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Shedding and penning questions


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Hi all,

 

Looking (begging) for some tips on shedding and penning in trials.

 

Background: Lou (the dog) was purchased as a trained, Open-level 3-year old. He is now 5. Very strong-eyed (some would say sticky) but enjoys shedding and penning and generally does not get "stuck" in those situations. His flanks are fairly clean up-close, and he seems to know his job when shedding/penning. Handler (me) is new to trialing, having run in about 6 trials over brief, one-year career. Handler also is not that sheep-savvy, though is quite keen on learning as handler rapidly is becoming fascinated by sheep. Lou and I are trialing in Open (due to move-up rules, it's the only class in which we are eligible to compete).

 

Shedding question:

Background info: These sheep were not that easy to shed. Maybe 10 teams of 40 got the shed. Their owner said that they tend to clump together when confronted, and parting them is not easy. There is a strong draw to the left behind the handler's post (exhaust). My dog treated them quite well on the first bit of the course, so they were quite calm when they entered the shedding ring. The judge asked for a split, so you could take them on the head or the butt.

 

I managed to make a hole a few times, but obviously not enough of one, as we couldn't get the split. Any advice on what you would have done in this scenario?

 

Penning question:

Background info: these are different sheep than the above (barb crosses). Same field, same draws (exhaust behind and to the left of the pen). We've just completed the shed, and after regathering the group are approaching the pen with about 2 minutes to go. I suspect that I am not doing my part as an active member of the team, as I am standing pretty much still. What should I be doing when the sheep are at the mouth of the pen?

 

Lou and I thank you in advance for any advice you can give us!

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You are awesome for sharing these!

 

I saw pictures of the pen and it may be the angle but the first thing I thought was you weren't giving the sheep enough room. They seem highly concerned when you move versus when the dog moves. Watch which one of you they are eyeballing as they plan where they are going.

 

Our dogs are taught to walk the sheep into the mouth of a gate and then hold them there until I close the gate, so from a practical standpoint I rarely push the sheep in myself, in a trial. The exception is if they are sheep that are obviously much more used to being pushed around by people than dogs at the pen.

 

I just started doing real trial shedding so I wouldn't presume there. :rolleyes: I will be eagerly awaiting the responses, though.

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Okay, I have only watched the shedding video so far. Here are a few ideas that I have.

 

If I were you, I'd work with my dog on parallel driving with the sheep. You want the dog to be able to move laterally along the sheep with you. You can practice this initially with your back to a fence and the sheep between you and the dog. It really does help if your dog can move laterally and keep equal pressure on the sheep while you keep equal pressure from the other side.

 

One other thing that I noticed is that you are stepping into the shoulders of the sheep fairly often. By doing this you are not encouraging the sheep to move forward, you are actually shutting them down. Think about it with your dog, if the dog goes to the shoulder or catches the eye of the sheep, they stop them. If you step into their belly or if the hip you will move them forward.

 

Another thing that I would watch is that you don't down the dog too far back. You need the dog far enough forward to catch the eye of the sheep that you want kept back and eventually want to shed. In one of your attmepts when you called the dog into the sheep he was far enough behind the one sheep that he ended up making it go with the two that you were trying to split off.

 

A lot of top handlers will tell you to practice shedding the sheep without the dog. Get sheep up against a fence and then you practice moving them around. Take the front sheep and move it to the back, work on creating the opening. And even in practice, make the opening with the dog but don't call him through all the time. Other times call him through, but don't hold any group of sheep, have him come all the way to you. You want the dog to come straight through and not to lean on either group of sheep.

 

I would also recommend the following book: Stockmanship by Steve Cote. You can get this book from the Idaho Land Conservation Corp. It has a lot of good information on moving cows just by where you apply pressure to the cow. It does also apply to sheep.

 

Kathy

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Shedding question:

Background info: These sheep were not that easy to shed. Maybe 10 teams of 40 got the shed. Their owner said that they tend to clump together when confronted, and parting them is not easy. There is a strong draw to the left behind the handler's post (exhaust). My dog treated them quite well on the first bit of the course, so they were quite calm when they entered the shedding ring. The judge asked for a split, so you could take them on the head or the butt.

 

Sheep like this are really really hard to shed, and, by and large, you were doing a really good job here. On the first attempt, you got the dog in close enough, were holding your side pretty well, got them strung out and the hole began to develop. However, as Kathy says, when you called him in, the dog was too far behind the eye of the sheep you wanted to turn back, and the effect of the dog coming in was to push her forward towards the two sheep being shed off. Better to have flanked him a bit first (away), as they were stringing out, and then called him in. A good shedder will do this without being asked, as the opportunity develops.

Then, sheep being what they are, they were warier after the first failed attempt and basically beat you by curling around you and/or folding around you. You have to hold your side and not let them do this--really really difficult with sheep that have no respect. You did have an opportunity at one point to ask the dog up, when they were facing the dog, so as to get them to fold back away from him on either side like a banana peel, two and two, which is often the only way to shed sheep like this. Hard to explain, but an important variation to learn ie you don't always have to have sheep in a line, strung out, to do a shed. You can try to contrive this situation by, effectively, pushing the sheep onto the dog. A good judge will dock you points, but whatever it takes to get the job done, sometimes.

Again, though I have to reiterate that it's a lot easier to see things as an observer, so I'm only typing this because you asked for input. You probably did the best you could in the circumstances. I have a TERRIBLE time with dog broke sheep myself.

 

Penning question:

Background info: these are different sheep than the above (barb crosses). Same field, same draws (exhaust behind and to the left of the pen). We've just completed the shed, and after regathering the group are approaching the pen with about 2 minutes to go. I suspect that I am not doing my part as an active member of the team, as I am standing pretty much still. What should I be doing when the sheep are at the mouth of the pen?

 

Again, basically a good job. On to the micro-analysis, since you asked: When you had the sheep in the mouth the first time, the dog probably slashed the come bye flank a little bit and thereby pushed them out of the mouth. Then he went too wide to bring them back, although not catastrophically so--and certainly better that than the opposite. That trait (going wide, along with staying calm and listening well) is probably what commended him as a good dog for a relative novice. However, you may have been a bit tentative in asking the dog up once you had them in position and looking into the pen. This happened a couple of times--once on the approach, before they got pushed out of the mouth, and once the second time you got them into position. Sometimes it's not a good idea to give sheep too much time to think. And, no I don't think you should have done more yourself. (In fact, you probably made the sheep warier on the first go by shifting around, shuffling your feet, etc.-- I think Kathy pointed this out too?) But, to get back to your question, I, personally, I like to see the dog do the work. Your job is to guard your side and no more, IMO.

 

Again, I actually think you were doing a good job. Just throwing out some ideas because you asked.

 

A

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Guest carol campion

Hi

 

You cannot shed sheep that are on top of you. You must NOT lead them to believe that you are a safe place. Once that happens, they become knee knockers, you have no room to walk into them yourself to affect them. When you ask your dog to move towrds them, he can only push them past you because they have no where else to go. The jump up & down dance people do has no affect because the sheep are safe near you and they know it.

 

When the sheep come into the ring, go towards them but in a subtly more offensive body language. Make them realize they can not/should not come to you. Once settled away from you, you then can start maneuvering. Move laterally and forward/backwards to affect them. You need to "breath" with the sheep. Like a bellows. If they start to go-circle, your instinct is to go to them to stop them. The opposite is what is needed. YOu need to release some and be confident in your dogs flanks & stops that you can let some go & hold some back.

 

In training, look for the draw & the pressure and use it to allow the sheep to fell they can go somewhere. Use a bigger number. Do not block them from moving away and do not have the mind set of balancing the sheep to you. Do not have the sheep facing you for the shed. Set it up as a mini crossdrive in front of you with the sheep slowly trying to think they can get away lining up as they go. Then you can flank your dog laterally (you need clean flanks-not wide ones but clean ones) stopping him off balance to release some sheep but hold the back ones.

 

Your dog is clearly confused here. He is flanking properly but you need to allow the sheep to think they can go somewhere. At one point they start to string out and you flank the dog and actually stop them. it is in the stringing out that you can cause a hesitation in the back sheep by catching their eye rather than the front sheep. By catching the eye of the back sheep, a hesitation is created in the flow of those sheep. At that point if you falnk him into the hesitation, you create a clean gap. Practice just making the gap for a while without focusing on calling the dog in. Make a gap, close it and reform the gap. After this is successful, then call him "here" to you. Don't start turning him onto his sheep until he consistantly cleanly comes in & through. Break the process down for him & yourself.

 

A more experienced dog would not need such an exaggeration. You had an opening and if he were more experienced, he could have taken that shed, but my impressin is he isn't sure enough to do it consistantly yet.

 

On penning, open the gate and get the sheep to settle in the mouth. Many people keep the sheep from coming into that area by standing in it themselves. Once the sheep are in there, then start closing both you & the dog in on them. Sometimes its needing the dog affecting them, sometimes it might be you.

 

So in both cases, do not put too much pressure on the sheep or worded differently, keep in mind you are pressuring the sheep as well as the dog. Smetimes you need to-other times you do not want to!

 

Hope this helps. Let me know if some visual is not clear.

 

Carol

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Another thing that I just thought of that came from a clinic I went to last month. The clinician also suggested trying to line up your sheep so that they are facing the drawt so that they think that they can escape. It gives them more of reason to leave and can help get them to string out on the shed.

 

Kathy

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Carol you are always very clear and I always learn from your posts! Going to try some stuff now (cooling off from nineties today, bleah!).

 

Yay, I might actually learn to do this someday.

 

I'd luuuuurrrrve to have a fun day here doing some close work, taping it, and sharing it. It would be a good thing to do on a hot summer day - assemble and run through a few dogs first thing in the morning, then retire into the air conditioning just as it gets hot, look at videos, and have a late brunch. Hmmm.

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Thank you, Carol. That was one other thing that I noticed was that she was in too far with the sheep. She became one of them, more or less. But she was something that they were not afraid of, someone to be comfortable with. I also thought that the way that the sheep were brought into the ring looked more like a fetch instead of setting up for the shed.

 

Another thing to remember when it comes to penning is that we also put pressure on the sheep and we need to be aware of where we are positioned. And sometimes all it takes is for us to relax and the sheep will walk in. We all need to remember to be patient with both the pen and the shed.

 

This is a good thread.

 

Kathy

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Guest carol campion

Hi Kristi

 

Watched your video again. This is fun. Saw a few more things.

 

At the beginning, at about :10, I would have tried to establish my distance there and not get any closer.

 

At :38, the dog had flanked and sheep shifted. You had created some distance from the sheep as you moved parallel to them. That was effective, but you then moved back closer into them.

 

At :59, I would have flanked my dog off balance enough to help get that stringing out/lining up dynamic you were after. You were moving parallel to the sheep which was good. But with the dog off balance a bit, the sheep would have been released and started moving, you could have flanked the dog back to stop the potential shed ones.

 

At 1:35-37, you would have helped the dog by backing up as you called him in. Again, helps to hold the gap. Takes your pressure off the sheep and brings the dog's pressure on.

 

At 2:05 to 2:18, another off balance flank, kind of as though you wanted to start a cross drive would have released the sheep and started them lining out.

 

At 2:30-2:39, in there, you had a good thing going but then the dog flanks and turns the sheep back onto you. When this happens you are back in the middle of the sheep and the dog starts thinking "balance them".

 

Like Kathy says, the dog is balancing there and almost in a fetch. Needs to be thinking release rather than turn & hold.

 

You are moving very correctly in a lot of the video except when you come forward and get in amongst the sheep.

 

For as short a time as you have been at this, you are doing a good job!

 

Your dog doesn't appear sticky in any of those videos!

 

Carol

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Both Andrea and Carol covered the shed quite nicely. I agree you were too close to the sheep, and they had no fear of you. You need to be able to be a bit more off of them. In the first shed attempt your dog came in behind the one you needed, and pushed it onto the other two like Carol said. Practice square flanks where the dog doesn't actually move the sheep. Beware the dog curling in at the end of the flanks and actually turning the lead sheep back and making them clump even more. Don' t be afraid to string out the sheep, and release the front ones in order to create a gap. Use the dog more too, but it would have been hard with the sheep in your lap the way they were to use a dog to make the gap. You had some nice moves though for a beginner.

 

What I saw as your biggest mistake at the pen was the feeling of rushing and pushing the sheep. It first happened when you were regathering in the shedding ring. The sheep need to be in the ring, but you don't need to wait there for them You should have been moving to the pen gate while your dog was putting the sheep back into the ring. Because you were out of place, you then had to run to the pen with your back to the sheep, while the dog was bringing them back, and you weren't ready with the gate open when the sheep got there.

 

Once the gate was open, the first two moves of the dog were spot on. You must have given a flank for the third move which turned their heads out of the opening. If that was a flank command, it needed an 'out ' with it for the dog to release the pressure some, yet still cover the potential opening to the right of the pen. It was hard to tell if you really needed a flank, or if a walk up would have worked as well. Sometimes with a dog that knows the job, just saying his name softly will get him up and allow him to choose the spot to apply pressure. You would be surprised how many dogs know the job but are taking ill timed commands to ruin a pen. You looked too impatient to me. It looked like you were trying to make it happen. My gut feeling when I watched it was 'no....wait.... let them look in again... take you time'. Your second attempt was also trying to push them in which was understandable since at that time you probably had a couple of seconds left. Major rule.... you really can't force sheep anywhere. It goes better when they see the pen as an escape. Practice penning at home only saying your dog's name. See what happens. You can give a world of information without telling him the wrong command just with the tone you use. He can decide how to take a whisper and you can instill caution with that whispered command but not disturb the sheep either.

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Something I noticed, that actually gave me the boost to start messing with formal shedding, was that my body language seemed rather important to the dog to get him out of "fetch" mode and into "shedding" mode. And I just tried to write what it is about ten different ways and find that language is failing me. Basically I want to be at a right angle to dog and sheep, but that's not quite it. It's working the pressure a different way. Hmmm. Maybe not being able to verbalize this for once is a good thing - for once I"m assimilating one of these sheepdog concepts on the right side of my brain? :D

 

I know it would be much less easy for me if I didn't trust my ability to keep the sheep pretty much where I wanted them. If I were scared they'd just bolt away it would be terribly distracting. I'll have to get practice with more ambitious sheep before I move up, I can see, already. :rolleyes:

 

Sometimes when the sheep keep flipping around it's easy to forget where the draw seemed to be and which ones I was going to take off. I imagine that's even more distracting in a trial! Again, kudos to you, Kristi, for courageously posting this.

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Thank you, everyone, for your replies! And please don't worry about being too blunt - 12 years of competitive skating under Russian coaches has given me a fairly thick skin. :rolleyes: Fire away, I'm learning a lot!

 

I haven't been able to process all the advice given so far, as a lot of it is a bit over my head on first read, but I have managed to come up with another question. Many of you mentioned that the sheep are too close, and I absolutely agree. How do I get them off my knees? Do I just keep walking backwards, and if they try to stick back to me, do I become a little more, er, menacing? Swing the stick, stomp at them, that kind of thing? The sheep that we work regularly are knee-knockers, but they don't stick quite as bad as the ones in the shedding video.

 

I have a lot more questions, if you can stand them. I just need to get my head around the advice given so far before I bug you again with more newbie questions.

 

Oh wait, I lie. One more question for tonight: once you get the shed, any advice on getting the dog to release the shed sheep? This is my fault, as I really encourage him to take control of the shed sheep (lots of 'watch 'em, watch 'em' and we march them around the field for a while, maybe put them against a fence, that sort of thing). On our Sunday run, I did ask him to bring the shed sheep a bit closer to the shedding ring (to act as a magnet for the unshed ones), but he really didn't want to release them. I *think* I gave several "that'll do's", and when he took the last one, I gave him a "look back" and he went off happily to get the unshed sheep (who were trying to get into the exhaust area). I think this was quite time-consuming, though. Thoughts on this? Does this relate to asking him to come through but NOT turn on the sheep, per Carol's post?

 

 

Again, thanks for all the replies! Lou especially thanks you!

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I haven't been able to process all the advice given so far, as a lot of it is a bit over my head on first read, but I have managed to come up with another question. Many of you mentioned that the sheep are too close, and I absolutely agree. How do I get them off my knees? Do I just keep walking backwards, and if they try to stick back to me, do I become a little more, er, menacing? Swing the stick, stomp at them, that kind of thing? The sheep that we work regularly are knee-knockers, but they don't stick quite as bad as the ones in the shedding video.

 

 

 

 

You do need to make yourself very big and menacing to the sheep so that they don't think that you are safe. Sometimes when the sheep are too close to you, you need to back the dog off so that the dog is releasing enough pressure for you to back up. It is a balancing act as you need to put on enough pressure and the dog needs to keep enough pressure on the sheep so that you can get them to face one direction and start stringing them them out. You don't want the sheep facing you and you don't want them to face the dog as that keeps them bunched up. Remember, just as use you pressure and release with the dog in training, you also use pressure and release on the sheep.

 

Once again I will reiterate that people aren't aware enough of their sheep and the pressures there that they and their dog place on the sheep.

 

Kathy

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Coming late to this thread, and lots of good advice has already been given, but from a handler's viewpoint (and others may disagree with me, but...), I would like to have seen you using your dog more to create the gap. It *is* tough with kneeknocker sheep, but I felt like you put yourself at a disadvantage when you kept lying Lou down (or he was lying down on his own) instead of using him to influence the sheep and help create the gap. There are judges who would hit you for doing most of the work yourself to create a gap. I agree with everyone else that he was out of position on a couple of your attempts, which is why the 3rd sheep felt able to jump forward and join its two departing buddies. Lou needs to be positioned so that he can catch the eye of the first sheep you want to hold, which should put him somewhere between the hip and butt of the last sheep you want to let go. In the beginning it also looked like he was way too far off the sheep--even if you had gotten a hole, I thought he'd never get there in time to come through and hold it. With kneeknocker sheep, one strategy is to be ready to try to get your shed as they're coming into the ring. This is where the parallel driving that was mentioned earlier can help. If you can meet the sheep while they're still fairly lined out as they come into the ring and flank Lou around so he's driving them, but somewhat across from you, you can often get a shed before the sheep have a chance to clump and cling, but it takes planning as they approach the ring. (This was a tip I got from Kent Kuykendall several years ago.). Carol is right about using the draw to your advantage as well. If you can face the sheep toward a draw, they will be more likely to line out as they start to move toward the draw. The trick with this method is that if the draw is strong enough, you'll have to make sure your dog is positioned properly to catch the eye of the first sheep you want to *hold* and you have to be quick to call your dog through before the sheep get up a good head of steam toward the draw (because all sheep should still be in the ring when you make your shed attempt). I also own Alasdair MacRae's shedding video, and it is really quite helpful. He has a section on sheep that clump and cling. They certainly can be some of the most frustrating sheep on earth to shed.

 

One thing where I differ in opinion with some others here is that if the sheep are clumping but will move off me a bit, I will use the strategy of pushing them onto the dog (i.e., sheep are facing the dog and walking toward it). This works with a dog who is an experienced/good shedder and is willing/able to make its own hole, but as someone pointed out, it won't stop them from bunching. BUT, if they are being pushed toward the dog, they will at some point turn (since they aren't generally going to go over the dog) and it's at the point of the turn, when they will separate just a little, that you can call the dog through.

 

Now I'll go have a look at the penning video.

 

ETA: At the pen: You're right, you aren't helping your dog at all. It's your job to hold your side, and although you can't always stop the sheep from busting past you on that side, you did nothing but stand there and watch them go. This is where the rope on the gate gives you room to maneuver out and block the sheep, and where you can use your stick as an extension of you arm to the same effect. Granted, neither may have stopped the sheep, but if other handlers before you had been able to do those things without unduly upsetting the sheep, then you probably could have too. The really important thing about penning sheep is paying attention (unless you're the first run of course) to what works for other handlers and especially how the sheep react to handler and dog movement. With some sheep, you just need to open the pen as wide as possible and stay as still as possible; but with others you really have to crowd them and help your dog push them in. With just your run to watch, it's hard to say what would have been the best strategy here. Just as not knowing whether flapping the rope or waving your stick would set them off or help get them in.

 

I noted the same thing Marilyn did, that you were so busy watching your dog regroup the sheep that you barely got to the pen ahead of them. You really need to be at the pen (if at all possible) and have the gate already open as the sheep are approaching it. I don't know how many times I've watched people lose a bunch of pen points because the sheep were to the pen before the gate was open and then the handler was so busy opening the gate that the sheep went on past. As Lou was bring the sheep back to the shedding ring, I would have been walking to the pen and would have had the gate open before I flanked him around to start bringing them to the pen.

 

Another of Marilyn's comments brings to mind a thought. She talks of speaking your dog's name softly at the pen and asking him to figure out where to be. I agree wholeheartedly. To expand on that, if you can be as quiet/softspoken as possible at the pen (and shed, for that matter, anywhere you're working close to the sheep) it works to settle them (and your dog) some. Toward the end of your penning attempt, you asked Loe for a flank and it looks to me like he came up pushing. At that point I think a square flank would have been more effective--a step square to one side would have caught the lead sheep's eye and let her know she couldn't go that way, but would not have applied the pressure from behind that caused the sheep to all start to turn. I hope that makes sense....

 

J.

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Coming late to this thread, and lots of good advice has already been given, but from a handler's viewpoint (and others may disagree with me, but...), I would like to have seen you using your dog more to create the gap. "

 

I have to agree with Julie here. Way too many people try to make the gap themselves and therefore get themselves too far into the sheep. When this happens they end up in the opening and then the dog can't be called into the gap as the handler is in the way and is actually blocking the dog out of the opening. This is what is happening quite often when the sheep roll back around the handler.

 

 

 

""In the beginning it also looked like he was way too far off the sheep--even if you had gotten a hole, I thought he'd never get there in time to come through and hold it.""

 

Yes, I felt that Lou was too far off at times that even if the opening/gap had been made, there would be no way that he could get in there.

 

 

"" With kneeknocker sheep, one strategy is to be ready to try to get your shed as they're coming into the ring. This is where the parallel driving that was mentioned earlier can help. If you can meet the sheep while they're still fairly lined out as they come into the ring and flank Lou around so he's driving them, but somewhat across from you, you can often get a shed before the sheep have a chance to clump and cling, but it takes planning as they approach the ring. (This was a tip I got from Kent Kuykendall several years ago.). ""

 

Thanks for putting this so well, Julie. I was trying to figure out how to put this into words. I was taught by yet another clinician that you need to be prepared to shed the instant that you walk into the shed ring. Sometimes that is your best opportunity. Sometimes this might mean having the dog hold them off for just a moment.

 

 

""One thing where I differ in opinion with some others here is that if the sheep are clumping but will move off me a bit, I will use the strategy of pushing them onto the dog (i.e., sheep are facing the dog and walking toward it). This works with a dog who is an experienced/good shedder and is willing/able to make its own hole, but as someone pointed out, it won't stop them from bunching. BUT, if they are being pushed toward the dog, they will at some point turn (since they aren't generally going to go over the dog) and it's at the point of the turn, when they will separate just a little, that you can call the dog through.""

 

 

You are right, with some sheep who want to clump badly, you do need to push them back onto the dog. I would rather have the sheep facing the dog than me. I have had to call my dog into openings that really didn't look like openings on more than one occasion. But my current open dog loves doing this. My current dog can be called into just about any group of sheep at any point that I indicate without an opening being there. I don't know if this will be the case with my next one. I have had more than one person comment on our sheds as I don't neccessarily shed in the same way as most local handlers.

 

Kathy

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Oh, and for releasing the shed sheep, do you have a "look" command? I try to teach all my dogs that "look" means they should be looking for sheep. At home, I would probably have Lou wear the shed sheep to me or, better yet, put them somplace like a pen and then turn and start walking toward the "left behind" sheep while saying "look." When I see that he sees the sheep we're walking toward, I'd send him for them. Since the shed sheep are out of the picture (in the pen or wherever), they can't really influence him and the fact that you're moving toward the sheep you want should encourage him to do the same. Eventually you can turn that exercise into a look back. In the shedding ring, you can use your position to influence him as well, assuming the sheep aren't running hell bent for leather somewhere. Stop him once the judge has accepted your shed, then walk toward the other sheep, saying "here, here" or whatever you need to do to get his attention, then "look" and then flank to get those sheep. I'm sure there are other ways of doing it, but that's what's worked for me.

 

J.

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I think Andrea mentioned getting the sheep lined up facing the dog to get them to split under the dog's pressure and I thought that would be a good one to try the next time I worked knee knockers. I'll admit to having almost zero experience with that kind of sheep and they always surprise the heck out of me when I use them (what do you mean, I can use myself as a draw?).

 

These "felt" like sheep that were going to come at you no matter what, if they felt threatened, even if it was by you! With a couple of minutes to experiment I think I would have tried seeing whether taking a more neutral position would let them think more about their buddies at the exhaust, water, shade, whatever, anything but the same old drill in the shedding ring. Kind of reset their minds back to the moment Julie was talking about capturing as they were walking in the ring, when they were just "going somewhere" and acting like, er, sheep.

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Guest carol campion

Kristy

 

Go back and look at the video. The sheep didn't come to you. In the beginning you kept going to the sheep. You taught them you were safe in your first moments in the ring. Then you were stuck.

 

Another thing to think about is that if don't get the sheep too close to you and you let the sheep settle a bit in the ring before you start maneuvering, with quiet clean flanks and a quiet manner on your part, you can actually take them by surprise with your dog work to set the shed up. hey won't even know you are going to shed. Your first shot at it is usually your best shot.

 

Just a note, when using the pressure as a draw, be careful not to encourage them directly into it. The pull may be so strong you cannot get your dog in fast enough or that the sheep will run over the dog. Angle it a bit with the pressure slightly behind the sheep and to the back of the sheep. That way you can adjust the speed with which they try to "escape" allowing you time to flank your dog in position just in front of the ones you want shed.

 

By using good lateral flanks and the releasing of the sheep by the dog, the two of you can create a gap. You need to be moving parallel to the sheep as they string— just across from where you are flanking your dog to —and that pressure from the both sides guarantees the gap.

 

As you & the dog get & more confident, the dynamic remains the same but it will be more subtle and you will be moving very little.

 

One thing I abhor and have taken points off when judging at trials and would disqualify for is handlers stepping on or kicking the sheep's feet on the other side of the judge-hopng it will not be seen-to make the sheep move.

 

Carol

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Kristy

 

""Go back and look at the video. The sheep didn't come to you. In the beginning you kept going to the sheep. You taught them you were safe in your first moments in the ring. Then you were stuck. ""

 

Thanks for pointing this out Carol. I thought the same thing as she hopped off the straw bales and almost ran out to the sheep. Something to always remember.

 

 

""By using good lateral flanks and the releasing of the sheep by the dog, the two of you can create a gap. You need to be moving parallel to the sheep as they string— just across from where you are flanking your dog to —and that pressure from the both sides guarantees the gap.""

 

This is what I was trying to explain earlier. Work yourself and your dog on good lateral movement with the sheep. For myself when I was first learning how to do this with my dog I was on the fence with the sheep between us and worked on this lateral movement. If my dog started to come in instead of staying out on that "line" I would tell him out and push on him.

 

 

 

""One thing I abhor and have taken points off when judging at trials and would disqualify for is handlers stepping on or kicking the sheep's feet on the other side of the judge-hopng it will not be seen-to make the sheep move.""

 

 

Even before I started trialing in open myself I never liked watching handlers jumping at the feet of the sheep and jumping up and down by the sheep. I kept thinking to myself, isn't the dog supposed to be doing the work?? The same with the pen, I don't like watching handlers jumping around and stomping their feet to get the sheep in the pen while the dog just lays there. Once again, I was thinking, isn't the dog supposed to pen the sheep? I want my dog to do the work. When I am home here and I send my dog out to pick up the sheep and put them in the barn yard, barn or wherever, I don't want to have to be right there helping him do that, I need him to be able to get those sheep in without my help.

 

I will tell you that at my last trial while we were working on the shed I really got lost in the whole thing. I was watching how the sheep were moving and when I had one ewe from in front go around to the back I was thinking to myself, now what did we do that caused her to do that?? I got so caught up in the whole thing that I almost forgot that I was at a trial. We got our shed with 4 seconds to spare. And I will add that it was a 10 point shed. :rolleyes:

 

Kathy

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Great thread! Great advice - thanks everyone.

 

No penning expert here, but I remember one clinician telling me to open the gate wide, for the handler to be careful of putting unnecessary pressure on the sheep and to aim them at the gate hinge. It seems every move at the pen needs to be slight and much less than we think we need. Every flank should take away the sheep's options of where they can go until their only option is to go into the pen. Oh, yeah, then there's that being patient thing. :rolleyes:

 

I very much like Marilyn & Julie's thoughts on saying the dog's name rather than giving commands. It's a beautiful sight to watch a dog work sheep in this manner. It just makes me go :D

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First of all, Luisa's bowing emoticons should be aimed at all of those who have taken the time to watch and comment on the video. Thank you all! Luisa, I wish I had some video where we looked better, but sadly, this is pretty indicative of how our runs go. :rolleyes: Ah well, as long as we're learning, right?

 

(From Marilyn T): The sheep need to be in the ring, but you don't need to wait there for them You should have been moving to the pen gate while your dog was putting the sheep back into the ring. Because you were out of place, you then had to run to the pen with your back to the sheep, while the dog was bringing them back, and you weren't ready with the gate open when the sheep got there.

Ah...you see, I wasn't sure if I just had to have the dog gather the sheep back in the ring (while I shuffled over to the pen) or if we all had to go as one big happy family. Thank you for explaining that!

 

(from Marilyn T): Sometimes with a dog that knows the job, just saying his name softly will get him up and allow him to choose the spot to apply pressure. You would be surprised how many dogs know the job but are taking ill timed commands to ruin a pen.

Yes, I think that's pretty descriptive of what I did. He can pen silently, but I thought I should 'help out' by giving him a flank. I really should learn to keep my mouth shut! I think I am supposed to say "watch 'em" or something equally encouraging if he's stalling out; when I say his name up close, I think it means "come in", which could be very bad at the pen.

 

(From Julie P): Carol is right about using the draw to your advantage as well. If you can face the sheep toward a draw, they will be more likely to line out as they start to move toward the draw. The trick with this method is that if the draw is strong enough, you'll have to make sure your dog is positioned properly to catch the eye of the first sheep you want to *hold* and you have to be quick to call your dog through before the sheep get up a good head of steam toward the draw (because all sheep should still be in the ring when you make your shed attempt). I also own Alasdair MacRae's shedding video, and it is really quite helpful. He has a section on sheep that clump and cling. They certainly can be some of the most frustrating sheep on earth to shed.

I have been told that the dog and I should be perpendicular to the draw, but you're saying I also should have the sheep facing the draw? To be honest, I sometimes get a bit discombobulated with all the running about, but I will use that as a reference point in the future. I also have been told that I need to be behind the shoulder of the last sheep that I want to release, which is what I think you were saying. This is like the theory about you and the dog acting jointly as a gate, correct? And I should buy that shedding video - I've heard a lot of good things about it!

 

(from Kathy F): ...with some sheep who want to clump badly, you do need to push them back onto the dog. I would rather have the sheep facing the dog than me. I have had to call my dog into openings that really didn't look like openings on more than one occasion.

How would I push them back onto the dog? Do I step into them? Wave the stick a bit? Sorry for being so dense, I'm a bit stumped by this (as I have been told this before but I am not sure what it means).

 

Again, thank you all for your advice and patience!

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(from Kathy F): ...with some sheep who want to clump badly, you do need to push them back onto the dog. I would rather have the sheep facing the dog than me. I have had to call my dog into openings that really didn't look like openings on more than one occasion.

How would I push them back onto the dog? Do I step into them? Wave the stick a bit? Sorry for being so dense, I'm a bit stumped by this (as I have been told this before but I am not sure what it means).

 

Again, thank you all for your advice and patience!

 

 

First off, how you enter the shedding ring will have an affect on how you affect the sheep. Like somone else had pointed out, you don't want to go to your sheep and make them think that you are safe. You don't even really want the dog to bring them all the way to you, preferably you'd want them somewhere between the two of you. As far as pushing them back onto the dog I would step towards the belly of some of them as that will turn them if need be I bend down lower with my arms to the side and push into them. I don't think that waving the stick has that much affect on the sheep. You need to bend down so that you are low enough to be in their sight, sheep don't really lift their heads to look up that well. Not unlike a lot of prey animals.

 

One other thing came to mind. One other reason that you don't want the dog to "fetch" the sheep to you is that when he does that the sheep are at your feet and it's almost like you lose half of the shedding ring to work in. If you can bring the sheep in so that both you and the dog are driving them in laterally you have the whole ring to work in. Just another thought.

 

Kathy

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey Kristi,

 

 

Anytime you want to come down here and work with me on shedding and penning...you have a free pass.

 

My sheep are very tough to shed so needless to say if you can shed my sheep, then you have a good handle on shedding. I have several *unique* pens set up in my big field. (as well as a L chute)

 

Noelle, a friend of mine came over and practiced shedding (her downfall) on my sheep before last weekend trial and by golly, she got quite good at, so damm good she won the High Overall Open for 2 days at the last trial and made a point of thanking me (or my sheep) since that was critical in her win.

 

My pc locked up downloading your video so I couldn't see it!!

 

Diane

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