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Everything posted by RMSBORDERCOLLIES

  1. Yes, Julie, I totally agree with you on this. There are too many types of dogs to even to think of categorizing them. They are all individuals and always will be. However, there are some generalisations that we experience throughout our time spent with our working dogs but they should never be thought of as categories. I personally, don't like the term "opinionated" to indicate that a dog is strong on his sheep. Presence is what we are looking for. "Opinionated", to me, would indicate that maybe he's a little stubborn and in his own head. I don't mind some of this in a dog as it shows that he likes to be in control but too much of it makes the dog very difficult to train and some are almost untrainable and not a joy to work with. I'm sure that lots of folks out there would agree that there are some generalizations that they have experienced that have become "accepted" as "probably" this or that will happen with this type of dog but it certainly should never be thought that it "will" happen. These dogs are too much individuals and too subject to environment to ever be able to lump them into some category so to speak. That's what makes them so exciting, entertaining and interesting to work with.......Bob
  2. Yep, makes lots of sense Deb. That's really what it ws all about. Dog had no bad habits and was taught good manners while growing up and he came to me ready to listen and work with a ton of willingness and the brightness to get it all the first time. I really can't say enough about him and I would really like to find another like him but they don't show up every day do they? Bob
  3. Yes, I sure do as my neighbour just lives up the road from me about 1/2 mile and we are pretty good friends. I bought my first border collie, Del'Mar Turk, from him. The dog, "Del'Mar Kep", had some exposure to sheep from the time he was about 6 months old but only in the form of circling and trying to catch him to stop him from working when Dave was finished trying to train him. He was and still is a very keen dog that lives to work but at that age he was not ready to take much direction other than just balancing. At 17 months he was ready. He spent a lot of time in the kennel with other dogs and he could see sheep when they were on the pasture opposite the kennel which was about every third week or so. I don't really believe that his upbringing had much to do with the way he started. He was never abused and was always treated kindly but he had very little introduction to sheep while growing up but he was treated very kindly and taught to do as he was told around his owner who is demanding as far as obedience goes. I believe very strongly that his breeding had more to do with the way he started than anything. Imp. Nell was a very good strong bitch from a very stockwise, biddable line being out of Johnny Wilson's Jan, a daughter of his ##Spot Double Supreme Champion and by Bobby Henderson's Kep, a son of his Double Supreme Champion, ##Sweep. She was a full litter sister to both J.H. Wilson's Sweep and Bobby Henderson's Spot, the 1st. and 2nd. placed Scottish Nursery Champions of 1999. Spot went to Joni Swanke after the Nursery and is now owned by Michelle Howard of CA. My Pat is out of Jess, a daughter of Canadian Champion, Peter Gonnet's Moss and my Del'Mar Turk who is a grandson of Bobby Dalziel's Double Supreme Champion ##Wisp. IMO I would go out on a limb and credit the breeding with the ease of training and the intelligence of this pup. He's a good one........Bob
  4. Yep, those are the ones for me too. Don't mind working hard at the training but, in the final tally, the sheep got to move...Bob
  5. I didn't take it as a debate either, merely a discussion of different types of dogs. No debate here. There's good ones in all kinds, and as trainers we need to learn how to train all of them whether that's our choice of dog or not. If not professional trainers, then pick the ones you like to train for their qualities but be aware that there are qualities that are imperative to have a dog that can handle all kinds of livestock. Bob
  6. Hi Caroline. I don't think anyone is saying that they want a dog with no gather but there are lots of them out there that would prefer to drive rather than gather. Not as many as those that want to gather but they are there. The gather is usually in there but the type of dog I refer to is usually too impetuous to get to stock and would rather go right up the middle and smack them as quick as possible. There's nothing wrong with this type of dog to the right trainer who can bring out that outrun and fetch but if you aren't willing to put in the time, frustration and hard work to bring it out then stick with the natural gatherers. To each his own and you have to fit the dog to the handler if success is to take place. Bob
  7. In my opinion the answer would be yes to both questions. Unfortunately the bitch who was a full litter sister to Michelle Howard's Spot is now passed on. He is by my RMS Pat and there was only one pup in the litter. She was almost 10 when she whelped. Bob
  8. Yes, I think you are right about loose eyed dogs liking to drive and strong eyed dogs liking to gather. I train quite a few dogs each winter for ranchers in the area and I have found that the loose eyed ones generally love to push into their stock and the strong eyed ones love to gather them. This is a general statement as there are always those that don't fit the mold. Usually you are either teaching the drive with the strong eyed ones or teaching the outrun and fetch with the loose eyed ones. Mind you, I would love to train a loose to medium eyed dog with a lot of brains and willingness who had good balance and a good mind for pressure with enough presence to get the job done. I got one in like that last year and I sure wish he was mine. He had a 400 yard outrun on him, was doing inside flanks, and had a great stop with hardly any corrections on his flanks in just 12 days and I sent him back to my neighbour to go to work. And I don't deserve a drop of credit for the job. He just learned as he was shown and I only had to show him once for each discipline. Lord, get me another one of those. Should we be so lucky and the dog doesn't even trial. He's a work dog on a sheep ranch and his owner is in his glory. By the way, loose eyed dogs are quite nice with their stock usually and tend to not upset them when working. I have found that, generally speaking, most loose eyed dogs are usually quite strong on stock but not overly aggressive with them. Bob
  9. That's great information Gregg. What I'm seeing is a good example of what breeding is all about. We don't produce clones, obviously. Yes, she is independant but that is not a bad thing. From what you tell me she is quite strong but not grippy and that is a good thing. When you block her to get her to stop that is what you need to be doing. This dog is going to be a very important learning experience for you so put your all into her. It is nice to have them biddable but, they are not all going to be that way and, with the proper type of training and handling she will probably be better than the biddable ones. You will not have the easy and enjoyable experience of seeing things coming together quickly right now but once you establish yourself as the absolute leader, you will see her start to progress very quickly. My suggestion right now with her is to go to the long line with her and establish a good stop. I would suggest that a "lie down" is a good way to start but if she starts to fight you too much with it AND IT APPEARS THAT IT IS NOT HER FAVORITE POSITION, then go for the "stand there" or whatever command you want to use to get her to stop. It must be perfect every time and done on sheep and then you can start to work with her on other things with the sheep. Take her to sheep in your larger pen or in a small one acre field and work along the fence with her on the long line. This line should be a minimum of 50 feet but preferably 100 feet. It should be attached to her collar which is tight enough that it won't slip off. Get a larger group of sheep about 8 or 9 if possible or at least as many as you can if you have less and walk the dog in behind the sheep along the fence just ssshhhing her quietly and and as she starts to break to chase or push them too hard tell her to "lie down" and jerk the rope hard enough that it makes her stop. Don't let her go around the sheep if she tries that because we don't want to interfere with her desire to gather. Then walk up to her and get between her and the sheep and push your self with your hand or hands in the air and go towards her and tell her to "stay there"in a very forceful manner. You are not asking her to do anything, you are TELLING her to do it. Walk away towards the sheep and keep telling her to "stay there" and when you get about 10 yards away go back to her and get hold of your line and quietly ssshhhh her on to the sheep again. If she walks on nicely go with her, quietly dropping back behind her so you are getting a little further away all the time. If you see her starting to show signs of breaking then lie her down again right away by JERKING the rope hard and giving her the command again. Once again go between her and the sheep, telling her to "lie down, stay there", walk around a little between her and the sheep every now and then reinforcing your control and telling her "lie down,. stay there". The reason I use both commands is that they are two commands, "lie down" being the act of going to ground, "stay there" being the act of staying where you are stopped. You will eventually use this and change it to "stand there" which will come easily at that time once you have trained the "stay there" which is easy to do. You must be diligent and firm and not accept anything other than that good quick stop. This is a dog which, once you have her under control will be able to do pretty well anything for you, but if not under control will be nothing but a futile headache. She is the type of dog that will demand that you be the leader and she will make it tough enough for you that you will realise that you must become the leader. It will not be easy and, at times, it will be frustrating but it will all be worth it. And when you are done and out at the post with all that confidence, you and she will appreciate all the hard work and time spent to get there. You DO have an individual that is not like the others. Don't worry about getting her to go around to the head of the sheep right now. You are not teaching her to drive, you're teaching her to stop and once you have the stop you can start teaching her to gather which is your next step. Try this for a while, get the stop on the dog and we'll go on from there. Remember, you are the master, the boss, the leader, that other fellow up there, etc., etc. I am not talking about being a tyrant. I am talking about being demanding and firm but kind at all times and kind does not mean that your dog can disobey you. Get back to me in a few days when you have the stop and we can go on from there........Bob
  10. Hi there. Sorry I haven't got back to you sooner but I just returned from a very good trial in Alberta. I would really like to have a little more information in the form of some examples of what she is doing on and off sheep, when is it that you say she doesn't respond, is she bonded with you and all that kind of stuff. Have you had her to sheep and done any basics with her like starting her on outruns etc? Is she refusing to work or is she confused? Does she stop when you tell her to lie down or just keep on going? Give me some examples of her actions both on and off sheep and also how she is housed and how much time she spends with you away from working. It sounds like she has not turned on to stock yet but I do need more information before I can help you with her. Get back to me soon as I will be home for a while now. Bob
  11. Nancy and I have used Revolution for years now, I think since 1999 with extremely good success. It is a heart worm medication which also gets fleas, mites, ticks and most worms. Once every thirty days is the dosing and don't try to go any longer if you want to be safe. We travel all over the country, both Canada and the States and have found it to be fool proof so far. That includes Arizona and CA in all seasons. Bob Stephens
  12. Hi Suzanne. Yes, I remember you at Whidbey and the great run you had with your older dog. Good to hear from you. Regarding your young bitch, this is quite typical of a dog that loves to fetch sheep to you in that she will be slow to learn to drive. The sliding off is probably caused by her wanting to go to the head and bring them back all the time as she enjoys her fetching so much. The fact that she is not wearing tells me that she is not understanding what you want when asking her to drive. Consequently back to the basics. Get her to fetch the sheep to you and then move out of the way as she gets them to you and ask her to walk up. As the sheep pass you go with her by her side towards a fence so that you can call her to you if she starts to slide and go to the front. No corrections. The idea here is to get her comfortable with being behind the sheep and liking it and you can't do that if you are corercting her with an "Ah, Ah". That will turn her off. Encouragement is what you need now and lots of patience. This dog does not like the idea of taking sheep away, she wants to bring them. Working on the fence gives you and she the opportunity to only have to cover one side and what you need to do is encourage her to get going a little faster. I find a little "sshhh" gets them going quite well and lots of praise when they do start to push a bit. If she starts to slide and go towards the heads of the sheep just call her name and drop back from her side so she will stop going to the front of the sheep. Don't woprry about lines right now or corrections at all. As long as she is behind the sheep and not bringing them to you that is fine. When she has driven a short way (15 or 20 yards), you walk away and call her to you leaving the sheep where they are. You don't ever want her to fetch the sheep back to you at the end of the drive drive when you are training a dog to drive. She will learn that it is ok to leave the sheep and also to push them away from you over a period of time of doing this. As she progresses with her driving you start to drop back behind her more all the time until you are quite a ways behind and she is driving on her own. When your are training an individual exercise, make sure you don't drill with it. Do it for a short period of time and then mix it up with something else to keep the dog's mind active. Go to shedding or penning or work on flanks and then at the end of your session give her a chance to do a nice outrun, lift and fetch and end on that. Try it and let me know how she's coming later on. Be patient and encouraging right now. Once she gets it you can start putting on a little more pressure to make it better, but not right now. Good luck, sincerely.......Bob
  13. I, obviously, don't know what size field or pen you are working her in but I would suggest that you move out to a larger field, about an acre, and start doing short outruns with her to gather the sheep to you. I think you are doing a fair amount of circling at a short distance and trying to teach the dog flanks and things might be a bit hairy doing this. I, personally, don't use a round pen nor do I circle a dog to teach flanks. The first thing I do with a young dog, even if they are still on a line, is teach it to outrun in a small field. This is done by getting between the sheep and the dog at about 50 yards or where ever you can control the dog, sshhing him out to either side, making sure he goes out and not straight in by moving towards him pushing him back and out at the same time. Before he arrives at the back of the sheep you start backing away so that he can bring them to you and keep backing away until he gets them there. This is a good place to use your lie down that is working to control the pace of the sheep. To keep the dog balancing move around as he is bringing you the sheep so that you change the balance point often so he's aware of where you are all the time. Basically you are teaching flanks when you send him on his outrun and when you get out in the field with him and your walking away from the sheep get to a point that you think he can gather well from, lie him down, back away to a point where you can control the arc of his outrun and send him again. This tends to keep the dog calm as compared to circling which tends to just fire the dog up more and more. Once you have the dog outrunning you can start to teach him his flanks. As far as the clappiness is concerened, it is probably being caused by working too close and creating a lot of pressure on the dog. When you start doing outruns, this will probably stop but the normal cure for a clappy dog is to keep it in motion while working and keep things as calm as possible. It's good that you have the down now as you are able to control things and now you need to stretch the dog out so he is not moving his sheep while flanking and take some of the pressure off. Be very careful with the use of the whip. It should only be used to make your arem longedr and not to scare the dog. Remember that down the road you will be using a stock stick or crook to run this dog and you don't want him scared or shy of it. If you need to break a dog's focus try calling it's name or clapping your hands rather smacking your whip on the ground. Yoiu can start putting a flank command on the dog when he appears to be getting fair at his outruns and then you can use the sshh and the flank all the time from then on until you just need the flank. Keep your dog moving as much as possible by you moving your self to change the balance point until the dog understands that he must be square on his flanks. Try not to work him in the flight zone as he will be moving the sheep all the time if you do. You do not want the sheep moving when teaching flanks or the outrun. I usually just keep doing short outruns and let the dog gather until he has his flanks down pat and then I wsill do short flanks to teach him to turn back on himself without a stop later on. I do not believe in drilling and some of these exercises can become drilling if carried on too long. Keep mixing up your training sessions so the dog doesn't become bored and don't train a young dog any longer than about 15 minutes at a time. Do it as often as you like during the day but no longer than 15 minutes or shorter if necessary. You'll know that you have worked too long as he's going to start making mistakes and quit listening and things are going to turn to mush on you. Do a short gather and end on a good note and quite right then. Try this and let me know how things are going......Bob
  14. Hi Nancy. You got a good education with your son being able to stop the dog and handle him and the dog complying when handled by a person with a firm voice and confident manner. The key to handling him is not harshness but firmness and consistency making sure that he obeys your commands when given. This is a great dog and the kind that I personally like but they are not easy nor do they have a great willingness to please. They like to be in control and they also like to get things rolling when they can. If the handler does not make themselves known at all times these dogs will forget the handler is even there. He may not be the kind of dog you are used to or you would like to own but he is a good one. You may have to change what you want to see in the dog and accept the fact that he is who he is and treat him accordingly. They are all different and need to be handled differently. The sheep, to him, are objectes to be controlled and that is good. Now you have to teach him that you are the one that makes the decisions as to how they are controlled and not him. Once he respects you things will be much easier and you will start to make progress. I know you like the dog or you wouldn't be asking the questions. Try to be more firm with him and demand obedience of your instructions to him. He will respect you for that. He requires that kind of quidance and, without it, he will just be wandering aimlessly not accomplishing anything. One other very important thing: This dog will make you a better handler and trainer just in the mere fact that you get him to listen. Once he is listening you will be able to walk to the post with a great deal of confidence that you will not lose sheep on the course and you will finish so keep at it. Don't give up. It will come provided you are willing to learn and do the work. If I have sounded harsh or too overbearing forgive me as I sometimes come across this way. It is just because I know this type of dog and respect what they are capable of doing and there just aren't enough like them.......sincerely........Bob
  15. Hi there. Sorry, the sheep work turned into two days worth instead of an evening. I would definitely work with a line to start with this dog. The line should be a small clothesline about 3/16" and 50' long. The collar should be tight enough that it won't slide off when leading him. Teach him his stop or stand before going any further with him. If he wasn't chasing and gripping I would say to start with short outruns but you need to get in charge of this dog so you can progress with the training. You don't need to insist on the dog being on his belly but you do need to insist on him stopping when told. That doesn't mean 3 or 4 steps afterward either. It means stop RIGHT NOW! Do this with sheep present so you know how firm you must be as there is a big difference with a dog stopping for you without the sheep and with them. Get your dog on the back side of the sheep from you and lie him down and tell him to stay. As you are walking backwards from him keep telling him to stay, pushing your hand at him making him aware that you don't want him to move. Get yourself back to the sheep on the opposite side of the dog and quietly tell him to "walk up". As he walks up toward the sheep raise your hand and walk towards him telling him to "lie down" or "stand there", whichever you are looking to train him to do. This should be done at a very short distance (20 yards or less to start) and you need to "ASK" the dog to "walk up" and "TELL" him to "lie down" or "stand there". If he breaks and comes right at the sheep, grab your line, get him to you with it, take hold of his collar and take him back where you told him to "lie down", and boldly and firmly tell him in a very harsh manner, "LIE DOWN" and "STAY"The reason we go back to the basics and get control of the dog are evident when you see what is happening when you can't stop him. The more he is allowed to run amok, the longer it will take you to train him to do it right. When you walk out onto your training area with the dog on his line don't let him get crazy right off the bat. Let him know you are in charge and he's not allowed to do the crazy stuff. Lie him down a few times on the way to the field so that he gets the idea you are in charge. Long line on him all the time. Get hold of him, let him know you are boss and things will go much better from here on. YOU ALSO NEED TO WANT TO BE IN CHARGE OF YOUR DOG. THAT'S THE HEAD SPACE YOU NEED TO BE IN. You can't bluff these guys. They're too smart for that. Get started with this and when you have a good stop on him we'll start to train him. Any questions feel free to ask and I'll do my best to get you going. Bob
  16. Hi, I have some work to do with my sheep right now so will answer you question later this evening. Bob
  17. Hi again. I'll try and answer both questions at the same time here as they are both related. A dog with aggressive presence does not necessarily move sheep by rushing in and gripping them etc. A dog with aggressive presence is able to move sheep from a great distance because he scares them. On the other hand a dog with the same amount of presence but is not aggressive will be able to approach sheep in a different manner without scaring them. We call this dog soft, not weak, but soft with his stock. He moves them with the carrot, not with the stick. He can move them with confidence and firmness if needed but prefers to approach his sheep in a firm, assertive, smooth manner which says to them, " ok girls, let's go, time to move", instead of "get going or else" as the aggressive dog would do. There is a big difference between the aggressively strong dog and the fear motivated dog who goes in and slashes and grabs. This is not aggression motivated by strength. It is aggression motivated by fear and it will show up in dogs very early and you will find that the sheep or cattle will readily "read" this fear and quite quickly understand that if they stand to this dog he/she will power out and not be able to move them. Not what we want. Now with your dog Nancy, we need to get a lot more control on this dog so we can teach him how to move sheep. Since he does have an aggressive presence (and that is not a bad thing as he does have presence) we need to be able to walk him in on his sheep slowly and methodically teaching him to be firm but kind to his stock. To do this you must be able to stop the dog. It is your responsibility, as a trainer, to teach the dog to stop properly. So, from this day on, your dog is not allowed to take one pace more after he has been told to stop. With aggressive dogs, I like them to stop both on their belly and on their feet, so it would be wise right now to get him on his belly and later on teach him to stand. The reason for this is that he has less presence on his belly than on his feet and we have to soften things up here in order to manage the sheep properly. Listen very closely as I want to emphasize emphatically that this dog has to stop NOW!!!! If you tell him to stop and he takes 4 more steps he is in the wrong place and so are the sheep. Get after him by going toward him in an assertive manner ( a little anger helps also in these cases, but don't stay angry) When you get to him chastise him in your own way and make sure he's ashamed of what he has done by not obeying you and take him back where you told him to lie down, tell him "LIE DOWN" in a firm sharp voice and go back to where you were and complete your gather making sure you use enough firmness in your voice to ensure that he lies down when told right now! Don't lower your expectations of the dog lying down every time it is told. This is the most important command in the book for the owner of this type of dog. If you can't stop him, you can't run him! It's not going to happen overnight but it will happen if you want it to. If the dog needs a little more firmness to get the required results, when you get out to him, pick him up by the collar, chastising him, take him back where you told him to lie down and again "LIE DOWN"! in your firmest voice and carry on with your training. If you are diligent with this you will have your dog stopping in about 3 or 4 days. If you let him get away without stopping every time you will have a long road to hoe. Once you get the stop on this dog, things will be much more pleasant and you can carry on with training your dog to change his manner in his approach to his stock. Get the stop first and then we'll go on with the rest. Until you have the stop nothing else will change. You must be the master. This doesn't mean you have to be a tyrant. It just means that you have to be in charge. If you find yourself yelling at the dog a lot to get your point across, don't worry about. You'll be able to stop yelling when the dog does as he's told. On the other hand, don't keep yelling at him over and over and do nothing about it. If he's not on his belly after the first or second command you better going out to him as fast as possible so he knows you will back up your commands. They catch on pretty quick to those folks who just keep talking and don't enforce their commands. Try this and let's see where we can go from there. sincerely........Bob
  18. Ok, let's get back to what I was saying before about letting him think. When he starts to pass sheep that he is fetching he is not paying attention to his work. He needs to be corrected verbally with whatever you use. Personally I tell the dog in a very agitated voice (this is the most important, not the words) "hey, you look" which means "you screwed up, get the rest". Set this up in the field with about 15 to 20 sheep spread around the field. the smaller the field the better right now. You can move out further later on. Send Ted on his outrun to gather the sheep and be quiet with no commands other than what you need for him to keep putting pressure on the sheep to bring them. Every time he misses sheep, you yell at him (in your agitated voice), "hey, you look" or something like that. Make sure he knows you're angry. Now you don't give him any more help than that. You stand and watch to see if he starts to think about what he is doing. If he looks at the other sheep ssshhh him, no words, and then wait for him to go and get them. He needs to start thinking about what he is suposed to do, not just running around doing just anything. Be patient. This isn't going to happen overnight. The next dog you train start doing this right from the get go and you won't have to do it later. Always make him bring them all. If he just keeps getting confused more about what it is you want you will have to go and show him by going out to him and saying look and wait for him to look at the other sheep and send him for them and get back to where you were before so he can bring them all. Make sure he is looking at the sheep before you send him for them. You'll just confuse him more if he isn't looking in the right direction before you send him. Try that for a while and get back to me when you start to get some success and we'll go on a little further with it. Bob
  19. Hi Nancy. What we are looking at here with your dog requires a little more information to determine why he is just going through the motions but not really working, because that is what he is doing. I need to have some questions answered before going any further with this so I can reach some kind of conclusion on the steps you need to take to make this dog happy in the service again. You say that, when he was younger he could move sheep from a distance which is telling me that he used to have pretty great presence and possibly even somewhat aggressive presence. I don't want to know any names when you answer these questions as this is not a blaming forum. Question 1. Was the dog sent out for outside training? Question 2. What tools or methods were used in the training? Question 3. How old was the dog when sent for training or when started? What changes did you notice in the dog over that period? You have already stated some of them but I need to know more. I am seeing a dog right now that has had a bit too much force used on him over too short a time and he has soured to working. You say that he will slice and harrass the sheep when gathering and this is pretty well just a control problem but not quite that simple. In my opinion you have a big job on your hands but one that could be rewarding if you can get the dog back enjoying his work. My take on him being stressed when in too close is that he has been reprimanded harshly for getting too close and possibly gripping and has lost a lot of his confidence and is afraid that he is going to "get it" again. He is virtually "running scared" and just going through the motions so he doesn't get chastised. Anyway this is just a start so answer some of the questions you can and get back to me and we'll try to fgure this out together.......Bob
  20. Hi there. When you say his flanks are getting really bad, I take it he is slicing his flanks and moving the sheep while flanking. This is something that a lot of folks will do when doing actual work and yet, when training, they will concentrate on nice clean square flanks. Don't let your dog get sloppy when doing the chores or pasturing sheep. Your dog must be right ALL THE TIME and you need to make sure he/she is. Now that he has become a little sloppy with the flanks, you need to tune him up a bit. It won't take long as long if you are consistent and demanding. He is already trained to flank squarely so you just need to get a few sheep together (10 or 12) and train him on his flanks for a few minutes ( I mean a few minutes 5 or 6) every night. Ensure that every one of them is square and taken immediately. If he slices, let him know you are disappointed in him and make him do it right. If you think he is just ignoring you get more commanding with your voice and let him know you mean what you say. When he does do it right let him know in your own way. Everyone has their own way of praising a dog and, at three years old, I'm sure Ted will recognize your form of praise better than anything I can recommend. Quit on a good note each time out and don't drill!!! While your out there, at the end of your training session, take your sheep out for a walk with the dog bringing them to you for a good 30 or 40 seconds with you not saying a word. Make lots of turns and watch your dog to make sure he is balancing the sheep to you. Remember no words. If he needs ecouragement to keep walking into the sheep just give him a ssshhhhh every now and then. This will be the beginning of solving your gathering problem with him. You must remember that as we trial these great dogs we are forever telling them what to do. when to do it, and how to do it. Quite often you will see dogs in their P/N and early Open years that have lost their balance due to never being allowed to use it. If you do the walk about thing at the end of every training session you won't lose the balance. The other thing you can start doing is gathering your flock without saying anything to Ted. As you see him going to bring only one group of sheep run to another spot on the field and change the balance point so that he will move toward the others. If this doesn't do it tell him to "look" not "look back" but just "look" and then be patient and wait for him to figure out that he needs to get them all. This word to "look" will soon become a statement from you to him that he's goofed up and missed something. You can use any word you want but be sure it is short and sharp so he gets the point. Be patient and watch your dog work and think and have the confidence in him that he will figure it out. You will be learning to "read" him when you do this and it is just as important that you learn his method of communication with you as him learning your method of communication. It's surprising how much you learn about your dog just by watching him think and work. Try this for a while and get back to me with any further questions you may have. sincerely......Bob One more thing before I go any further with this....We all have our own method of training and each dog is different and I want you to keep in mind that throughout the time that I will be answering your questions I will be sharing things that have worked for me. I am certainly open to any questions as to why I would do certain things so fire away. Most of the things I do, I have learned from others and through experience but some of the things I do have come frome quite a few sleepless nights trying to figure out a cure for some problem that has cropped up. One thing that I can say with a reasonable amount of confidence is that these dogs are very resiliant and also very wise and a few things tried and failed will not harm them. The one thing we must not do is to keep doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. If you see something that definitely isn't working find another way and don't be afraid to try it. None of us knows it all and a little bit of ingenuity will go a long way to make a better handler and trainer out of you so you can give your dog a better life with you. Bob
  21. Hi Caroline. This is a very good question that you presented to the group and I'm sure you'll get all kinds of snwers. Between Nancy and I we have 11 dogs, she runs 3 (2 Open, 1 P/N) and I run 5 (3 Open, 1 P/N and 1 Nursery). The P/N dog is laid up now due to a quite bad injury to his hip flexor muscles and also recovering from hypo thyroid condition. It's been a long road for him for the past year. We have one bitch that doesn't trial anymore and is now 8 years old and we don't breed her anymore so she's basically retired although is very useful during lambing. At one time I ran only one dog, Turk, and it was enjoyable but I always felt I need two to complete the enjoyment of going to a trial and I did very much enjoy running only two dogs for a time. Right now I feel like I would like to get back to running just two Open and 1 P/N - Nursery dog as running 5 dogs not only gets very expensive but makes you quite busy at trials and I'm not getting any younger. Nancy seems quite happy to run her three and can handle the job of keeping those ones tuned and bringing another prospect along at home. So, in answer to your question, I would suggest 4 dogs, 3 running and one coming along and you would still have a buffer for injuries or sickness. Bob
  22. Alfalfa in it's growing stage is very dangerouis to pasture sheep on. It is designed to be hay. Your sheep can bloat and die on alfalfa in 5 minutes if you don't watch them closely. It does not require nitrogen fertilizer as it gains it's nitrogen requirements from the atmosphere. It requires heavy phosphorous addition along with potash if the soil is lacking in it. Get a soil test and let the Ag people know what it is you want to grow and they'll let you know all about it. Cut your weeds instead of trying to pasture them off and give the alfalfa a chance to get growing and keep the sheep off it until it is established. They'll kill the young plants. You can safely pasture alfalfa after a killing frost in the fall has wilted the leaves and not until. Pasturing will reduce the longevity of the alfalfa and more frequent seedings will be required. Your choice. Bob
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