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Everything posted by RMSBORDERCOLLIES

  1. That's a good way to do things Mark and I really like the idea of Katahdins and Border Leicester x Romney. Talk about a large spectrum. Good way to go........Bob
  2. Have a look and see if the leaves are wilted and if they are you should be safe to graze it. I would check every 15 minutes for an hour or so the first time they go out just to be sure and safe though.........Bob PS......There was quite a discussion on this subject during the summer. You should be able to access that thread and read it....Bob
  3. Hi. One thing that works very well with a dog that wants to go straight up at the sheep is for you to walk with the dog in the direction you are going to send him, both of you close to the sheep, and then send him when he is moving in the direction you want him to go. I'll try to explain that a little better. If you are going to send on a come bye, put your dog behind and beside you and start to walk at a right angle to the sheep with your dog following along. I see you are using a line so let the line drag making sure there is nothing out there he can get caught up on. You will have your stick or whatever in your left hand and a bit behind the dog. When you get moving at a fast walk or short trot sssshhh the dog with you still moving sending him on his very short outrun. Make sure that you keep trotting berside him to keep him out and when he gets to 3 or 9 o'clock get back behind the sheep so he can fetch them to you. When they get to your feet, lie him down and go give him a pat and tell him he's a good fellow. Do that a few times until he gets the idea of the fetch and then things will come together quite well and you can move on to more distance. This is not going to come overnight so persevere and be patient. It will come. It will come faster than a hard to train to drive dog will too but not much different. Do lots of balance work with these type of dogs ending every session with at least a good 30 second walk around the field with the dog balancing sheep to you and no flank commands, only your stop or ssshhh to get him, which probably won't be necessary. End every session this way because balance is what the outrun, lift and fetch is based on......Bob
  4. Hi there. Ok, she's taking your down as a correction so let's see if just correcting her will work. When she gets to the point that you would normally down her, give her a flank to push her out or just call her name and flank her. There's another thing you can do and that's down her and go to her and give her the flank standing beside her to push her out wider. You need to keep mixing up this stuff so you don't create a habit and cause her to start stopping on her outrun. If she kicked out when you went to down her she obviously knew she was wrong and righted herself and that's good. Now you have to put a command with it that means what you want her to do. So when she gets to the point that she's not wide enough call her name and give her the flank to push her out. You are trying to "shape" her outrun and the more she does it right, the more she will do it right. Bob
  5. Hi Deb. What you did is very acceptable and no, you shouldn't have sent him to the left after gathered the first two flocks as it is one field. The other way that it could be done is for the dog to go on his outrun to the sheep that are furthest away on the field and then gather the separate flocks from there. That is the way I like to see it done. That way the dog learns to gather the whole field and then pick up sheep as he comes to the handler. When you are gathering a very large field with an experienced dog, he will go out until he finds the furthest band of sheep and then start to gather. I'm talking about 600 acres or better here. That way he will have had a chance to pretty well see most of the sheep on the field on his outrun and will be aware where they are. Generally you can leave these experienced dogs alone to gather but there are times when they will miss some that they cannot see so you need to help at these times by showing them where the sheep are with your commands. This piece of work you did today is great and the more of this type of work you can do the better dog and handler you become. Mix it up out there too. The next time you send, send a different way and get him used to thinking while he's working. You can also help by changing the balance point by you moving to a different spot and see if he notices where you are. It's good practise and also lots of fun working like this. Good luck.......Bob. PS....Knee is coming along fine. Went for my first physio today and threw the crutches away. Hopefully will be back training dogs about the middle of third week of November if everything keeps going the way it is now.......
  6. Sounds like you have a good one there but he'sw noty going to be easy. Take your time with him and the exercise you are doing having him drive some and do some inside flanks is a good way to start with him to work out the crazies and get his mind settled. You will have to start with his gathers at a very short distance and move out as he improves. When I say short, that's what I mean. 30 yards or so. Use about 10 sheep that are not too light but broke well. You have to try and keep things as quiet as possible. Lie your dog down or stay him and walk to the sheep standing directly in front of them. Step to one side or the other, holding your long stick or whip way out as far as possible and ask him to flank one way or the other. Do it quietly. If he starts straight at you go at him "lie down" and stay. When you get to him pick him up by the collar and take him back where he started. Make sure you set him well in the direction you are going to send him. Go back to the sheep and try again, this time moving at him to force him to square off at the start. You will now have to keep at his shoulder so as not to stop him and keep pushing him out until he is coming in behind the sheep. Now, you have to run back to the other side of the sheep so he can fetch them to you. If he is coming in gagn busters behind the sheep, lie him down until the sheep are ahead a little bit and then ask him up again controlling the pace that he brings the sheep by stopping him before he has a chance to bust into them. You have to be fast and your timing must get to be immaculate or he will beat you. Stay on top of him and don't let him get started in any nonsense as this is serious business, this gather and he must know that. Once you get a good gather, quit with some praise, do something he really likes, like driving for a minute or two and then leave with him. Do it as often as you like for the first little while and when you are sure that he's got the idea what a gather is all about, start moving him out in short increments, 20 yards or so until you have a good long gather on him. Remember, you are the boss and he must listen. There can be no fooling around here. You have a good but he will give you a lot of trouble if you don't get this gather on him properly. Get back to me in a little while and let me know how things are going and we'll go from there......Bob
  7. I very much doubt that these sheep will ever be "dog broke". Romneys are by nature and breeding very defensive. They would rather die than move in most instances and any experience I have had with them it has taken an extremely strong dog with a lot of bite to get them off a fence and moved to another field or the barn. They are great wool sheep and crafters love them for their long kinky fine wool. They also have very good sweet meat but as far as dogs go I would recommend you stay away from them other than to tune a dog up for a trial on rough sheep. Sometimes it gets pretty abusive when trying to move these sheep. Like trying to push lead around a field. Try for some other types of sheep if possible and just work these when there is nothing else. Don't even try with a weaker dog. You'll just make her weaker and destroy her confidence. Bob
  8. It sounds like you are wanting to teach him to drive, not just walk up. You should be teaching the walk up while you are gathering. When your dog goes around to gather and gets to the point of balance you should be telling him to "walk up" putting the command with the action and backing up letting him bring the sheep to you. Try this before you start trying to get him to drive. That way when you ask him to walk up he'll know what you are talking about. Bob
  9. Hi there. If your dog runs extremely wide then you need to set him up a little ahead of you when sending him. This is just the start. Now we get into some form of control to bring him in and, if needed, widen him out. If setting him a little ahead of you before you send him fixes the problem then you don't need to go to shaping the outrun. How wide is the dog on the outrun and how deep is he going? Just to talk about what an outrun should look like, the dog should leave the handler at about a 30 to 45 degree angle and go out at that angle until he reaches a point opposite the sheep at 3 or 9 o'clock at which time he should start to turn in keeping the same distance from the sheep as when he started to turn in. When he reaches the point of balance or pressure he should then start to approach the sheep in a quiet controlled manner in order to turn the sheep toward the handler. Ok, if the dog has gone too wide he will end up way too far behind the sheep and have a long haul in getting to the sheep to lift them. To correct this you must change the angle that the dog runs out in order to have him come in at the right distance behind the sheep. To teach the dog this you may have to redirect him on his outrun for a while to get him in the right zone to arrive behind the sheep at the right distance. So, you must be able to bring the dog in on his outrun by giving a reverse flank to get him back on the proper line (angle) for the outrun. If too tight of course the opposite. When he gets to the right line for the outrun, then give him the same flank you gave him to start the outrun but shorter so he doesn't go too wide again and then let him continue on his outrun. Because he is not too wide he should wind up at the right distance behind the sheep. This is a good thing to practice anyway as it gives you the confidence the dog will take a redirect and you will find out if he will or not and start to work on redirecting him. Now you need to be aware that you must only do this in order to shape the outrun and give the dog a chance to do it right before commanding. Try the set forward to start with and then if that doesn't get it done start to show the dog how you want him to run out by using the redirect strategy. You are not making him mechanical, merely changing a bad habit of running too wide or too narrow. Too wide is usually a lot harder to deal with than too narrow so stay diligent if that is the problem. Get back and let me know how it's coming as there are a few other things you can do if these don't work. Not an overnight fix either.........Bob
  10. This is a very good question and deals with actual work that a dog needs to do during the day and it also requires that the dog be very diversified in what she does. I think the dog will work fine for you, however some basic rules need to be applied. First of all, the dog must not be allowed to free roam as this is what gets all farm dogs into trouble. They are very compulsive and obsessive beings and their minds are very busy and if you leave them to do as they will, they will, more often than not, do something you don't want them to do. Also, for the safety of the dog , she should be confined, preferable in a kennel run when not needed to work. She can also be with you when you are outside and able to cotnrol her movements. If you allow her in the house, that's ok too. She should never be outside in an uncontrolled environment when you are not around. I wouldn't say that she is a chicken killer just because whe killed two chickens when no one was around so there really isn't a problem here other than the fact she was alowed to be loose and uncontrolled. I take it she has already been trained to work the cows and chickens on the old owners place so if that is right she should work for you once she is bonded to you. If she has not been trained then you have some work to do and you can get back with specific questions on that at any time. So let me know how you made out and if you need more help with the dog and we'll carry on from there. Sorry about the delay on answering but I am getting ready to go in for knee replacement surgery on Friday and have been very busy lately.........Bob
  11. As Dr. Greg Ackland is the world's foremost expert on Border Collies and those eye tests that are done on them, I think I will stick to what he has personally told me about blue eyes. As far as "night vision" is concerned, I have a real problem myself seeing in the dark and I have brown eyes. I have experienced this discussion on "night vision" for many years, more than I wish to remember, and still haven't been able to find that very special dog that sees better than others at night. Just gathered my flock off the neighbour's field last night with my one blue eyed dog and he didn't have any problem finding and gathering them and it was pitch black with no moon or stars. I'll stick to what I've seen over the last 50 some years and what the experts have shown and told me. Bob
  12. Blue eyes are quite common in Border Collies and, according to Dr. Ackland, are not and never have been a problem of any kind health wise. The only problem lies in the eyes of the beholder and, if you are looking at the eyes when the dog is working you are missing the rest of the picture. Some don't like them for their appearance but, personally, I don't have a problem with them because I'm more interested in the way the dog works than whether he has a blue eye or not. Bob
  13. Most of us don't like to hear a dog bark when working stock. It is usually a sign that the dog has run out of presence and doesn't have another tool in his box. The grip is fine but not necessary to have the bark. I have seen it work at times but it is usually just a bluff and when it comes down to push or be pushed the barking dog usually doesn't have enough. Your command is going to be what I said to get him to get up on the stock. "Get 'em up" or whatever words you want to use to tell the dog a bite is in order. If you are going to use something different, and lots of folks do, just make sure that it is a suitable expression for the action you want. You don't want something soft and peaceful to teach a dog to grip. Make it something that is sharp and aggressive because that is the type of action you are trying to teach. When he heels you will tell him, "good boy, good boy" and then call him off. "That'll do" Pet him and make a bit of a fuss but don't go overboard with it. Remember, don't get all carried away with the power thing, it'll come back to haunt you if you use it too much. It is a last resort thing if the dog can't move them with it's presence. Most of the time you will want your dog working near the back of the flight zone so that the sheep are comfortable but moving. The only time you will allow your dog to get in closer is if you want them to move a little faster or they have stalled out on you and you need to get the dog closer to get them moving again. Once the dog learns that he can move them with his presence, you will probably hardly ever need a grip. Keep in touch......Bob
  14. As far as I am concerned as long as the dog stops, whether in a sit or a lie down is fine. If you get the dog trained to stop and stay, it will give you an opportunity to go over to him and put a lead on him if he won't come to you. Once you get the stop you will have much more control on the dog and we can then go from there to proceed to some work training after that. Start working on his recall (come) right away and the lie down or sit whatever you choose. To start on the recall put the long line on him and start very close, just a few feet with the line on. Lie him down and tell him to stay by pushing your hand at him as you back up. Just go a few feet and then call him to you and tell him to sit in front of you when he gets there. Don't worry about how he sits as we are not training formal obedience just manners. When he comes to you and sits give him a little pat and tell him he's a good boy and do it again a couple of times and quit. You can do this as many times during the day as you have time provided he gets a good rest from it in between. As he progresses you can just keep moving further away if he is doing it right. Don't move out further until you are sure he has it down pat. Leave a line on him for now ( a short one) so that you can get hold of him if you need to and be determined that he will not beat you at his little game any more. In other words don't give him a chance to do anything wrong while you are teaching him that you are the boss and must be obeyed at all times. You don't have to be mean just firm. He has missed about 4 months of time that he could have been in training and it is a very important time in his life as far as what he learns about how he is to behave for the rest of his life. The period between 3 and 8 months is very important in the development of learned traits in a dog and he has missed some of it so you need to give it back to him now. Keep in touch and don't hesitate to come back for more help if needed..........Bob
  15. Yes, the shape of your mouth can affect your ability to whistle and if you have a very oval mouth it will be more difficult as the shape of the small hole that you blow through and being able to block off all excess air will be more difficult. The nice thing abouit the whistle is that once you find your method of blowing, you will be able to refine it quite quickly.....Bob
  16. Once a week isn't near enough. 5 times a day for a half hour each time might get you whistling in a few months. If you were a 5 year old you couild do it in a day but then, we're not 5 year olds are we!!!...Bob
  17. There is no magic but there is knowledge and hard work. If your dog will take the head but doesn't want to heel that is quite common. We have also the other type that will heel but won't take the head. I would rather have the first but best is both. You can get a dog to heel by using your voice in a very ecstatic encouraging manner giving the dog "getup, get up on 'em" commands when he is driving the flock. Be careful that you don't allow him to go to the head as he will want to when you are encouraging him to grip. If he's a little shy about getting too close to his stock, go with him and keep encouraging him until he grips and then immediately give him his "that'll do" and call him off. You don't want him to harrass the stock, just get them moving a little faster. When you give him his "that'll do" don't be angry at him, just give him the command and walk away, calling him to you. You don't want him to think he's done anything wrong, you want him to think he's right. Don't get the dog to the point that it becomes a habit for him to grip to move his stock. I take it you want some grip when you are moving your goats as they may be a little heavy and not react well to the dog moving them. Make sure you use a different command for the heel thatn you do for the "walk up" so he knows when you want him to grip. I would also suggest that you don't teach this to a dog with very little training on it as you won't be able to control the result and that could be disastrous. Bob
  18. I found that the brass or stainless steel whistles are much easier to blow than the plastic whistles. Before I started whistling with my fingers or my mouth, I started with a plastic whistle and I thought that I must have been mentally challenged when it took me so long to get good enough with it to trial. I then went to a stainless whistle and things got much better and then to brass when the volume and the pitch finally came together. I also used to whistle with my mouth in those days too but since I have gone to the fingers, the dogs' hearing seemed to improve quite a bit. (ha, ha) I need to be careful that I don't use too much volume as echoes and distortions are quite common if you create too much volume and that really confuses the dogs. Bob
  19. Hi there. It would appear to me that he had a few learned behaviours prior to you getting him, that being a little game of test the handler on his recall. Your long line will have to be attached to you for a while until you have control of him. Sometimes a month is not long enough to establish a good bond with a pup if they have been with another family for a while which this one has. I see you use "come" as a recall instead of "here" so you must use a "go bye" for your clockwise flank. Is that correct? When teaching a dog a recall it is important that you back away from the dog at all times when asking him to come to you. This will induce the dog to want to be with you more if you are getting away from him. Use a coaxing voice, very happy, and start short so he gets the picture and can get it right. Keep the line on him so he can't do it wrong and praise when he gets to you. It would appear that he hasn't been taught a proper recall at his former home and may have been spoiled a bit also so you have some bad habits to overcome and you need to persever with his recall training. Don't let him off the line until he has it down pretty good so you don't have to start all over again if he breaks control. Your line should bew at least 50 feet long and preferably longer if possible. You need to establish whether he knows what you want him to do and is just playing with you or if he doesn't know and just needs more training before you go to correcting him for not coming. So be sure that you know that he knows what he is supposed to do before starting to correct him. You should try and make the recall a happy thing if at all possible as this will last the rest of his life and he should really want to be with you when he's done working. Teach the dog a good "lie down" also as dogs will take commands more readily when they are in that position. So try lying the dog down and then recalling him and if that works continue with that and the recall from whatever else he might be doing. Get back to me and let me know how things are going and we'll go on from there......Bob
  20. This has nothing to do with breed of dog at all and everything to do with "possession". The female dog was very put off because you stopped playing with her and petted your little male dog. Of course, she didn't blame you; she blamed the other dog and tried to get him out of the way of interfering with yours and her playtime. This can be a problem with an alpha bitch who likes to be in control so you need to be aware of the social conditions laid down by the alpha bitch to the little male. #1. They will probably get along just fine when you are not around. #2. Keep the bitch in control when you are out with both of them and let her know that you make the rules, not her. Be very aware of any posturing for attack on the part of the bitch when you are out with both of them and nip it in the bud before anything gets started. I will tell you now that you will need very assertive control with the bitch to keep her under control. #3. It will take quite a while to get these two dogs accustomed to accepting each other but it will happen if you are determined enough. Don't be nattering at her all the time though as this will just keep the tension up, just be very aware and keep a close eye on things when you are out with and nip it in the bud before it gets started. Bob
  21. I see you are from Alberta and you will be missing a great opportunity by not joining the ASDA(Alberta Stopck Dog Association). Alberta has some of the top trainers and handlers in not only Canada but the U.S. also and I'm sure one of them is within driving distance for you. Their web site is www.albertastockdog.com and the president is Ken Price so get in contact with them and I'm sure you will be well received and get lots of info. Your pup is a little on the young side for any serious training as yet and I have found that formal obedience training under KC rules can be detrimental to stock dogs as it tends to tightern them up a little too much. On the other hand there is certainly nothing wrong with teaching the pup to be obedient and to have manners, lie down, stay, here, that'll do etc. They can learn all this stuff before starting on sheep or cattle. It would appear that you have a stock persons' background so half the job is already completed. Working sheep will be different than working cattle but you will catch on quickly once you understand the animal. Starting dogs on cattle is ok but I prefer to start them on sheep as they can move quicker and the dogs learn to balance much faster on them than they do cattle. It's easy enough to switch over the when the dog is started if you want to work both or just cattle. No problem going to any trainer you choose but be sure that you have done your homework as far as the trainer's qualifications are concerned. You will be able to get lots of advice through the ASDA on that, I'm sure. Welcome to "our world" and we all hope you will have as much fun as we do......Bob Stephens
  22. Ok, I take it you are standing at the north end of the field and the run in shed is to your left on the east side of the field. She is handling the cross drive west quite nicely because there is no draw and the sheep are actually going straight on their own. No reason for them to go any other way unless she makes them. Coming back to the east side is a LOT different. There is a draw to the shed and they consider themselves safe in there so that is where they want to go. You will always have to use inside flanks in this situation as you want the dog to push them straight across the field. The dog will not know this unless you tell her. This is very good practice and you will be teaching her to hold line at the same time. Get her where you need her to be to hold the line and then give her a "walk up". You want her to stay out on the pressure and just keep to the sheep where she needs to be to keep them going straight across the field. If she goes to go back in behind the sheep instead of out on pressure, flank her back to pressure and tell her walk up until she gets it that she is supposed to stay out there on the pressure and keep the sheep moving straight across the field. The reason she is straightening things out on her own when she is further away from you is because the draw to the shed is not as great as when she is close to you and the sheep don't need quite as much pressure on them to go straight. Don't just drive across the field; drive the full length and corner to corner and wherever you can get different pressures so she gets to read them all. Don't always drive in a straight line either, mix it up, curves, angles etc. so she knows how to do everything including taking her commands right all the time. Giving commands to the dog is not being naggy as you put it. Giving unnecessary commands is naggy. You weren't doing this. You were giving necessary commands and that is good. Your expectation should be that you will leave the dog to do what is the right thing to do but if she doesn't do it right you need to intervene. That is training. Dogs do not understand what a line is until they are taught what a line is. Some are real "line dogs" who catch on quickly and are inclined to drive or fetch in straight lines than some others, but all of them can be taught over a period of time with good methods to drive and fetch straight holding pressure all the time. When your girl is well trained you will have the confidence in her that you can put her anywhere you want if you need to but she will also have the confidence in you that she will work on her own and be right most of the time. This is the relationship you are looking for and you will be a very happy camper when you reach it. Keep up the good work....Bob
  23. Hi there. Your problem with this dog is you don't have control of him. So the fix for this is to get control of him without taking his natural talent away. This must be done at a distance that you can control him and then move him out as he b ecomes more tractable. Your goal is to have a dog that you can put any place you want him to be so that you can get your work done in an efficient manner without harrassing the stock. The first thing that you must learn to control is the stop on the dog. If you can't stop the dog he will always be in the wrong place and work will not be enjoyable for you. So, you need to get out and pratice with this dog, stopping him on command on the fetch and while flanking and driving. Stop means stop right there and not 3 or 5 more steps. If the dog is fetching sheep to you use whatever command you use to stop your dog and run at thim with your hands up in the air telling him the command. Run right through the sheep if you need to. If he stops right away when you give the command then move him out a little further and go again until you can stop him anywhere even at 500 yards. Some dogs prefer to work on their feet and some will fight you when trying to get them to lie down. If they are the type that are uncomfortable while in the down position, and are not just fighting being told what to do, I wouldn't get too concerned about them lying down. It will come eventually. But they must stop when told. The gripping is not a big problem but you must deal with it when necessary. Usually if you learn to keep your dog back off the sheep where he can't grip this takes care of it, but YOU must decide where the dog should be in the initial stages. This is teaching the dog pace and to read his stock instead of him just going in and busting them because he knows that will move them. You have to be the boss and in control of the dog. The dog may have beeen considered trained when you got him but you need to be trained also and you need to bond and get to know your dog before you can become proficient as a handler. I also doubt if a yearling could be considered trained but could definitely be considered well started. In order for you to become proficient as a handler you and the dog need to practice and, if I understand correctly, you are in a position to do that pretty well every day. Is that right? This is going to take a while so get back to me with further questions as you spend time training the dog and yourself and we'll carry on from there. Good luck......Bob
  24. Hi Suzanne. Yes, good seeing you at the finals too. You have a dog there that is going to be a good one but you need to have a little more control of her. Notice I didn't say "on her" but "of her". Thisw means that you must be able to flank her right around in front of the sheep on the fetch and drive them back where they came from. You will know that you have control of her when you can do that. This is not the development of eye but a desire to control which is really good. The problem that occurs with these type of dogs is that they don't want to let go of control and therefore you must break that focus and make them do as they are told. On tough sheep (wild or unbroke)she wioll not want to let go because a) she doesn't know what they will do if she does let go of the pressure and b)she thinks she knows better than you what to do with them. A very good exercise to accomplish the dog accepting being taken off pressure and giving up control is to send her on a gather and, when she is part way on her fetch, givce her a great big flank to get her around in front of the sheep and push them back to where you picked them up on the lift. If she doesn't take the flank when given, get going up the field until you are close enough that she will obey you and make her take the flank and push them back. Do this a few times during your practices but don't do it excessively as you don't want her anticipating that you are going to give her a flank all the time. You want to leave that nice, natural, gather in her but know that you can move her any way you want to at the same time. Don't set anything up, just surprise her all the time with this command. She must be listening all the time. If she is really focused on holding the pressure, try calling her name before you give the command. This will usually get her attention and get her focused on you and then go on from there. She will be a good one once you have hold of her. .....Bob
  25. Sorry I am so late answering this question but I had lots to do upon returning from the finals. Sound sensitivity is a very complicated, usually genetic, disorder and quite difficult to deal with at times. Before I go any further though I would like to offer a suggestion that your dog not chase her sheep but herd them. Now that that's out of the way, we'll deal with sound sensitivity. The best way that I have found to deal with it is to find a way or action that the dog will do that will calm her during the noise that is bothering her. With my old dog who was quite sensitive to thunder, I used to work him during every thunderstorm we had and, over the years, he became very accepting of it but it did take quite a long time but was worth it. You need to be calm yourself around the dog and offer support in the way of soothing her and calming her during the noise. Once you get her working well and with condfidence you can take her out during the gun shots and work her calmly on sheep that she enjoys. It will take time and I know of no way that you can do it quickly so just find something she enjoys doing and do it while the gunshots are happending. WARNING!! Noise sensitive dogs can freak out during thunder storms and the like and just start running with no goal or direction in mind and, quite often, get into disastrous situations like being hit on the highway etc. So when the noises occur, if you can't take them out and work them, I would suggest confining them where they cannot escape for the duration of the noise, whatever it may be...........Bob
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