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Diana A

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About Diana A

  • Birthday 06/05/1967

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    Northern IL

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  1. Even if there was the occasional breeder in one of the 'other' herding breeds who bred exclusively for working ability, without large numbers of similar-minded breeders, the gene pool of the dogs being bred for work would be extremely small and the number of dogs needed for a true viable breeding program is more than one person can realistically handle. I see a lot of the same as what Pam said - there are a handful of breeders in many breeds who really do work the dogs, but they also want to do other things (show champion or agility) so stock work isn't the only (or even primary) consideration. And again, even if those breeders have the best of intentions and even actually have some quality working dogs, if hardly any other breeders are focusing on work, who do these dedicated working-minded breeders have available to breed their dogs to? Once it's mostly gone from a breed, getting it back seems like an almost insurmountable, if not impossible, task.
  2. This ^^ Some of the best and most experienced trainers I've seen actually have to correct very little (and those with very minimal force) because they can read the situation and can see a mistake coming before it happens and position themselves in a way that will head off trouble with only a mild bit of pressure. This opposed to a less experienced handler who may find themselves correcting for the dog already having taken a dive at the sheep or sliced into them and scattered them. The sheep will do a lot of the teaching and the trainer is there to prevent trouble and to assist the dog in making better choices. Example: trainer sees dog is going around but getting a bit tense, so trainer puts a bit pressure at the right spot, dog bows out, dog sees sheep relax and slow down as a result, dog is rewarded by being able to get to the head of the sheep without losing them and seeing that he's in control, dog decides on his own that next time the situation comes up bowing out is what works and he'll do more and more of it. In this case, smart handler positioning or a bit of pressure is all the correction needed,and not something the dog sees as punitive or demotivating. It would be more demotivating and punitive for the dog to continually lose his sheep and keep chasing around and around getting more and more frantic because he's too tight and his trainer won't show him how to be correct. I'd say this is also another reason that you breed for good inborn abilities, because the naturally talented dog will more readily make the right choices on his own and will naturally recognize and seek out control of the stock. Some of the most punitive training situations I've witnessed are when the dog (often not a border collie) has little natural ability - to the point where the dog doesn't recognize 'control' as a reward but gets more reward out of chasing and gripping than from proper work. That situation is not fair to either the dog or the sheep. More advanced training with a dog that wants to work with the handler also doesn't require much (if any) more punitive type corrections. My current dog is very biddable and simply stopping her when she's making a wrong choice is usually all the correction needed - she then makes a better choice and is allowed to continue working.
  3. If you're interested in a sport dog, the best bet is to go to working bred lines that other people have purchased sport dogs from. They'll have all the best traits of the working dog (especially impulse control as noted above, and biddability) but having some relatives doing sports will give you an idea of what type of sport dog they are and if they meet your preferences. I'd say any of them would be great fun agility dogs, but someone with Nationals or World Team aspirations may be pickier as far as things like jumping and turning ability and a particular body type that suits their handling preferences. One thing I see more and more in the sport bred dogs is they seem to often be very soft-tempered and get stressed or over-stimulated easily, or to quit too easily if they can't figure something out. I also know some that have no 'off switch', which would drive me crazy to have around the house.
  4. I have one like that too. She prefers to know she's right and be told what to do, but when I leave her alone she does have the skills to handle it herself (after an initial period of confusion when the input stops). It gets way too easy to fall into the trap of just always telling he what to do at a trial. Sometimes not providing enough input leads to what Julie mentioned - dog looking around the sheep for input from the handler. We do work a lot on 'figure it out yourself' but at a new place on strange sheep she still seems happier to have help from me - maybe a confidence thing or just the dog's temperament. I think that's different from a trainer who forces their will on the dog and corrects it for thinking for itself to the point where it stops using it's brain.
  5. D'Elle, I'm curious what microchip company this was, if you don't mind saying. I read it on Facebook all the time about how a dog is found, has a chip, but the number 'isn't working' and now I'm wondering . . . I have all of mine registered on PetLink.net, even those whose chips were from another company. It's free and you can put in picture, medical information, etc. I had a Home Again chip in one of the one older dogs and when I tried to look it up it kept saying no such number.
  6. Thanks for doing this. I've gotten through several of the runs and am looking forward to watching all of them.
  7. I ordered and my one year has started, but all I'm getting is the 'handlers at the post' video. Am I doing something wrong or are the videos of the actual runs just not ready yet? No problem if they aren't (I imagine it takes some work to get them ready) but if they are and I'm missing out on seeing them, I just wanted to check.
  8. People can be stupid. I've had multiple occasions of people telling me the dog in my profile pic is a mixed breed because she doesn't have the traditional white collar and blaze.
  9. I picture myself being in the middle of the sheep and the dog moving around me as I was lunging a horse. If I'd be pushing the dog on around from left side, it's a come bye. If on my right, it's an away. That has always worked for me even with sheep and dog coming towards me.
  10. A system is just the language you have developed between you and your dog, that you have a certain consistent way of asking him to do a certain thing, so he can be confident of what you're asking and you can be confident that he'll respond in a predictable way to a particular cue. I follow quite a bit of Mecklenburg's system as she didn't just go out and make it up, but actually looked at how dogs naturally react to certain handler movements - more like learning the dog's system. I continue to experiment with it - "if I do X, what does my dog do, and does she do it every time?". If I find a cue that gets a predictable response, then every time I want that response I know that cue is one way to get it. So then that cue has become a piece of my system. If it doesn't work, find out what does. No one, no matter how successful or " big name" knows everything. An example with my dog - deceleration should make the dog collect. Does not consistently work for my dog - I do get a turn but not necessarily a good one. I was told to train my dog to respond better to that cue. However I found a cue that she responds quite naturally to, which is instead of just slowing myself down, I dramatically shorten my stride (almost like a stutter step) and then I get extreme and instant collection every time. So now that stutter step is a new piece of my system. The beauty of this - because I learned it from my dog (instead of me teaching it to her) it works on all my other dogs too, with no training needed. So yes, some of the more training based systems (like Derrett) with all kinds of "never do X" rules, I totally don't get. But a system truly based on the dog's natural tendencies makes total sense to me.
  11. I would approach this cautiously. Yes, agility can be taught with all verbals and the handler not using movement. I guess the question to seriously consider is why would a new agility handler want to go that route when the vast majority of the masters in the sport choose to go with the more traditional (and more competitive not to mention simpler) method of using motion. You need to take into consideration you're taking the much more difficult approach as far as much more training needed, and therefore needing to wait a lot longer before the dog can trial, and going into this knowing that the end result, competitively speaking, will be inferior to a more traditional approach. Most people using an extreme distance/verbal based style do so because they either have a physical condition that prevents the handler from handling in a more traditional manner, or because they participate in a particular class or organization whose rules require it. There is definitely a place in the traditional handling style for distance work. However, this typically consists of the dog learning commitment to where he was originally sent (for example, handler motion cues next jump 20 feet ahead, as soon as dog shows commitment, handler may head off elsewhere, leaving the dog to cover the last 15 or 20 feet on his own) and the dog's natural tendency to parallel the handler's line (if dog is 30 feet out and handler moves straight alongside the dog's current path, the dog will follow the same line and maintain the 30 foot separation, a deceleration or collection/convergence cue would be needed to pull the dog off that line). All of that tends to be very natural for BCs - they still are following motion even when working at a distance. So the handler still needs to understand the natural motion cues as that is the dog's default. To untrain that natural method of communication and go to all verbals can take quite a bit of work. BCs are smart and can certainly learn it. Again, it just comes back to making sure that's what you really want to do. Because once you decondition the dog's natural responsive to body language, that may be a hard thing to fix later if you change your mind.
  12. One of the beauties of a motion based system is you don't absolutely need all those extra verbals (or all the time spent training them). I teach my dogs the basic cues (much of it is actually natural and takes very little teaching) and I can combine and vary those cues to get the exact response I want. I can run the dog completely silent. I can run my youngsters on some very complex sequences (using wings in place of bars if dog is too young to jump) and they will read it all and perform well with very little training. Once I learned how to "speak dog" with my body, I have the basic alphabet needed to explain complex movements to my dog on the fly. It is so cool to see them master some fancy maneuver on the first try because the way it's communicated just makes sense to them. As far as telling the dog you want a quarter turn vs a full turn - the easiest way is you cue the direction of turn with body language and show the intended direction after the turn with your movement and location, and the dog connects the dots and does the turn needed to get from Point A to Point B.
  13. Find a good class. No substitute for an experienced eye to catch the details and explain how to do something correctly. As far as backside (go out and come back) vs front side of a jump - it's all in the line you set for the dog with your body language. A very helpful book is Linda Mecklenburg's handling book - it does a very thorough job of explaining all the cues and how to combine them to get the desired response from the dog.
  14. One thing to consider too is if different sheep might help. My last dog, starting at a clinic, went in on really dog broke sheep that ran right to my knees. She was tight and fast and very excited and I could see a possible confrontation developing to "push the dog out". The clinician requested less broke sheep. Totally different dog with different sheep. The previous sheep left the dog frustrated with nothing to do except run in tight circles. With the less broke sheep she had room to head them and get a response, and the sheep being farther from me also resulted in the dog being farther from the sheep. The original frantic mess calmed right down and the dog did some pretty nice work without having to be pushed on.
  15. I train position on a practice plank, then add a tunnel before it to increase the dog's speed. Use a curved tunnel so you can send the dog in and be ahead for the contact. Then I get ahead in a recall position. The dog needs to learn what to with his body to stop from that kind of speed and having you there gives a little more incentive to figure it out (unless the dog is willing to run into you). Note that you don't TEACH position this way, but are simply using it as a temporary aid to help the dog figure out body mechanics. Increase distance and speed on plank and get it solid before putting it on a real contact. The dog has to also develop some strength to do this coming down a steeper ramp. Edited to add a link showing on of my pups learning 2on2off. The recall/speed part is near the end of it.
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