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Tricks for developing better timing


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I understand that timing is one of those skills that comes with practice and miles, but I'm wondering if those of you with those miles behind you have any tips or strategies for developing better timing.

 

My commands are consistently late by 1/4 to 1/2 a second or so (probably 3-5 steps by the dog)--which of course is an eternity and long enough to turn the sheep to a totally different path.

 

So, I'd like to try and figure out focused ways of practicing and improving. Any suggestions?

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My commands are consistently late by 1/4 to 1/2 a second or so (probably 3-5 steps by the dog)--which of course is an eternity and long enough to turn the sheep to a totally different path.

 

Amen, sista. Amen!

 

Can't wait to read the answers...

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I dont have that many miles, but Ive always felt that Its good to work the sheep yourself, without a dog, to help improve your timing. I think good timing has a lot to do with how much stockmanship we have, or as most of the trainers Ive worked with like to yell, er.....remind me, "Watch yer sheep! " The more experience you have with the livestock, and the more you understand them, and begin to learn their ways and movements, the better you will be at getting your dog where it needs to be. Unless you have any like mine, who think they know before I do! :rolleyes:

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I think allot of it has to do with just what Darci writes about. Watch your sheep instead of your dog. I've been watching the "comebye" series on RFD. You can see how well the timing is there or in some instances you can see where it is a tiny bit off and things aren't as straight as they might have been.

 

I know it's hard to not watch the dog but once you get pretty good flanks on the dog, you can start to trust the dog to take the commands you give, then is when you should be really watching your sheep!

 

So easy to write about, so hard to do!

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After a lot of struggling, my "timing" improved GREATLY, when I got my dog backed off the sheep.

 

 

I think allot of it has to do with just what Darci writes about. Watch your sheep instead of your dog. I've been watching the "comebye" series on RFD. You can see how well the timing is there or in some instances you can see where it is a tiny bit off and things aren't as straight as they might have been.

 

I know it's hard to not watch the dog but once you get pretty good flanks on the dog, you can start to trust the dog to take the commands you give, then is when you should be really watching your sheep!

 

So easy to write about, so hard to do!

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Another thing I was thinking, is some thing a friend/handler use to tell me, and I believe Jack Knox once told me. Trust your dog. When one can do that, they can then concentrate on the stock.

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I'll copy what i put on FB here: Concentrate 90% on the sheep, 10% on the dog. And practice straight lines when you work - line the sheep up on a tree or rock or something. You'll be surprised how much harder it is to do than just driving or fetching what you "think" is straight without a reference point to aim at.

 

But also add: It sounds like you know you're not getting straight lines so the above probably doesn't apply but thought i'd post it here for others. Okay, so to the actual question -- You're probably watching the whole packet of sheep and not just the lead sheep. That will put your timing behind just a little every time. Also, you're probably thinking more about pushing sheep onto a line and not thinking about it as using the dog to prevent leaning off line. Does that make sense?

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Do an honest assessment on whether everything is moving too fast.

 

Is your dog pushing the sheep? If you think not, ask a seasoned open handler that you trust to watch you handle and get their input on whether they think your dog is too *up* on the sheep. They may have a different opinion.

 

One of the hardest things for me to learn to accept (and it took me a good while!!) was that my dog could be too close and too pushy even IF the sheep weren't running out of control. I hear novice folks often trying to justify that their dog is not pushing simply because the dogs isn't running behind the sheep, when in fact they are simply pushing too much...too fast or too close or both.

 

Test it by backing your dog way off and slowing things down. That split second lapse in timing won't be so costly, and mistakes more easily forgiven.

 

good luck.

 

Lori Cunningham

Milton, PA

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Something I used to do to inprove my timing was to watch another open handler(a good one)during their run.I would mouth the command necessary ie command their dog from the sidelines.You can then guage yor commands to theirs.If you are commanding at the same time ,your timing is correct ,if before or after then you need to speed up or slow down.

 

Ensure you do it quietly and away from others.It works.

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For improving your timing, one word: Kat. :rolleyes: Seriously though, I got a really fast dog and I either improved my timing or we were sunk. I think what works for me is anticipating things and *planning ahead.* This requires paying attention to the lead sheep, as Robin notes, and also knowing your dog. If I know, for example, that my dog will cover X amount of ground in the time it takes me to get a whistle out, then I am going to blow the whistle sooner rather than waiting till she's at the exact point I want her to stop or turn in or whatever. If I know that the sheep are going to lean in one direction, I will try to place the dog to counter that *before* or at the very moment when the lean takes place, that is, before the sheep are fully committed to a new path. Does that make sense?

 

I think maybe Robin's description of pushing sheep on vs. preventing them off is another version of what I'm trying to say when I talk about anticipating.

 

And Lori is dead on too. Just ask Barbara, who has come out here and worked Kat. She found that when she was able to back Kat off the sheep, it was much easier to give little flanks and get incremental movements from the sheep, which prevents a lot of the zig zagging you see when timing is late and the dog is allowed to overflank (on either a drive or a fetch).

 

J.

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I'll copy what i put on FB here: Concentrate 90% on the sheep, 10% on the dog. And practice straight lines when you work - line the sheep up on a tree or rock or something. You'll be surprised how much harder it is to do than just driving or fetching what you "think" is straight without a reference point to aim at.

 

But also add: It sounds like you know you're not getting straight lines so the above probably doesn't apply but thought i'd post it here for others. Okay, so to the actual question -- You're probably watching the whole packet of sheep and not just the lead sheep. That will put your timing behind just a little every time. Also, you're probably thinking more about pushing sheep onto a line and not thinking about it as using the dog to prevent leaning off line. Does that make sense?

 

Yes, that's absolutely what I'm doing--I watch all the sheep heads and if they all turn, I react--d'uh. Never really thought about the fact that that's what I'm doing. And yes, using the dog to push onto a line rather than to prevent going off-line--I do that too.

 

Nice--thanks. And thanks others for the other tips--I also sometimes forget about just moving the sheep by myself (or I think of it but don't want to "waste" my time out with the dog...

 

very useful

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Work yer dog more often :rolleyes:

 

Robin and I have already talked about this, but I have been making a conscious effort to get out 3-5 times a week to work Taz and the biggest difference I see in our work is an improvement in my timing. I also see an improvement in my ability to anticipate what my dog will do.

 

Thanks also from me to everyone who has responded--the tips are helpful to me, too.

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thank you thank you for all the advice on this topic!!

 

I made many mental notes and approached our training sessions this past week with these tips and made it over the hump (so to speak)! We succeed in getting the sheep to walk across a good sized field in an orderly straight line. Then we turned them around and walked them back!

 

When it all came together it was the greatest feeling ever.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dear Fellow Handlers,

 

Get onto different sheep at different venues. Every sheep group is different; some wildly different and every field is saying different things to dog and sheep. Variety forces you to pay attention.

 

The fall after their Nursery Finals I moved Luke and June up to OPpen though neither was competitive. Then, for a year, instead of trialing I drove as far as I would for trials in order to train. Usually arrive in the pm, work the dogs, work again in the am and drive home. Nobody ever said "No, you can't come". These sessions taught my dogs(and me) more than the trials would have and cost a little less. Next fallr, when I started again we did better than we would have had I spent the spring/summer practicing at home and trialing every chance I got.

 

Donald McCaig

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