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Okay, so we are now ready to start driving. My girl actually like this. I like it too, because it means I don't get my toes stepped on. We have been doing small amounts, and what I do, is, once the sheep are settled, I then call her here, and tap my leg and she comes in, and we start driving. We are not using flanks yet- I don't think her little brain could handle that just yet. She is covering VERY nicely. She does more free flanking (of her own volition) when she is coming up near a draw- is that normal? It is almost like she kicks it in higher gear. Also, there seems to be a general place where she wants to be, and she actually squares her flanks based on that imaginary line behind the sheep. This is all very new to me, so I was hoping you all could give me some pointers on how/when/where to do/ask for things.



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I'm not sure I understand what you're asking, but I find it useful for young dogs to have a *purpose* to their work, especially when they're learning something new, so in the beginning I usually try to set things up so the dog can drive the sheep *to* somewhere. I think it helps them to understand that driving is about taking the sheep somewhere, not just following. Of course in the beginning with Lark, before I really had her in formal training, I'd let her follow the sheep when they went to the pen in which they were fed in the evenings. She felt like she was accomplishing work, but the sheep were going in a direction they wanted to go anyway, but it did get her used to the idea of moving the sheep *away* from me as opposed to fetching them to me. A little later, I started using her to hold the sheep off the feed bunks when I fed. A different sort of driving, and certainly a lot more pressure on the dog, but it did help her to learn to push straight in, but also cover breaking sheep (in the beginning, there was a fair amount of gathering going on to until she began to understand the job). Even now, if I'm just driving sheep out in the field, I pick out an object to drive toward, as that gives purpose to the exercise and enables me to work on flanks, etc., to keep the line straight.


One exercise you can do when she's driving a bit more is stand in one spot and have Lucy drive the sheep in a square around you. In the past, I've even taken cones or other objects and set them up so that I could drive in and out of them (like weaving a car through cones in a driving class), but this was with dogs who already knew how to drive and we were just honing our timing and finesse skills.



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