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I'm trying out a new, sort-of Open dog. He's a dog with a great personality, a huge motor, and just the right approach to sheep for my silly, stubborn flock. He's very well bred, no problem with the instinct he came with.


He is extremely hard to stop - he is a very upright, plain working dog and doesn't know the meaning of the word quit. You'll never tire him, even a little bit. So you can't just let him run.


Someone tried to put a stop on him with an e-collar (not the guy I'm probably getting him from). He's improved a lot over the last year since then, but he still has this weird tendency to just do something random if you ask him to stop. You might get a flank, or a dive into the sheep, or he might walk up on the sheep at some random angle. OR he might stop.


The guy I'm getting him from has him under decent control (he's even placed at an Open trial with him), but with me this dog is slipping back into his old ways.


To make a long story short, I'm looking for non-confrontational ways to reinforce that stop. There's not any kind of pressure in the world that *I* can put on this dog that will get through - he just doesn't feel it. I won't even try. So, I'm looking for a way to convince him that it's HIS idea to stop. By the way, his balance isn't good enough that he will stop on balance most of the time. Until last year he was trained extremely mechanically.


I'm toying with the idea of renaming him Random - I think I just might do it. :rolleyes: So, coming to a trial near you - me and my new dog Random.

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I would go into a small field with him (50' x 50') with about 10 knee knockers. I'd probably take a bucket to sit on. I'd get in a corner with the sheep and let him thrash around out there as much as he wants just don't let him violate the flight zone. When he starts to come in just block him with your body, snap a lunge whip at him, whatever it takes to let him know he can't violate the flight zone. He'll probably start looking for ways out of the pen when he realizes he can't have the sheep. When he finds a whole go catch him, patch the whole and start again. This could take weeks I'll warn you now. He'll find everyway out of the pen there is. He will probably do everything he can think of to avoid laying down on his own on contact at the edge of the flight zone. He'll spend a lot of time looking for ways out, then test to see if he can get at the sheep, then go looking for a way out again. I wouldn't spend more than an hour or so a day at it. One day he will lie down. The first time he lies down wait a few minutes then reward him by moving to another corner and starting again. Then each time let him lie there a little longer each time. He will learn to release pressure eventually. It's a time consuming method but it does work.



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Hmm, good one. Probably won't take too long as he has had the sheep-squashed-in-a-stall treatment with his previous trainer. I just need him to know that it's okay to stop for ME then we can move on from there.


Ha, this dog will NEVER leave the sheep - no need to patch holes. He'll just offer an infinite number of random behaviors.


I really want to encourage him to use his brain. It's how his last trainer was working him and it was getting good results.

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The one dog I've had experience with who I'm virtually sure got training with an e-collar was exactly the same -- would do random, unpredictable things in situations where she had probably been shocked before. Sad.


One thing I'd probably try in this situation is to do a lot of driving with the dog trailing a long line, and me walking along behind. When I gave a stop command I'd just step on the line (I wouldn't give the command unless I was in a position to bring the dog to a stop that way). After the dog was stopped, whether he stopped voluntarily or was brought to a stop by the line, I'd pick up my foot and let him continue without any fuss or comment. I'd spend a lot of time doing this for a while, and try not to give stop commands otherwise (IOW, avoiding fetches except where the distances are short enough that he can be slowed or stopped with body language), with the hope that he'd come to feel less tension as the stop command is followed by a stop without decisions or bad consequences.


What do you think -- worth a try? Just a thought, and consider the source.

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I think Steve did a lot of work on the line with him, so it must be good - it worked for him, that's for sure. He did a lot of sort of indirect pressure but a lot depended on being able to stop him. I don't have that thundering voice that sounds like a visitation from God Almighty and nothing else fazes this dog.


I'll have to try the long line. I know Bobby Dalziel does similiar work with the line, too. I'll try it tomorrow and let you know how it goes.


I do think I'm calling him Random for real. He responded well to it today - maybe the two-tone sound of it gets his attention better. It's a ridiculous name but since when did I ever care about looking ridiculous?


Today I was really proud of him - and me. We had to fetch some mothers and lambs that had escaped and gone up the road - Random did a terrific job - just the sort of thing where we "click" well. Me being nervous and screechy and him completely ignoring my hysteria. A match made in heaven. :rolleyes:

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I'm getting ready to head out so i'll go ahead and post rather than wait for an answer. Since this is a fully trained Open dog, i'd guess you're not going to have great luck changing his defaults without a lot of patience. His default right now is to freak out occasionaly on the down command from you. So, plan to handle around this problem for a good long time until he gets a new pattern in his head and relaxes. Don't plan to just butt heads with him until he gives in, it won't work (like you already said).


Suggestions --

Only ask him to stop when the sheep are covered and under control so he never feels like he's going to lose his sheep. Make sure he's got things covered before you stop him.


Keep your voice calm and cool when giving the down. You know he might freak, so no reason to make him feel like he ought to because he's hearing "freak out" or tension in your voice.


Always, always, always make him actually stop when you give a down. If he freaks and flanks or dives in, just keep telling him to lie down until you get it. As soon as he hits the ground, give him another command to do something as a reward.


Use the down between every action you ask him to take and once he's down, say lie down again in a praise voice and then tell him to do something else as a reward. When driving, walk him up a bit, then stop him when the sheep start to move, rinse and repeat, over and over and over. Keep things calm and at a walk. He should never feel like the down is preventing him from keeping his sheep. And the reason you down him between commands is so that the action that follows is a reward for stopping. A training session should sound like "walk up, LIE DOWN (firm), lie down (praise voice), flank, LIE DOWN, lie down, walk up, etc, etc. You want him to relax on the down and be looking forward to what you'll tell him to do next.


Just some quick thoughts...

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Interesting. I'm totally completely not qualified to comment on this but Random sounds like [a much more talented version of] Solo in a lot of ways, but you've probably already noticed that.


I don't get to work dogs much these days since I'm destitute and trying to finish my degree, but when I was able to work Solo more the Bobby Dalziel driving-on-a-long-line thing was the most effective, least confrontational way for me to make sure that I was part of Solo's picture when working sheep. The times when I was able to do a lot of this with him were when I had the best times handling him. It was much better than trying to get in his face or block him, which only taught him how to dodge me more effectively.

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Random is five. Sorry, been out all day.


We actually did work today on downing him between commands. I need to be consistent on that - he responded quite well. Helps his crappy flanks, too. (c: The trick is truly to keep him from getting zoomy and losing his mind. Thanks for the reminder, Robin!


Steve admitted the long line thing only taught him to behave on a long line, though he was willing to try it if Random didn't calm down today. Random was fine though, and allowed us to figure out some alternate ways to communicate to him.


Additionally, I actually came up with something out of my pea novice brain - when he blows off a stop, I quietly walk over to him without another command, catch him, and collar him without fuss to exactly where he blew me off. THAT worked like a charm - he was a different dog! I used to do that with my old Ben - he's another you can't get to with any kind of pressure. I was never consistent with it with him - it will be a different story with Random - I liked the way he worked after a few rounds of that!


Melanie, Random is distantly related on a couple lines - he goes way back to Brady's Jim on the top and Thomas' Craig way, way back on the bottom. There may be more relations, I'll have to send you the pedigree. He's the one last year I said reminded me of Solo - though doesn't look a thing like him.

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He is extremely hard to stop - he is a very upright, plain working dog and doesn't know the meaning of the word quit
Tam, who is 8 yrs. old, a Dale son-----this very much describes him. I don't know exactly what you meant by "very" upright, but Tam also tends to work in somewhat of an upright manner. Up until just recently, he challenged me every inch of the way. When I sent him back to his breeder for training, the guy said Tam really gave him a run for his money.


Tam covers his sheep nicely, has nice balance, nice pace and has never been hell bent on creating chaos. "Lie down"---a battle everytime---even off stock. So rather than fight him on the point of "lie down", if he stops and is still on his feet, well, so be it. That stop, whether at a lie down or on his feet, has never been easy to get from him. I've sort of learned to pick my battles with this dog. He works nicely except that -- until very recently -- he'd wouldn't be the easiest dog to work with. OTOH, I wouldn't really call him a hard dog either. At one point, I was convinced he was, but someone with a lot more experience than me told me that he is actually is not and I've only started to see it recently for myself.


I also have a full litter sister to Tam, Maggie, and she is extremely biddable. I've always liked working with her.


The males out of this particular cross---Dale & Tib, tended to be buggers. In Tam, I got a dog that was way beyond my level of experience. OTOH, he's taught me a lot.



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