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Guest kimkathan

"square flanks"

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Guest kimkathan

How can a person work on getting a dog to run paralell to the sheep when changing direction, rather than turning into them. This pup I'm working with now, when we're doing balance work, and changing directions, she'll change without much problem, but will slice in tight to the stock and then widen out on the other side. If I could get her to improve on this, I think I'd get some of my gripping problems solved. I's when she moves in to tight that she grips. If she stays back far enough she's fine. I have been working her in a small pen of 75 x 75 with the corners rounded off (I call it the field). Once she has changed and is going around the sheep she's fine, it's that initial move.

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Guest aurdank

Yes, when she slices the flank as you turn, she is doing so because she feels the pressure of the sheep "leaving" her, is afraid, in other words, that she'll lose them. There are a couple of remedies that come to mind. The first is that when you're doing balance work, don't just move in a figure eight, which describes a serpentine "S" pattern, but do so in square turns, that is, as you move back, make a sharp right or left turn, with military style precision (sharp, ninety-degree angles). As you do that the sheep will turn to you and the dog will flank parallel to you and the sheep; you can flick your buggy whip (I wouldn't use a crook here) as you turn to help her square up. If she still remains unresponsive, make her stand as you turn, stop yourself and flick the whip and say "keep" or "out" ("Keep" is softer). This teaches her the command for widening off the stock and also involves a little more pressure. If she doesn't respond to the whip, walk into her and say "keep". But you really want to get her to square up on the fly as she turns. All of this should be in a round pen at this stage, and if done here, she'll not be able to fly far off the stock after taking a buzz and you'll be able to enforce your wishes better. Another method is to stand in front of a fence with the sheep before you and the dog on the other side and make her flank (she should know her flank commands for this exercise). The fence allows you to enforce her flanking in a parallel way; it is easy to see when she hooks in, and you can step forward and/or flick the whip and say "keep" fairly effectively. You can reinforce square flanks on the drive, too, but that comes later.

 

Albion

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Guest CMalaz

Yes, please - I would be very grateful if you would expound on developing square flanks while driving. My dog is pretty good when I'm not too far away, but things tend toward slice-city at around 100 yards or more. Quick stops (not!) and over-flanking while driving are also issues at that distance, but maybe that's fodder for a whole 'nother thread...

 

<small>[ December 02, 2003, 11:33 PM: Message edited by: CMalaz ]</small>

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Guest aurdank

To reinforce square flanks on the drive, you can begin by walking parallel to the dog and sheep, at first near the dog, but gradually widening away but still parallel so that s/he can see you. Some dogs square up better if the handler releases pressure; othes if the handler applies pressure. So while walking parallel, first stand the dog and then give a flank command followed by a "keep" or "out". As you do this step away, releasing pressure, and the dog should square up. If not, step into the dog as you give the command and also perhaps flick your crook. When the dog reaches a certain point on the flank, you can say "there" which will turn her or him in toward the stock, and this should reinforce squareness. Then try this while on the move, instead of making the dog stand. Gradually widen away from dog and sheep using either method as you think the dog is making progress, so that s/he does this with you less and less in the picture. The key is drill, or habit formation. You can also walk in back of the sheep while s/he drives and make the dog periodically flank in back of you which tends to square it up. If you're stationary and the dog is driving and is at a distance from you and begins to slice the flank, quickly make it stand and give the flank again and say "keep" or "out." If this fails, you can either stand the dog and run out to it and correct it in the manner i've described above, or you can give it a little recall whistle and as soon as she turns back to you give her the flank command. Turning away from the stock will release the pressure on her and her flank will be square. This is a less desireable option because you're causing the dog to break its concentration on the stock, but it does remind the dog that it needs to pay attention to this detail. I personally don't mind if the dog slices its flank (I know this sounds a little heretical); the key thing is to watch the heads of the sheep, and if slicing doesn't alter the line, then it's no big deal. It requires the handler to be more vigilant perhaps, but often a dog with eye taking a half (sliced flank)can turn the sheep adequately, particularly if handled right. The point is: always keep your eye on what the stock are doing and not so much on the dog. Sliced flanks can become a problem if the handler is watching the dog more than the sheep and is slow to compensate for a sliced flank as a result.

 

Albion

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