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Just a random question: how many of you go to the post with your dog on leash? I ask because I noticed at the last trial that few people had their dog on leash when they entered the field, but at other trials, at least half did (these are Open dogs running at USBCHA trials).

 

Personally, I don't have Lou on leash when we approach the post. He kind of goes ahead of me a bit, looking up field for his sheep. Once he spots them (his 'tell' is that his ears go forward), he returns to my side and stares at me. He usually indicates to me which side he thinks is better, though he is open to suggestions. :rolleyes: In the two years that I've run him, he has never *not* found his sheep, so I am going with the 'ain't broke/don't fix' approach.

 

Anyway, just wondering what your preference is and why. Thanks!

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I find I get the opposite of control when my dog is on a leash walking up to the post. She does the same as your dog, and is with me when off leash. When I have her on leash, she pulls and that is not the mind set I want. I want her having an open slate to listen or not, and for her to chose to listen works better for us.

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I work towards off lead and by my side (not running off to the post). Until I have them under verbal control (at a minimum I'm able to call them back to my side) they stay on lead. I adjust according to the individual dog's personality, but I want them in the mindset to work with me.

 

Mark

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I agree with Mark. My youngsters generally go on leash because I can't be sure they'll not see the sheep and take off (that is, tune me out), so until they learn that the appropriate behavior, on the leash they go. The pups, including Lark, will go into a field and will stop and wait if commanded, but it takes a lot of convincing on my part, and I find that the excitement of a trial sometimes makes them forget and I don't want to be nagging at my dog just so we can get to the post. My open dogs go to the post off leash. I don't mind if my dogs range ahead of me or go through the gate ahead of me. Usually Kat walks behind me (because she was trained that way, ugh!) and Twist ranges ahead looking for her sheep down the field. I prefer the latter because I can see my dog, see if she's seen the sheep (generally she has before we even step on the field), and she's not obnoxious about it (that is, she will range out and then come back to me or stop and stand by the post and wait for me).

 

J.

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My goal has always been "no trialing until I have off leash control." I've broken that a couple time - and always to my regret. I feel like if I can't be sure they are with me enough to resist freelancing as we approach the post, I'll have trouble calling them off in case of emergency. Not just, for instance in case of a wreck, but like if you send your dog and the sheep bolt away from the setout person, or another dog enters the field, or whatever.

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From a very early age, I carry the pups on the field with me. But before they ever get on the field to start working, we do exercises going in and out of the gate and walking around the pasture on our home field.(draging a line) They are taught to stay with me, look for thier sheep, walking ahead a bit is ok, and return to me when they have spotted the sheep, and when I call them back. They have never been allowed ( ugh, never say never) to get thier sheep until they have gotten the go ahead from me. Until they can be trustworthy and consistant, they stay on a long line, stay close to me, and are expected to adhere to every recall. I have yet to have to put one on a lead to take a dog to sheep after this training has been done. They are focused, and ready to work, and in training this way from the start, Ive found for me, there are fewer incidences of a dog blowing me off to get to sheep before they are released to do so. In short, they are taught to understand: I own the sheep, when its time to work my sheep, I'll let you know. Till then, you can wander around close by, you can look at them, and even eat a bit of poo, but you dont do anything with them till I say so.

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These different training philosophies are pretty interesting. I guess I just take a more laissez-faire approach at the beginning, but then that's the approach I take with work and trialing too. I want my dog thinking and working naturally without necessarily waiting for my input. That doesn't mean they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, but I don't expect a pup to go into a field with sheep and NOT want to go after them, nor do I think walking a pup to the post on a leash means the dog won't call off when things go wrong (since I have direct evidence to the contrary gained from recent trials). I figure if the pup has been brought up to work with you, that doesn't fly out the window when you walk to the post, but I think it's better form (and wastes less time) to keep a youngster leashed than to have to repeatedly correct it if in the excitement of something new (a trial) it gets a little overcome and tries to run on ahead.

 

J.

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I think it all depends on the dog, the time and myriad other circumstances. Lucy moves waits for me to go through a gate, and then she moves ahead of me to the post. When we work sheep, she goes ahead in the field to, but comes back to be sent. As long as whatever you do works for your dog, then that's what you should do :rolleyes:

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I wish I could take a more lax way of training with my pups, as at times they can seem mechanical because of the training, but I come from a long line of OB work, and still have a hard time allowing young dogs to learn by thier mistakes, as Ive been told to do countless times. A blown off recall equals disobedience to me, and its a hard concept for me to shake off. Mostly its the ground work OB that I take quite so seriously, ( downs and recalls ) as I try not to correct so much during actual sheep work. Though I think that my dogs do come onto the field focused and thinking even so, because they know that I will allow them the sheep. I know they want the sheep, as is evident by the nervouse walking out and coming back and looking from sheep to me, so I dont think it lessons thier want to work, and I like to think it strengthens thier respect for me, as well as thier ability to understand that this is a partnership, and we work together, or not at all. Wether that line of thinking will help one of my dogs at the top of a 500 yard outrun on the open trial course, remains to be seen, but I also like to think that these dogs were bred and born to have the ability to think on thier own when the need arises, and I allow them that when doing actual sheep work, that is just, (what I described in my earlier post) initial OB work before we start doing any herding training, to teach them how to enter the field with me, so that when the time comes to enter the trial field, we dont have a need for a leash. If we come onto the field in a nice disaplined manner, where we all know what is expceted, we dont have to worry about correcting straight off, and the work session is much more relaxed, the dog doesnt seem so worried about correction, and Im not upset about a dog blowing me off at the onset of a work.

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We all have our differences, as do our dogs. And I think our training styles reflect that. It seems to me that folks will gravitate toward methods with which they are most comfortable, and that doesn't mean one is right or the other wrong. I had a conversation the other night with a well-known name in working border collies, and he said that he would never take a young dog to the post if he didn't think the dog would be competitive. A complete 180-degree philosophy from me, since I think if the dog is capable of going out there and not causing a wreck (in general), there is no harm in taking it to the post and giving it a go. For the gentleman I was talking to, it made no sense to step to the post if you didn't think your dog could be competitive, whereas for me, if I think the dog can gain something by going to the post (and do no harm to anyone in so doing), then I'm not worried about being competitive (i.e., having a good chance of placing) because for me it's about the youngster having a learning experience. In my view, by the time my dog is competitive, we will already have worked through most of the silliness and mistakes that come with being in a new place working different stock. Both of us have had our successes, though, so I can't say he's absolutely wrong and I'm absolutely right. What works for a person is what works. If you (the general you) end up with a great working or trial dog in the end, then the method you used to get there apparently worked just fine!

 

FWIW, I know folks will sometimes look askance at an open trial dog being led onto the field (as somehow being a poor reflection on training), but I don't think most people think twice about young dogs being handled that way.

 

J.

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I understand your friends way of thinking, as I dont want to take a dog to the post until I feel that they can be competitive either. But I also understand your way of thinking too, and I think youve got the right idea. I have a feeling that alot of my ideals have been formed by the folks that I have had the earliest, and most contact with in training, and that thier ideas have become my ideas simply beacuse thats the way I was taught, and I am, thru alot of folks here on this board slowly learning to adjust my ways of thinking, and broaden my horizons so to speak. I appreciate the different points of view, different types of training methods, and the well thought out explanations, as it gets me to thinking, and trying new things, instead of being stuck in the same training mode. I so wish that there was an active club around here. Julie, you and I ought to put our heads together, with a few other hands, and start talking about putting together a co-op, and getting some thing going around here. It would be such a benifit to the folks state wide, that have no place to work dogs, and no one to help them out. I think it might draw some decent handlers to join, (hint, hint, Robin, Deacon Dog, some of you other NC open handlers) and could be a lot of fun. Anyway, just a thought.

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Darci,

In my mind competitiveness is relative, which is why I don't mind taking my dogs out "early." (The only dogs I *expect* to do well with every time--one can wish!--I go to the post are my open dogs--the rest of the classes are training classes and so I'm not worried about where I place but rather about how each run indicates where the dog is in its training, what holes need to be worked on, etc., with an eye on getting to open--does that make sense? Don't get me wrong, I'm happy when my dogs get ribbons in the lower classes, but I'm not in those classes *for* the ribbons, but only as a means of putting mileage on the youngsters.) The comment I made which started the conversation I related was something like "It's nice to take the youngsters out because there's *no pressure* to do well," and that's really how I feel about it. My friend disagreed because when he goes out, even in a lower class, he wants/expects to win. The pressure to do well for me comes in the open class and maybe in a lower class once my dog starts performing well (but when the dog is consistently performing well at that level, I'm not one to wait around there, but will probably move the dog on up to the next class). I'm not worried about a ribbon with the beginners, and sometimes they surprise you and are more competitive than you might think. At the last trial I ran in, the sheep were really tough. As I could run just two dogs in each class, Phoebe and Pip got just one run each (snce the other slot was Lark's both days). Phoebe placed 7th in a class of 21 in P/N. If she hadn't crossed on her outrun, she would have been 2nd or 3rd. I don't consider her competitive in P/N in general, but anyone can get lucky, and on that day things clicked and we did well. But more important for me was the experience she got on a different field with tough sheep. By the time she's ready to kick some a$$, none of that other stuff will faze her, and that's what I'm going for in my training.

 

As for a co-op, no one has had success here in some time getting an NC club going (although many of us do trade work on each others' sheep informally). Maybe you'll be the catalyst to make it work!

 

J.

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This is a bit near and dear to me because I've had now had two CTJ meetings on this very point - I've gotten slack because I never went anywhere for a long time. I was religious about this when I trialed but no, not so much apparently. Robin has had to point out to me how both my dogs are in "Whatever" mode when I go to the sheep with them. Yes, Robin, Cord and I are working on this! :rolleyes:

 

I think when I go out there I'm more in the "competitive" camp, because I don't go into a class until I feel the dog is working at that level with confidence. Much of that is me, however, because I do not have the handling skills to help clean up unexpected messes when they occur (the "Crap, he never does that at home" syndrome). It's not because I have this overwhelming desire to achieve high honors in the novice classes *snort* - but because I don't want to waste people's time going, "Dang, that sucked. Now what?"

 

When my dog was comfortable gathering sheep and controlling them at an even pace, and has a little experience working off-balance, I had the tools I need to make it through a novice/novice run (which I won't do any more, however). If he can gather at any distance and takes flanks and stops without falling to pieces mentally, I'm ready to work in Pro-Novice - but I'll probably already be doing a little sorting work which will turn into shedding. P/N to me is merely a step to open ranch, which is a quick step to Open.

 

So you can see that when I go out the first time with a dog, I want to be past the point where they might blow me off, with me standing right there. I'm just not talented, quick-witted, or clever enough to handle around that kind of mistake when it happens out there. The leash comes off when I say, "Look" and show them the sheep while I'm "in the hole."

 

There is a Carolina club but there's not a huge rush of people joining and it seems to have suffered from the same blah that overtakes each attempt to start a Carolina based club. Dunno. Maybe we can get some kind of grassroots thing going next year. We should talk about it in another setting (maybe at the JK clinic - Jack used to live here, maybe he can give us some insight on why we can't seem to keep it going here).

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Maybe we can get some kind of grassroots thing going next year. We should talk about it in another setting (maybe at the JK clinic - Jack used to live here, maybe he can give us some insight on why we can't seem to keep it going here).

 

That is some thing Id like to do, and I;ll try to remember to bring it up.

 

I don't go into a class until I feel the dog is working at that level with confidence. Much of that is me, however, because I do not have the handling skills to help clean up unexpected messes

 

Me too.

 

the rest of the classes are training classes

 

This Julie, is contraversial, and I thought the same thing, till I was told that they werent training classes. That training was done at home, not on the trial field. I can always find things that my dogs arent doing correctly, perhaps the reason we havent been on a trial field in 3 yrs.

 

"It's nice to take the youngsters out because there's *no pressure* to do well," and that's really how I feel about it.

 

Is that a general concensous around here? ......please say yes!

 

but rather about how each run indicates where the dog is in its training, what holes need to be worked on, etc., with an eye on getting to open--does that make sense?

 

Yes!

 

If she hadn't crossed on her outrun

 

Got one that sometimes likes to do like that too. Some days are diamonds, some days are coal.

 

 

This has been an eye opening thread, and one I have enjoyed. It has helped me to get over some of the fears Ive had with wanting to take my dogs to trial but didnt, because I thought they werent "ready", because they lacked perhaps that finness of the perfect square flank, or didnt have that perfect pear shaped outrun, or that,.... I may have to take them to the post on a leash. :rolleyes:

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Thanks for all the replies - it's been an interesting thread!

 

I just wanted to point out that I don't think that going to the post on-leash, at any level, is either good or bad, and I apologize if it seemed like a judgmental question. Honestly, I was just curious if it was a regional thing, if handlers were more laid back in some parts than others, and what the thinking for either camp might be.

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This Julie, is contraversial, and I thought the same thing, till I was told that they werent training classes. That training was done at home, not on the trial field. I can always find things that my dogs arent doing correctly, perhaps the reason we havent been on a trial field in 3 yrs.

I think there's a simple misunderstanding about what is meant by "training." Certainly the lower classes aren't for taking dogs out who have no hope of managing the course and will only likely wreck because you see it as a chance to train your dog since you paid your entry fee. And I wasn't implying that I was taking dogs to the post whom I didn't think could make it around the course. I said they wouldn't be competitive, and there's a difference. It means that at home they have the basic skills for that level, but that I don't expect to take them to someplace new and have a stellar performance and win a ribbon. All things being equal, I go to the post expecting they can make it around the course, whatever course that is.

 

When I say the lower classes are "training" classes, I mean that their purpose is to get a dog ready to move to open, not as an end unto themselves. (And I admit that this is also a controversial idea, as people will respond with things like "Why shouldn't I stay and run where my dog's capable of winning?" and "Maybe I don't aspire to run in open, so what's wrong with sitting at a lower level; not everyone wants to be an open handler," and the like.) In my mind they aren't classes where you park yourself with the idea of getting ribbons and winning year-end awards; they are the steps you take in a progression that moves your dog from just started to a fully trained open dog. In that sense of the term, they *are* training classes. If they didn't exist, then we'd all be training our dogs to the open level at home before stepping on the field, because open would be the only class available (as it was in the past).

 

So I think when people say that "training is done at home," they are correct. You don't take a dog who can't do the work at home to a trial to train it. But the fact is that what your dog does at home and what it does on the trial field will likely not be the exact same, so the lower classes do in fact become something of training classes because it's on the trial field that you'll see what needs fixing if you plan to move up to the next level. At least that's how I view it.

 

Right now I have a youngster who I think has all the elements needed to run the open ranch course. She's run in something like four trials at P/N. But she's young yet and I don't want to overface her. It would be nice if I could get a few nursery trials under her belt, since that would allow me to "try" the ranch course without actually having to move her up (because once moved to ranch, if it's too much--that is, my assessment that she can do it is wrong, there's no going back to P/N). I could enter her in a ranch class and view it as a training experience (in that she can do such a course at home on her home sheep), but I don't think that equates to the "trial classes are not training classes" mindset that you've seen expressed in the past.

 

My feeling is that if you wait till you and your dog are perfect, you'll never set foot on the trial field, because just as some things improve, others will backslide. And I've found it to be pretty true that no matter how well your dog is performing at home, there will be backsliding when you finally go to a trial (the same thing happens when showing horses), because you simply can't replicate the stress/excitement/etc. of a trial at home. Even your best trained dogs can surprise you (unpleasantly) with some of the antics they will pull at a trial. A trial is just such a different situation that you will never be able to predict or "proof for" everything that *could* happen. That's why to me trialing is also about training.

 

If any of you have access to the most recent issue of The Working Border Collie, read Bruce Fogt's article about "Trialers vs. Trainers." I think he states very clearly the training mindset one should take to a trial, and I think this is the mindset I am referring to when I say the lower classes are training classes.

 

Was that longwinded enough? :rolleyes:

 

J.

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Hey Julie,

I know it varies a ton from region to region and trial to trial, but in my part of the country, there is no difference between pro-novice, ranch, and open ranch. That is, it's always one class, though it's sometimes called any combination of these. Can you tell me what the difference between p/n and ranch is in your area?

Also, is it ever allowed to run a higher class non-compete? I've only really ever heard of it with handlers running dogs non-compete in lower classes than the one(s) they are competitive in.

Sorry, I know this is off-topic.

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Laura,

 

In our region the classes are:

 

Novice-Novice: gather, wear, pen

Pro-Novice: gather, drive, pen

Ranch (or Open-Ranch): gather, drive, cross-drive, pen

 

Gathers increase in length with each increase in level (as the field permits).

Sometimes PN will have a short cross-drive.

 

During much of our trial season, there are too many entries to allow non-compete runs at all but the smallest trials. It's not uncommon to fill the trial from the first day's entries and occasionally have a lottery from the entries posted on the opening date.

 

Mark

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The reality of going to the post with a new/young dog is that it will be training for you and the dog. You are not the same, the dog is not the same, and your influence on the dog is not the same as it is not trialing. How many of us can go to the post and be exactly the same as at home (not nervous, not excited, just as relaxed as at home)? How many dogs are exactly the same at home vs. having traveled to a new place hearing all that is going on while waiting for their turn? Just like us, they need to learn the trialing routine.

 

I find that the more I trial a dog, the better WE get working together under trialing conditions. I also find that the first time or two a young dog goes to the post it is more relaxed than after they have learned to anticipate their turn at the post.

 

Mark

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Certainly the lower classes aren't for taking dogs out who have no hope of managing the course and will only likely wreck because you see it as a chance to train your dog since you paid your entry fee. And I wasn't implying that I was taking dogs to the post whom I didn't think could make it around the course.

 

I wanted to re-iterate that I'm not voicing an opposing view to Julie P's here. It has to do with what I can handle through. By "unexpected messes" I'm referring to something like the dog turning the sheep back to me on the drive, sheep running hard for the exhaust, turning the post the wrong way (argh!), sheep that want to split, even something as simple as the dog overreacting and overflanking.

 

I'm starting to learn how to help a dog in situations like this, but before I go out there with a dog, I need a dog that will give me a moment to think. The trust to allow me to help really only comes from experience ("Okay, she's slow, but she'll pitch in any second and it will help a lot!"), and training ("I've seen this situation before and I know success comes from teamwork.").

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Thanks for posting the class descriptions Mark. My internet connection was being squirrelly this morning, and I'm just getting reconnected.

 

Laurae,

The main difference between P/N and ranch in this region is that the ranch class has the full open drive and may have the full open outrun, or perhaps just a bit shorter (the nursery class is generally the same as the ranch class). It's a pretty big leap from P/N to ranch (for a young or inexperienced dog), IMO.

 

J.

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I take one of my open dogs (Breezy) to the post on leash. If I don't, then the "Great Anticipator" will take off to the sheep before I am ready. I've made half-hearted attempts to fix this in the past, but since she takes corrections hard and since the corrections usually produce unintented, undesirous results, I have compromised with the leash. Since the dog is a coming 9 yo, I have no incentive to try and change it now. Poor training? Perhaps; she is one of my first open dogs. Embarassing? Nah, I've built up quite a thick skin to that.

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I am so not sure what I want to do with my dogs when walking to the post. My "instincts" tell me that the dog should be walking next to me or close to me. That was pounded into me from way back when. But....I have a pressure sensitive dog that has finally taken me somewhere close to getting to open. For him walking close to me is so much pressure it puts him off his game. Hard when the old me would say just make him stay with me. So many reasons have been given one way or the other that I'm right in the middle of the fence on this. Best I figure for me is, depends on the dog.

 

The dog that hates being close when walking to the post will stray ahead about 20 ft. then sit and look back at me. The whole time he's looking for his sheep. I think he's looking back at me telling me to hurry. He won't go till I say, once I get there he'll go or stay where ever I say as long as it's not right at my leg. I've come to figure with him it's way to much pressure for the point I'm trying to make so we've learned to compromise with each other. He's beautiful on his outruns so it must be working.

Now I have his young sis just getting started. If I allow her to get to far ahead it becomes a race to sheep or a race for me to control her but she's a sweetie when walking next to me going to sheep. She's not bothered by being that close to me and there's no pressure but if I let her slip to far ahead, game on. So with her it's by my leg. This morning going out to train, I forgot to put a collar on her she raced ahead, no problem cause she couldn't get to sheep. I stopped where I was called her name a few times, when she looked back I asked her to come here she did but, we had to do this 3 times cause it was a far walk to sheep. So by the time she was at the gate with me, we were defiantly working together. Still letting it be her choice to walk with me was what I was after. She choose right cause her first choice wasn't getting her to working sheep.

 

I used to feel that if I walked a dog out on a leash people might think we're not ready. Now that I've done made a fool of myself numerous times I've realized it's only me who gives a darn what I do so I'm doing what works for us.

 

As far as using the trial field as a training place, maybe a better word for me would be a refining place or a place where I see what I need to work on at home. If I was to only go if I thought I'd win, I'd not be going yet! :rolleyes: Placing is just icing for me. The cake is doing a good job that we can be proud of. One day I hope to be in the camp of planning on placing or winning but till then I'll keep working on having what I consider a good run for us and try not to worry about others thoughts.

 

Kristen

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