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overcommanding and inside flanks


Laurae
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Hi all,

 

I originally posted this in the Ask an Expert section, but I'd love to get some ideas from the experienced handlers here as well. I have a five-year-old dog (my first) whom I trial with in the pro-novice/open ranch classes. He is a pretty natural, if pushy, dog, but I'm afraid I've taken some of his feel for the sheep away from him by constantly telling him what to do (before I really understood the big picture). I was wondering if you have any ideas for exercises we can do that will allow him to make his own decisions about moving the sheep without encouraging sloppy or incorrect work.

 

Also, he pushes forward when he does inside flanks, and I was wondering how best to let him know he should not be moving forward when he takes his inside flanks. Any ideas?

 

Thanks!

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Hi all,

 

I originally posted this in the Ask an Expert section, but I'd love to get some ideas from the experienced handlers here as well. I have a five-year-old dog (my first) whom I trial with in the pro-novice/open ranch classes. He is a pretty natural, if pushy, dog, but I'm afraid I've taken some of his feel for the sheep away from him by constantly telling him what to do (before I really understood the big picture). I was wondering if you have any ideas for exercises we can do that will allow him to make his own decisions about moving the sheep without encouraging sloppy or incorrect work.

 

Also, he pushes forward when he does inside flanks, and I was wondering how best to let him know he should not be moving forward when he takes his inside flanks. Any ideas?

 

Thanks!

 

Question 1: Stop telling him what to do, and only tell him what not to do. So, for example, start a drive and only tell him when he does something wrong, rather than giving him flanks or steady commands, etc. Use corrections that are as gentle as you can, but try to quit commanding as much as you can. Put the responsibility for correct work on his shoulders, and the task of telling him when it's not right on yours.

 

Question 2: Don't let him do it. (Bet you could have guessed that answer :rolleyes: ) Seriously though, don't let him do it wrong. Stop him, tell him he was wrong, try it again. Again, gentle corrections if they're working. If he seems confused or isn't fixing the flank, stop him, call him towards you a bit with his name, then repeat the flank. Don't practice wrong flanking.

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I mostly agree with Robin. To the first question I might add to try to do some mostly silent gathers and drives, but I would probably pay close attention to the speed that the sheep are moving, on the fetch and the drive, and try to have a 'slow down' command as the one I used most of the time mostly allowing the dog to keep whatever line. If your dog won't slow down when he's away from you with the sheep then you'll have to teach that command and what it means close up. Teaching most dogs to pace themselves down a bit isn't that difficult. I use the good 'stop' that the dog already has, some time, and consistency. The reason I would work on his speed here is because I think his pushiness is bleeding over into your second question and being consistent is the only way to deal with that one.

 

I also agree with Robin on the second question except that I would add time to her suggestion. Firstly the dog's pushiness is most likely keeping him too close to the sheep. It's probably difficult for a decent flank to be made from where your dog is working. So speed here is important too. Try just walking the sheep and keeping him back far enough so he has a decent chance to make a good flank. If he still wants to slice then I would stop him in mid-flank and pull him back away from the sheep (with a 'that'll-do') maybe 10 yds or so (even more if necessary). Then let him sit there for a bit, count to 20 slowly (one-one thousand, two-one thousand etc), then give the softest flank command that is possible for you to do and still be heard. If he does it again stop him, pull him back, and this time count to 40. Also make your stop command no louder than it has to be. Everything should be as calm and quiet as possible, no shouting. And be sure that he's looking at the sheep when you give the same command he sliced before. Basically what you're doing here is taking the sheep away until he does it the way you want. You're helping him to succeed with the flanks by increasing his distance from the sheep making it more likely that he'll do it properly. It'll take a few times for him to figure it out, it's new to him. When he does it right let him have the sheep for a bit, the work is the reward.

 

Of course these tips are assuming that your dog was taught decent flanks when he was first trained and gives a good flank when it's easy for him to do so. If this isn't the case then you'll have to go back to that point and fix it. Good luck.

 

Ray

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Hi there ~

 

Just kind of backing up what's already been said. :D For the loss of balance thing, I'd recommend doing what a friend of mine calls "walkabouts." Just take a group of quiet sheep and go for a hike around the field with your dog - and don't say anything, if you can help it. Walk fast, make lots of turns, change direction, be erratic so the dog has to pay attention to where you're going. It may start off pretty messy, with him slicing as he goes by or over flanking, but unless he's bowling sheep around, just make another turn and keep going.

 

My pup, Nick, who's now coming 2, went through a phase where everything was about the push, and he'd over-flank dramatically. Not exactly the same as your situation, but it was a case of not feeling balance, as your dog is doing. I found that the Walkabouts went a long ways towards teaching Nick to settle down, think, and feel where he needed to be. By making lots of turns and changes of direction, every twenty feet or so, it kept him on his toes and got him paying attention. Since I wasn't telling him what to do, he had to start taking some responsibility on himself. It helped, and I still do it sometimes, just to keep his head screwed into place.

 

So, you might try some of that.

 

For the inside flanks ... Hm. I've one thought. What if you get him in a position ahead of you, between you and the sheep, of course, and then step off to the side, in the direction you want him to flank. Ask him for the inside flank, but pat your leg and call him towards you, see if you can bend him towards you while he's making that inside flank - then down him again. Make the flanks short, like 15 or 20 feet and stop.

 

Do you see what I'm saying? By doing it in increments, and encouraging him to bend away from the sheep and towards you on the inside flank, maybe you can encourage him to bend into a nicer shape.

 

Granted, that may not work at all, in which case, ignore me. :rolleyes:

 

Hope some of this helps!

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

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Question 1: Stop telling him what to do, and only tell him what not to do. So, for example, start a drive and only tell him when he does something wrong, rather than giving him flanks or steady commands, etc. Use corrections that are as gentle as you can, but try to quit commanding as much as you can. Put the responsibility for correct work on his shoulders, and the task of telling him when it's not right on yours.

 

Excellent advice this.

 

I have an exercise that I do with dogs that have come to me trained, but slice inside. The dogs that I start are taught to be right from the beginning. Once the dog is confident enough to flank between sheep and a fence, put the sheep against one with the dog at 12 and you at 6 o'clock. Then flank the dog into the fence. He will make his first step forward, and you can correct him for it. When he squares up directly toward the fence, it's very easy for you to see, and you can let him have his sheep. If he turns tail, you've over-corrected. It's a fine line.

 

Once, you have mastered this technique, (or if your outside flank is already plenty square,) reverse it and make it an inside flank. Put the sheep against a fence, only this time the dog is between you and the sheep and you are both at 6 o'clock. Again, flank the dog into the fence. His first step will be forward. Depending on the dog, I might at that point down him, walk between him and sheep and kick him out before trying it again. I might just give him a voice correction, or I might go back to an outisde flank and work on that a bit more. In any case, once he flanks squarely into the fence, I let him have his sheep.

 

Sometimes it's easier to perform this exercise in a round pen, and please take my warning VERY seriously. This is not for the uninitiated. If you don't feel comfortable with this, don't do it. It's a LOT of pressure, and if done poorly can cause big problems. You have to know when to correct, how much, and most importantly when not to and when to quit.

 

Cheers Laura and best wishes for Taz

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I understand the second part (and since I'm trying to work on inside flanks, this is great) but I don't understand where 6 and 12 o'clock are on your first one, or what you mean by "flank the dog into the fence" - it's really hard to draw and/or understand diagraams with just words for me. Do you mean the dog is just inside the fence? Thanks if you can help straighten me out, uh I mean square me up.

 

Nancy

 

I have an exercise that I do with dogs that have come to me trained, but slice inside. The dogs that I start are taught to be right from the beginning. Once the dog is confident enough to flank between sheep and a fence, put the sheep against one with the dog at 12 and you at 6 o'clock. Then flank the dog into the fence. He will make his first step forward, and you can correct him for it. When he squares up directly toward the fence, it's very easy for you to see, and you can let him have his sheep. If he turns tail, you've over-corrected. It's a fine line.

 

Once, you have mastered this technique, (or if your outside flank is already plenty square,) reverse it and make it an inside flank. Put the sheep against a fence, only this time the dog is between you and the sheep and you are both at 6 o'clock. Again, flank the dog into the fence. His first step will be forward. Depending on the dog, I might at that point down him, walk between him and sheep and kick him out before trying it again. I might just give him a voice correction, or I might go back to an outisde flank and work on that a bit more. In any case, once he flanks squarely into the fence, I let him have his sheep.

 

Sometimes it's easier to perform this exercise in a round pen, and please take my warning VERY seriously. This is not for the uninitiated. If you don't feel comfortable with this, don't do it. It's a LOT of pressure, and if done poorly can cause big problems. You have to know when to correct, how much, and most importantly when not to and when to quit.

 

Cheers Laura and best wishes for Taz

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Removed because I couldn't get the formatting right to illustrate, but if I've understood correctly, then:

 

 

Think of the fence being on your left and the sheep between you and the dog (fence is on the dog's right since the dog would be facing you [and the sheep]). You can see if the dog is square because it should be pointing directly at the fence (rather than at the sheep) as it starts to flank.

 

P.s. Great thread

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Hello all, So sorry for the confusion. I'm not very good at e-training.

 

To square up an outside flank against the fence.

 

You are at 6 o'clock. The sheep are in the middle of the clock, and the dog is at 12 o'clock facing you and the sheep. If the fence is on your right, it will be on the dog's left, and you will be flanking him come-bye into the fence.

 

To square up an inside flank against the fence.

 

You and the dog are on the same side of the sheep. The dog is in front of you between you and the sheep, and let's say the fence is on your right, and the dog's right. You are both facing the sheep. You would then flank him away-to-me into the fence.

 

Either way, if you give him the flank and his first step is forward, give a correction, then lie him down and try it again. The correction should cause him to want to widen, and to do that, he will have to square up.

 

This assumes that your dog is very solid on its flanks. If it's not, don't try this. You'll have a mess. Also, I don't mean that you should all be hard up against the fence. There should be some room for the dog to maneuver. But, when the first step is square, it's easy to tell, because it's straight toward the fence.

 

Another note of caution. This is a lot of pressure, especially in a round pen, and I don't do much of it, and I do it very carefully.

 

Cheers all,

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It's also difficult to explain to those of us with many training challenges!!! I had pictured the sheep actually against the fence and thought I would be asking him to run directly into the wire..... duh. So now that I think I understand I have another question: I've done an exercise like this when the dog was young asking him to flank to the open field with the sheep actually against the fence. What does flanking toward the fence do differently in terms of changing his notion of how to initiate flank?

 

Thanks,

 

the not just e challenged but all around challenged Nancy

Hello all, So sorry for the confusion. I'm not very good at e-training.

 

To square up an outside flank against the fence.

 

You are at 6 o'clock. The sheep are in the middle of the clock, and the dog is at 12 o'clock facing you and the sheep. If the fence is on your right, it will be on the dog's left, and you will be flanking him come-bye into the fence.

 

To square up an inside flank against the fence.

 

You and the dog are on the same side of the sheep. The dog is in front of you between you and the sheep, and let's say the fence is on your right, and the dog's right. You are both facing the sheep. You would then flank him away-to-me into the fence.

 

Either way, if you give him the flank and his first step is forward, give a correction, then lie him down and try it again. The correction should cause him to want to widen, and to do that, he will have to square up.

 

This assumes that your dog is very solid on its flanks. If it's not, don't try this. You'll have a mess. Also, I don't mean that you should all be hard up against the fence. There should be some room for the dog to maneuver. But, when the first step is square, it's easy to tell, because it's straight toward the fence.

 

Another note of caution. This is a lot of pressure, especially in a round pen, and I don't do much of it, and I do it very carefully.

 

Cheers all,

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t's also difficult to explain to those of us with many training challenges!!! I had pictured the sheep actually against the fence and thought I would be asking him to run directly into the wire..... duh.

 

That is exactly what you are doing, asking him to run directly into the wire. When I said, "not hard up against the fence," I meant a couple feet off it, not more than a yard.

 

Once he is square, then you can let him have his sheep, and he should flank squarely between the sheep and fence. At that point, let him have his sheep, flank around bring them back to you and try it again. Like I said before, however, don't over do this one.

Cheers all

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