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Guest Fallowfields

shedding

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Guest Fallowfields

Penny,

Welcome.

I have a 6 year old open dog who has been doing nicely in Open. However, in the last year her shed has fallen apart. She was never the strongest dog on the shed, but willing. Now, often at trials when the opening is obvious, she won’t come in. She has no problem working a single. It seems to be a matter of coming in – fast. Out where I trial, we often see sheep that, once split, will fold behind you, making it much harder for the dog. I do train for the dog to come in and past me. I suspect that she has somehow lost confidence, possibly due to me setting it up wrong. I have heard I should retrain the shed, but its not clear what I have done wrong and, if this is a confidence issue, I want to be sure to do it right.

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Guest Penny Tose

Are you sure we don't own the same dog?

 

Here are my solutions to this problem. They are unlikely to cure it

permanently but they will help. You also need to answer some questions for

me.

 

1) Go to a shedding clinic or get help from a friend who is a competent open handler. Sometimes friends can point out obvious things out that we miss with our dogs.

 

Also videoing yourself shedding might help. I rarely do that because all I do is look at myself from the rear and think about diets when I see the tape played.

 

I usually learn to shed at least once a

year, sometimes two or three times. More wouldn't hurt me but gets

depressing.

 

2) Did you yell at your dog when practicing? Did you indicate hesitation was

appropriate when the dog was first in open and wanted to take the

wrong

sheep or managed (to your stunned amazement) to take two nicely on the head while you were penning?

 

If you did either of the above and you aren't getting snappy sheds now, then you probably need to go back to using a

bigger group and zip the dog through those, often on the tail. Make the whole

thing exciting and take the sheep off and put them somewhere so that the dog gets the point again.

 

3) Don't stand out there and make the dog do shed after shed after shed ad

infinitum with a you will do this by gum, grim attitude, especially not with

just three or five tame sheep. You will make the dog really hate shedding if

you do. Just do a few sheds.

 

3) Is your dog very wide?

 

When shedding shed-wise sheep, you can set the thing up with a pincer

type movement, inching yourself forward, then the dog forward, and so on. If

your dog is hot and feeling stressed and tends to get wider under those

circumstances, then that is hard to set up.

 

4) Does your dog object to your stick or crook? If so, then you can't do as much stick thumping at the glued together sheep as you might like. You'll have to work out a compromise with her.

 

5) Now, Fallowfields, tell me what you have tried in terms of fixing the problem so that maybe I can use for my dog whatever isn't working for you.

 

Penny

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Guest Fallowfields

Penny,

A shedding clinic or lessons from a shedding pro is on my list for when the weather breaks and I can realistically work the dog. But in the meantime, I want to have a plan. As for #2, when I began teaching this dog to shed, I could tell she never really got it. Our sessions were quiet and controlled and I probably spent a lot of the early time just calling her in and getting her excited. As we began our Open trialing I realized that I would need to show her the hole, and she would respond. At least that’s the way it was.

 

#3 In the fallout of this problem, I am probably somewhat guilty on this account – too many sheds, and possibly bad ones at that. I quickly backed off. As for being wide, not usually, but in the shedding ring it is hard to get her close enough to the sheep to accomplish a successful, efficient call in. I should mention that for a time, as the shed was disintegrating, she would come in and go for the grip. I admit, I did have something to say about that, but realized it wasn’t really a grip problem, but something else. Further, I have found that I had a limited amount of time to accomplish a shed with her. This is something that I plan to work on as IMHO many people rush the shed. With my dog a certain anxiety develops when things don’t happen – especially if there are failed attempts. It is this scenario – a rushed shed and failed attempts –which I am certain I have created – and maybe other things, that have brought me to this place.

 

#4 No problem with a crook. At this stage of her “retraining”, the only thing I have done is to just call her in through the sheep. I am not asking for a turn – I am not asking for anything. When she gets through to the other side – and if I am on top of my game – I am backing up quickly as she comes through in an effort to get her all the way through – then there is a party (read: happy, excitement) on the other side at the completion of her call through. Most of the time this has to happen near a fence line as the sheep have a tendency to leave at both ends and but now that I think about it, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

 

Anyway, that’s where I am at. As I am dealing with the psychological issue of confidence, I want to be thoughtful in fixing it, so I don’t make the same mistakes.

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Guest Penny Tose

Shedding techniques: I have tried to retrain my older dogs to cross behind

me and flank to cover. This has not always been satisfactory, and I don't

know that it is the

best way to retrain for everyone. I know you didn't say that you are doing this but it is

a great way to begin the shed with the dogs that have not shed before and move on from there. As retraining, it has been difficult for me. If your dog likes to cross

behind you and flank to cover, you're in good shape with retraining.

 

Big group and calling through: I wouldn't go all the way back to just coming

straight through. My choice would be a big group, turning

to indicate which sheep, calling the dog through with "here these" or "take these," and then taking those away somewhere and putting them through a gate into a pen. In fact, I would not practice regular two sheep sheds and singles with five or three at all. Just before a trial you might get up your nerve and try some.

 

Lambing is good for shedding because the ewes I have to bring in want to split off and usually are split off. Lambing season tends to smarten the sheds on my older dogs. I'll have to see what it does for the younger ones this year. By carrying the lamb in front of the ewe (who is likely following her lamb anyway but may want to mother up with the afterbirth) and keeping your dog well off but behind the ewe, you are practicing shedding in a task-oriented way that I think makes sense to the dogs.

 

Some sheep are too aggressive for this. It depends on what yours are like.

 

Shedding is worth getting some new sheep for. Keep some of the old ones. Then you can shed with the new bunch alone for a while before they cotton to the whole thing or you can mix old and new sheep to make the sheds easier for quite some time.

 

Sneak attacks from the rear: Sometimes with tame sheep, the sheep you have

not shed will want to join up. Watch for this. Back up. Call the dog to you

through the sheep before it happens. If you miss, don't get upset. Go

through, walk off, and act as if everything is normal.

 

Grips: It sounds as if you had a stressed dog trying to shed with things

not set up right (right meaning you were in a line with the dog in front of the eyes of the sheep to be shed) thus creating an impossible, grip inviting situation.

 

Only shed at home when the dog is fresh and unworked or as fresh and unworked as possible. Use a different dog if you have to bring in sheep or separate some off beforehand.

 

Get off the fence and into the

middle of a field.

 

Grips and not coming in close enough: You have a problem that will be

with you as long as you have this dog but not a problem that you can't work

through enough to get dramatic improvement. At least, that is

what happens with my dogs. Shedding goes up and down and then down I have to

start thinking about it again instead of walking to post confident about

sheds. I hate that but it is at least better than worrying about the outrun.

 

You probably need to work on bringing your dog in close when not shedding so

that she knows what you want when shedding and ask her to get close. After

she understands this, you may still have the problem but you'll have a

better shot in the shedding ring. Teach her a "get in" and then walk her up

without shedding and drive. Don't get even a tad frustrated or it will show

in your voice and whistle. I say "get in" and whistle a walk-up to keep the flank from being too big and too darn square.

 

When the stars are all aligned in my favor, a verbal "get-in" in the shedding ring keeps the dog from getting so far out that I have to waste time trying to get the dog in close enough to set up the shed.

 

What happens to me if I try to shed with a whistle is that it upsets sheep,

and when the dog doesn't do what I want I tend to blower louder which tends

to blow the dog out farther. Tame sheep don't mind whistles up close as much

as range sheep but whistles still have an effect.

 

No dog that I have yelled at while shedding or gotten upset with has ever

forgiven me completely. Yelling at a dog while teaching shedding or even

being harsh is not worth the later pain.

 

Hesitation on the shed is not the kind of problem I have ever cured but I have made it

something I can live with and often handle through.

 

Penny

 

<small>[ January 19, 2005, 09:38 AM: Message edited by: Penny ]</small>

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Guest Fallowfields

>You probably need to work on bringing your dog in close when not shedding so

>that she knows what you want when shedding and ask her to get close. After

>she understands this, you may still have the problem but you'll have a

>better shot in the shedding ring. Teach her a "get in" and then walk her up

>without shedding and drive. Don't get even a tad frustrated or it will show

>in your voice and whistle. I say "get in" and whistle a walk-up to keep the flank >from being too big and too darn square.

 

 

Penny,

I very seldom use the whistle when doing close work, occasionally at the pen, but never at the shed. I am appreciative of your suggestions and especially the observation that not all dogs like to or will come all the way through. A relief to hear. As I read your suggestions there is one I would like some clarification on. In teaching a dog to get in closer, two things: (1) are you talking about just having the dog “come in” next to the sheep and turn and drive them away? And (2) can you give me another example of a “get in” command (teaching the dog to come in closer) that doesn’t involve the word “get”. Think the word “get” in her vocab has the opposite meaning.

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Guest Penny Tose

I started using a get-in (I also say "In. In. In.") to keep my dog from going too wide on flanks or on the outrun. What I'm going to describe doesn't always work for me because if I get wound up and blow a thunderous a drawn-out blast on the whistle for a flank (and sometimes even when I don't), then walk my dog in or say "get in," I have already gotten too big a flank and flighty sheep will be long gone and farther off line before I can get the dog anywhere near them.

 

Anyway, I started with the dog at my feet about 30 to 50 yards from the sheep. Walked the dog up, flanked the dog but not to balance, stopped and walked the dog up while saying "in, in, in" (I don't know what word to suggest for you but you're right to avoid "get" I am sure.) What I was looking for was a nice, incorrectly shaped, keyhole outrun at home so that I could control an outrun begun from my feet at a trial with a whispered flank if I whistled "walk-up" before the dog headed off to kingdom come. Whistling after the dog is halfway to kingdom come is too late.

 

Almost everything else that I wrote comes straight from lessons with other people. However, the "get in" described below is my own little piece of desperation training for the shed that I adapted from lessons applying to other phases of work. Shedding is not my best thing, so take what I suggest with a 50 lb sack of salt, not a grain.

 

You stand with the sheep. The dog will be flanking at about the width of a shedding ring, maybe a little bigger. Flank, stop, say "in" (I say "get in") and then walk the dog up and then flank. Also walk the dog up, then say "in" and then flank, whistle walk-up and say "in." Pretty soon, you can flank the dog and say "in" and the dog will to a certain extent control the size of the flank and bend in instead of out while in motion or at least not rotate too far away.

 

The reason I let the dog drive some is so that I am not drilling flanks constantly when teaching this. I let the dog move the sheep then start practicing "get in" again in a different spot. It seems fairer to let the dog have the sheep some.

 

In a trial, if the run has gone reasonably well and been controlled up until the shed, I have a pretty fair chance of using "get in" effectively to keep the dog from getting too far away in the shedding ring most of the time...not always, you understand, but a good enough percentage of the time to make it worthwhile.

 

Probably because most dogs listen better up close, the verbal "in" works considerably better in the shedding ring than at the cross-drive panel.

 

Training "get-in" as I did with a dog I had already trained can affect the straightness of walk-ups. I didn't care and still don't although I'm sure a too wide, too flanky dog will come along (shoot, I may already have one) that I regret using the walk-up with as a lead in to "get in" to accomplish a tighter flank.

 

I wonder if I had known to train initially with a "keep" and "out" if I would have eliminated the for need "get-in" because "away" and "come-bye" might not have gotten too wide in the shedding ring. I don't know.

 

Penny

 

<small>[ January 19, 2005, 09:40 AM: Message edited by: Penny ]</small>

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Guest Fallowfields

Penny,

I think you’ve helped me to narrow down the issue. With your help I am formulating a plan to get her comfortable again starting with some of your suggested exercises. A good shed here and there goes a long way, and that’s how I plan to start – slowly. Thanks for sharing your insights.

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Guest Penny Tose

Shedding again and again.

 

Patrick Shannahan was here this weekend for a clinic. We were shedding with my young dogs. We used a fairly large group of sheep. Patrick told me not to make the hole for the dog and to make the dog take charge of the sheep by turning the shed into a fetch.

 

This particular young dog was waiting for me to make the hole, then happily zipping through the hole without taking charge of the shed sheep. He was/is waiting for me to do my share of the shedding instead of taking charge of those sheep.

 

This sounded enough like how your dog began shedding before the meltdown that I thought I should add it to the thread.

 

Penny

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Guest Fallowfields

Penny,

I notice you referenced a young dog and from that I assume you were working a dog that doesn’t know shedding. I like Patrick’s approach, and it’s possible that I should have started that way, but I can assure you no one ever taught it that way. I just finished watching a Derek Scrimgeour tape and he made the hole and called the dog through. I think that is the accepted, if not popular practice. However, having said that, I think each dog requires a different approach. I knew in training she never really ‘got it’. I made the hole and called her through. Knowing what I know now, I think this may have been the perfect dog for Patrick’s approach in training. It’s not clear she would do that now, but I will, of course, try it. Any other thoughts you may come across on this subject are greatly appreciated. Thanks.

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Guest Penny Tose

I need to clarify. We were working with a dog I moved to open in September or October. The dog is shedding. In competition, we have gotten some 10 point sheds and some sheds in which the dog zips happily through without ever taking charge.

 

Penny

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