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I have a 15-mo rescued male Border Collie. He was tested in April and showed great talent. Worked very well for the trainer/tester. Since then, we've been able to go up approx 1/week to train/practice with dog-broke sheep. Now, almost 3 mo later, we're probably no further along than when we started.

 

Bottom-line is probably this: he has terrible "downs" in the field. Sometimes will; sometimes won't. Works too close to the sheep. His "away" is nice and wide; his "come by" is too close in. (and he doesn't really know what those mean anyway)

 

I'm a novice and reluctant to teach him by threatening and yelling at him. He now will not work for that trainer at all; he runs for the gate if that trainer tries to work him. He's extremely sensitive to correction -- probably related to being a rescue dog.

 

Is threat/yelling/intimidation the only way to train for this work? Am I babying him too much (trainer thinks i am) ? Should I find another trainer? Just give up?

 

How can I teach the minimum he seems to need (a good stop even in the field WITH the sheep) without being what I consider to be abusive?

 

[thanks for your input.]

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I have a 15-mo rescued male Border Collie. He was tested in April and showed great talent. Worked very well for the trainer/tester. Since then, we've been able to go up approx 1/week to train/practice with dog-broke sheep. Now, almost 3 mo later, we're probably no further along than when we started.

 

Bottom-line is probably this: he has terrible "downs" in the field. Sometimes will; sometimes won't. Works too close to the sheep. His "away" is nice and wide; his "come by" is too close in. (and he doesn't really know what those mean anyway)

 

I'm a novice and reluctant to teach him by threatening and yelling at him. He now will not work for that trainer at all; he runs for the gate if that trainer tries to work him. He's extremely sensitive to correction -- probably related to being a rescue dog.

 

Is threat/yelling/intimidation the only way to train for this work? Am I babying him too much (trainer thinks i am) ? Should I find another trainer? Just give up?

 

How can I teach the minimum he seems to need (a good stop even in the field WITH the sheep) without being what I consider to be abusive?

 

[thanks for your input.]

 

Your situation is difficult. You have a dog of unknown parentage, with an unknown background. So many scenarios come to mind, such as the dog could be well bred and has lots of talent, but was abused, or ignored during the formative months, or he was kindly raised, but never "learned to learn" and so doesn't know how to take a correction without being crushed. Or, he could have been raised around livestock and allowed to spend his time watching, or actually working on his own and therefore doesn't need anyone to give him guidance because he has already trained himself, or he could be obedience or conformation bred, and isn't keen enouugh to take training, or, or, or. I could go on and on with scenarios, but we'll never know for sure.

As far as where you need to go from where you are, I would suggest that you don't really need a great stop at this point if the scenario is right; right sheep, right pen, right trainer. He should be learning how to control sheep before you start doing a lot of controlling him. If the dog is worth the time to train, a good trainer will know how to go about it.

If you are serious about getting into working livestock with a border collie, I highly reccommend purchasing a puppy with the right kind of breeding and then raise him as he should be raised. I love to find good homes for rescue dogs and reccommend them to all who contact me for a pet, but I would never suggest to someone who wants a stock dog that they get a rescue dog. Just way too much baggage.

Good luck.

 

Jeanne

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Your situation is difficult. You have a dog of unknown parentage, with an unknown background. So many scenarios come to mind, such as the dog could be well bred and has lots of talent, but was abused, or ignored during the formative months, or he was kindly raised, but never "learned to learn" and so doesn't know how to take a correction without being crushed. Or, he could have been raised around livestock and allowed to spend his time watching, or actually working on his own and therefore doesn't need anyone to give him guidance because he has already trained himself, or he could be obedience or conformation bred, and isn't keen enouugh to take training, or, or, or. I could go on and on with scenarios, but we'll never know for sure.

As far as where you need to go from where you are, I would suggest that you don't really need a great stop at this point if the scenario is right; right sheep, right pen, right trainer. He should be learning how to control sheep before you start doing a lot of controlling him. If the dog is worth the time to train, a good trainer will know how to go about it.

If you are serious about getting into working livestock with a border collie, I highly reccommend purchasing a puppy with the right kind of breeding and then raise him as he should be raised. I love to find good homes for rescue dogs and reccommend them to all who contact me for a pet, but I would never suggest to someone who wants a stock dog that they get a rescue dog. Just way too much baggage.

Good luck.

 

Jeanne

 

Jeanne - I have to say I was stunned by your response when I read it yesterday. I can only come back to it today. And mostly I'm replying because perhaps my reply might benefit someone else.

 

Reading "between the lines," I do see some useful info ... but the overall tone of your email is so negative -- just go out and get another dog! Only do it right with a pup -- that the useful stuff is almost lost.

 

I see that you don't have enough info about his background to offer a strong opinion. Fair enough. I see that it's much easier to start with a well-bred pup and "raise him right." Understood and agreed. But you also offer me some thoughts like: could he be just overly sensitive to criticism? Yes and no: He's VERY sensitive to loud voice/threatening gestures. He WILL take correction with moderation however. It's the degree and type of correction. You also say that he doesn't need a "great stop" at this point. Well - that's new info for me. The trainer i've been working with is ALL about his stops. Yelling at him. Threatening him. Jerking him. So - maybe not all trainers would agree with her methods. That's info I need.

 

What i really get is that i need to find another trainer. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and would love some referrals. I "know" of other trainers, but most are reputed to be rougher than my current one.

 

Finally - I didn't get Mitch to be a herding dog. But once I had him and he was recognized to be talented, it seems (seemed) like I "owe" him that ... it's so clearly in his blood. Please don't be so harsh with other resue owners. You really do have more info for us than maybe you realize.

 

Regards,

Jane & Mitch

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Jane, I am so not the expert, but get thee [and Mitch] to Bill Berhow in Zamora. I can dig up his contact info if you need it.

 

I was actually nodding in agreement as I read Jeanne's reply. It's terrific that Mitch is getting the chance to do something he loves and shows promise at, and he deserves a good trainer to give him every opportunity to progress. Jeanne's scenarios provided food for thought and may lead to a more accurate assessment of Mitch's strengths and needs. I didn't get the impression Jeanne was recommending you give up on him and buy a pup to work stock instead.

 

At the same time, I think it can't be said often enough that good working border collies come from good, working parents. As Jeanne stated, people with a serious interest in stockwork should at some point get a well-bred pup (or trained dog). A well-bred, properly-raised dog will teach you a lot about working stock.

 

I'm all for giving keen rescue dogs the chance to work: my rescue border collie is a pip on sheep, and she's my go-to helpmate on the farm. Again, I think it's great you're giving Mitch the chance to work, and I hope you'll take him to Bill, and since I am so not the expert I'll duck out now :rolleyes:

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the overall tone of your email is so negative -- just go out and get another dog! Only do it right with a pup -- that the useful stuff is almost lost.

 

Sorry, but I have to disagree with you, Jane.

 

Jeanne gave a wonderful reply, full of thoughtfulness and differing approaches to what your dog's lack of progress could be due to. I don't think it was buried in "negativity" at all. It was an honest answer - that's why you asked, right? To get an honest answer from someone with years of experience with many dogs.

 

It's really hard for any of us that love our dogs, to hear anything that we might construe as disparaging of that dog. I know because I feel the same way.

 

He was tested in April and showed great talent. Worked very well for the trainer/tester.

 

A test is just that - an indication of possibility, a one-shot evaluation, that may or may not prove true in the long run. Further training and testing in a working situation will reveal a lot more than any simple test or evaluation can. I've observed a number of "instinct tests" or "capability tests" and I have to say that I've seen a number of dogs "pass" that demonstrated very little useful potential. Sometimes that test is simply the best that dog can or will ever do. Progress is never guaranteed.

 

Another alternative is that is just not the training approach for your dog. If other trainers are just "more of the same", then do what Luisa suggested and get to someone like Bill Berhow, who might be able to train your dog with the approach that Mitch and you need.

 

I do sincerely hope you find someone who can help you, and wish you both the best.

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Hi Jane,

 

The first time a handler/trainer told me that one of my dogs wasn't very talented, I felt pretty smacked. The first time I was told to fling a stick at my dog as a correction (not hit the dog, just toss the stick), my head spun.

 

Now, with a little more experience under my belt, I understand much more what that's all about and why 1) saying a dog isn't talented isn't saying the dog isn't lovable or isn't worth working further if you want to keep trying and 2) flinging a stick might be more effective and in some ways less threatening than yelling.

 

I think you misinterpreted what Jeanne was saying about your dog vs. a working-bred puppy. She was asking about your goals in working your dog. You would take one road if your goal is to provide Mitch with a particular set of experiences and possibly awaken his instincts. You might want to take a different road if your goal is to become a student of stockdogs and stock work.

 

Our rescue is the dog that brought us to working stock. We started with the first goal, but over time have shifted to the second. Tansy has many demons (who knows why--she's bred out of working lines, but it's hard to tell how well; she spent her life to the age of 4 with nothing to do but spin while watching cars on the highway). It has taken a year for her to get a stop at all (and bless her, last night she actually lied herself down). She works ten times as hard as she needs to, running back and forth. She lacks confidence but is also hard-headed. She won't work for anyone but her mommy.

 

It's hard to say how far she will go; it's pretty doubtful she'll ever trial and it's just as doubtful that she'd be much use as a regular chore dog. But, so what. We learn something from working with her and she learns something too. In our case, we have other dogs (even beside my untalented dog, Princess Pippin) who can help us fulfill the goal of being serious students of stockwork. But, even if we didn't, we'd still go every week with the rescue because we believe it's good for her and that we "owe" it to her for all kinds of reasons.

 

If Mitch won't work for the trainer you're using and you aren't ready to start working him yourself, you'd probably find it much more satisfying to find another trainer as others have suggested. You might also find it interesting to read some books on working stock with Border Collie to see how different handlers use different methods.

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What i really get is that i need to find another trainer. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and would love some referrals. I "know" of other trainers, but most are reputed to be rougher than my current one.>>>>>>

 

 

 

Just a suggestion--don't know who your trainer is, don't know their methods and don't need to as it is none of my business really , but I would take with a grain of salt when being told that " most are reputed to be rougher than my current trainer". I picked a trainer by watching Open handlers before , during and after their goes at trials over a course of several years. I watched how they treat their dogs after their run, back at their rig. I took lessons with at least three trainers with my (now) old border collie . Also, when watching a person give a clinic/lesson to another's dog, it is easy for us novices to see something that does not make sense to us , thus labeling it "rough". Also look for a trainer who you think is honest -i.e you may be told what you would rather not hear. In my book that is far better, although more painful, than that trainer who tells you your dog is great while in reality that trainer is not putting in the effort to teach your dog and you the most they can.

 

I watched, made my pick and never needed to look back. I got lucky. Hope you find someone to help you out.

 

Carolyn

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Hi, Everyone:

 

Since this forum has been migrated from its original home on LittleHats.net, I'm still more or less its moderator. I want to be very clear about the ground rules here: nobody can post advice or comments to this forum except the expert. We have a training forum for conversation; this isn't that. On this forum, peole will just post questions and get answers from a successful Open handler (which, as I'm sure we all can agree, is a wonderful thing). From now on, I'm going to remove any of these extraneous posts, and I hope that nobody will take offense at that. If you want to comment on an issue that arises in Ask an Expert, write privately to the original poster or start a thread on the stockdog training forum. Thanks for understanding, everyone!

 

-- Heather

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Hi, Everyone:

 

Since this forum has been migrated from its original home on LittleHats.net, I'm still more or less its moderator. I want to be very clear about the ground rules here: nobody can post advice or comments to this forum except the expert. We have a training forum for conversation; this isn't that. On this forum, peole will just post questions and get answers from a successful Open handler (which, as I'm sure we all can agree, is a wonderful thing). From now on, I'm going to remove any of these extraneous posts, and I hope that nobody will take offense at that. If you want to comment on an issue that arises in Ask an Expert, write privately to the original poster or start a thread on the stockdog training forum. Thanks for understanding, everyone!

 

-- Heather

 

Heather,

 

I just want to say that I understand your point, but want to tell the posters that I appreciated their responses on this thread.

 

Jeanne

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Heather,

 

I just want to say that I understand your point, but want to tell the posters that I appreciated their responses on this thread.

 

Jeanne

 

Last but not least -- since I started this "thing" (that has taken on a life of it's own!) please let me thank Jeanne, Eileen, and all the others who have replied both here and through private emails. You have ALL given me much to "chew on". Even if I didn't like everything I heard, I learned a lot, which was why I posted in the first place.

 

Thanks!

Jane (aka CJ)

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