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I have a 2 1/2 yr. old bitch and no sheep. I do my training at nearby ranches and trial fairly frequently in all venues. I have a 6 yr. old BC that I trial, also. My young bitch is just starting to pace well in a large field. She has a take time whistle, a regular walk-up whistle and I'm working on a get them moving "quick-like" whistle. When I give her a fast walk up whistle she blasts ahead and nails the nose of the lead sheep. I don't think I will need a "bite" whistle, because she is not going to allow any sheep to challenge her. If I even whisper "Get in there" she is there, like now. She is a bit reactive and tense at this age for my liking. We do lots of ranch-type work and work smaller groups and large flocks, too.

I'm looking for suggestions as to how to get her to move the sheep a bit quicker without feeling the need to explode into them. As mentioned, when she does this, she nails the front sheep which tends to split everyone. I'm thinking I could hold her back off her sheep at a greater distance and then ask for a quick walk-up and steady her as soon as she is making contact? Sometimes this is hard to do with the dog broke sheep I get to work. Or maybe I need to walk beside her as she is driving and try to make sure she doesn't explode to the front by reacting quicker and monitoring her in close range.

I wish I had a place with chutes...I bet that might help her. That way she would have to push from the rear and wouldn't be able to get to the front. Thinking out loud. Maybe I don't even need a fast walk up whistle. I do with my other dog who has less eye and at times will stall on his drive.

Or it could be a confidence issue...hard for me to decipher with my limited stockdog wisdom.

Suggestions welcome.


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I would try walking/jogging on the same side of the sheep as she is so you can encourage her to push and call her back behind with a "here, here" if she tries to flip around to the heads. Without seeing her I can't say what's causing it, but I'd *guess* it's a default because the sheep aren't moving any faster and she feels she has nowhere to go but around. Your presence behind might also help to move the sheep faster and encourage her to stay behind. I put a fast walkup on my open dog by running behind the sheep as she was driving and giving her the fast walkup whistle. For her, it really means push harder since heavy stock aren't always as likely to break into a faster gait, but the jogging behind did help teach that command. You might want to consider changing your current fast walk up whistle to something else now as she may be in the habit of flipping to the heads on the original whistle. Just some thoughts....



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She doesn't know where to push that would get them moving and the head of the lead ewe is the logically choice. Can you work her in a chute or race? Encourage her to heel bite just like you would you wanted her to head. Release the catch of the gate and let the sheep move forward the minute she complies.


Obviously you don't want heel chomping in a trial situations, but just like teaching a head bite to inspire a confident approach of the head - its the attitude you want more than the act.


Its the "I can if I need too" that will send her coming on strong at the rear when she hears the "push" command.

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Novice warning. Take the following with a grain of salt. :rolleyes:


I think, if I were working this dog in a ranch type setting, I wouldn't really want to have to use all the whistles. Can you work these heavy sheep close up so you can walk beside and just give them a little touch if she stalls out? No commands, just move the sheep a bit yourself to get her instincts stirred up a bit.


Back out of the picture if she takes control, but be ready to let her know she made a boo-boo as she dives - and be sure to call her right back on and try again (my most frequent mistake).


This kind of reminds me of a dog I had that I got thinking much too much, by taking almost all the control of the sheep away from him. He was a great trial dog and fun to putz around the farm with, but really difficult to walk that line between hanging up and explosion if he had to exert some control, himself. He had that tension all the time - like he was afraid of himself. It was contagious, too. :D


Good luck!

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