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How do you know if your dog is ready?

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Just curious as to how you determine whether or not your dog is ready for the trial?


Our next trial is 2 weeks away, I've been doing little checks, is Jake in tune with me, is he responding to the stock properly in different situations. Can I easily redirect him from one intention to another. Which situations are tougher to handle him through in the instance that he needs my help so that I can try to clean those areas up.


I thought it would be interesting to hear what others look for as the trial date approaches.



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Interesting question for me in that I have a bitch under two that I would be running in nursery now if my husband's health were better. Because I'm home for the summer months at least and toward fall won't be getting away much if at all, I think about the question you raise often because I have had not had an opportunity to prove the pudding or identify an issue on the trial field. I have to reference gearing up and tuning previous dogs.


Once a week or so instead of working on training or chores, I pretend I'm about to go down the road with my young dog. Among the things I look for, and would anyway regardless, are grip free work especially if sheep want to slide down the side of pen; quickness to respond when at least twice the distance a trial would demand; and joy on the course. With trialing in mind, I want the dog to come around in back with plenty of depth and no cutting forward early even if sheep leave too soon unless they need straightening. I want to make sure a young dog ignores set-out people and dogs no matter the bruhaha; I find someone with a horse to help out if that's coming up. Also with the young ones I pay close attention to not letting them get sucked in or out or flummoxed by terrain. Oh, and no yelling.


I try to work on tasks that will be relevant. I limit the number of sheep worked at one time if possible. For dogs in nursery or other novice classes but not open, I refrain from shedding and look-backs for a week or two. One now retired dog, ten years ago while in nursery and OR saw that five range ewes were strung out in a line at the pen. She neatly took off the back two and trotted off with them. I am warmed to remember that she still won the overall for the weekend.

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Open dogs: I try to make sure they are fit and I've trained on their "holes".


Young dogs: I try to go to the post with the attitude that every run is a learning experience for the dog and for me working with the dog. If I have to walk for the dog to be successful, I try to walk (and not get caught-up in the competition). Placing in the lower classes is a bonus, gaining experience is my goal for the dog and the team.



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I'm like Mark with the young dogs. No matter how well trained they look at home, chances are there's going to be problems when they are new to trialing, so there's nothing for it but to get out there and get the mileage and don't worry about the ribbon but instead making sure that you are willing to leave the post to go help/correct the dog.


I remember two years ago taking Lark to the Bluegrass and running her in P/N. She was just over a year old at the time and we made it around the course okay, but when it came time to pen the sheep it occurred to me that we had never actually practiced penning at home (don't have a free standing pen for practice anyway). But I had good basics on her and so we were able to do the job. If the basics are there, then the trial work will come, IMO.



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Hello all,


"I try to go to the post with the attitude that every run is a learning experience for the dog and for me working with the dog."


I go to the post with the attitude that I'm going to win, but like Mark, I will walk off if my youngster needs help. The big dogs are usually on their own.


Assuming the dog is trained, the best way to tell if a dog is ready to trial is by trialing. It's the only place I've found where holes show up that I've never seen before. Based on the trial, I know what to improve on at home. I've said this before, but a wise handler once told me to make trialing about the dogs, not my ego. How can I use the trial experience to improve them? I'm rarely dissappointed/embarrased by the dogs and it's usually me that makes the mistakes. Either in preparation, or in training or handling.


Cheers all,

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