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JW

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Posts posted by JW

  1. I have a wonderful little pup who's coming along nicely. I own her brother (different litter) who's my main partner. He has no problems with running wide and sometimes I wish he would feel the sheep better and not give so much distance on his outruns. I really think I caused this issue when I was just starting him.

     

    I think I was way to mechanical with him. I remember trying to push him out on his flanks when he was a youngster. I also remember that it didn't work. What worked for him is moving to AR with big spaces and him learning to get off pressure because the work I was asking for called for him to be way off. He was feeling his sheep when he learned to give so much ground.

    Now...with Dew, she's coming along way easier because I think I've learned to use the sheep more than my mouth for training. I was working her this morning and found myself wanting to push her out a bit on her flanks. But before I started training this morning I took her to look for sheep out in the woods. I was on a 4 wheeler going up a road. She spotted the sheep way before I did and I watched her head way off into the woods, it was then I noticed sheep up ahead a ways on the road. By the time I got to them she had come in behind them and was quietly moving them towards me. So in that situation I think she was properly giving the distance we needed.

    Question is when working her in a training situation she's tighter. Not bad, but tighter than I think is right.

    Should I just let her keep learning to read pressure and setting up situations that will make her feel like she needs to be off the sheep more or should I try pushing her off with body pressure too?

     

    She is about 1 1/2 years old and a slow maturing wee one. I still see lots of puppy come out when she gets in over her head but each time out on stock it diminishes a bit more.

     

    Your question is a tough one to answer without seeing the dog. You're probably right that you don't need to be asking for more space on outruns. However clean flanks don't have a lot to do with proper distance on outruns. When I start pups, one of the first things I do as they're learning that I'm the focal point, is to ask for clean flanks. I'm not talking about pushing the dog out, just putting enough pressure on to get square flanks. Every time I block the pup to get it to change direction, I step toward it, or use my hat or my training stick(depending on the dog) to get it to turn from where it is(as opposed to coming in closer to the sheep as it turns). I hope I'm answering what you're asking. Anyway, try working close at hand and asking for square flanks every time she turns. Let me know if this helps and if this is what you wanted to know!?

  2. Any one have any tips on how to break my BC from running my horses... She is a 5 years old... but when it comes to horses and kids on a bike... She zones out and runs after them...

    thank you in advance...

    Joshua

     

    I hate to be blunt, but who's in charge of who! It's your responsibility to keep your dog, your horses, and your kids safe and out of harms way. Border Collies are working dogs, with very keen instinct to work livestock. If they don't have a job, they'll create one, especially if they are allowed to run free with no guidance. Build a pen, out of site from the horses, and put your dog in it when she isn't with you.

  3. Would you mind explaining what a "short flank command" is? Is is a shorter command (like "way" instead of "away to me") or is it just a specific command for a short flank versus a longer flank?

     

    When I am close to my dog, I can usually get short flanks that are quiet by just saying "way" quietly and then "there" after he's moved just a few steps (sometimes, he just moves a few steps and doesn't need the "there" to turn back in). When I am further away (and he is quite an anxious dog and I am an anxious handler), he may overreact to my command for a short flank and go much too far.

     

    Thank you.

     

    Yes, a short flank command is simply a shorter version of your flank commands, both voice and whistle. I start teaching these pretty early on. It makes for much less confusion, and much smoother flanks when teaching driving and inside flanks.

     

    He's telling you that he's not ready for the distance yet. Take your time and very gradually move further away and out of sight. You could be having the problem simply because he can't see you and isn''t ready for that yet.

     

    On the outrun depth issue, yes, very often the pressure of you walking toward the sheep will be enough to put the dog out where he needs to be. Be sure to take pressure off by backing up as soon as you see that the dog is responding by going deeper. Very often, once a young dog goes the proper depth, it feels right to them and the problem will be solved. Not always, of course, but often.

  4. Would you mind explaining what a "short flank command" is? Is is a shorter command (like "way" instead of "away to me") or is it just a specific command for a short flank versus a longer flank?

     

    When I am close to my dog, I can usually get short flanks that are quiet by just saying "way" quietly and then "there" after he's moved just a few steps (sometimes, he just moves a few steps and doesn't need the "there" to turn back in). When I am further away (and he is quite an anxious dog and I am an anxious handler), he may overreact to my command for a short flank and go much too far.

     

    Thank you.

     

    Yes, a short flank command is simply a shorter version of your flank commands, both voice and whistle. I start teaching these pretty early on. It makes for much less confusion, and much smoother flanks when teaching driving and inside flanks.

     

    He's telling you that he's not ready for the distance yet. Take your time and very gradually move further away and out of sight. You could be having the problem simply because he can't see you and isn''t ready for that yet.

  5. Jeanne,

     

    I've been training with my 2.5 yr old bc for about a year now. We get out there at least once a week, sometimes twice. My dog doesn't really like her away side, usually slices. Recently, we had a bit of a meltdown. She just kind of seemed to be going through the motions, no gusto if you will. So we backed off a bit and made the sessions fun for her by doing things she knows how to do(she could do no wrong). This week we're going to get back on track with some more serious training, but I told my trainer before we work on more difficult tasks, I really wanted to work on ironing out her two big problems: Trimming the top of outrun and slicing inside flanks.

     

    For the outrun, I'd like to lie her down and set out about 50-100 yards away, step off to one side of the sheep and send her off balance, kicking her out with some pressure as she reaches the top. Can you recommend anything else I could try to accomplish this?

     

    My dog loves to drive, but when things are moving at a fast pace, she's not willing to let go of the pressure on her inside flanks(and fetch for that matter) to make corrections. I usually lie her down first, then give the flank command. This works only 1/2 the time. Her flanks simply aren't square enough. To fix this, my trainer usually has me stay near her during the drive, I lie her down, step next to her on the side I want to send her, forcing her to square off behind me when I give the command. Again, any other recommendations?

     

    I'm not a big fan of pulling a dog around me to get distance. Try leaving the dog at 100 yds. You walk half way to the sheep. Send the dog and as she's running out, walk directly toward the sheep. If you see that she is going to go deep, immediatly back off. If that doesn't work, let me know and I'll give you something else to try.

    For the onesidedness, stay close when working on that side, until you have made progress. Continue on with the good side.

    To square the flanks, try working in a triangle. Sheep and dog make two corners while you walk along between the two, but out quite a distance. As long as your dog can see you, you should be able to get square flanks by showing your stick or your arm and asking her to flank. You shouldn't have to stop her, just ask for a flank. When she has changed the path of the sheep, tell her "there" and turn her in on the sheep. I assume that you are using a short flank command. If not, I highly recommend it. Makes it much easier to get quiet short flanks.

  6. Yes Jeanne, it seems to be very much like learning all over again. Its a plus for me, that as long as she is out there with the sheep, her attitude is good, even when I call her off and the work is done, she is happy to come off with me. So attitude I dont think will be a problem. Quiet sheep? The ones I am using right now, are a little over yearling ewes that had very little dog work until recently, and although they arent suited for the younger dogs(yet) she seems to be getting them dogged pretty quickly, and doesnt loose them or allow them to scatter, though they can speed up pretty fast if she gets a bit to pushy on the fetch, so we're working on keeping better pace as well. It seems when I started this question, that I thought we only had one really important thing to work on, and that was the stop at the top, now, as we have been doing that, I am finding several other facets of her training that I have allowed to get sloppy, and in doing so, am finding that I am working on all sorts of things all at once. Its hard not to try to correct something while working on another thing, and am wondering now, if we should just stick to a single program, and get her solid on that, before correcting other flaws Im noticing along the way. How much is too much? I dont want our working sessions to turn into correction sessions, else we may loose that nice attitude. Thank you, Darci

     

     

    You're right. Attitude and confidence must be preserved. Try to stay positive, and don't throw too much at her at once.

  7. Thank you again Jeanne. We worked yesterday, and things didnt go so well. She seemed upset? confused? about the new way of doing things, and I wished Id have had time this evening, but got out of work to late to do anything. But, tomorrow is another day, and Im off work so maybe we'll get it together better then. She is 7 yrs old, and we have been doing things pretty much the same for so long, I suspect she will be to some degree confused, dog-gruntled, and as of last nights work, even a bit disobediant. But her best attribute is that she wants to stay with the sheep and work, so I will be using that to the utmost of my advantage. Darci

     

     

    If she's getting confused, try shortening things up a whole bunch. Work on off balance flanking and stopping off balance, mixing it up with letting her go to balance and sometimes stopping and sometimes letting her lift the sheep on her own. Work with quiet sheep, with dog in a circle around you and the sheep. Try to remain positive and don't loose your patience. For you and her, this is almost like learning it for the first time. Don't work on it too long at a time. After, send her on an outrun and let her lift on her own. In other words, try to keep her attitude positive, too.

  8. Thank you Jeanne, I will apply those methods and let ya know how we fair. You said that stopping at the top is not required, so then you dont get points off when they dont stop? This may not be such a bad thing then after all? As she can lift the sheep nicely, as long as I remind her to steady up her pace as she comes around to the top to bring them on for the fetch. Would a steady whistle at the top count as a redirect and cost points, or would that be a call for the judge to make? Darci

     

    As long as your dog lifts softly and in your diretion, you should get no points off the lift. A steady whistle should be no pts. off, unless you give it before the outrun is completed. You can give the whistle when the dog turns in at the top, or as she lifts or after she lifts. Just not before. Any commands while the dog is outrunning will be point/s off.

  9. I have a dog ( BC ) that I bought as a trained dog 4 yrs ago. She was running in nursery? if I remember right when I bought her, and Im prety sure she ran in open a couple of times with a veteran handler. I bought her to help with my stock, and to learn how to handle a stock dog, but not to trial. However, I would like to start trialing this dog, and feel that she has all the qualities that will make her a good trial dog. She has been working at the farm with me since I got her, and I have allowed her to get..... away with some things, as they werent important to me until now, and am wondering if or how I can correct this problem. She really only has this one that I can see, but its kind of a biggie. When at home, and I send her to gather up the sheep, I havent insisted that she stop at the top to lift the sheep. Ive only asked that she get them. She is pretty pushy and will bring them right along, some times a bit to fast. But she will slow it down or steady if I tell her to. She still keeps a nice distance off, and has nice wide outruns of however far off the sheep are. I think it is required? that a dog stop at the top before the lift? and need her to start doing that again. She use to do it, but I wasnt looking for perfection, just wanted the sheep so I allowed her to stop, stopping as she came in behind them, and just allowed her to bring them. Now Id like to get her ready to trial, and wonder how I should go about getting her to lie down at the top. I have tried to tell her to when I see that she is just getting to the top, and then ask her to stop, but she has been not having to for so long now, that she just ignors the command. ( thinking she knows what I want, as we have done it so many times before) I am wondering if working her in a smaller area so that I have closer contact with her will help. Or, I have had to a few times, set up a situation with her, when she tried to cross over where I set her up at one end of the feild, then I walked down to the sheep or closer to them to stop her from crossing over. That seemed to have done the trick for that particular problem, but havent started to work on this one yet, and would like to have more than one plan when I do. She stops on command during other work, just not before the lift. Suggestions would be helpful. Thank you.

     

     

    Stopping at the top is not a requirement. A lot of handlers, myself included, prefer to let their dog manage the top. If allowed to, most good dogs are quite proficient at it. To me, there is nothing better than watching a dog find balance, and softly lift in the exact direction of the handler. That being said, in order to be really competative, your dog must be able to take direction at any point. There will be times when your dog must take direction at the top. A good example is this year's national finals, where the fetch in the first go-round was a dog leg. In order to get full points on the lift, the dog needed to stop short and lift the sheep toward the fetch gates.

    So, to work on getting a stop at the top, shorten up your outruns, so that you are close enough to effectively put pressure on your dog when you ask for a stop and don't get it. Be sure that you allow her to turn in at balance before asking her to stop. Send her fifty yards. When she turns in at balance, ask for the stop, while at the same time, walking or running directly toward her. As soon as she stops, take pressure off, by backing up, or at least stopping your forward motion. Let her fetch the sheep to you. Next time, send her fifty yards again. Stop her in the same way. Now ask her to flank a few yards in either direction. Stop her again and then flank her back to balance. Next time, allow her to lift on her own. If she is lifting too quickly, take a few steps toward her and remind her to steady up. When you get a change of pace, again take the pressure off by backing up. Mix these up during your training sessions. They will help keep her flexible and help you with control. When she is doing well at all three types of lifts, begin to lengthen your outruns. If you start to loose control at any distance, shorten the outrun back up.

    Let me know how it goes.

     

    Jeanne

  10. Hi Expert,

    Welcome back. I am going to a 3 day clinic next week with Derek Scrimgeour and I want to know what your opinion is on getting the most from the experience. I'm going to have challenges for me and him since I have one young dog who can't hear and a 4 year old who won't listen. ;-)

     

    I have some specific issues to work on, but I'd like to expand my knowledge beyond my limited problems I'm having today - some of which may be breeding. So, do you have any advice for what to ask for in my sessions and what to watch for in others?

     

    Thanks,

    Nancy

     

    p.s. my Gus (1.5) is almost totally deaf now, but works pretty well with signs and is responding to the vibrating collar. However, finding out he's deaf hasn't dealt with his stickyness on flanking from pressure and his "booking out" to a comfort zone. We may be able to progress to fetching work contests - it's too bad, because he looks like an awesome driver developing.

     

    Earl (4) is the Earl Express - "Here's your sheep, granny! Now what? Now what? Now what?)

     

    Don't expect to get everything you want to know about training from one clinic! The best thing you can do is focus on your biggest issue/issues at the time. If you try to spread yourself too thin, you'll end up forgetting everything you learn. Make a list of what you want to work on, so that when you get your turn, you'll be ready and not drawing a blank. Good luck.

     

    Jeanne

  11. Hi,

     

    One of my dogs, a 5 year old, suddenly doesn't want to go away. I mean, really, really will not take that flank without alot of pleading/head banging.

     

    She has always been a stylish dog but not sticky, very free with her flanks. Away has always been the lesser of the two sides with her but not an issue until the last two weeks.

     

    What I THINK happened is that we were working on shedding a few weeks ago and she kept coming in too soon and I got after her for it. Which was probably not the right thing to do. I have also been putting a little more pressure on her to work wider- she naturally was a wide running dog, so for years I left her flanks alone but recently she's had a few slicing episodes that I've corrected by running at her and making her get out. What has happened since then is that if I send her on an outrun- whether it is 50 or 200 yards and the sheep want to go to her right, she will let them drift and refuses to take that flank. If I move closer and put pressure on her to move to the away side, she will turn almost completely away from the sheep and then do a sulky little "walking" away like I'm torturing her :rolleyes:

     

    What I did the last training session was first take her into a smaller area where she couldn't turn tail and put more pressure on her to go to that side. Well.. needless to say, she just got worse. She did fine if I just turned and let her fetch sheep and zig zagged left to right without a command. She was better on one side, when the sheep had a draw that she had to get in front of them to stop but stopped just short of balance and lied down. The only way I was able to get a decent away flank out of her in the smaller area was to do an easy shed, did not correct her for coming in too soon (she didn't) and then asking her to look back and away to get the other sheep. After that I let her watch other dogs work, brought her back in and just did balancing work and left her alone- she was fine. If I give her an inside flank, she will take the away side until she gets to the point where the sheep would come back towards me.

     

    Should I make this a "non-issue" for awhile until she feels I'm not out to get her about it or should I concentrate on this problem and continually ask her to go to that side?

     

    edited to add:

    I edited this to add.... after a few days of practice without insisting on that flank, she had a good work and while the problem is still there, its on it's way out I think. Also, I did consider there could be a physical reason for it, but I do not think that is the case. She did a GREAT save for us yesterday when a younger dog lost its sheep (and they almost went home but instead ended up on top of a hill where the only way down was extremely steep. ) and during that work, she was spot on and took direction very well.

     

     

    Glad to hear things are getting better.

    I would definately not make an issue of this! You might give her a break from training for a while. When you start back, your problem will hopefully be forgotten.

    Try to never be negative or give corrections when your dog is coming in on a shed. If she's coming in too soon, stay in contact with her, by continuously asking her to lie down or stand until you are ready for her to come in. Be sure that your body language is the same every time you set up a shed. Do something, such as drop your arm and/or say the same words, such as "in here" when you want her to come in. You never want your dog to think you don't want her to shed.

    When working on squaring flanks, pushing your dog out isn't the best way. You don't want her to go into orbit or loose contact with the sheep. Plus, she won't understand what you want. Try walking with your dog behind the sheep and you out to the side, at a distance, but close enough that you can ask her to flank behind you. Ask for a short flank, while at the same time, using body language to get the flank square(hold out your arm or a training stick). There is no need to be aggressive or angry about it. When she has gone far enough to change the direction of the sheep, turn her in with a "there" or if she won't turn in, stop her and then walk her up again. You can work in this way until she understands that you want her short flanks to be square.

    Good luck.

     

    Jeanne

  12. Hi Jeanne,

     

    I have an eight-year-old bitch that I've been running in Pro-Novice (Ranch to you easterners) and plan to move up to Open this fall. Fly was bred and trained in Wales and imported at the age of three with pretty much everything but a shed and a look-back. She's always been super-classy and ridiculously biddable; trainers often comment on the quality of her training. She may have been someone's nursery dog in the UK and brought along perhaps a tad too fast because of that. When I bought her I was told she was "not the most powerful dog in the world" and that's turned out to be true, which was not a problem when we were on the east coast and all the trial sheep were hair sheep, as she is a kind dog and has a calming effect on flighty sheep that other dogs find difficult to handle. Fly also "keeps" well in that even if she wasn't working really regularly (which happened while I was finishing school), you could always take her out and dust her off and she would work just as well as she had the last time. She has no grip, has never even thought about gripping as far as I can tell. Fly has a ton of eye, too much probably, which makes her the perfect Working Border Collie magazine cover model (Sept/Oct 2005) but sometimes difficult to move where she needs to be.

     

    Since we moved out to California a few factors may have combined to lessen her confidence such that she is having a harder and harder time moving sheep in crunch situations. First, she has been overfaced by range ewes at a couple of trials (the first ones she wasn't able to lift, and with the second group moving them was so laborious that we timed out on the crossdrive). Second, we had to take a hiatus of about a year from training/trialing due to my workload, during which she saw sheep maybe twice. Third, the sheep we have available now for regular practice (rental time) are sort of a bunch of buttheads -- they are all mature hair or hair/wool crosses, have been living at the place for a few years, get worked regularly by all manner of dogs including non-Border Collies, and are reportedly used to beating up the owner's dogs on a regular basis, so they can be cranky and velcroed to each other and just generally a pain in the ass to do certain things with. When we go out for lessons with our trainer we don't have this problem (plus we have him) but we don't go out there every week. There are probably other factors in the equation I'm not smart enough to identify.

     

    The upshot is that Fly appears to have lost a lot of confidence. She is getting stickier, which does not surprise me as it's not unusual for strong-eyed dogs to do so as they age, but she also appears unsure. For example, when sorting or penning she is incredibly reluctant to walk up, and looks up at me with what I interpret as an unconfident expression, like she needs reassurance that I don't know how to give her. A few weeks ago, she quit on me for the first time ever -- I sent her to get the sheep out of the corner where their pens are (they really, really like those pens) and she couldn't get them. Next thing I knew she'd run into the water tub and would not respond to recalls. I would have worried she was overheating, but she had only been working for several minutes and it wasn't hot outside at all. She was basically hiding. I admit I lost my patience and she could probably tell, which I'm sure doesn't help matters.

     

    What I am wondering is if there are simple exercises I can do with these buttheaded sheep when we go to practice that will give Fly some swagger. I have been trying really hard to remain totally upbeat and positive and put her in the right place rather than correcting her for doing things wrong, because correcting her just makes her less and less confident. She has always been super at outwork and is a master of the perfectly straight fetch with no commands. It's close work she hates. She is a happy, exuberant little girl who has always worked sheep with an expression of maniacal glee, and I hate to see her with that unsure expression in her eyes.

     

    Thanks, Melanie

     

     

    Hi Melanie,

     

    I hope you were able to get lots of blood samples at the finals. I had intended to come back over for blood draws, but totally forgot till it was too late. Sorry.

    You need to help your dog in every way you can. Get her excited. I mean really excited, and encourage her to push, blast, bite. Anything that will get the sheep to move away from her. Don't worry about where or how she bites or if she blasts through the middle of them. She needs to think that she CAN move them. If she thinks she can, the sheep will think so, too. Don't worry about ruining her. She'll still be the same dog, just more confident.

     

    Jeanne

  13. Did you enjoy yourself?

     

    I actually have a question relating to the Finals... We were watching some dogs get lost by the house during the double lift and wondering how to go about training a command to let the dog know they need to bend IN without coming back to the handler. How would you train that? When would you train that (early on, only when the dog is running Open)?

     

    Soldier Hollow and Meeker were great. I especially love Meeker. The trial is awesome and the community is totally behind the trial and the handlers. I saw some great running at both. Tommy Wilson and Sly's winning run at Meeker was a thing of beauty.

    As you know, the Finals was one of the best yet. I loved Gettysburg and the whole experience (except for my sheep in the second nursery run!!).

     

    As to teaching a "come in" command, I begin teaching it by using my recall whistle. This gets their attention and usually causes them to look in. If they are very obedient and come all the way in on a recall(which never happens with my dogs:)), I'll follow with a direction whistle. Hopefully they have seen the sheep and will carry on on the right path. I gradually change the whistle to a variation of the recall whistle. As to when I train it, I generally teach things when the need arrises or the opportunity presents itself. For instance, if a young dog doesn't see all the sheep or leaves some when gathering, I'll take advantage and start teaching a look back. This could happen during the first month of training.

    If I happen to be training on a specific group of sheep with other sheep across the field, I'll let the dog catch the first group when they're thinking of joining the other sheep. I'll use the command that I'll eventually use while working on an international shed. I personally use "here this" The next time it happens, I might give the dog a long, drawn out flank whistle and let them pick up all the sheep. It's a good way to teach a redirect.

     

    Jeanne

  14. Hi Jeanne

     

    I have my first dog ever and he is nice and has been easy to train (with guidance from experienced mentors). However, once he hit 2 1/2 he has become very pushy and hard for me to hold. I know this is to be expected, but I would love some ideas on how to train him to handle flighty sheep better. He is best on heavy wool sheep as he can push and I guess slice without upsetting the sheep, he loves to work close to the sheep. He is not a clean flanking dog and does have a tendency to flanks tight when he gets excited. Hence, the problem on light sheep. If they run from him he goes faster and tighter...then all goes to hell in a handbag. In these situations his listening goes out the window.

     

    At home I mainly train on wool sheep, so he does well. Then we go to a trial like the nursery finals this past week and he gets a running group and he looks like a wild untrained dog. I have been putting him on a small group of very flighty lambs to train, and at home on the small field with correction I can get hold of him. I have also traveled to friends that have wild hair sheep and run up the field numerous times to get after him for basically chasing the sheep down the field and ignoring me. Any suggestions of other things I can do the teach him to take his time on light sheep and keep his cool? In my novice inexperience I am tempted to take a step back and impose more control on him...stopping him more, doing flaking drills, putting pressure on to get square flanks etc. What do you think?

    Thanks

    Jean

     

    It sounds like your young dog needs lots of miles, on lots of different kinds of sheep and of course, different fields. Do not ever hesitate to take steps back in your training. This is something that should immediatly happen whenever you are having problems. If you can't control your dog at 100 yds, then shorten up until you do have control. Don't stretch him out until he is ready and responding to you, then do it gradually.

    From your comments, it sounds like you know how to fix the tight flanks. You need to do it.

    Good luck.

     

    Jeanne

  15. Thank you so much. Sometimes I let the sheep go back to the draw, with Jet in a down, thinking it would be better for her to have a mental break, then go start again at the draw. What I interpret a "break" I suppose Jet has interpreted as "losing." What about working on the flanks in the area of the draw for awhile?

     

    Thanks again, I appreciate your response.

     

    Donna Smith

    Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada

     

     

    Make it easy on yourself and the dog for a while, until the flanks get better. Try to stay away from the draw so the sheep will be easier to manage. Once your dog is feeling confident and flanking better, then try working close to the draw.

    A really good exercise to develop your dog's lift is to allow the sheep to start to escape toward the draw and let your dog catch them. Make sure you send her in plenty of time to catch them, though. You don't want them to beat her.

  16. Hi Jeanne

     

    I am looking for any ideas for a good exercise to calm my dog down and ease her anxiety whenever sheep are pulled strongly to a draw, such as a paddock or exit gate in the fields where I work. I think that if my 2-year old Jet would worry a bit less about losing them, the sheep would stop trying so hard to get there. When she senses that sheep are trying to angle to a draw, she obsesses about holding them, and although I realize this is a good quality, she has such a strong presence that she gets sheep up on their toes and it becomes this chicken and egg thing - she is anxious, they are anxious, so she is anxious, etc. I can work the exact same sheep in the same area with my other dog and he has a different effect on them, so that they try less to get to the draw and are more willing to stay put or be moved about...which is why I think if Jet could learn to be calmer, she and I would find things went more smoothly. He is much wider in his flanks and stops them without getting too close to them, but Jet runs tighter, and perhaps this is the crux of things, however, I am not sure.

     

    I am limited to practicing in this large fenced area, and I am starting to feel like my sessions are getting to be repetitive with Jet and I work at keeping the sheep at the upper end of the field. I frequently lie her down when the sheep seem settled away from the draw, I try to watch how close she gets, and I try to keep myself calm. Is this just something that time and experience will heal? Or can I be trying other things to help her relax and think a bit more without getting frustrated (her, and me). She is such a nice dog and so keen and I want to do the best by her.

     

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts you may have,

     

    Donna Smith

    Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada

     

     

    Hi Donna,

     

    I think you're right on most counts. Your young dog is still on the edge of being out of control. The sheep feel it and it makes them nervous. It sounds like the solution is continued training. Stay close at hand until flanks are clean. Try not to let her slice. If she does, stop her, use some direct pressure until she gives(turns out) and ask for the flank again. If you're consistant with this, you'll soon have better flanks and less nervous sheep. Try to work as far away from the pressure as possible until your dog is flanking better. Try to never let the sheep win and get away from your dog. In other words, don't put him in a position to loose the sheep.She will eventually learn to trust your judgment and start to relax.

     

    Good luck, Jeanne

  17. The confidence issue clarified, I hope.

     

    She is the type of dog that started off by coming right through the sheep. I mean she would always single one off given half a chance. Also, in the beginning she would only use her body to move the sheep. I thought she had no eye for a while. But things progressed, and she started really doing well, and I wanted to get a bit more control on her pace.

     

    I put her on some heavier sheep (ones that look at a dog and size them up). At first she was blasting through them. When I asked for a steady (and they finally had a chance to turn and look at her), she would look at them for less than a second and then flank away from the pressure, and try to get them moving with little flanks. I lost the dog that would blast through the sheep, and got a flanky one. When I tried to get her to lie her down in the pressure, she lies down side ways.

     

    I mix up 3 very light hair sheep and 3 heavier woollies I use together for her right now. The three light sheep always move, and the other follow slowly. Less pressure than the heavy sheep, so I can get her to walk straight on to them to make them move. That is when I started to get the fast, intense, short-strided "steady" intead of a more relaxed slow walk/trot than I get with my old dog when I say steady (I bought him trained, she is the first I am trying to train myself). I do not want to lose any power off her, so I am trying to be certain I am clear in what I want.

     

    She gets to move them from one pasture to another everyday other day. And once a week to a larger "round pen" for a young dog to work them. But I do not have any other work for her any time soon.

     

    Put your heavy sheep back out. Get on the side with your dog and help turn the sheep, then let her take them away as you walk along side. Don't lie her down when the sheep are looking at her. The sheep are learning that they can buffalo the dog. Every time they turn and look at her, be there to back her up. Pretty soon, she'll be feeling confident that she can move them. The more confident she becomes, the less likely she'll feel the need to run through, split or blast. If she's got what it takes, she'll start feeling where she needs to be in order to move sheep. Don't be in a big hurry to develop pace. You might find that with confidence comes pace.

    Each dog is different. Try not to compare her to your old dog.

  18. The confidence issue clarified, I hope.

     

    She is the type of dog that started off by coming right through the sheep. I mean she would always single one off given half a chance. Also, in the beginning she would only use her body to move the sheep. I thought she had no eye for a while. But things progressed, and she started really doing well, and I wanted to get a bit more control on her pace.

     

    I put her on some heavier sheep (ones that look at a dog and size them up). At first she was blasting through them. When I asked for a steady (and they finally had a chance to turn and look at her), she would look at them for less than a second and then flank away from the pressure, and try to get them moving with little flanks. I lost the dog that would blast through the sheep, and got a flanky one. When I tried to get her to lie her down in the pressure, she lies down side ways.

     

    I mix up 3 very light hair sheep and 3 heavier woollies I use together for her right now. The three light sheep always move, and the other follow slowly. Less pressure than the heavy sheep, so I can get her to walk straight on to them to make them move. That is when I started to get the fast, intense, short-strided "steady" intead of a more relaxed slow walk/trot than I get with my old dog when I say steady (I bought him trained, she is the first I am trying to train myself). I do not want to lose any power off her, so I am trying to be certain I am clear in what I want.

     

    She gets to move them from one pasture to another everyday other day. And once a week to a larger "round pen" for a young dog to work them. But I do not have any other work for her any time soon.

     

    Put your heavy sheep back out. Get on the side with your dog and help turn the sheep, then let her take them away as you walk along side. Don't lie her down when the sheep are looking at her. The sheep are learning that they can buffalo the dog. Every time they turn and look at her, be there to back her up. Pretty soon, she'll be feeling confident that she can move them. The more confident she becomes, the less likely she'll feel the need to run through, split or blast. If she's got what it takes, she'll start feeling where she needs to be in order to move sheep. Don't be in a big hurry to develop pace. You might find that with confidence comes pace.

    Each dog is different. Try not to compare her to your old dog.

  19. Hi, I have a young dog that seems to have taken the "steady" command to mean shorten the stride. She really has 3 speeds: 1) 110MPH, 2) the fastest trot she can do, 3) stopped.

     

    I have been working to get her to stand up quietly from a down, and to move off quietly from a Stand. I can get her to walk okay from that, but as soon as she gets moving I either need to stop her and start over or I get the shortened trot. The pace is the same. I was joking I could get her to do a Passage soon, but unfortunately this does not settle sheep.

     

    Any ideas on how to get through to her that I want a walk, not a fast short strided trot?

     

    Or do I just stick with what I am doing. The sheep BTW are not running. I put them on hay or grain or on a fence and am working her on fetching and driving at about 20-30 feet. I try to vary where I stand, but am looking for a nice "lift".

     

    There has been some improvement, but I know if I lie her down, she does not think that has anything to do with her keeping the same tempo, but with a shortened stride. She is Very keen, bidable dog, but has a bit lack of confidence as well. I think she is weary of really walking stright on the the pressure as well.

     

    She is going on on three, and I think I can give her some more training pressure now.

     

    thanks!

     

    Hi,

     

    I too, have a youngster who loves to push. She'll push so hard that she ends up through the middle and on the other side of the sheep, stop and look at me as if to say " how did that happen"? I really like her and know she'll eventually be a great dog. I'm taking my time and letting her learn as she goes. I don't want to spoil her confidence or her pushiness. I do want to teach her to "take time" when I ask for it, just not all the time. I know that there will come a time when that pushiness/forwardness will be much needed.

     

    You say your bitch lacks confidence. Do you think she lacks confidence in her ability to move sheep or in you as her coach? I'm a bit confused by your statement that she is weary of walking straight into the pressure. Has she done so in the past? If so, has something happened to make her uncomfortable? If you'll clarify for me, I'll have a better idea of how to answer you on the confidence issue.

     

    I'm sure you've heard this before, but I'll say it again. When you ask for a steady/take time and don't get it, lie her down immediately, wait for the sheep to settle, then ask her up very quietly. If you're consistant with this, it will work. Some dogs get it pretty quickly and some take a while. She will learn that if she slows down when asked, she'll get to continue. She'll also hopefully learn rhe amount of pressure certain sheep need to keep moving. Don't forget to let her push sometimes.

     

    Jeanne

  20. Hello all,

     

    I have a problem with my ex-dog Fagan. Today is Fagan's birthday, he is now 5 years old. I got him since he was 5 months old. The family that had bought him from the breeder had no experience with dogs or BC's. They let him stay in a crate most of the time and sometimes let him in the livingroom where they had a shiny floor, a ball and a laserlight to let him jump and run around. Real funny for the children, but they quickly grew tired of a dog that never returned the ball, didn't react to them and snapped and bit their hands.

    So when I got him, he totally lived in his own world of lights and shadows. In the beginning he didn't see or hear anything when he was chasing the shadows, but that improved and later on I could get him out of it. I taught him to listen to me and he learned quickly to do all I wanted. He was really a fantastic dog which I was totally in love with but sadly enough when me and my husband got a son three years ago and a daughter one year ago, I couldn't combine my work, housekeeping, two children and two dogs (we also have a 9-year old mix retriever-shepherd) any longer.

    I found a new home for him which I thought was perfect for him: a man with a flock of 100 sheep, two other BC's, a lot of experience in training and trialling. He saw Fagan and thought he had talent and he could use him for demo's, training and maybe trialling. So last year August, Fagan moved to them.

     

    That was a year ago and last week I talked with him and he was not satisfied. He told me Fagan absolutely has talent to work with sheep, a little too much unfortunately because he won't lie down when given the command. At least, not when there are sheep involved. It looks like Fagan is so busy with his sheep that he doesn't hear the command.

    Without sheep, he obeys perfectly. But around sheep, sometimes he does lie down, but mostly he takes another 5 or 10 steps. If he is near to his handler and the handler yells loud enough, the dog will obey but at distances it's a guess. Trialling is out of the question and for the other tasks he rather uses his other dog. He told me Fagan can stay with him, but that he won't be using him anymore for herding. He says he had tried to teach him to lie down when told, and it has improved but lately it's getting worse. He is losing his patience with the dog and that doesn't help either. I really would like Fagan to come back to us, but I can't give him the attention and activity he deserves. So I want Fagan to stay with his new family and it would be nice if he does his work good enough to keep doing it.

     

    I think Fagan is just too fixated on the sheep that he doesn't hear the commands. I talked to my husband and he compared Fagan with a human with ADHD or something like that. Humans with such attention-disorders can get medicins, can we try something like that with Fagan? Something that can take the edges of his concentration so that he can respond to the commands. Has anyone of you experience with that?

    Or is it just a matter of training the lie down without sheep and then gradually decreasing the distance between him and sheep? Or maybe a combination? What do you think? Have you ever had a similar problem and what was your solution?

     

    Annet

     

    Hi Annet,

     

    This sounds like a training issue. "Yelling loud" shouldn't be necessary if the dog is properly trained. You should always make sure you have a good stop close at hand before asking for it at a distance. Once the stop is good while close, gradually lengthen the distance. If you loose the stop at any point, shorten up the distance and try again. For more on teaching a stop, please refer to some of my other answers.

  21. My young dog was trained to stop in a stand and I was told that she didn't like to stop and I found that to be true. I retrained her stop to a lie down and she stops now, but in talking to the wife of the man who trained her, she said that he trains all his dogs to stop in a stand because he wants them to stay on their feet and that lying down and getting up can scare the sheep. Any thoughts on this?

     

     

    Hi Michelle,

     

    I"m glad you were able to get answers to your question. I hope you don't mind if I respond anyway.

    Some dogs like to lie down and some naturally want to stop on their feet. Some dogs upset their sheep no matter how they stop and some have a calming effect, again, no matter how they stop. When training, I like to begin with what comes naturally. If the dog prefers to stop on their feet, I'll tell them to stand. If a dog prefers to clap, I'll say lie down. I teach it by getting between the dog and the sheep and staying at the head of the dog(not let him have the sheep) until he stops on his own. If he lies down, I'll say lie down. If he stops on his feet, I'll say stand. I then immediatly let him go back to work. Getting the dog to stop becomes easier as he learns that the sooner he stops, the sooner he gets to go back to work. I do eventually teach both commands, but prefer to choose my battles. Having both commands on a dog really comes in handy at the pen and when shedding.

  22. Every one of my dogs has a terrible stop. Just that tiny little push when I ask them to stop either on or off balance. It drives me nuts but I feel powerless to fix it. It's not even a step in most of the time - just a teeny little lean.

     

    If I start correcting it when they stop, I feel like I start getting resistance to their stopping at all. That would be the extend of the tools in my toolbox. :rolleyes:

     

    Arrrggggh. I'd love to fix this - if I'm ever to trial I know I have to - but it even kills me doing chores. Things are twice as hard as they need to be when the sheep get "bumped" instead of settled when I need them quiet.

     

     

    Well, since you haven't responded to my question, and I really would like to help you out, plus someone else might be interested, I'll go into detail anyway

    The key to a good stop is consistancy, and getting it right close up before asking for it at a distance. Each dog is different, so you have to get a feel for your dog and how much pressure is needed in order to get the response you want. Begin by working in a circle with you being close to the sheep and the dog flanking around the sheep. Begin by letting the dog go to balance and as you ask for the stop, take a step directly into the dog's face. This will be enough pressure to get an immediate stop from a sensitive dog . Harder dogs and dogs who have been getting away with a sloppy stop or no stop at all might need a bit more convincing, such at popping your training stick on the ground directly at his face or taking a few running steps directly at his face. It's okay if the dog gives ground a bit, but the main thing is to get the dog stopped the instant you ask. Now, this is important, so don't forget this part. As soon as your dog hits the deck, immediately ask him back to work. This is his reward for stopping well. If he refuses to stop immediatly, then once you have him down, make him lay there a while. Count to five or something. Just enough to give him time to think about things and begin to realize that the sooner he stops, the sooner he gets to go back to work. Now start asking for off balance stops. Use the same steps, except instead of letting the dog fetch, ask for another flank after he stops.

    Once the dog is consistantly stopping well, start doing short outruns. You may need to do it all again. Let him find balance, and as soon as he turns in but before he lifts the sheep, ask for the stop while at the same time moving toward him. Just go through the same steps and gradually get more distance when you feel the dog is ready. If at any point, you start to loose the stop, take a few stepps back in your training.

    If you have questions about any of this, please feel free to ask.

  23. I was reading a training article last night and the author was talking about how he does not give toys to BCs while he is raising them. He cited 2 reasons 1) they can make the dog silly and 2) they can make a strong eyed dog sticky and cause some bad habits on stock. After reading that I looked at my own dogs, one of which is obsessed with fetching toys, more so every year, who has also been sticky on sheep lately. I have never raised a pup without giving it toys to play with. Does it really make a difference?

     

    ETD: My dog's littermate sister grew up in a kennel without toys. She is more serious and less sicky, though she has just as much eye. But that it one dog...

     

    Hi Liz,

     

    I can see the merit in the no toy policy. I don't normally give my dogs toys, so have no experience with this, but some dogs are so keen to DO something from an early age that the toys could become their focus rather than work. If a dog is already introduced to livestock and working regularly, I wouldn't think toys would matter much. My dogs do get bones from puppyhood on, and I haven't raised a sticky dog yet. Don't know if that would count as a toy :rolleyes: My Liz was "born with a ball in her mouth". She has always loved to retrieve, and she sure isn't sticky! I don't think it has hurt her in the working dept. either. I guess this would be one of those things that if you see it becoming an issue, you should do something about it.

     

    Jeanne

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