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Sam - Introducing to Sheep Tomorrow for 1st Time!


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Sam and myself are attending a sheep herding lesson tomorrow, will be the first time Sam has ever been near sheep!

 

The farmer teaches both Sam and myself.

 

I explained that i have 2 Border Collies, and explained Mel's history i.e., sheepdog on farm but so timid and scared of her own shadow (although she has made some significant improvements will post up some vids of her later) and he said to bring both dogs along, he will assess both, and then train the one that shows the most interest.

 

Will be attending tomorrow morning at 10am! :rolleyes:

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I assume this means Mel is not/was not pregnant? I recall in your last thread you were wondering if it might be the case.

 

Thats right she wasn't pregnant, i think she had just been eating too many chocolate muffins :rolleyes:

 

Would have been impossible for Sam to have made her pregnant as he has been castrated, however we were wondering if another dog had got to her on the farm before we took ownership of her.

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Would have been impossible for Sam to have made her pregnant as he has been castrated, however we were wondering if another dog had got to her on the farm before we took ownership of her.

 

Yep, I remember the thread. That's certainly good news!

 

So how did your first herding lesson go?

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Took Sam and Mel along today, it Sams very first encounter with sheep, and bit of a mixed outcome really....

 

We were walking through the fields with the farmer to his training field and he was telling me that new dogs either freeze or run the other way (he said these are normally the Kennel Club Registered dogs), or you get the other type that bursts in like a bull in a china shop....all of which are no good and not worth training.

 

He said the dog has got to have natural ability and the way you determine whether a new dog is worth training is to let the dog loose and the dog should be able to move the sheep and hold the sheep in a position/corner of a field all on its own without any training or commands? Is this correct for a dog who has never been on sheep before?

 

I got this guys details from a website, but it was all a little strange and completely disorganised (in my opinion).

 

The farmer had his dog in the field at the same time as Sam, which i thought would be the case anyway, but didn’t expect his dog to be running around at the same time as Sam, however there was also another chap who turned up to train his dog and his dog was also in the field at the same time, albeit on a lead, but he was standing next to us whilst we were trying to work the dogs/sheep.

 

I had no idea what ‘I’ was supposed to be doing, and felt completely lost, and obviously Sam had no idea what he was supposed to be doing either, as the farmer was constantly blowing his whistle at his dog and shouting at his own dog to lay down, as his dog wasn't downing on the whistle properly, and Sam didn't know if he was shouting at him or the other dog.....

 

The main reason i went along today was to see if Sam showed 'any' interest in sheep or whether he would just turn around and walk the other way and start sniffing in the bushes……

 

Sam certainly didn’t walk away, but he was the complete opposite, he was the bull in a china shop type of dog, when i released Sam he immediately ran/sprinted towards the sheep (albeit barking which the farmer said is not a good sign), the sheep ran and Sam kept running around in circles around the sheep.

 

Sam looked quite wild and out of control and the farmer said that he is showing the wrong type of enthusiasm….

 

The farmer then told me that i need to walk into the middle of the flock of sheep whilst he holds Sam and then he will let Sam loose. Sam ran towards me from behind me and stayed behind me like a 'heel' but was weaving left and right behind me, whilst we were walking after the sheep and the sheep were moving.

 

The farmer said that Sam is too focused on me and not enough on the sheep, he said that its probably because i've been doing obedience training with him and Sam is constantly relying on me….......i realise that the farmer is the expert and i am the novice, however Sam is a completely new/fresh dog and doesn't know the boundaries of what he can and can't get away with.....so surely he is going to look at me before making a decision to begin with?

 

Also, he said that Sam is a little old to be introduced to sheep (16 months old) as they should be introduced at 6 months? I was told that i should wait until after a year old before training him on sheep?

 

The farmer said that he wouldn't recommend persuing sheep work with Sam and said that instead to take him to agility as he would make a perfect agility dog due to his speed and athletic characteristics..

 

Also, the farmer had a Whip in his hand today which he went to hit Sam with a few times, and also the other guy who was training his dog today also had a whip in his hand and was holding it up at the dog quite often – is this normal?????

 

Obviously Sam is my pet/friend first and foremost and therefore needs to be under control and do what I tell him when I tell him, however can you not have both a pet that is controllable and a working dog? I thought I was doing the right thing with Sam from 6 weeks old training him to do things, but it looks like I might have pushed the boundaries and made him a dog completely reliant and dependent on my commands?

 

Sam has really bonded with me and he makes me the perfect companion, on Saturday for example we went on a bike ride together (him running along by my side off the lead) and we were gone for two hours in the gorgeous sunshine and lovely countryside, and when cars were coming along the road, Sam sat by the roadside and let the cars go by before getting up and continuing to walk, people were complimenting me on how well Sam was behaving, he is a good mate to me and I enjoy his company, this to me is more important than working him on sheep, as I will get a lot more enjoyment with Sam doing this than the odd bit of sheep training we can do (as I don’t have access to sheep), and also if it means I will have to whip Sam and risk breaking the friendship and bond we have developed, then I would rather eat glass….i noticed that the farmers dog and him didn’t seem to have ANY love/friendship bond together and no love was shown by either party, I understand it wouldn’t be shown whilst working, however even when we first arrived at the farm, his dog was behind a fence in a field and as we walked into the field the dog didn’t even come near the farmer, the farmer didn’t even greete the dog or speak to it……..

 

Mel did what i expected, i walked her out to the field and the farmer started blowing his whistle for his dog, and Mel started pulling at the lead and wanted to get away from the situation, when i let her loose, instead of running towards the sheep, she immediately bolted back to my family who were waiting outside the field behind the fence…..even when we got home last night and I watched the video back, she bolted away as soon as she heard the farmers whistle…..

 

The farmer said that she may have been beaten….said something about you can over punish a dog and some dogs will be fine and come back for more, however some are not strong enough and will be ruined from that day onwards…is the training really this bad? Sounds a little ‘dark’ and cruel to me…

 

Anyway - this is the video if anybody would like to take a look, sorry my 9 year old daughter was filming and lost us in a few sections!!! :rolleyes:

 

Sam With Sheep

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IMO, Sam looks interested but confused in the video. You've got 3 people and 3 dogs. The sheep don't quite know what to do. I'm hearing "lie down" with great frequency. The other dog keeps moving the sheep. It looks like Sam has a pretty decent amount of interest but, every time he gets going, he hears "lie down" and gets very confused so his default behavior is to stick close to you. IMO, you need to start a dog in a controllable environment without the added extra people/dogs. In a round pen you'd get a much better feel as to his instinct/ desire and you could control the environment to help him learn to be calm and controlled on the sheep.

 

The farmer said that she may have been beaten….said something about you can over punish a dog and some dogs will be fine and come back for more, however some are not strong enough and will be ruined from that day onwards…is the training really this bad? Sounds a little ‘dark’ and cruel to me…

 

No. Some dogs can't handle to pressure (of the stock or training pressure in general) and therefore wouldn't make good stockdogs,. But this should never be due to punishment from the handler.

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Haven't checked out your video, but based on what you wrote, I would suggest seeing another trainer, and telling them that Sam may lack some confidence, so that they don't use whips, that sort of thing. He should not have hit Sam, I hope he didn't. The first intro is so important. Mel, poor girl, yes she sounds like she has had heavy handling. I am so glad you took her in.

 

Took Sam and Mel along today, it Sams very first encounter with sheep, and bit of a mixed outcome really....

 

We were walking through the fields with the farmer to his training field and he was telling me that new dogs either freeze or run the other way (he said these are normally the Kennel Club Registered dogs), or you get the other type that bursts in like a bull in a china shop....all of which are no good and not worth training.

 

He said the dog has got to have natural ability and the way you determine whether a new dog is worth training is to let the dog loose and the dog should be able to move the sheep and hold the sheep in a position/corner of a field all on its own without any training or commands? Is this correct for a dog who has never been on sheep before?

 

I got this guys details from a website, but it was all a little strange and completely disorganised (in my opinion).

 

The farmer had his dog in the field at the same time as Sam, which i thought would be the case anyway, but didn’t expect his dog to be running around at the same time as Sam, however there was also another chap who turned up to train his dog and his dog was also in the field at the same time, albeit on a lead, but he was standing next to us whilst we were trying to work the dogs/sheep.

 

I had no idea what ‘I’ was supposed to be doing, and felt completely lost, and obviously Sam had no idea what he was supposed to be doing either, as the farmer was constantly blowing his whistle at his dog and shouting at his own dog to lay down, as his dog wasn't downing on the whistle properly, and Sam didn't know if he was shouting at him or the other dog.....

 

The main reason i went along today was to see if Sam showed 'any' interest in sheep or whether he would just turn around and walk the other way and start sniffing in the bushes……

 

Sam certainly didn’t walk away, but he was the complete opposite, he was the bull in a china shop type of dog, when i released Sam he immediately ran/sprinted towards the sheep (albeit barking which the farmer said is not a good sign), the sheep ran and Sam kept running around in circles around the sheep.

 

Sam looked quite wild and out of control and the farmer said that he is showing the wrong type of enthusiasm….

 

The farmer then told me that i need to walk into the middle of the flock of sheep whilst he holds Sam and then he will let Sam loose. Sam ran towards me from behind me and stayed behind me like a 'heel' but was weaving left and right behind me, whilst we were walking after the sheep and the sheep were moving.

 

The farmer said that Sam is too focused on me and not enough on the sheep, he said that its probably because i've been doing obedience training with him and Sam is constantly relying on me….......i realise that the farmer is the expert and i am the novice, however Sam is a completely new/fresh dog and doesn't know the boundaries of what he can and can't get away with.....so surely he is going to look at me before making a decision to begin with?

 

Also, he said that Sam is a little old to be introduced to sheep (16 months old) as they should be introduced at 6 months? I was told that i should wait until after a year old before training him on sheep?

 

The farmer said that he wouldn't recommend persuing sheep work with Sam and said that instead to take him to agility as he would make a perfect agility dog due to his speed and athletic characteristics..

 

Also, the farmer had a Whip in his hand today which he went to hit Sam with a few times, and also the other guy who was training his dog today also had a whip in his hand and was holding it up at the dog quite often – is this normal?????

 

Obviously Sam is my pet/friend first and foremost and therefore needs to be under control and do what I tell him when I tell him, however can you not have both a pet that is controllable and a working dog? I thought I was doing the right thing with Sam from 6 weeks old training him to do things, but it looks like I might have pushed the boundaries and made him a dog completely reliant and dependent on my commands?

 

Sam has really bonded with me and he makes me the perfect companion, on Saturday for example we went on a bike ride together (him running along by my side off the lead) and we were gone for two hours in the gorgeous sunshine and lovely countryside, and when cars were coming along the road, Sam sat by the roadside and let the cars go by before getting up and continuing to walk, people were complimenting me on how well Sam was behaving, he is a good mate to me and I enjoy his company, this to me is more important than working him on sheep, as I will get a lot more enjoyment with Sam doing this than the odd bit of sheep training we can do (as I don’t have access to sheep), and also if it means I will have to whip Sam and risk breaking the friendship and bond we have developed, then I would rather eat glass….i noticed that the farmers dog and him didn’t seem to have ANY love/friendship bond together and no love was shown by either party, I understand it wouldn’t be shown whilst working, however even when we first arrived at the farm, his dog was behind a fence in a field and as we walked into the field the dog didn’t even come near the farmer, the farmer didn’t even greete the dog or speak to it……..

 

Mel did what i expected, i walked her out to the field and the farmer started blowing his whistle for his dog, and Mel started pulling at the lead and wanted to get away from the situation, when i let her loose, instead of running towards the sheep, she immediately bolted back to my family who were waiting outside the field behind the fence…..even when we got home last night and I watched the video back, she bolted away as soon as she heard the farmers whistle…..

 

The farmer said that she may have been beaten….said something about you can over punish a dog and some dogs will be fine and come back for more, however some are not strong enough and will be ruined from that day onwards…is the training really this bad? Sounds a little ‘dark’ and cruel to me…

 

Anyway - this is the video if anybody would like to take a look, sorry my 9 year old daughter was filming and lost us in a few sections!!! :rolleyes:

 

Sam With Sheep

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OKay, watched it. Not fun, eh? Here is my take on it: First, the area was inappropriate- this is a brand new dog. A smaller area, and/or MUCH more dogged sheep would have been good. Trainer screaming lay down angrily every 5 seconds, another bad thing. Sam was definitely a bit scared of these new creatures, but he was circling. His hair was up, and he barked, but he circled. His nerves were made worse with all of the yelling by the trainer, and the other dog etc.

 

I wouldn't give up on him, but I would look for someone who has good dogs, who is calm and quiet, and likes to build dogs' confidence. I can tell you, if that was my first experience, I probably wouldn't have tried it again.

 

Where are you located? Maybe the board members can help you find someone.

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Hi Kelpie/Maralynn, its nice to hear others thinking the same as i do, as obviously i have NO experience or any idea what i should have expected yesterday, however my gut feeling was it wasn't the correct way of doing things....

 

I live in Kent/England/UK, however i got this guys details off of The International Sheepdog Society website link.....

 

Also - it cost me £20.00 yesterday, £10.00 for each dog, and he only let Sam have around 5 minutes with the sheep!

 

Mel had about as long as it takes to sprint 100 yards back to the gate/my family! :rolleyes:

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I wouldn't give up on him.

 

This is the exact opposite to what he told me yesterday, his words to me were to not persue sheep training with him as he has the wrong type of enthusiasm and is far too energetic and would be better suited to agility, he said he would make a good agility dog......

 

But then two minutes later he was telling me that it would take 2 lessons per week to get him into any type of fit state to heard sheep and even then he would never make a trials dog....

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So I watched the vid. All I saw was a situation that wasn't suited for a first time on sheep. Plus a well mannered Sam that didn't want to piss off you or the trainer with the whip! I didn't see him contact Sam w/the whip but it would of scarred me if I were Sam.

I noticed his tail was up only when he was in to close to sheep or close to the guy working with him. All a sign of insecurity and not much else. I even thought I saw Sam have some nice distance off the sheep but couldn't be sure if he was still concerned with the other guy or feeling sheep.

I might have my own trained dog out with a young dog where the situation is not perfect (like sheep could make a run for the woods) but that'd be the only reason I'd have my dog out there. As it was, all I saw was another dog not taking commands getting yelled at and a very confused Sam wondering if the yelling was at him too..

I could certainly see why Mel high tailed it back to the car. What a way to expose a already known soft dog..... NOT!

 

I know you don' tknow what to look for but if it were me, I think i'd be looking for another trainer to check out. That is if you want to work Sam. You don't HAVE to work him, he seems perfectly content doing other stuff with you, but if you really want to work him I'd say find somewhere else.

 

JMHO

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Hi Jdarling and bcnewe2, i would definetely like to give it another go with another trainer if i can find one, as will definetely not be going back to the other one....

 

I just want to do something that Sam enjoys and if he enjoys it then so will i....i would enjoy it as just a hobby once a week with Sam...

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Well, I'm certainly no expert, but that was a LOT different than how herding lessons went with Mick.

 

For his first lesson, he was around 6 months. The trainer said that he usually doesn't start dogs until a year, but to bring him out and he'd give him a try and to bring his pedigree along. So, we did. He took a look at Mick's pedigree, and said, "You've got yourself a nice pup, but he comes from a line of hard dogs."

 

So we were brought out into the smallest field. Not a round pen, but small. Mick was put on some very dog broke sheep, and he showed no interest. So the trainer brought out a bit wilder sheep. They got his attention, and he immediately started circling them. For the first few lessons, I didn't work Mick at all. Just watched and he worked with the trainer. Also, the trainer would keep one of his dogs available in case another dog was needed, but his dogs were all well-trained enough to just sit and watch until they were called in. There wasn't any yelling (well, except for one time when Mick was REALLY bad about not coming when called) or whips. The trainer had a stock stick, but the only time Mick was ever hit in a lesson was once when I accidentally cracked him really hard with the stock stick. It didn't faze him in the slightest, but he's definitely a pretty hard dog. After awhile, we started working Mick in a larger field and with me handling him. The lessons would go for an hour. At first, he'd only go about 10 minutes or so, then quit and take a break. We'd let him get some water and then he'd be ready to go again. As he got older, he was able to mentally handle the training for the full hour straight.

 

Honestly, I'd look for another trainer with a calmer method and less distractions.

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Holy Cr^%$p. That was so confusing and, well...just absolute mayhem. You know I am only just beginning this stock-work journey, but so much yelling and telling his dog to lie down all the time seems very messy and unpleasant for the stock too I would imagine. The trainers I like best are the ones whose dogs do most of the work and when they call a command it is calm, clear and only as loud as necessary for the dog to hear it. Though I know there are times one has to up the ante.

 

I think Sam is a saint and you two have a very good relationship. I also think he showed interest and a couple of times was actually tuning into the sheep, but then was scared off by the angry yelling. Poor fellow.

 

My one experience taking Colt to a trainer when he was 8 mos. looked nothing like this. We were in a round pen with dog broke sheep. He ran around with his tail up and barked a bit. He was keeping a pretty good distance from the sheep not trying to grip or anything, but he got a little too close once and when the trainer hit the dirt in front of him with her stick he just shut down. She told me to stay in the pen and she'd talk me through to see if he'd get interested again without her there. He did. She saw he was soft and backed off. I think she was a good trainer and that that was a good experience for Colt. She told me to bring him back when he was a year old and we'd see where he was at then. We are going on the 20th.

 

Find someone else and give Sam another go. If all you want is to do this as a hobby and to give him some joy and Sam is good to the stock then it really doesn't matter how" trial worthy" this man thinks he is.

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FWIW, I would never make a decision on a dog's suitability or trainability on the basis of one session in with sheep, especially if the situation was less than ideal as this one apparently was (I can't watch the vid as this old clunker computer is just too slow for downloading stuff like that).

 

I have to dogs here who will both be 4 in July. They both started out by barreling straight at the sheep and grabbing whatever wool they could in the process. Apparently one type of dog this "trainer" said isn't worth training. One is running in open now and has been since last fall. The other is capable of the same, but has a few issues that have kept as back (and I already have three open dogs so there's no rush there...). The third youngster, who had a natural outrun/gather turned out to be clappy, and training/working with her is much more problematic than working with the two who were simply, shall we say, overenthusiastic.

 

Not all dogs have a natural outrun to start. I'm not that thrilled with a dog who doesn't try to go around and just holds them to a fence, but the dog certainly can be shown/helped to get around them. And a dog who shows no desire or fear might still turn on at a later date (my best open dog was afraid of the sheep the first time she entered a round pen at 16 weeks, but turned on the next time we were there, just a few days later). A good trainer will read the dog and set up the training situation to bring out the best in the individual dog.

 

I agree with others that finding a different trainer is your best next course of action.

 

As for Mel, I think harsh methods are sometimes used, though less so now than in the past. It doesn't necessarily take *punishment* to turn a soft dog off--just being too loud, unfair, slow timing, uncooperative sheep and so on can be enough to make a soft/not-quite-keen dog quit. And of course punishment will as well. It's unfortunate that Mel was exposed to this situation, given her past, but I wouldn't write her off yet either. I'd be looking for a soft-spoken, quiet, thoughtful trainer who could work with her issues and perhaps still bring out the best in her.... There's got to be folks like that near you in England.

 

J.

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I think Sam is a saint and you two have a very good relationship. I also think he showed interest and a couple of times was actually tuning into the sheep, but then was scared off by the angry yelling. Poor fellow.

 

Hi Flyer, this is exactly what i thought, Sam was just starting to get going, and had just started to quieten down with the sheep and started weave left/right and looking like he's interested in moving/controlling the sheep instead of running straight at them and the guy said to stop as he's not showing the right enthusiasm and is focused too much on me and not enough on the sheep.

 

I think the reason he said this was if you watch the video, towards the end, i'm walking behind the sheep and Sam is by my side/behind me, the farmer told me to stop and start walking back, and Sam noticed and came back with me, however he was out of his comfort zone with whistling and shouting going on around him and the more and more i watch this video it actually makes me laugh as it looks like some type of comedy sketch - you couldn't actually make anything so laughable!!! The bit with the other chap dragging his dog backwards on the leash, did you see this?

 

By the way, can't recall who asked if he actually hit Sam with the whip, but he didn't actually hit him with it, he brought the whip 2/3 times right above his head and threw it out and it nearly caught Sam, i am almost sure he intended it to hit him (but as i say i am a novice so who knows whats his intention was), but it stopped inches away from him........

 

Also, if you look in the video, you will see Sam right in front of the farmer, the farmer was actually holding Sam by the scruff of his neck and Sam didn't like it and actually turned his head around and bit him on the hand, which i don't suppose he was too happy about either........

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FWIW, I would never make a decision on a dog's suitability or trainability on the basis of one session in with sheep, especially if the situation was less than ideal as this one apparently was (I can't watch the vid as this old clunker computer is just too slow for downloading stuff like that).

 

I have to dogs here who will both be 4 in July. They both started out by barreling straight at the sheep and grabbing whatever wool they could in the process. Apparently one type of dog this "trainer" said isn't worth training. One is running in open now and has been since last fall. The other is capable of the same, but has a few issues that have kept as back (and I already have three open dogs so there's no rush there...). The third youngster, who had a natural outrun/gather turned out to be clappy, and training/working with her is much more problematic than working with the two who were simply, shall we say, overenthusiastic.

 

Not all dogs have a natural outrun to start. I'm not that thrilled with a dog who doesn't try to go around and just holds them to a fence, but the dog certainly can be shown/helped to get around them. And a dog who shows no desire or fear might still turn on at a later date (my best open dog was afraid of the sheep the first time she entered a round pen at 16 weeks, but turned on the next time we were there, just a few days later). A good trainer will read the dog and set up the training situation to bring out the best in the individual dog.

 

I agree with others that finding a different trainer is your best next course of action.

 

As for Mel, I think harsh methods are sometimes used, though less so now than in the past. It doesn't necessarily take *punishment* to turn a soft dog off--just being too loud, unfair, slow timing, uncooperative sheep and so on can be enough to make a soft/not-quite-keen dog quit. And of course punishment will as well. It's unfortunate that Mel was exposed to this situation, given her past, but I wouldn't write her off yet either. I'd be looking for a soft-spoken, quiet, thoughtful trainer who could work with her issues and perhaps still bring out the best in her.... There's got to be folks like that near you in England.

 

J.

 

I understand exactly what you mean, this is what i was thinking, how could he make a judgement so quickly, i suppose there are those who are so experienced that they see it time and time again and soon get a feel if a dog is right or wrong for training, however Sam only had 5 minutes with him, and i didn't think it was long enough for him to prove himself.

 

Sheep are new to Sam and obviously he is going to be like a kid with a new toy, however i am sure if he gets another chance with sheep, then he will be a little less excited....and a little more controlled.

 

I will be making another phone call tomorrow to another trainer that i have the details for...

 

Will let you know how things go.....do you think i should mention to this other trainer what happened with this guy saying that Sam isn't the right type of dog for working sheep?

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I know nothing about sheep herding but i don't like the sound of that farmer man. Whip??? if anyone threatened Meg with a whip well I'd go berserk. The trip with you and Sam sounds much more fun, don't risk your bond with him. By the way i though your daughter did a great job , that was a hard scenario to video.

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BCS,

I don't think I'd name the farmer, but it wouldn't hurt to explain what happened and why you weren't happy with the result. I had someone come to me recently who had been through several trainers and it helped me to understand better what was going on with both the person and the dog by knowing what they had already experienced. I wouldn't bother with the comments about whether Sam was the right type of dog or not. Although you can draw some conclusions the first time on sheep, nothing is hard and fast.

 

For example, my now-8-month-old looked gorgeous the first time on sheep. In fact, he was so nice that I was a little worried that he wouldn't have enough "umph" as he continued to mature. I needn't have feared. Things went downhill after that first time, with the more typical grabbing and diving and pushing too hard and fast.... Then I was left wondering what had happened to my nice easy dog! :rolleyes:

 

Elizabeth,

I don't know if you had a chance to look at AmandaMJL's post about her first lessons with her dogs, but in that case the trainer used a bag full of cans and I think a stock stick with one of the dogs. None of those things we sometimes term "weapons" (a term that was born of the misuse of such items in the hands of less-than-stellar trainers) are intended to be used to hit the dog or otherwise punish it. If someone is using a whip, it's usually a buggy whip (as opposed to a lunge whip) that has a short popper. The idea with any of these things is to make noise to get the dog's attention. Often a new dog to sheep will be so intense and son driven to do what its genetics are telling it to do, even if what it's doing isn't quite right, that it's difficult to get the dog to acknowledge the presence of the human. In my experience, folks who use any of those implements aren't using them with the intention of hurting the dog. Someone who is steadily hitting a dog with anything isn't much of a trainer. If I really needed to get physcial with a dog, I would use my body and body pressure simply because it's too risky to be trying to catch a dog with, say, a whip. I'd worry about putting an eye out or something (and I would venture a guess that most trainers feel the same way)....

 

J.

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