabbling and pulling in all directions? If so, I'd work on getting him to snap out of that agitation and to focus back on you, your voice and physical presence. How you achieve that depends on your training philosophy - some people will use a physical aversive (lightly clipping the dog's nose with a stick), and others won't. I don't know your viewpoint on this, so I won't make any recommendations past the general advice of getting the dog to simmer down and walk nicely out to the training area. Tiring the dog out physically isn't what cases like this usually need. It's mental agitation and over-excitement, not physical, so once he's in the right mind frame, he may begin to resemble the dog you had at the beginning. I'd also recommend not getting at him for singling or gripping or chasing. I have seen young dogs feed off the excitement and rising agitation in their handler's voice. Stay in a small, enclosed area where no animal (sheep or dog) can bolt and make a run for it. You, as the handler, must stay with the sheep at all times for now. If you're with the sheep, you're in control of the highest reward and highest stimulus for your dog. Reward calm and methodical behaviour (even if it's there but for a second, like the dog briefly standing still) by letting the dog have the sheep. If he behaves and thinks, he gets the sheep. If he doesn't, you let him know that under no circumstances is he getting to those sheep without going through you. This relies on the right sheep, and the right training area! I do not recommend trying to tackle over-excitement in a young dog with flighty sheep in a massive field!
  2. Very nice to hear, Alchemist! Glad your lambing is going well. And yes, these Cheviots were like popcorn... what a terrifically descriptive term for them. I'm looking into getting some fairly notorious sheep breeds for myself (Soays and Hebrideans), but after handling these wily SCCs and Scottish Mules, I know Meg should be able to handle just about anything they'll throw at her. And truth be told, I like them light instead of heavy and stodgy!
  3. There are quite a few breeds of sheep that get that sun-bleached brown (Hebrideans and Ouessants spring to mind), perhaps you could get in touch with someone owning those? Although, I'm not sure how popular they are in your part of the world!
  4. Zwartbles. Fairly good carcass size, prolific, easy lambers. Downside (or upside, if you're not me) is that they're quite sociable with humans and gregarious. I do not like that, personally. I like sheep who are indifferent to humans, so "pet sheep" don't gel very well with me. The Zwartbles really liked human contact. Could just be the case for these, as they were reared in a very pet-orientated way, but it seems across the board that they're quite a friendly lot. Good for training, though, I suppose. They are fairly robust, and are light despite being sizeable animals.
  5. Oh dear, I quite like Cameroon sheep and was thinking of getting a couple! Maybe I'll rethink that. Mentalitis is a good way to put it. GentleLake, we were extremely lucky with our Cheviot girls. They just squirted their lambs out. We put a pure Texel to them, so I was prepared for some large heads getting in the way, but our Cheviots had nice, wide-set pelvises and the actual act of lambing was incredibly easy. Just goes to show that breeding for those traits is not to be overlooked!
  6. Probably similarly crazy, Smalahundur! I'm not sure if you put your mothers and lambs into pens ever, but we did, for 24 hours following lambing, so the pair could bond and be monitored in case of any difficulties following birth. Even when you would simply walk past a pen with an SCC in it, you could tell she was just a hair's breadth from charging. And indeed, it happened to me twice when trying to draw milk from a stuck teat on a new Cheviot mother. I usually pinned the mothers against a wall with the side of my body and one leg so I could hunch down and draw milk. Well, these girls weren't having it, and twice they simply decided to bolt towards the shut door of the pen, dragging me along with them. And they didn't have mastitis or anything painful! They were just mental.
  7. SCCs (Border Cheviots) are smaller than NCCs. The SCCs were flighty as hell. Derek had a good way to explain just how they behaved: If you gather a group of Blackies, then send the dog on a look-back to gather more, the Blackies will gradually spread out but stay in the same general area you left them. If you do that with SCCs, they will just disappear. And it's true. It's like they only have two settings - frozen in place, and actively bolting. We had to bring in 6 girls having triplets, and spray-mark them. They were in their own paddock and getting into the ram feed, which has some kind of special additive that isn't great for pregnant ewes. 3 mules, 3 SCCs. Once again, because it was last minute, the pen we shuttled them into was too big and let them manoeuvre. Big mistake. One SCC took a running leap at my head to try and get past me. I don't know what got into me, but I just sort of grabbed her out of the air and swung down with her. I yelled for someone else to come spray her. Definitely a two person job when handling these wily creatures! Pam, good to hear from you again! There'll be more clinics in the summer when Derek's back from his travels. We should meet up then, and it'd be fab if Sarah and Indy could be there too!
  8. Hey all, I've not been very good at updating on my young collie Meg's progress in work, but it has been going super well and a couple weeks ago, we came back from our first proper lambing. I drove from France to South Lanarkshire, in Scotland, and came back a better shepherd and sheepdog handler. Meg made huge progress with her in-bye work, and has shown she more than has what it takes to be a good lambing dog. The flock was a fairly mixed bag, with two separate lambings going on (of which we only worked one, next one is due to begin in a week or so). Our group was comprised of pedigree and pure Texels, Cheviot cross Texels, and a handful of pure South Country Cheviots. For those of you who have not had the joy of working with SCCs from Scotland proper, rest assured, you're only missing out on chaos and destruction. They are mad. Anyway, the experience cemented the idea in my head that if you really want to be good at this sheepdog thing, you've got to have some honest work to get stuck into. Gathering Mules scattered across a 7ha (17 acre) field with a dodgy hedge that sucks them in like a vacuum, drenching and jagging said Mules in a race with a too-big holding pen (what an adventure, I realised sheep could fly at your head), late night lambing, and turning out new mothers and lambs to the paddocks - you learn so much as you go. You might not need hundreds of sheep to do it, even a handful could teach you a lot. But get out there and work! Lambing is a great time for it, since it's all hands on deck and free help (provided it's good help!) never goes unwanted. It can test your patience, but you quickly realise that your worst enemy is usually yourself. Bad placement, slow reflexes, not reading the sheep... all these things stick out like sore thumbs when you're clinging on to your last shred of patience. So you get better! That's what I've learnt, and I look forward to doing another lambing next year to further improve.
  9. So good to see you again mum24dog! It was a pretty interesting course, the exhaust pen's location and the Shetlands proved to be a particularly potent combo for some of the less experienced dogs. I myself had to let Meg take the reins on the cross-drive since I had a Heb that fancied bolting for the exhaust, luckily, my dog knows what to do more than I do.
  10. Thank you! She's taking it all in stride.
  11. Meg is 14 months now; we've been doing a lot of yard work since she went through a brief phase of discomfort when near the livestock. She got over it within a few weeks. In this video, I work on keeping those flanks free, reward with some driving, and get her used to working sheep who don't necessarily like humans. It's all very well fetching sheep who just book it to a human's feet but it's another thing to move these awkward girls who don't really like me (and aren't used to dogs, either). We've been on holiday in England for the past 3 weeks. We saw the English National, we caught up with friends, we have had daily work to do on the lowland farm my friend owns. It's been really fun and I think Meg has come on leaps and bounds. We're headed back to France tomorrow, hopefully we can keep the momentum going!
  12. Saw your feature in the latest ISDS magazine! Congratulations! What a great journey you and Jack have been on. Best of luck with the new prospect.
  13. Bit of a random question. Anyone else heard of or experienced printing errors in their copy of "A Way of Life" by H. Glyn Jones? I'm missing entire pages' worth of text. The photos seem to have made it but the words do a vanishing act periodically throughout the second half of my (paperback) copy. I wanted to know if it was a known problem before ordering another copy. Great read otherwise.
  14. I have a similar issue! Away was/is my bitch's weaker/eye-heavy side, so to get her to give a better shape and breadth to her flanks, she was forced to disengage her eye when going that direction. It seems she's at an increased risk of flying into orbit. I'm going to try to introduce a check whistle near the top to slow her down - she's a speedy mover - but I'm afraid it might encourage her to draw in towards the sheep at the top. Any ideas how to get her to give the right space, but still check in on the sheep? Or is this just a matter of practice and maturity?
  15. Thanks! Yes, she loves driving. I use it as a sort of reward for nice shapes on her flanks, since I know this is something she loves to do, naturally!
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