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behavior on the sidelines

Tim& Patch

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I've been lurking here for a while and picking up some great information. But now I have a question I don't think anyone has talked about.


My dog is coming up on 2 years old, and he's doing pretty good in his training. We've started trialing a little and he's coming along okay. On the field, that is. The problem I have is how he does off the field. From the moment I take him out of the car he's almost hysterical (sp?), jumping about and whining amd evem barking sometines. Once he's out there, he isn't like that, although he isn't as calm as I'd like either, but it's really embarassing while we're waiting for our turn. It's just the same at clinics. I don't know whether to take him out to watch more, so he'll get used to it, or take him out less, so he won't get so wound up (and I won't get so embarassed.


The good handlers dogs don't act like this, but I never see them needing to give any corrections. But yet their dogs must be just as excited as Patch is, but they don't show it. So my question is, what do you experienced handlers do to get your dogs to be calm and act civilized at a trial?

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Hey Tim,

I am getting ready to leave again in the am, and I am sure someone else will answer your question in more detail tomorrow...but just in case everyone is busy...


some very quick things

I try to have my puppies to all the trials from a very young age, say 6 weeks on up. They come with me and I tote them around so they can watch and learn manners. If you have missed that window, try to keep them out while you are training or other people are. Concentrate on keeping them calm, making them lie down and behave not bark etc. On that note however, there are a few dogs in my lineup that I will NOT tie up and have watch. Tucker, Grace and maddie and Todd when they were here. They were SO high strung that it was very counter productive to leave them chained and watching while I worked the others. You might find that you should limit your dogs exposure and just pop him out to run him. On that note however, he still needs to behave and you can correct that/lay the foundation for good behavior much easier at home..then also work on it at the trial.


Sorry so brief, maybe someone else will write you some more detailed advice..


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I didn't catch where you trained (you may have mentioned it - I'm a bit loopy on painkillers at present). If you motor to a trainer's, that's where to work on this. If you have an assigned time, arrive early. Get your dog out - if he acts nutty, put him back (preferably with a verbal correction - say NO and put him back). Repeat until he can get out and act normal.


Then take a step. Almost guaranteed he'll go crazy again. Put him back in the car. Repeat until you can go a step without the goofiness.


Then we hope that he's figured the game out. If not, and he regresses at any stage, go back to the car. It's pretty important that he NOT get to work until he can get all the way to the sheep without acting like a space alien or zoo animal.


You might have to repeat this at the next trial, at the next clinic, and so on until he figures out the jig is up on this behavior.


I've noticed that most young dogs, once they have had their fill of training and regular working, will settle down enough to wait their turn philosophically. The tide for my guys seems to turn once they've got a lambing under their belt.

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Couldn't resist a quick brag here. I know my little trainee sheepdog is maturing when she can be tied up to the 4-wheeler watching intently, but quietly, as our trainer and her dog move 150 sheep through the yards, then out past the 4 wheeler and back into their paddock. What makes it even better is that those sheep were the mob that Kirra worked a couple of times the previous week. And even better still ? she was fresh out of the car after an hour?s drive, and hadn?t done any work yet. We?re definitely making progress in all sorts of directions.

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I agree with Rebecca, and Sam. Most of that behavior goes away when the dog gets more advanced in training. They have to learn controll while working. They learn how to call off the stock and not bust into them uncontrollably. When they learn that kind of restraint then telling them to knock it off when you are waiting your turn to work becomes much easier. BUT, by the same token, you don't want to dampen their enthusiasm when they are brand new to the sport so keeping them in a crate in the car until it is their turn is a good idea for a while. It won't be long before you'll feel you have enough controll to take them out earlier. I caution you to make sure you keep them in a crate in the car. I learned the hard way what a frustrated newbie dog could do to the inside of a car. When you get your next pup, (do not doubt there will be another) you can make your life easier by taking it out, at whatever trial you are working your current dog at, and teach it to behave at a younger age.

Good luck,


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