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Everything posted by Lambert

  1. It appears from what I have read that there is a chain of thought that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve excellence in an endeavor, such as violin or piano or basketball. There are people in our sport who have done it for many years, in some cases the 10 years cited in Donald's article who have not achieved excellence and others who have become very competitive in the same span of time. It would be very interesting to know how much people practice. In our sport of course it is not enough for the handler to achieve excellence, you have to have a dog capable of achieving it as well. In that case of the dog while I think the 10,000 hours of practice no doubt helps I also think that you need the genetic talent upon which to lay all that practice. However, we have certainly seen that the top handlers are always top handlers. Sometimes they have more successful dogs then others. But a change in dogs does not drop them back down to the novice level. So I wonder, how much of it is practice. Beverly
  2. Short of the fund raising efforts by friends that Nancy mentioned there is no sponsorship money for teams making the trek to the world trial. This is as Donald said a very expensive vacation costing close to $10K for anyone traveling with two dogs. So yes the primary selection criteria has proved to be the willingness of the handler to foot the bill and not inconsiderable aggravation of the trip. While this is perhaps not the selection criteria we would chose in the best of all possible worlds I don't feel it has led to our being poorly represented. We have sent over some top teams and will continue to do so. I think the biggest hurdle to our sending our best teams may well be the unfortunate dates selected by the ISDS that continually place the World Trial in conflict with the USBCHA National Finals. When the conflicting dates, high costs, improbability of a successful performance and difficulty of the trip are added up we are selecting for our most determined teams. Not a bad criteria. Beverly Lambert
  3. Doing nothing so I just read through this thread. Very interesting look at our "Dog Culture". It really got me thinking. To most of us our dogs are extension of ourselves. I won't say we value them as children but we don't really view them as animals either. Hence our reluctance to buy them from someone who breeds them as if they were... "animals". I know I would have no objection about buying say a Quarter horse from a an operation that kept 88 brood mares and a carefully chosen number of top stallions. The mares might have been shown as reining or cutting horses and have titles and the stallions certainly would. So far pretty comparable to the GSD commercial operation under discussion. Professional staff would work with and handle the foals and at some point in the first few years of that youngster's life I would buy him and feel I was better off then if I had made a similar purchase from a back yard breeder with one mare. I wonder why we consider dogs so differently? Why is having a professional make the determination of who gets bred to whom better then having some fond owner of a novice dog make the selection? Please believe that puppy mills and most commercial breeders are not where I would go for my next dog. But this is a reflection of the quality of these breeders, not on the concept that only someone who breeds for love can make a good breeding. Interesting thread. Thanks
  4. Well I would guess that Jake's desire to play fetch is greater then his desire to get kicked by a cow. This shows good sense on Jake's part but may not work out in his new situation. Generally, when a dog turns away from the work to pick up something, grass, poop or a stick it is an avoidance move. However, there is a lot going on in his life right now with new work and a new home, so it is possible that he will gain confidence in this new life and be ok. I suspect that only time will tell. Confidence in his new owner will also increase his self confidence which may also help. Beverly
  5. I doubt if you will have any problem. It may take him a bit to learn to work for you but the desire to work should remain intact. Good luck Beverly
  6. I use a light weight of line (clothes line weight) and snap it to the dog's collar. If necessary I will hold the dog very tightly or I can let him range freely and just step on the line or pick it up when he is down to keep him at my side when I walk away from the sheep. The line allows me a bit more control and I find once the dog has been stopped a couple of times by my stepping on the line he is a bit more mindful of m presence on the field. Beverly
  7. Its the relaxed which is the whole secret to the wide flank. If you can get him to relax he will flank out on your pressure, but as long as all he can think about is getting to the sheep he won't respond as you want. No magic formula here just needs a lot of walking around with you getting into his space when he crowds the sheep. If you keep telling him to lighten up and relax eventually he should do so. Beverly
  8. Reading between the lines here I think that your main problem is not squaring your flanks but getting your dog relaxed and working his sheep. It sounds to me like he is trying to beat you around the sheep so he can slice his flank. I think working him up against the fence like this, while its easier to control (since you only have half of the circle around the flock to patrol) isn't really going to address the main problem. Also this sort of fence work with the sheep trapped tends to sort of wind up dogs and if he is uncomfortable at all with the sheep will increase his anxiety and desperation to get going. I'm afraid I also think your work area is pretty small but I'm not sure how desperate your boy is so maybe you need these tight quarters to keep a hold on him. However, I would be working on the stop and doing a little wearing in this tight area until I had control. Then I would get back out in a larger area before I did much more. I would suggest letting him drag a line and working in a bit larger area. The first thing you need to do is to get this guy to listen to you and stop quietly when told to. You should be able to stand in place and tell him to stop and he should (when you tell him if not the first time certainly the second). He needs to follow sheep quietly (wearing). Once he will do both of these things like a civilized dog you can start to move off balance and let him flank. When he does these flanks if he is not a goodly distance off his sheep then you need to step into him by coming around the sheep toward him using what ever command you use to back him off (I use "get out of that"). Its very hard to get a dog to square up his flanks if all he is thinking is "how am I going to get around this woman and get to these sheep". You need to do whatever it gets to have at least some of his attention on you all all times. Once he isn't just trying to beat you to the sheep he will begin to pay attention to what you are trying to tell him and he can begin to learn. If the above doesn't work I would hold on to one end of that line and do a little driving with him so you can control his approach to the stock. Once he is relaxed and working with you then you can widen those flanks out in a larger area where he has room to move right around the sheep and find the balance point. Hope I have read the situation correctly Beverly
  9. Don't do it. If you don't think you will enjoy this don't even start it. Your dog will enjoy agility or flyball with all of the enthusiasm that border collies are bred to bring to livestock work and it will be a much easier sport for both of you to participate in living in an urban area as you do. A working border collie is an obsessive/compulsive doing their thing. Sure they love it, but you aren't going to be able to take your dog to do this kind of work very often all you will do is create an interest in your dog that neither one of you can satisfy and you don't even want to do. I would strongly recommend that you do something else with Joy that will bring you both joy. She will never know the difference unless you take her to stock and show her that there is one. Beverly PS There is also the danger that you could come to enjoy herding and ruin your life so have a care.
  10. If i understand your question you only have 4 sheep now so breaking them down into smaller groups probably won't work. Yeah clearly the best solution is to sell the sorry things. Sheep absolutely get like this if they are worked a lot. I'm pretty aggressive about not letting my get too close to me and they are still bad. The breed of sheep is a factor in how bad they get for this. I like a hair sheep or cheviots myself as they stay a bit fresher longer then fine wool breeds and dorset types. There is no good way to work sheep like this. They are spoiled and will not work for your dog like most sheep he will see in competition. There are ways to lighten them up a bit. Take them to a new field and they will be a lot different but it might be easier to get new sheep then a new farm. Beverly
  11. I don't like to put a dog in a situation where I don't know what will happen until I am confident that nothing that is likely to happen is likely to damage the dog's self confidence. So I am reluctant to work lambs or ewes with lambs who might hit my dog until he has shown me that being hit is unlikely to hurt his feelings. Sometimes this is not until the dog is two years old or older. Other dogs have such self confidence that I will happily take them into dangerous or tricky situations much younger. I'm afraid it will depend upon how aggressive your sheep are and how self confident and brave your dog is. Dogs become braver and more self confident with age. It is very easy for a small thing to shake the confidence of a young dog who, faced with the exact same thing, six months later would not be bothered. I tend to err on the side of caution. Beverly
  12. I would not think trialing your new dog would confuse her. In order to be competitive at trials dogs need much more training and obedience than they do for daily farm work since trial work is more unexpected and exacting. This additional obedience will allow you to control your dog better during farm work. I would expect that once she is trained for trialing she will be reluctant to split through the sheep to get to their heads but you may well have enough commands and control on her by that time that you can direct her to do this. Good luck. Beverly
  13. practice and keep it simple and close. Dogs are very like people. If they are confused, upset or stressed they can't learn anything all they can do is worry about the situation. So you need to keep her well within her comfort zone as you try and teach her something new. Keep it close and keep it easy. Beverly
  14. I'm afraid that I find dog training mostly consists of making it smaller. Shorten up the outrun to about 5 feet and make sure she will go around the sheep on her 'bad' side. You need to look very closely at your dog as she circles the sheep. Is her flank around the stock correct? Its very easy to skip the boring "go around the sheep" stuff and move on to the outrun. But a dog that won't correctly flank around sheep will not run out correctly. You need more ground work, more up close work. Your dog should easily walk to the post at your side, set up as you tell her and never cut off the top of her outrun. Circles. Lots of circles with you very close. You need to get her running around sheep and relaxed so she can listen to you and stop when you ask her to. I'm sorry there isn't a magic bullet but it sounds like your dog is running a bit out of control with a poor shape to her flank. This is why you had trouble at the pen and it showed up even more on the outrun because you were asking for an even bigger flank there. The outrun is a big flank. You can't get the big one right without the little one is correct already. I'm guessing you are working with someone and don't have your own sheep. This makes training very hard because your dog gets out seldom and you need to try and accomplish a lot when you have an opportunity to work. The tendency is to move along through the basics as fast as possible to get to the "real" stuff. The basics are crucial to everything that will follow your dog must be relaxed and responsive. The rest will follow easily when laid on this base. Beverly
  15. I would really shorten the distance of the outrun on the bad side. Shorten it down to 10 yards if you need to. Find the distance he will run out to with confidence and enthusiasm with no sign of hesitation. Do this very short outrun for a week or so until he is running out with complete confidence. Then very gradually lengthen the outrun. This looking back, stopping or crossing can get to be a habit really easily. You want to nip it in the bud without in any way diminishing his enthusiasm for the outrun. The behavior you describe is almost always indicative of uncertainty and lack of confidence. He doesn't like running out on that side and isn't comfortable there. You need to remedy that. Beverly
  16. I think I would need to see this before I could say for sure what it going on. If she is ok on heavy sheep and only doing it on light sheep I am puzzled. As you said this is usually an avoidance thing so....you have me puzzled. I wouldn't want to say anything that would prejudice you against your youngster without seeing what is happeniing. I'm afraid i sure don't have a cure for it. Beverly
  17. Wow big question. I don't usually try to decide in five minutes but... You need to make sure that he has a good character. Gets on well with other dogs and people. Then try him on the stock and see how much instinct he seems to have for the work. Does he pay attention to you once he calms down from the initial thrill of it all. Is he a determined killer, afraid of the sheep, too much eye lacking interest??? Too many things to look for to try to describe really. I suspect from your question that you have not had a lot of experience with training a herding dog in the past. So while you might get very lucky and find a 3-5 year old dog wandering into your life who is going to make you a nice herding dog the odds are not with you. If you are interested in pursuing this sport you would be much wiser to spend a bit of money and buy an older trained dog. If that is not in the cards then buy a nice started dog or barring that buy a well bred puppy from a cross that has produced nice easy to train dogs. Starting out with a 3-5 year old dog is hard for the experts. It is not something that I would do and I know very few who would. This is a mature dog who is either going to bring a lot of self confidence and determination to the work or a lack of confidence or fear. The chances of a well adjusted nice herding dog finding itself in BC rescue are not good. Yes I know we can all name a rescue dog that has turned out to be brilliant, but the odds are not with you and this is a dog that if you take him is going to hold a spot in your kennel for ten years that might have gone to a dog that you could have herded with and enjoyed. So good luck to you. I hope he works out but have a care. He might much better go to someone who can love him as a pet and not expect of him what he may not have to give. Beverly
  18. I'm not sure what a "tail turn" is? If it is that she is turning on her hocks, good oh you are lucky. If it is her turning her back to the sheep when she flanks, not nearly so good. Describe the movement a little more for me please. Beverly
  19. How big is your 100 x 100 pen, yards or feet? I The main thing I would look for before I ask too much more is a little more age. At this age I'm pretty careful about asking them to do anything they don't want to do. I would take her out 2 or 3 times a week for five or ten minutes and do a little wearing as you are. Begin to ask her to stop on balance and work on getting a nice relaxed stop. Once you have that and she is happy with it begin to move into her on the flanks and ask her to go the other way. The main thing at this age is to keep them happy and confident. Don't let anything bad happen and don't ask for anything that will shake their confidence. Work on sending her further for her sheep as her sensible work makes you think she can do it. Good luck sounds like you have a nice pup there. Beverly
  20. Teaching the dog to listen is the primary goal of all my training. I want the dog to look to me for guidance whenever he is lost and unsure; on his outrun; at the pen; on the drive. He should always allow my judgement to over rule his if I say so. This is the philosophical justification when I say that listening on the outrun is reinforced with having the dog listen on the outrun, but it is taught from the first time you and the dog go on the field. So my dog that stops when I tell him to (and I mean when I tell him to if I give him the command to stop (different from asking him to stop)) and flanks as I wish him to will listen to me on the outrun once he understand that I want him to. We don't usually ask dogs to listen on the outrun, we just let them go and hope for the best. If the best isn't developing we start whistling and yelling. Adding a confusion of commands to an already confused situation. Since the dogs don't usually make mistakes at home on their outruns we don't realize we have no outrun control until we get to a new place when all of the controls are somewhat less then they are at home and the whole issue gets a bit clouded for us and the dog. So once my dog is running out well I will start having him stop on the outrun. Once he is stopping well I will cross him over to the other side of the field and send him on. Once he does that well I will cross him back and forth (since I only have about 200 yards to work with the most crosses I can usually get is three). Once all of that is pretty good and he is accustomed to turning back for shed sheep I will begin working on setting him up for one group of sheep he can see and re-directing him to a different group of hidden sheep. All of these exercises help the dog to listen on the outrun and they also help him to believe me when I tell him I know something he doesn't. Beverly
  21. I sort of famously don't worry too much about that. But I have a very limited facility for training my dogs. However, having said that when I do expect a dog in competition to run out further then he does at home he has got a very good outrun at home and he is obedient and working with me. Those are my primary criteria in determining if I am going to run a dog. I would not hesitate to run a dog 100 yards who had a good 100 yard outrun. Getting to few new places on new sheep will be a big help to you. Certainly getting the dog comfortable out further will help as well. Dog never seldom run as well in competition as they do at home. So the idea behind having the dog obedient at 300 yards at home is that he will be obedient at 100 yards in competition. I think this is true. I also think it is true that if he is obedient enough at 100 yards he will be okay on the day. Evaluate how he works when you take him to another place to work. If he is as relaxed and obedient as he is at home then go for it. If you get him away from home and can't stop him then you need to do some more work before you take him to the Blue Grass. Finally, dogs need trial experience to get good at trialing. So if you think you can control your dog and get him to the sheep I would go for it. Beverly
  22. Interesting. I suspect this is the same sort of thing that you see with dogs that ignore lambs and just work sheep. If this were my situation I think I would take the dog out just on the Shetlands and not try to work the two groups together. Then if one of them breaks off there is less activity with other sheep and you can more easily concentrate on her going for that one. Try to get her to enjoy working the Shetlands with a change of attitude on both or your parts. This is best done in short doses when you aren't in a hurry or trying to get something else accomplished (but you knew that :-). So far as the turn back goes I would work on that with the other sheep that she enjoys working. Once she is comfortable with the principle and you are confident she knows what you are asking for when you turn her back you can use this command on the Shetlands. I suspect you are not going to change her mind on this subject. She just doesn't like these sheep and doesn't want to work them. However, while you can't make her like it with work you should be able to increase the number of commands you have to the extent that you can put her where you need her to be and keep her on the stock she needs to be working. I haven't seen much of dogs choosing to work one breed of sheep over another. But it is not all that uncommon for a dog to choose to ignore a particularly troublesome individual ewe or ram or as I mention lambs. The dog will decide that a particular sheep just isn't worth the trouble and routinely leave it behind. This is annoying but by working on your dogs over all obedience you can "force" them to keep the group together and work all of the sheep by simply putting them where you need them. This "obedience" solution is not a elegant as just sending the dog for the sheep and having all of them brought nicely to your feet but it does work. With sufficient repetition of the action of bringing all of the sheep your dog will resign herself to the need to bring everyone and I suspect in time will need considerably less chiding to do so. Sorry there isn't a magic bullet here (except if you choose to use it on the Shetlands) but this will work. Beverly
  23. I'm afraid that I have found some dogs like to drive and some just don't they are always trying to fetch the sheep. With practice they all become more comfortable driving but some never really buy into it to the point that they will keep driving away from you if they can't hear you telling them to do so. My dog, Bill, is always trying to bring me sheep. If I'm not pulling him back behind his sheep he is ever so gradually working his way around them so he can turn them back to me. Its just his way and knowing this I work with it and we are fine. On a really windy day I don't have to worry about his hearing me on the fetch I know he will bring the sheep (the drive can be a bit tricky though lol). I have had other dogs that once I got them behind sheep would take them to the next county if they didn't get a command to the contrary. As long as the dog takes the commands he is given when fetching or driving I don't worry too much about trying to change their basic natures. If you dog will stay behind his sheep and work well when told to do so then just do a bunch of driving and keep him comfortable there. He is never going to have to drive sheep great distances and will be fine in a trial or on a farm. If you need to drive sheep for many miles....well he will do that too with you to encourage him. Beverly
  24. I use several exercises to work on redirects. I will send a dog for sheep and then stop him and cross him over to the other side. This is to get him to listen on the outrun and take commands. It doesn't really teach them anything else and don't worry it doesn't make them into habitual crossers. I will set up two groups of sheep in sight to the dog with the first group near and the second group further away. I set the dog up and send him for the first group of sheep. When he is committed to that group I will stop him and give him a wide flank to send him bigger and after the second group. Finally, when he is listening and obeying on these easy exercises I will hide a group of sheep as you are doing and send him for a group he can see. When he is committed to the group he can see I will give him a big flank to go wider and deeper (as I have hopefully taught him). If he doesn't take this command I don't redirect him. I go to him and make him take the flank command. It is easy for the redirect to become a look back and in the heat of the dog trial you will do whatever it takes. But in teaching it I try to keep the two exercises separate and so if an error is made in the redirect I don't give a different command(look back) but I go to the dog and help him understand the redirect command. Beverly
  25. I understand that when you have a dog of a particular breed there would be a curiosity to know if they could do what they were bred to do. However, to make a useful stock dog takes not only breeding and instinct but many years of careful training and then the dog needs to be handled by a person who understands the work of the dog and how to take advantage of his ability. A stock dog works best in a situation that is designed to make use of his talents. A farmer/rancher who does not have a dog will have designed his operation around this lacking and would probably need to rethink some of his organization to take best advantage of a stock dog. So the long answer to your question is that I can not imagine a rancher/farmer who would welcome the addition of an untrained/untested dog in his daily operation. If he already has a dog he will not need yours. If he does not have a dog he wouldn't know what to do with yours. It is certainly possible to participate in herding as a sport without owning livestock as many people on this forum can testify. However, as difficult as the herding sport is with ready access to livestock it is even more difficult without such access. If you love your dog and enjoy having him I would suggest that you view him as the exceptional pet he know doubt is and not ask of him something he may not be able to do and open for him possible vistas of opportunity you may not be able to sustain. Beverly
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