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Guest BelgBC

Outrun Question

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Guest BelgBC

I have a question about how to get a better outrun from my dog. We've been working outruns probably about 75 to 100 yards, sometimes longer, somtimes in an arena, but usually out in a big field. He does a very nice job when I leave him and go partway to the sheep, and then move towards the sheep as he leaves. That's how we started. I've got him now to where I only have to be about 20 feet or so in front of him and I don't always have to walk at the sheep as he leaves.

 

The problem I'm having is in getting rid of that last 20 feet and being able to start him from my side like we need to do at a trial. He'll kick out just a little bit, then run pretty flat. It's not right at the sheep - he's definitely to one side and is intending on going around, not through them. I think he's about 20 to 30 feet or so to one side of the group. As he gets closer he starts to lean out and will start to kick himself out a bit. He gets out further and sooner on lighter sheep. He'll get around them every time and get them back to me, so what he's doing is working, but it wouldn't get us good points at a trial because he's too tight.

 

I've had him on really light sheep a few times (one time we worked a single, and her baby was behind the fence, so she REALLY was looking for any chance to get around him). On those, when he can tell he needs to, he does a nice outrun. But as soon as we get on different sheep that will let him 'get away' with going tighter, he does.

 

Now in real life if I had a farm I guess I could say he's being efficient and not wasting time covering ground he doesnt need to. But since I don't have a farm and my main focus is trialing, I would like to get those nice wide outruns from my side. How do I convince him to do that, even at times when he thinks he doesn't need to? I can fix it when I'm out ahead of him, but if I start him at my side I don't feel like I can do much to fix it since I'm behind him, and he's a lot faster than I am.

 

I thought about asking someone to push the sheep just outside the path of his outrun when he's almost to them, thinking maybe that would teach him he'd better just stay out there just in case, even if the sheep don't look like they're going anywhere. Would that just confuse him? Any other ideas?

 

Diana

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Guest Sue Whiteman

Diana,

The only time I would worry about an outrun that may be too tight is if the dog is inclined to cross over. You don't say if yours is such a dog but that he widens out when he "feels" his sheep.

Is this dog for sale? How much do you want for him??

The perfect outrun is not a defined thing...some dogs leave the post in a wide arc...some are tighter. Textbook outruns are pear-shaped. That is a hard thing to teach so most dogs are just left to express themselves as long as they aren't breaking rules and losing points. If a judge takes points off for a dog that runs an outrun tightly they should look at the book again. Trials should still reflect the best handling of the sheep and efficiency is part of that.

You also don't mention how old your dog is...many start tightly and widen themselves out as they become more confident. I was at a trial yesterday where the boundaries were marked with tape about three feet off the ground. If the dog ran under the tape they were DQ'd. I would say don't touch the outrun. Let the dog feel the sheep as he wants to or you will run the risk of training up a mechanical dog. ea

Cheers

Sue

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Guest GDavis

There's also a nasty little thing that happens when mouse buttons go bad -- you click once and it does multiples. This can be dangerous in certain activities. :rolleyes:

 

I think Sue's answer(s) is are all great! Let me tell you about something that happened with my dog. I was at a similar place with worrying about how tight she was on outruns, wanting to lengthen her outruns, etc. etc. That's mostly all we'd worked on was widening her out, eliminating slashing to close, slowing her down, etc. The furthest outrun anyone had let her try was only about 50-75 yards. After a little practice one day, I called her off and went to sit in the middle of the field with some folk and just chat. The sheep wandered off to the far corner to graze, about 200 yards away. While we're sitting there talking, after about 10 minutes my dog gets up and starts moving toward the sheep. I decide to just watch, I know I can call her off at any point, but I stand up so she knows I'm with her if she needs the reassurance. She doesn't. She moves at a good controlled pace toward them and then widens out perfectly at just the right time and goes behind and lifts them just as pretty as you could want, trots them toward me at a relaxed beautiful pace, then lies down at exactly the right time, on balance. Blew me away, it was so pretty. Everyone else there was amazed too, because they'd seen several of our lessons and what we'd been working on. So I just called her off and told her good job, and sat back down to chat, the sheep wandered way off again. Next thing I know my dog is up and off again, very controlled, she did this 4 more times! Perfect lifts, great pace fetch, lie down on balance once they were to me. I never said a word during any of this.

 

It was so strange, it was like she was trying to teach herself something, or...I don't know. It was like everything we'd ever worked on all came together for her, and she wanted to try it or something. Normally when we're practicing I have to lie her down to keep her from running the sheep over me or getting too fast or inside her bubble. But these times, with me out of the equation except as a fetch point, she was great. And went much further to fetch them than she had before.

 

So I finally had a chance to set this situation up again a couple of weeks ago. We get out so seldom that my dog is usually pretty excited at first when we do get to work -- too fast, trying too hard, etc. So I called her off and just went and sat down in the middle of the field and didn't say a word for a few minutes. Then I sent her. She stayed relaxed and lifted them off the fence real gentle and pretty, brought them to me, and we kept working much better after that.

 

I'm glad my dog showed me this training method :D .

 

<small>[ August 04, 2003, 08:24 PM: Message edited by: Glenn Davis ]</small>

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Guest Carol Campion

Hi Diana

 

Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you on this, but I have been away.

 

This outrun question is not a simple one and from the various suggestions you have received here, I can see that there is a lot of varying opinion on the issue.

 

Firstly I would say, DO NOT IGNORE ANY WORK THAT IS NOT THE STANDARD OF QUALITY YOU WANT. It only becomes a pattern of work and the longer it goes on the harder it gets to change,

 

If you are not sure what too wide is and what too tight is, let someone watch you and your dog so you can get an idea of what would be correct.

 

To Glen's intersting observations, I would say that this is a very clear example of "teaching your dog something incorrectly you weren't aware you were teaching it". By this I mean that he states that when he is trying to do his set up outrun, it is not correct. When he leaves her alone and doesn't say anything, it is better.

 

This happens in a lot of training. She is doing what you view to be an incorrect outrun when in her mind she may be doing what she thinks you want her to do because you kept repeating the same words when she has done this. So it has become a command. She now associates this bad outrun with the commands. If she can be correct when left to her own devices, it would show me she has it in her to be correct. Your task as a trainer is to see how to tap into what she is doing correctly and get her to do it on command. Obviously, what you were doing in your training sessions wasn't making sense to her and she was misunderstanding the concept. Watch her when she is outrunning correctly and see where you are, where she is, where the sheep are so you can recreate it. Then put your commands (maybe you need new ones that yyou haven't used) to the proper work rather than make her do the proper work to your old commands. Take what she is doing right and expand on it and put commands to it.

 

In training we often make the mistake of getting so hung up on some concept we want a dog to learn our way that we overlook something that is what we want. It can be screaming at us for attention—the dog is trying to tell us it can do it a different way.

 

Another example to demonstrate this is trying to get a young dog to come off sheep. Often it will start to come off and then cast out in a beautiful arc around the sheep when we are still calling it off. We put all out focus it disobeying and trying to get he dog to obey the "that'll do".

 

Being more observant of all a dogs work, continuing to work on the dogs recall on sheep, but make a mental note of the nice arc and see if there is an easy way to encourage that arc. Watch what the situation is and where you were to encourage that and then learn how to set it up to happen and then put commands to it. Basically, if you see some good behavior you can use later, file it away and then later figure how to get it on command!

 

Does this make sense? Don't miss something your dog can do by being so hung up with what it can't do. If you keep drilling commands during a behavior that the dog isn't doing right, like an "out" that a dog isn't taking, the dog associates the word with the WRONG behavior and then you end up with commands for the wrong behavior.

 

Back to Diana and the outrun.

 

Diana, the top part of the outrun is the part that is hardest for dogs to get correct. That is because it is the farthest point away from you and because usually by the time the dog is getting to the back of the sheep—by the time it is coming around to the hips of the first sheep it meets, the sheep will shift some. This casues a conflict in some dogs. At that point they may feel the fastest way to the sheeps heads is to cut across the front or they will fall in to fetch from that first point of contact (at about 10 minutes of if we use the face of a clock to indicate positioning). I would be bold enough to say that if your dog is cutting in or coming flat on an outrun, it is doing it on all its flanks and it is just easier to see on an outrun.

 

To help your dog, go back to flanking exercises making sure that when you give your dog a flank, it stays "clean" on them til it is at the balance point. Often they are so anxious to get on with the fetching, they don't bother to try to go cleanly around the entire group (which is just til the dog has passed the hips of ALL the sheep). When I say this, I don't mean circling them again, I mean just staying arced til the dog has reached the balance point. We teach these dogs outruns & flanks and fetching all based on getting to balance. Then they just start anticipating getting to balance so they can fetch so start aiming for it closer and end up cutting their outruns.

 

This tendency can even start with figure eights! I believe people do those figure 8s for way too long making a dog always coming up short and never reaching the balance point because everything is always moving in a spiral. The dog can never get to balance so it never learns to feel balance.

 

Make sure once your dog has gone around the sheep on a flank, you stop it at balance and then let it bring the sheep STRAIGHT to you. That is as important as the flank or outrun. Then it can differentiate between the two.

 

Go back and read my article on widening the dog. In it I explain the steps for this nice arc which then becomes the top of the outrun.

 

Does this make any sense?

 

Let me know what happens and how you make out. Too bad you are not cloer. It is easier to understand if I could show you!!!!

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Guest Carol Campion

<<... He does a very nice job when I leave him and go partway to the sheep, and then move towards the sheep as he leaves. That's how we started. I've got him now to where I only have to be about 20 feet or so in front of him and I don't always have to walk at the sheep as he leaves.

 

The problem I'm having is in getting rid of that last 20 feet and being able to start him from my side like we need to do at a trial. He'll kick out just a little bit, then run pretty flat. It's not right at the sheep - he's definitely to one side and is intending on going around, not through them. I think he's about 20 to 30 feet or so to one side of the group. As he gets closer he starts to lean out and will start to kick himself out a bit. He gets out further and sooner on lighter sheep. He'll get around them every time and get them back to me, so what he's doing is working, but it wouldn't get us good points at a trial because he's too tight. >>

 

I am rereading this to see if I can be clearer.

 

Go back to putting an "out" or a square flank command on the dog. When he leaves for the sheep, be it if he is near you or far from you or behind you, DO NOT LET HIM LEAVE FOR THE SHEEP UNLESS HE TURNS OUT YO GO. If she starts in at all, stop him and make him stay turned out—arced. If you teach him this cncept in a circle closer to sheep than an outrun, it is easier for him to understand. Then at any point on his OR, you should be able to stop him and give him the "out", he should turn out and finish the arc. The concept is "You are not allowed to fetch the sheep if you haven't stayed turned "out" on your flank or outrun. Be xconsistant. Then he will understand what you are stopping him for and what you want. By doing it in a circle as a flank exercise, you ar breaking it down for him and shpwing him what you want. Then up the anty a bit by asking him for it in harder places.

 

Add this exercose to what I have already written.

 

Make sense?

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Guest BelgBC
Originally posted by Carol Campion:

Go back to putting an "out" or a square flank command on the dog. When he leaves for the sheep, be it if he is near you or far from you or behind you, DO NOT LET HIM LEAVE FOR THE SHEEP UNLESS HE TURNS OUT YO GO. If she starts in at all, stop him and make him stay turned out—arced. If you teach him this cncept in a circle closer to sheep than an outrun, it is easier for him to understand. Then at any point on his OR, you should be able to stop him and give him the "out", he should turn out and finish the arc. The concept is "You are not allowed to fetch the sheep if you haven't stayed turned "out" on your flank or outrun. Be xconsistant. Then he will understand what you are stopping him for and what you want. By doing it in a circle as a flank exercise, you ar breaking it down for him and shpwing him what you want. Then up the anty a bit by asking him for it in harder places.

 

Make sense?

Yes, that makes sense. I guess I have gotten a little complacent about the square flanks with him because he has a very nice square flank when he's closer to the sheep and when I'm out away from him, and has had that for quite a while, so I haven't been focusing on it as much. I realize reading this that I didn't spend much (if any) time working on having him doing short-distane gathers from my side and getting him square on those. I was looking at the 'from my side' as a progression on the outrun (at full distance), but I think you have a very good suggestion to work on the 'from my side' part on a small flank.

 

I also read your article about widening the dog out. There's a lot to digest there and I'll have to go read through it again a few times before I'll be sure that I've got it all. But I like the idea of the 'V' and working on the top half of the outrun without the distance away being a factor. What you described about him anticipating the fetch and falling in at the end of the outrun is exactly what he does when he runs tight. As soon as the sheep start to move he leaves the outrun and slices across behind them to head them off. Then he'll straighten them out and bring them to me pretty straight, but his lift is messy (hmm, maybe non-existent is a better word). When he runs wider, the sheep don't tend to move, and he comes to balance cleaner.

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Guest Sue Whiteman

Diana,

What you have just now described is not quite the pictue I got from your first post. If the dog is affecting the sheep at the top then of course he is too close. You wrote something like "he gets around the sheep at the top and brings them back to me" (of something like that).

I just want to make it clear thet there is no predetermined "one way" outrun. The final analysis is how the dog makes contact with the shep and he should go far enough around and behind at the point of contact soasto not start teh sheep moving. He should then "drop down" onto them and lift them ina straight line. (obviously!) Less important is the shape of the outrun until the dog gets to where the sheep can feel its presence. As I said earlier, the textbook outrun is more narrow at the start, wider at the end. But that is on a full 3àà ya

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Guest Sue Whiteman

Damn!! I've done it again!! This isn't the first time and I think my keyboard is wearing out...one or two keys are sticking. so sorry!

Now, to continue, The textbook outrun (pear shaped) is of course easier on a longer outrun where the dog has time to pace itself.

Please bear in mind that my trialling is done in Europe where the rules may be slightly different.But recently this situation came up and the dogs had to navigate a rock before encountering the sheep. Mine chose to go in front of the rock and I thought it would throw him across the sheep but he kept his side and we lost no points on the outrun.

But of course, when flanking closer to the sheep (another question really..another situation) the dog should flank to maintain the same pressure as he had while driving/fetching. If the sheep are walking this means a squarish flank. If the sheep are running (try to avoid that!) it could be a sort of 45° flank. It isn't the shape so much as the pressure exerted by the dog. This is one of the things which makes the difference between a mechanical dog and a natural one...he should be able to "feel" his sheep and be allowed to decide himself. But of course the dog should be encouraged early on to avoid slicing. That is too close.

What I am trying to say is that herding isn't a dance where all the steps must conform to a pattern...it is more spontaneous than that.

Sue

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Guest Heather

Hi, Sue:

 

Just wanted to clarify that this forum is really just a one-on-one question-and-answer between the expert of the moment (in this case, Carol Campion), and the person who posted the question. Your training ideas are very interesting, but it would be better to take a general discussion to the training forum and let Carol be the only one who fields questions here. Thanks for understanding: LittleHats is a new site, and I'm trying to keep good control over what goes where so we can have as good a signal-to-noise ratio as possible. I suggest that you start a thread on the training forum about outruns and have at it!

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Guest GDavis

Thanks for clearing that up, I've wondered about it. Everytime I've written something here I think little voice was trying to tell me I shouldn't. I'm so sorry!

 

I hope the resident experts of the moments won't take offense and will forgive my ignorance of the objective here.

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Guest Heather

Glenn--I think it's perfectly ok if we want to post additional questions to the main thread (requests for clarification and the like). I just think it might be confusing if different people start offering the original poster alternative advice. Thanks for understanding!

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Guest Sue Whiteman

OK..;that does it! I am buying a new keyboard!

Maybe the little devil was trying to tell me I shouldn't be posting in here!!

Point taken...now I am aware of it.

Sorry Carol...over to you.

 

Sue

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Guest BelgBC

<<What you have just now described is not quite the pictue I got from your first post. If the dog is affecting the sheep at the top then of course he is too close. You wrote something like "he gets around the sheep at the top and brings them back to me".>>

 

I don't think I explained it very well. Every time he goes out to get the sheep, he does get around them and bring them back to me. But sometimes at the top he's too close, so the sheep start to go off to one side. When they do that, he pulls the outrun in tighter, still going around the top in the right direction (he's not crossing over), so he can catch their heads and straighten them. So the sheep are sort of 'swirling' a bit as he comes around the top, but he does get around all of them (no slicing into the middle of them, splitting them, etc.) and get them back on a straight line to me. When I start him from my side he starts tighter and that's when this happens. When I start out away from him, he's wider at the start and keeps that wideness. Sheep don't start to move, so he stays out wide, goes deep behind them and does a nice outrun. So the problem was getting a good start on the outrun from my side. When he starts good he finishes good.

 

I've started working as Carol suggested, getting him square from my side at a shorter distance. He tends to do this easily because he has a good feel for his sheep and seems to naturally want to go square when he's close to them. So my question now - do I keep him at that distance to make sure he has the idea (he seems to), or should I make the distance longer and find the point where he starts to be wrong and work on that? I've tried a little longer a few times, and when I stop him, he seems to think it means he went the wrong direction, so he'll try to switch directions. I find myself getting in front of him to make him go square, but then I've lost the 'from my side' aspect of it. Will he get the idea that way, or should I be doing something different?

 

Diana

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Guest Carol Campion

Dianah writes...So the sheep are sort of 'swirling' a bit as he comes around the top, but he does get around all of them (no slicing into the middle of them, splitting them, etc.) and get them back on a straight line to me. When I start him from my side he starts tighter and that's when this happens. When I start out away from him, he's wider at the start and keeps that wideness. Sheep don't start to move, so he stays out wide, goes deep behind them and does a nice outrun. So the problem was getting a good start on the outrun from my side. When he starts good he finishes good.

 

I've started working as Carol suggested, getting him square from my side at a shorter distance. He tends to do this easily because he has a good feel for his sheep and seems to naturally want to go square when he's close to them. So my question now - do I keep him at that distance to make sure he has the idea (he seems to), or should I make the distance longer and find the point where he starts to be wrong and work on that? I've tried a little longer a few times, and when I stop him, he seems to think it means he went the wrong direction, so he'll try to switch directions. I find myself getting in front of him to make him go square, but then I've lost the 'from my side' aspect of it. Will he get the idea that way, or should I be doing something different?

 

 

Carol writes;

 

Great! What you have done is you have sat back and tried some stuff, made a note of what worked and what didn't work and where exactly it goes wrong. Keep your pbservations sharp and you will find the right qustions to get the right answers!!

 

If the sheep are swirling—you are very right. He is too close. Let your sheep dictate what is needed.

 

What I do at this point is I kind of "back train". For some reason, everybody thinks you need to teach an outrun by always starting the dog at your feet.

 

Step 1

 

If he can make a good outrun when he is not at your feet, or if he will arc out as he passes the sheep, start his outruns at 10 or fifteen minutes to the hour (balance point) for a while. You will all be forming a "V" formation with you, the dog and the sheep each making a point of the "V". Now send the dog to do an outrun from this positioning at about 30 feet from the sheep. Make sure he arcs cleanly around the sheep til he gets to the balance point which is still across from where YOU are standing. Make sure you do NOT spiral as the dog moves. Once he can do a nice ourun from "ten to" holding the proper distance so as not to disturb the sheep, do this same exercise but keep moving the distance you all are from the sheep back farther. So do a "ten minute" outrun but have him 50 feet away from the sheep and you 50 feet as well. You will then be doing a wider OR and a longer fetch.

 

Follow?

 

The trick is you only let him do a fetch if he has cleanly gone around the sheep. You must have him bring the sheep straight to you. If you spiral around as the dog goes around, the balance point slides, so to speak, and he never quite gets there. So he is in fact "slicing".

 

Step 2

Once he can do this, you can then make it a little farther away from the sheep. Put him at 15 minutes from the sheep. You still stand across from the balance point asking him to fetch straight to you once he hits balance.

 

At any point, if he starts to cut in, ask him to lie down and flank him "out" and don't let him fetch unless he turns out. If he turns out, let him go to balance and then bring the sheep. If he slices, start from the beginning. So you see, you set up a reward system for properly casting out around sheep. But you have never chased him off or artificially put him off. You merely prevent him from coming in!

 

Don't be worried that when you stop him he turns to go the other way. Somewhere he has come to think that is what you want next. Make sure when you give him a command that if he doesn't take it, you stop him and then YOU wait a bit before you give him the command. That way he won't 2nd guess what is coming next. He will learn that you will tell him what is comng next and he must listen to see what it is. For now you will have to be patient and keep telling him to lie down until he stops trying to 2nd guess you and he waits to listen. He'll get it pretty quick. I do not want you yelling. Just use stopping him to get him to listen. Remember—this is a new thought and a new pattern to him. It is a new sequence and it will take him a bit of time to get used to it.

 

Step 3

 

OK. So what you will have now is a dog that is capable of being square when leaving from your side close to the sheep. He is additionally giving proper room as he goes around the top of the sheep when you start him from 10 of. Once he is casting properly, start moving STRAIGHT backward as he leaves to go on his "10 minute" OR. The sheep may leave as well but you have taught him that you will stop him if he slices—no matter what. And just because you and the sheep are moving, he is not to slice. This is and should be exactly like what I described earlier for the other exercise, but this time you be moving backward. You are increasing the variables in you and the sheeps behavior to tempt him to slice!! DO NOT ALLOW IT!

 

Tricky, eh!!

 

Step 4

 

Once he gets it that he must stay "clean" as he casts around, then start asking him to leave on his OR at 15 minutes to the hour.

 

Do you "see" what is happning? We are shaping the top of his OR while creatng the movement of the sheep to us but in a controlled situation to help set a pattern for proper casting.

 

OK. So now you have him casting out at 10 or 15 minutes to Balance—really doing the top end of some outruns. But to him its a whole outrun because he is getting cast out and to fetch the sheep when he's right. And it will feel good to him because the sheep are coming straight to you and he is in control!!

 

Step 5

 

Then "up the anty" by setting him up at 20 to the hour. So he is now leaving closer to your feet! Now though, you can demand from him the same behavior as the "square flanking" exercise he does well up xclose. Remember—do not let him go if he slices. You have been spending days showing him an alternative to slicing. As he leaves from closer to your feet, he will reach the part of the cast which he has been already successful at from this new "10 minute to" exercise. He is now close to putting the pieces together if he hasn't already!

 

Is this getting too complicated?

 

I will stop here. Let me know if this makes sense. There is a lot to digest. Try maybe the first step or two and let me know how it goes. Above all, try to visualize this whole scenario.

 

I am an artist by professions as so I "see" everything!! Try to do the same!!

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Guest Margaret Wheeler

Hi Carol,

Thank you. This is wonderful! I'm getting a lot of it. I feel sill that I don't get part of the first point you make:

 

Once he can do this, you can then make it a little farther away from the sheep. Put him at 15 minutes from the sheep. You still stand across from the balance point asking him to fetch straight to you once he hits balance
Do you mean that that Diana should leave her dog at 12:45 whilest she stands at 12:30? The dog will move up to 1:00 (with a nice round arc) and if he stays out be allowed to fetch?

 

Sorry if I have confused the issue!

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Guest Carol Campion

<Once he can do this, you can then make it a little farther away from the sheep. Put him at 15 minutes from the sheep. You still stand across from the balance point asking him to fetch straight to you once he hits balance>

 

This is something I thought might be hard to understand!

 

You start the exercise closer to the sheep (say maybe 30 feet away) with the dog at 10 to the hour, you at 12:30 and the balance point at 12. This is the configuration you keep, but you can make the OR wider and the fetch longer by starting you and the dog at a greater distance away fom the sheep-say 50 feet. Then try with the configuration the same, but move everything away 75 feet, etc. At each increased increment, you are making the OR wider and the fetch longer. You can actually progress so a dog can be 300 yards off the sheep in the "10 to" configuration and you go to 12:30 300 yards away fom the sheep. The dog should cast correctly to deep behind the sheep to balance and bring you the sheep.

 

Clearer??

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Guest Margaret Wheeler

OMG! Yes, it's very clear. What a great exercize. The moving further back part is really cool.

 

I can't wait to get Nell to the point we can try it.

 

Thank you so much!

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Guest BelgBC

Hi Carol,

I'm reading through all of this and still have some questions. I've copied some quotes from your various posts below.

 

<<Go back to putting an "out" or a square flank command on the dog. When he leaves for the sheep, be it if he is near you or far from you or behind you, DO NOT LET HIM LEAVE FOR THE SHEEP UNLESS HE TURNS OUT YO GO. If she starts in at all, stop him and make him stay turned out—arced. If you teach him this cncept in a circle closer to sheep than an outrun, it is easier for him to understand. Then at any point on his OR, you should be able to stop him and give him the "out", he should turn out and finish the arc. >>

 

My question:

What is a good way to make him stay turned out? I usually do this by sort of facing off with him a bit, or stepping a bit to one side and extending my stick so that he sees it in his peripheral vision on the side I want him to stay away from. I don't 'chase' him out but I sort of just keep blocking him until he turns out. I also with my other dog at one point was going to him and taking his collar and physically turning him out, then stepping back into position and trying the send again. Are there other ways to do it?

 

<<The trick is you only let him do a fetch if he has cleanly gone around the sheep.>>

 

<<At any point, if he starts to cut in, ask him to lie down and flank him "out" and don't let him fetch unless he turns out. If he turns out, let him go to balance and then bring the sheep. If he slices, start from the beginning. So you see, you set up a reward system for properly casting out around sheep. But you have never chased him off or artificially put him off. You merely prevent him from coming in!>>

 

So I don't push him out or try to fix it. I just ask him out one time, to give him a chance to fix it on his own, and if he doesn't, I go to him and put him back at the original position and try again? Just stop and start over. Do I do anything to tell him he's wrong when I stop him? Like saying "NO, down" or something like that? I ask, because my older dog (who has too many problems to discuss here) has come to think that a lot of times 'down' means 'you're wrong' and he'll start all kinds of screwy stuff when I really just wanted him to stop. I want to avoid that problem with this dog.

 

Also going back to my first quote from you, above, where you say 'make him stay turned out', is this what you meant up there as well? Make him stay out by just not letting him come in? Or you talking about two different scenarios here?

 

Also just want to clarify that I'm getting the positions right. What you're saying is the same as saying, dog starts at 10 o'clock, balance is 12 o'clock, and I'm standing at 6 o'clock, correct? I have never been good with clocks -I have all digitals ;-).

 

<<I will stop here. Let me know if this makes sense. There is a lot to digest. Try maybe the first step or two and let me know how it goes. Above all, try to visualize this whole scenario.>>

 

Assuming I have my clock positions correct, yes, this makes sense. The dog in question just got neutered, so he'll be off of herding for about the next week, but after that I'll continue working on this and let you know how it goes.

 

I think this would be good for my older dog as well. He builds up a lot of speed as he goes, and right at the point where he starts to slice in (and he's really AWFUL about it too) he's going so fast he doesn't hear a word I say. I think I may have more chance of getting through to him if he's already starting at his trouble spot and going at a reasonable pace. Plus he seems to overheat really easily, so this way he won't be running as much and we can do it more times.

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Guest Carol Campion

Diana

 

Good questions. Can I address them in the morning??

 

Off to bed....

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Guest Carol Campion

Diana writes:

 

My question:

What is a good way to make him stay turned out? I usually do this by sort of facing off with him a bit, or stepping a bit to one side and extending my stick so that he sees it in his peripheral vision on the side I want him to stay away from. I don't 'chase' him out but I sort of just keep blocking him until he turns out. I also with my other dog at one point was going to him and taking his collar and physically turning him out, then stepping back into position and trying the send again. Are there other ways to do it?

 

Carol writes:

 

That's pretty much what I do. You need to find somthing that makes the dog kind of "give ground" to you. Things that make noise are the most effective for me. A baseball hat is good—slapped against your leg it makes a good noise; a buggy whip with a shorter tip—not a lunge line; a feed bag or dog food bag; a soda bottle with stones in it taped to the end of a fiberglass stick. The possibilities are endless. If you have a good strong—not screechy voice—just that can be enough. You want to find something that if you face the dog and threaten him a bit, you will see a reaction that is a mild version of a dog wanting to quit. That's when it is giving ground. You do not want to push a dog to quit, but to get to the point where he turns his head out as tough he is thinking about quitting.

 

It may be that someone reading here has used something that has, in reality, made the dog merely run faster around the sheep to get past the person and object that is being used. Watch out for that. Then you are not correcting the dog or effectively pushing him out, just making him go faster and really teaching him the opposite—especially of you are saying "out" or something like that while you do it.

 

Whatever I use, I try to have it at the dogs head as he flanks rather than at his hips. At his hips it just makes them go faster.

 

Also, be sure if you are working on this and he is not turning out that you stop him before you ask him "out" again. The reason for this is 2 fold.

 

1. If you ask him on the fly, he will filter your request through what he is already doing because that is what is on his mind. If you stop him, wait a minute and then give him the command again, he will have had a chance to forget what he was in the process of doing and focus on what you are ask. The usual outcme is a better response to what you are asking.

 

2. The second reason is that if you make this a pattern, then on an outrun or somewhere you might need him farther out, you can stop him and ask him to turn out. He will know the pattern and will know what you want and also know that if he is stopped, he needs to wait and listen!

 

Once you see your dog giving ground to your "out" command or your flank command, don't panic and think you are turning him off. This is the reaction you want. If he gives you that response, immediately shush him on and encourage him to go. That is how you are saying, "It is not that I don't want you to work, I just don't want you to work in that way". Keep watching and if he starts cutting in, stop him. Flank him again and turn him out. Don't let him go if he isn't turning out. Threaten him a bit to get him to give some ground and try again. He'll get it.

 

His reaction may be to outrun the correction, especially if he has been doing this in the past as a reaction to being corrected. He will not want to stop because he knows he will be corrected. Put him on a line if you must. Make him stop. Don't let him outrun the correction. This is very important. People think long lines are for babies. I feel long lines are for effective trainers.

 

Now something I find that is very important here is that you do not send him just to balance with this exercise. I believe that the reason a lot of dogs are tight on their flanks and outruns is that they are always looking for balance and so anticipate getting there and end up cutting the end off—spiraling to get to the goal—balance. So, make him go past balance. Make him learn to stay out and "cast" around the sheep properly and wait for YOU to tell him where to stop. Very where you tell him to stop. You will make him very mentally flexible this way!!

 

You will not blow his balance doing this. You are only going to do it til he gives up his slicing and is willing to stay arced. Once he starts willingly staying out on his cast, start stopping him and let him fetch the sheep from there. It should be the deepest point in his arc around the sheep. Then you are rewarding him with a fetch for being deep.

 

In the beginning I find they may fight a little with this, but once they relax into not always trying to get to balance and fetch, they start to cast nicely around.

 

Oh, don't hover over your dog when turning him out or sending him on an OR or flanking him. If you stand on top of him, it just makes him tighter. Get out of his face unless you need a definite correction. If you teach your corrections properly, you should be able to give them a distance away from the dog and be much more effective than if you stand on top of him.

 

Boy, this was a mouthful! Does it make sense??

 

Diane writes:

 

So I don't push him out or try to fix it. I just ask him out one time, to give him a chance to fix it on his own, and if he doesn't, I go to him and put him back at the original position and try again? Just stop and start over. Do I do anything to tell him he's wrong when I stop him? Like saying "NO, down" or something like that? I ask, because my older dog (who has too many problems to discuss here) has come to think that a lot of times 'down' means 'you're wrong' and he'll start all kinds of screwy stuff when I really just wanted him to stop. I want to avoid that problem with this dog.

 

Carol wrires:

 

Don't bring him back. I alwways go to where the problem is—I don't take the dog away from the problem. I stop the dog if he's not giving me what I want. I then find some way of showing the dog what I want as in the previous paragraph of mine—like getting out with a feedbag or something. Then I ask him to do it again. You can't ask for it again unless you have been successful in showing the dog what you want. Then you can put a command to it.

 

I think your question about telling the dog he's wrong is answered in my earlier paragraph. If you lie him down when wrong and wait a minute or two before giving him the desired command again, he won't think it means to automatically do something else. He will learn to wait to see what you want. No more flopping back & forth on a wrong flank and that kind of stuff. It works pretty well. The other thing to think about is that once you are progressed to doing more handling than training, telling a dog "no" takes up time that could be used more effectively by telling him to stop what he is doing "Lie down" and then giving a new command. So the word "no", or "hey, and those kinds of things do not give specific info.

 

Yes, this whole training sequence is particulary helpful to a dog that is already running out and/or flanking but coming in flat or spiraling in and disturbing the sheep. Yes, start the second dog you mention, your first dog, just before the spot where he goes wrong on his OR.

 

Keep me posted.

 

I realize this is a lot of reading and a lot of thinking it through. I hope I am not being confusing!!

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Guest SoloRiver

Carol, I just wanted to say: you rule!

 

Thank you for your detailed explanations. I have similar issues with one of my dogs -- he likes to slice (I think I contributed to this by allowing him to push me and the sheep around in a little circle quite often, so we'd end up in this "vortex," as he started out with much squarer flanks), he loves to push, and in addtion he has a gripping problem. Your suggestions here have given me more of a game plan for when I work this dog. What I've been doing is getting frustrated and downing him a lot and that doesn't help at all.

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