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Ranger at 11 months


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Okay, Barbara was out today and offered to tape Ranger working, so here you go! The main things we are working on here are small outruns, getting him to stop, and getting him comfortable going between the sheep and the fence (you'll notice how he speeds up when he's at the fence; that's typical of any dog who isn't used to going in tight spaces like that, and that's what we're working on to make him comfortable with, including stopping between the sheep and the fence). At one point about halfway through the video he even does a tiny bit of driving. I was leaning on him a bit more than normal today because he was very full of himself and didn't really want to stop or offer much in the way of pace, but I have to say that I am very pleased with where he is in his training, given his age and the fact that I generally work him maybe twice a week right now. Anyway, it's a little long, but enjoy!

 

 

J.

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In addition to Blair Witch Project zooming, I also like to employ the little known "sheep held camera" technique. Similar to hand-held camera, but the sheep actually holds the entire tripod.

 

I agree, Ranger is looking great, and Julie makes it look easy!

 

B.

 

I'm so glad to see that B and I have similar zoom styles. :rolleyes:
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Smalahundur,

If you're talking about the work against the fence, that's how it's done once the dog is that far along. For your dog, you will need to be in a smaller area and probably have to help her go between sheep and fence by walking her on a leash. Eventually, she should be able to do what Ranger was doing, and then the next step is stopping the dog between the sheep and the fence, which helps the dog understand that if *can* stop there without anything bad happening. It also serves to help the dog slow down when going through such a tight spot.

 

You'll notice at one point in that sequence I'm calling his name, and that's because he's flung himself out on a really wide flank as a result of having sped at mach speed through the space between the sheep and the fence. The idea is to get him to go through that space at a normal flanking speed, with cofidence so that he keeps the same distance on his flank all the way around the sheep.

 

ETA: He was probably introduced to stock between 8 and 12 weeks, and then periodically (once every month or two) from them on until he appeared willing to work and was actually big enough to keep up with the sheep in a small area. I posted a video of him in early May at 9 months old, and it was around then that I officially started him. Even so, between then and now, he's been on sheep maybe once or twice a week. So although he's "in training" we are not pushing along at a great speed as I think he still needs to mature a bit more mentally and physically (determined sheep in a big field can still outrun him, and I don't want him to learn he can't catch sheep). Of course every dog is different training needs to be tailored to the individual. Probably by fall his training will become more intensive (it's really generally just too hot over the summer to do too much training, especially with wool sheep, who don't tolerate heat all that well).

 

J.

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It's a great video Julie- really demonstrates allowing the dog to get a feel for working the sheep, while keeping things as calm as possible. I think I have some video of my Danny at that age, maybe I should put it up? He's nice and focused and willing, not much more to ask for!

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Sure, put it up. This is all about learning, so the more examples we have, the better!

 

I have to say I wasn't really considering nursery for Ranger this coming year, but I might be rethinking that. Of course that depends on getting an income and being able to trial....

 

J.

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Smalahundur,

If you're talking about the work against the fence, that's how it's done once the dog is that far along. For your dog, you will need to be in a smaller area and probably have to help her go between sheep and fence by walking her on a leash. Eventually, she should be able to do what Ranger was doing, and then the next step is stopping the dog between the sheep and the fence, which helps the dog understand that if *can* stop there without anything bad happening. It also serves to help the dog slow down when going through such a tight spot.

 

You'll notice at one point in that sequence I'm calling his name, and that's because he's flung himself out on a really wide flank as a result of having sped at mach speed through the space between the sheep and the fence. The idea is to get him to go through that space at a normal flanking speed, with cofidence so that he keeps the same distance on his flank all the way around the sheep.

 

ETA: He was probably introduced to stock between 8 and 12 weeks, and then periodically (once every month or two) from them on until he appeared willing to work and was actually big enough to keep up with the sheep in a small area. I posted a video of him in early May at 9 months old, and it was around then that I officially started him. Even so, between then and now, he's been on sheep maybe once or twice a week. So although he's "in training" we are not pushing along at a great speed as I think he still needs to mature a bit more mentally and physically (determined sheep in a big field can still outrun him, and I don't want him to learn he can't catch sheep). Of course every dog is different training needs to be tailored to the individual. Probably by fall his training will become more intensive (it's really generally just too hot over the summer to do too much training, especially with wool sheep, who don't tolerate heat all that well).

 

J.

 

Hi Julie, thanks for the info, altough it was not what I meant.

I was looking at this nice display, and thinking how long I have to go with my two dogs before it comes near to what you are showing here. So I was talking about the training as a whole, not the fence work in particular. And my remark was meant a bit humorous, with myself as the butt of the joke, but one would probably have to have seen us (try to) work to fully get it :rolleyes: .

You would probably like our weather; drizzly rain and pretty cool, no danger of overheating.

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How nice of you and Barbara to make the video, really shows what a klutz I am in herding :rolleyes:, everything you do is so nice and smooth . Ranger is a lovely dog, he is also very sensitive to correction :D .

 

At one point you ask him to lie down and he only stops - is it because a stop is good enough for right now, or is "lie down" - "stop or lie down" (I know that people do both ways).

 

Is Ranger weaving sometimes or is it something else (e.g. repositioning for balance)?

 

So once a dog has learned to go between the sheep and the fence it is good to make him do it sometimes, right? Bonnie does not hesitate to go between the fence and the sheep but she goes fast (faster than Ranger for sure :D )

 

Thank you for sharing, it is inspiring :D it's good to have someone warn you about dangers like pallets lurking on the pasture :D

 

Maja

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Smalahundur,

I've been at this for a while, and yet I can still make blunders, so don't feel bad about being a newbie to it all! It would have been much more difficult for me if I hadn't started out with a good mentor, that's for sure.

 

Maja,

At his age, I will take any sort of stop in response to a lie down command. The sheep were very light and he was reluctant to lie down yesterday at times, so since I tend to pick my battles during any particular training session, I chose to accept a stop. You probably noticed his stops were very short duration too, but that's okay for what we were doing. When I really wanted him to stop on his belly, I put a lot more pressure on him with my own presence to insist on a lie down, but I try not to do that too often, and if he was a dog who tended toward clappiness (lying down on his own) I wouldn't do it at all and would instead ask for or encourage a standing stop. (These kind of training decisions are usually made from moment to moment and are based on my own knowledge of the particular dog I'm working with, how much pressure he can take, and so on. Youngsters can change each time you take them out, so you have to be ready to adjust your training each time as well.)

 

He was doing some weaving/wearing yesterday. Normally he will show pretty good pace behind the sheep if I tell him "time," but I guess the cool weather had him feeling his oats or something because he was not giving me much in the way of pace yesterday. Again, I chose not to insist, because I believe that it's *much easier* to take things out of a dog than it is to put them back in, so I chose not to get on his case about pushing too hard behind the sheep (I work on a philisophy of keeping a balance in the moment between requiring obedience and just letting a youngster work). I will note that at times, he was actually not weaving and instead covering appropriately. It's hard to tell from the video, but especially when we are headed away from the camera and toward the back corner of the field, he was correct to come up on the side of the sheep almost as far forward as I was. There is a very strong draw back to the opposite end of the field and so he was reading the sheep and the draw and placing himself where he needed to be to hold the line and hold the sheep to me.

 

(I use this same draw to help dogs further along in their training get used to working alongside sheep they're driving, because if you have a dog drive a group of sheep toward the corner of the field, the dog will need to be off to the side and about halfway up the group of sheep to control the lead sheep and keep the group heading in a straight line; if the dog were to try to push from behind in that instance, the sheep would simply curl around to their left and take off down the field--this is an example of using the lay of the field and the behavior of the sheep to set up training exercises that can help a dog be more comfortable holding a line against strong pressure from the sheep. In Ranger's case, he was doing the exact same thing, except he was wearing the sheep to me instead of driving them away.)

 

You can see that in the little bit of driving too. He's bending a little bit off to my right to cover the desire of the sheep to bend in that direction and head down the field toward the gate to the other pasture.

 

Re: Fence and corner work. The speeding up as the dog goes through is typical and is a sign that the dog is uncomfortable in such tight quarters. You probably noticed a couple of times when Ranger switched directions while doing that exercise as well. In all cases it was because he wanted to circle toward the sheep's heads for fear of losing them. He's young yet for me to ask for stops off balance, but I did some of that to try to get him to stop between the sheep and the fence. This gives him a chance to think about the situation and realize that it's not as scary as it might seem. Also, if I stop him routinely between the sheep and the fence, then he will start to anticipate that, which will help him to engage his mind and slow down going through. This will all be a foundation on which we will build for later work like penning and shedding, or even just doing practical work around the farm where I need him to go into tight spaces. His mother tended to blow when asked to work in tight spaces (to the detriment of the sheep), so I am addressing that problem (of hers) early in hopes of not having it arise in her son. So what you're aiming for is a dog who will go calmly and quietly between sheep and a fence/wall/whatever. Out in an open field like that, the sheep have plenty of room to move away, but if I were working him in a pen or chute, he might need to be able to force/push his way through sheep packed up against a fence. If I can get him comfortable doing it where it's easier, then later if he needs to do it where it's harder, he will already have the tools/skills in place to be able to do that without losing his head.

 

As for the pallets, Barbara was making up for the time a group of folks let me back right into a well cap (while working Ranger). On that day, I basically just ended up sort of sitting down on the well, but I haven't let them forget that no one warned me I was about to back over something! :rolleyes:

 

 

J.

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Julie,

Thank you for the explanation, it si all very useful and give a lot of food for thought. . That's what I thought that sometimes he was adjusting and sometimes he was weaving, but I wasn't sure. Your video gave me some ideas for training that's for sure,even though Ranger is far more advanced than Bonnie :D.

 

As for the non-warning onlookers, they probably thought that since you have everything under control the well cap would just move out of the way :rolleyes:

Maja

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Re: Fence and corner work. The speeding up as the dog goes through is typical and is a sign that the dog is uncomfortable in such tight quarters. You probably noticed a couple of times when Ranger switched directions while doing that exercise as well.

Yes, I noticed that. Bonnie does it too sometimes, and I used to think that she is seeking support form me (because she would circle behind me). When she was on the sheep the first time, and she with an assisting dog, she would stick to Jonda when it was getting tough for her.

Maja

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