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Green dog gets caught up behind sheep


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Hey, I'm just looking for any additional exercises I might be able to work on with my youngster.


I've only just started her recently, and she is very EAGER to get to her sheep, however despite her maniac look she goes right around them and will circle nicely. She changes directions easily as well, and is doing a little natural wearing. This is all in a maybe 40-foot round pen, on 5ish sheep who are pretty well-behaved but not knee-clingers. Her issue is that on the come-bye direction she is tighter and often gets stuck at about 10-o'clock. This happens both with mini-wearing and just the baby-dog circling exercises. She is farther off and covers better on the away side. She usually hangs up right about where the sheep butts are :-) (I guess she's not a natural "header"?)

Any ideas for helping fix this now, before we move on in training or it becomes a bigger issue? Of course I'm working on using a paddle or stick to guide her out farther, but she still hangs up before I can get to her. Sometimes using it or "pushing" her out too much makes her more excited, as well, which doesn't really help.

I was wondering if there are any other easy little exercises to help her understand to cover both directions better. I don't think she could keep the sheep with her yet in a bigger area, but my instructor could use a dog to help us if need be. Would it make sense to take her out of the pen and start wearing over larger areas and let her figure out how to cover that way? She wants to wear really badly and while close, does seem to have an understanding of NOT to push the sheep overtop of me (she will stop and stand if she's on balance, and walk if the sheep are walking)...


P.S. I CAN down her if I growl a bit (found that out when she kept catching up on the leash and I wanted to take it off rather than have her break a leg).

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Disclaimer: Not an expert


Where are you when she stops at 10:00? Have you tried moving around the sheep, to see if that frees her up? What about where are the heads of the sheep? If she keeps stopping at 10:00, I would not stop there, I would keep moving, doing serpentines around a field with her to get her to flow more freely around them. I would get into a bigger field too. My dog was tighter on the come by for a long time, and when I started doing exercises wherein I asked for flanks regardless of where I was/sheep were and I faced her, she learned to stay off on both sides.

It would be good if you could video tape, and the real pros could suggest some stuff. I am just mentioning what would seem intuitive to me, based on my dog, who may be very different!

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It's hard for me to follow descriptions like this, but it sounds a bit like a rescue I had here. He was quite pressure sensitive and super natural, but still very young. He'd get to working too close (usually cutting in on a flank) and then would have an "OH CRAP" moment realizing he'd screwed up. But he wouldn't know how to fix it, so he'd just make things worse because he was too close and he had a TON of effect on the sheep so the stir-up factor was multiplied over a normal young dog. At that point he'd either a) would fly in and bust or b ) stop entirely in desperation.


He'd also be in a mental state where it was almost impossible to stop him and he'd pretty much forget everything he knew.


Anyway, once I worked this out, I saw this as more of a symptom of a larger difficulty rather than an isolated problem. It was the flip side of his particular combination of tremendous power and stock sense. Indeed he was a different dog if I simply watched out for his crowding the sheep and corrected it before it got to where he couldn't fix it himself. I think over time he will eventually to recognize the warning signs himself, and he'll also have more tools in his toolbox to correct things himself when they feel wrong.


This sort of thing is best fixed up close first I think - if they can't get it right in the round pen, it will be difficult to sort out cause and effect in a larger area where the sheep can take advantage of uncertainty on the dog's part.


This may be completely inapplicable to your case, but I thought I'd share my experience with Eddie in case there's something helpful there. :rolleyes: Good luck!

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Geeze, stupid computer!

It told me my post hadn't even posted this morning!


I've talked to my instructor some too, and she feels that we need to get her off the sheep farther, and she also corrected me that it is a 70ft round pen :-)

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Roseanne -


If you have any way of making a short video clip of what you're talking about, I'd love to see it. I am starting several young dogs right now, and am in awe of these training videos that people started posting. It'd be nice to have one with the "problem" in it, and then the progressive ones of how the "problem" got fixed.


Yes? No?



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You had said that your dog was a youngster and only started recently. I think what you do and how you do it depends in large part on the age and maturity of your dog.


Youngster can mean 4 months or 10 months. Actions to take can be drastically different depending on the age and maturity of your dog.


I think more info would lead to better suggestions.



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Is the dog balancing the sheep on you ? If so then you should be able to follow it around and keep it moving so the ten oclock spot becomes less of an issue. Since the dog is good about not running the sheep over you, you could also try some close serpentine fetching. The object being not to just have the sheep follow you, but each time you change directions see to it the dog is tipping their faces toward you (a little more is better than not enough). This may heighten the sense of balance a little and get the dog to cover better. Also a great opportunity to work on a good 'stop/stand' command and a 'walk-up' while everything is close and you don't have to shout.


Most dogs favor one side somehow, and this often changes (sometimes more than once) as they grow up. Without seeing it it's hard to say how concerned I'd be at this point. My guess is that I wouldn't be too concerned. Good to be aware of though, and just make it something you work on.



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Thanks for all your thoughts.


She's almost 18 months old. I waited some because she was just so overly-enthusiastic at first, and I wanted to let her mature mentally.


No I can't video - NOT talented to do that and dance around sheep at the same time!


Yes I can follow her around to push her off the 10-o'clock spot but too much 'chasing' gets her a little too excited to think hard. She does try to balance them to me but on that come-bye side she just sort of hesitates.


My instructor and I are working out a little plan for her. I think she's got talent, we just have to calm her down and get some miles on her. My boy has been trained very sporadically due to my agility schedule but miraculously he still makes good progress every time, so I'm a little spoiled!

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