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Driving Confusion?

Guest BelgBC

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I'm teaching driving for the first time, and getting a little frustrated that the dog doesn't seem to be really 'getting it' yet. We've been working on this for several months now, although we only get on sheep a couple of times a week.


If the dog is a distance off, and I say walk up, he walks up nice and straight. Once he gets closer (about 20 feet or so) he starts to bend around the sheep. He wont' stay in the middle of them most of the time.


If I line the dog up behind the sheep so that he's pushing them away from a draw, he'll hold a line and push them fairly straight until he comes up against a fence or some other barrier, and then he'll hold them there. If I try to drive any other direction, he keeps slipping around to the side that will push from the draw. Sometimes he's not even subtle about it - he'll flank himself over there and then start driving from that direction. I let him do a lot of his initial driving that way because he did better that way and I thought it might help him get the concept and get practice doing it right in an easy situation. Except now he seems to think 'walk up' means get between the sheep and the draw and push them away from it.


We're also learning shedding and he's actually pretty good at it, so we've set up some drives by first splitting the sheep and then driving one group away from another. He does well in this situation too, as long as he has the draw to work against.


The problem is still if we try driving any other direction he bends around to cover the draw. If I get pushy about getting it done my way, sometimes then he'll just lie there on a walk up command and not move. I was given advice at one point to give him a flank to get him moving, the follow with an immediate 'walk up' command. He'll come ouf the flank and walk up a bit, but then start sliding around again. I think this is also creating more of a problem - because if he doesn't like/understand the walk up command, he's learning he can ignore it and I'll give him another command he likes better (a flank command). So I think that's just making it more confusing about what I mean when I tell him to walk up.


What are some good situations to set up that will help a dog learn to just drive straight? I don't have a lot of tricks in my toolbox yet since we haven't been doing this long and could use some ideas. The dog has nice outruns and will go as far as needed until he finds sheep, and I think we could be in ProNovice if he'd just get the driving concept better.

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Hi Diana-


Sorry it's taken me so long to respond. Just returned from a computer free vacation!


Here's something to try. Start out behind the sheep with you pretty close to your dog, out to his side. Tell him to walk up and as he gets up and comes into contact with the sheep, watch the sheeps' heads.


As you and your dog walk on, you need to move in the opposite direction the sheep heads turn. If your dog starts to creep around to one side causing the sheep to begin to turn, you should slowly turn and angle off the opposite direction. Don't worry if you have to cross in front of your dog. With a little practice, this should cause your dog to feel the balance point change and he should correct his side accordingly. Most likely, he will even over-correct and things will tip the other way, and again, you should move opposite the sheeps' heads. Even tho the effect, at first, is some flip-flopping behing the sheep, your dog is really learning to the start to hold a straight line.


Alternate between calling your dog off and back to you to resend him on a gather and flanking him around to gather as he drives.


Hope this helps a bit!

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