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My boneheaded dog, 2 1/2 years old, STILL is not getting his side commands. I have never encountered this before. Frankly, I've hardly had to think about teaching them side commands; I'd just say the command when the dog was going in a given direction and voila! Soon they had their side commands. Any tips on reenforcing them and corrections for when he gets them wrong would be appreciated. For now, I am just working on repetitive drilling (NOT my thing) and saying "NO" harshly when he goes the wrong direction, having him stop and wait, and then giving him the command again.


He is really working well, can do big outruns, drives great, handles sheep well and is starting to learn shedding.






[This message has been edited by Laura (edited 12-13-2002).]

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Guest Charles Torre

I'm also curious to see what the more experienced folks have to say. For now, a question: Laura, does bonehead screw up his flanks equally well at any distance, i.e., 50 yards vs. 250?


(I like the bonehead moniker. My 8 year old daughter likes to call my Jen bonehead, as in, "She's a bonehead! ... But she's our bonehead.")



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Is it that the dog is not getting his flanks or pressure sensitive to sheep or bit of an eye?


I've got 3 fully trained dogs here,there are days you could swear they don't have a clue on their side commands. These 3 have a loads of eye and as a topper,they are so tuned to sheep's pressure points, they seem to override my flank commands. Surely they could read sheep far better than I could ever possibly dream but dammit!,I whistle a flank command,they WILL better take it. This I just learned,they don't take it,they don't get to work.

I had to go back to basic,at hand work in order to make my position well clear to them and so far it's working for me.

I say,they move. I don't say,they don't move,blink or breathe.

This exercise is not meant for dogs who takes things to heart though,a friend's dog quit on her and now refuses to go back to work. It seems I'm hold accountable for her decision to become another non-working dog. So,thread carefully and don't take what I've written to heart unless you have a dog who thinks he/she will just roll over and die if they can't work sheep. Don't want to be responsible for more non-working beasts with my silly advices.



Inci Willard






It's better to be silent and thought the fool,than to speak and remove all doubt.

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Charles, he is worse farther away. When he is close to me, he is more attentive to me. When he is farther, he is having a hard time choosing listening to me rather than doing what the sheeps' actions tell him he should do. Also, he is way worse if he ends up working too close to the sheep.


So, Inci, yes - he's really feeling the sheep, and also he does have some eye.


I think it will be safe for me to try your advice, as his quality of "boneheadedness" enables him to accept a lot of correction.


I tend to "let" my dogs work naturally a lot, and ususally it has flowed together well into getting them trained and listening to me, but in this fellow's case, I guess I have to work on overriding his own sheep sense for a while. I actually think he would not be hurt by some very "mechanical" training and having things spelled out for him in black and white. His instincts, power, desire to work and stock sense all seem very solidly in place. Mechanical training, however, is not something I enjoy or even really understand.





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Guest PrairieFire

Oh the dreaded "mechanical" word...


It doesn't, or shouldn't, be a bad thing that the dog actually listens to you when it doesn't want to...


I'm a firm believer in "natural" dogs - but I'm also trying to learn to walk the line between "letting the dog work" and "letting the dog work all over me".


I think you can have a natural dog that will listen - and I think those have been the great teams that have worked that out...I've seen a few and been truly amazed.


Like Inci, I've got a couple hard heads - and I don't think getting on them a bit is gonna make them mechanical...in fact, I don't think running over them with the pickup would make them mechanical.


But it isn't the dog that needs to learn as much as me...I need to be willing to be the total boss of all the universe and everything and know how to assert it.


I think to get there, I needs must "straighten some things out between me and the dogs"...


Some dogs don't take pressure well - as Inci points out, some just give up - good for them, I don't want that type of dog...I would much rather try to wrassle them than encourage them to work...


One of the things I THINK this type of dog can do is to recognize WHEN it needs to listen and when you will allow it to work - BUT FIRST you must be willing to make it listen and understand just who has the brain...





Bill Gary

Kensmuir, Working Stockdog Center

River Falls, WI



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I dont have time to write right this second but will later, I had a nursery dog that I trained last year that might have had this problem though I think his was more of an issue of not wanting to go to the pressure than the fact that he didnt know his sides. At any rate, it drove me up a tree!!!! Anyway, more later...Sam

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Inci wrote:


I whistle a flank command,they WILL better take it. This I just learned,they don't take it,they don't get to work. I had to go back to basic,at hand work in order to make my position well clear to them and so far it's working for me.


Christie asks:


Inci, would you mind describing the specific methods by which you achieve this state of understanding? My young dog accepts my (admittedly novice and therefore suspect) judgement about half the time, but is prone to blowing me off the other half if she thinks it's warranted. In our case it is the stop (or lack thereof), rather than flanks, that are the big problem. Yelling and other theatrics have too little effect to be worth the trouble - if she thinks she was in the right she more or less tunes me out. Depriving her of her sheep makes a bigger impression, but I don't really know enough to use this to the greatest effect.


Sample scenario: I send my bitch on a short outrun and things go fine until she blows off my stop command on the fetch. Should I (a) call her off the sheep (+/- reprimand, etc.) but then immediately set up another outrun, giving her the opportunity to mend her ways; (:rolleyes: call her off the sheep altogether and quit for the day; © try Option A several times, keeping Option B in reserve for multiple offences; or (d) some other approach to parting sheep and dog. Any and all wisdom appreciated.


Thanks and happy holidays to all!


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