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Everything posted by ragtimedog

  1. Ha ha. The chaos is much better these days. I actually did start using the flag (whip+bag) again. It originally was suggested to me as a tool to keep him back off the sheep. All it did there was make him dive in faster and reve him up. (I was told that was my fault. No explanation of what I was doing wrong but it brought me to tears.) Last week I started going out with my arsenal of tools - training stick, throw thingies and flag. He still takes three commands to actually lie down. Yes, I have been expecting a lie down, or at least a stop when I say lie down. When I watch videos though, he doesn't look all that bad. Maybe I am expecting too much from him. But watching other dogs that plop right down with one whistle just makes me envious. I did back off for a while since it seemed that we weren't making any headway. Sometimes he surprises me and does it at a distance. (I do have to use him to move sheep when we are house sitting.) I guess, all and all he is getting better. I just never had a dog take this long to get the basics down. Two years and little to show for it. My former dogs were trial-ready at this age. He can't even do a decent outrun. He does learn routines quickly and loves to have real work to do. He does get the sheep in the pen but it ain't pretty. I generally have to send him back to pick up the ones he scattered. He runs at top speed and goes a bit crazy. I have to stand at the gate to keep the ones already in the pen from leaving. I don't really think he's a hard head or stubborn. He's looking at me as if looking for direction. It's more like he just can't stop himself. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks.
  2. I've trained a few dogs and trialed a bit but I have NEVER had a dog so hard to train as this one. I read a perfect description of him in a training book, as an overly pressure sensitive dog. It said this dog is usually better on one side, difficult to stop and once stopped often won't stay stopped, over- reacts to every movement of the sheep and/or handler and is super keen to work. That's my boy. My frustration today is the lie down. He DOES know the command. He's perfect if we're away from sheep, but tries to ignore it once he's on sheep. He takes at least 5 steps in unless he's behind a flock where I can't see him. Then he doesn't stop at all. I've tried running at him, throwing things, shake cans, slapping the ground with a whip with a plastic bag tied to it - all work somewhat for a while. But never without them. He's not a hardhead. He loves training and wants to please but this is just one of our problems with sheep. Others are slicing in, fetching too fast and causing a split, not covering the flock, over flanking, and not finding balance. Oh, and if I call him off, he stops immediately and comes happily to me. The book also said this was the hardest type of dog to train. No kiddin'. Any other suggestions on lie down? I don't care if he stands but he doesn't stop. He keeps on comming.
  3. WOW, CAROL!!!! This is fantastic!!!!! This is the step I've been missing. It makes sense to BOTH of us! I never thought of doing it on a cross drive. Doc gave me some funny looks the first time I made him take a square flank but after a couple of times he was doing it on his own! And the sheep tend to curl around but that's ok here since I can then have him drive them the other direction. I don't have to try to keep them going much of anywhere which takes the frustration out of the equation! We had so much fun this morning, we went out this afternoon and tried it again. We're pretty sloppy, but getting it. THANK YOU!!!!!!
  4. You are right about him continuing forward on the drive. (I've just been happy when he moved instead of standing there trying to decide which way to go.) And my little field is too small for me to really walk alongside as many have told me to do. That just ends up with us both frustrated. But he certainly can do a cross drive!!!! I LIKE IT. I'd go right out right now and try it if it wasn't dark and wicked muddy... Thanks so much! I'll let you know what transpires. L
  5. That's ok. I'll just play my bodhran until I hear....
  6. Hope I'm not wearing out my welcome here, but I'm determined to figure this out with this dog. He tries so hard to please and worries about things. The least I can do is try to figure out how to make it understandable for him. I was working along the fence flanking him. Beautiful. We went out to the middle, nice! As soon as he's driving, however, he loses that nice square flank. He slides up, too close. The sheep split and we spend time putting things back together. help. Lana
  7. OK I backed him off. the sheep stayed put and I could really see what was going on. I could see much better what was going on.He'd go almost to the fence and then spin. I had to make him take the flank several times. I think we had a good training session! Thanks so much for the advice. We'll keep trying. L
  8. I wasn't worried. Thought you might be trialling somewhere. But, Carollllll,,, sniff, I've worked so hard to get a few sheep that would MOVE for the dog. Now you want me to "break" them???? WAHHHHH. (sorry...ahem) Actually, I don't think the sheep are flighty at all. He's probably just too close. I can send him out wider pretty easily. In fact, when he gets frustrated, he does that by himself. He also spins and wavers back and forth which tells me he's really unsure about what he's supposed to do. But then at other times he takes the flank beautifully. I'm printing this out and will study it carefully before giving it another try. Thanks. I'll let you know what develops. L
  9. Doc will drive and flank off balance, but slowly. My frustration is, that it takes 3 commands to pull him in and when he finally goes, he goes too far too fast so I have to stop him almost immediately. Now the sheep have drifted too far and I have to try to get him to go back the other way. Another 3 commands and the same thing happens. He's very hesitant and we both end up frustrated. I read the discussion on the two adjacent corrals and thought I had found the ANSWER! First off, though, I realized you didn't mention what the sheep are likely to do while I'm carefully sending the dog on his flanks. By the time Doc comes around to the fence the sheep are long gone. 'Course he thought catching them was the best part! And he's not too bad about being on the fence, but he's NOT good at flanking off balance. So I tried this for a couple of days. I don't work him too long at a time. But today after a little driving work that was pretty bad, we went to the fence. Before I could even begin to send him anywhere, he immediately flanked around - off balance - to the fence! Any ideas for this smarty pants?
  10. You were so right once again. He got a few chances to work lighter sheep and he's now a different dog and working SO much better. I think he was really bored. He still leaves slow sheep behind - yes, he's too close because my sheep barely move unless he grabs a hock - but I can keep him back from lighter sheep. I've worked on letting him hold sheep on the fence and teaching him a real "get back." He's doing great and I no longer think he's a hopeless case.
  11. Thanks for the comments. I was thrilled with him yesterday. Today I came in so discouraged I went to bed...Doc couldn't even fetch all the sheep. He was blowing right by any stragglers. I was thinking I should just give up now. He doesn't have the intensity I like although he's a wonderful farm dog. But you're right. He does surprise me when we're on different sheep in a different field. I ran once years ago at the festival and didn't like it, but it's almost in my back yard. Might as well get my money's worth. Wish I hadn't moved so far away from you! L
  12. Hi, Carol! Great to read your tips! I'm regretting entering Doc, PN in the NH Sheep and Wool Trial. I took him to a work day last fall and he did a beautiful drive right through the gates. This spring, he seemed rusty. No surprise. But he seems to be getting worse! I can't keep him driving straight. He moves fast and over flanks (often the wrong way) and sends the sheep way off line. He also pushes right past stragglers and works the faster sheep. The more we train, the worse it gets, the more frustrated I get and it travels right down to poor Doc. I could see he was losing confidence. I've been backing up and trying to drive along a fence and keep as quiet as possible. But the sheep try to bolt for the gate and I have to flank him to keep them on track and we're back to the problem. I started using more sheep and that helped a lot. I can't do much about the size of my field (small). I know we won't work magic by this weekend. I'll just have to bite the bullet and hope a new field and new sheep will inspire him, (and prepare myself for total, public humiliation...) but I'd like to give him as much confidence as I can. (And maybe a little for me too...) Any suggestions gratefully accepted! LP
  13. Also with "excited pee" try to avoid looming over the pup. Sometimes that will trigger it as a defense mechanism. Lil
  14. That is heartbreaking. Don't know if this will help much, but I learned the hard way about finding lost dogs. I posted some on my website ragtimefarmdotcom. The most important thing I learned was don't give up. Talk to EVERYONE. Get the community involved. All it takes is one sighting. Do you have pictures? Lil
  15. My dogs herd ducks as well as sheep. I have, in the past, kept ducks to give the dogs something to do between trips to farms where we worked sheep. Ducks don't move as fast and the dogs can get into habits that don't work as well when on sheep. They can come in too close, and move too slow and not learn to do a big outrun. On the other hand, it canteach a dog patience and control. If you get ducks, I recommend getting a lightweight breed such as Indian Runners. The big meat birds are just too slow. (And ducks need as big an area as you can give them to minimize the smell they can get since they love to muddy up their water. There's some methods of getting their water up off the dirt so they can't do that.)
  16. You could do it on bike training too. Just stop and don't let them go if they took the wrong direction.
  17. I've done it for sledding. I took my leaders out on a leash and heeled in a square giving the gee and haw command at every turn. Then you let the dog move out in front still on the leash. I also found that when they only have one option, if I still used the command, they would learn it. I didn't use a clicker at the time, but don't see why you couldn't adapt it.
  18. I've got 2 dogs with a weird hair loss around eyes too. I've treated for mange, but no change. You'd think it would get worse or it would spread to other dogs. I did have some weird mite thing here when I moved here. I had to treat the sheep, the goats and dogs. It was not fleas or allergies but that seems to be gone for the most part. I read that if a fox sat under a tree and had mites/mange, another animal could come by that tree later and pick it up. lil
  19. Well, maybe I should qualify that a bit. The Angora doe will get out every chance she gets, the buck will never go through a hot fence. Neither will push on regular fencing. Guess they're just individuals. My Alpine will never test a hot fence but she'll stand on field fencing and pull it down, the pygmy likes to walk around on roofs.....
  20. Ditto to the feet and fleece. My Angoras do not climb. The pygmy gets out of EVERYTHING!!!! IT looks like a concentration camp back there with all the stuff I've tried to barricade with, but except for the chain link pens, they STILL get out. Not the Angoras though. And the Angora bucks do NOT stink. My Pygmy buck will drop you at 200 yards! I've worked the angoras with the sheep and I have to say mine are pretty slow....I feel sorry for them and don't usually work them. But I do think angora goats are more like sheep than goats. I LIKE mine!!!! Lil
  21. I was so sorry to hear about your "incident." May I ask what kind of sheep you have? Just curious since a friend of mine has milking sheep. I lost a sheep and a goat to my own dog. He no longer lives here. I was running a bc sled team and was given a great little lead dog. He was given to me because he was hard on sheep (that's putting it nicely) but he loves to run. I had to have a neighbor come and shoot the sheep. The goat was already dead when I found her. I loved that little dog, but he's now someone else's lead dog. I sympathize.
  22. Nothing new to add but wanted to say I am totally impressed with your sense about this dog and your future one!
  23. I don't see Rottie. BC's can have tufted toes if they're not groomed and I hate to say it, but Doc almost has a tail like that....unless he's working. I almost see Pom or Sheltie but that wouldn't explain the color. Cocker Spaniel might.
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