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No. of outruns in a training session


Maja
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So from the "I have a dumb question" series:

 

How many outruns do you do with your dogs in one day/session when the dog is young? I am asking in relation to Bonnie who is 12 months old. I typically do four 80-100yrd outruns in one session. Sometimes if there is some major problem (e.g. the sheep decide to lift themselves without waiting for the dog)on the last (fourth) outrun I make an additional outrun at the end of the session. Is it too much? My concern is health - mentally she has no problem with it, I think. Physically, she has stamina for at least six. But as I said, I usually stick to four. What are your practices in this regard? We do not work every day, but 3-4 times a week.

 

Maja

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If the dog has a fast outrun, you're probably on the right track but if it's a fairly steady outrun, I'd say you could ask the dog to do a little more.

Agility people need to be really careful with dogs jumping on hard surfaces (or rather landing on hard surfaces) but running is so natural for a young dog, I wouldn't imagine you're going to do any damage as long as you keep caution in mind.

 

I should add, I have no qualification for my advice, just the experience of having trained many dogs (it's my job).

Andy

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I just clicked on your website and realised who you are :D . I have read your articles, and seen your DVDs. I found them very useful, and I loved Border Collies off Duty.

 

Hello Maja,

Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you found the DVDs and articles useful.

Your dog's outrun is quite steady. I think four or five of those per day will do no harm at all but more work needed to keep the dog further back (and the sheep together!).

Andy

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Yes, I know there is a lot of work yet to be done, and those sheep are a bit tricky to work with. We are only beginning to call these things outruns :D. The first outrun is on come bye - her worse side, the second is on away and it's better. We were only recently helped into this stage in the "ask the expert" section. I don't have a great deal of experience so I am trying not to go very fast with the training programme.

 

Maja

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Hi Maja, you and I seem to be at much the same age and stage with our young dogs with very similar issues and questions. My young kelpie had a very straight outrun so have been working hard to widen it out. She is now starting to get the idea and does a massive square outrun to begin with but tends to come in too tight at the top. I will usually do up to about 4 -6 outruns in each session, at the moment working at the top end. This doest seem too much for her and she is very fast.

 

Being an absolute novice, I have the Chaos to Control DVD by Andy and found it very useful.

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I watched chaos to control some time ago, and I liked it.

 

It's strange, but the sheep have an annoying habit of often doing a lift independently of the dog on come bye. Because of the way my field works, I aways do the combye outrun south to north, and away outrun north to south. And the sheep often start towards me before Bonnie gets to the right position, even though she makes it nice and wide; hence, she also tends to cut in when they do not start moving on their own. So I am going to try to widen her even more, and go from there.

 

I like kelpies very much, although I have not seen one in real life yet. I saw them on "Australia's got talent" and I read about them some, because they are the only other breed that has the same requirements for herding as Border Collie.

 

Do you have any videos?

 

Maja

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Why would you make her any wider when, in the ask an expert thread, Bob said, "She looks like she is plenty wide now so don't push her out any more at the start of her outrun or you'll have wide running dog on your hands down the road." I'd say try setting the sheep on grain, but then you'll tell me that the sheep are too heavy and Bonnie doesn't have enough power to move them if they are stopped. Perhaps Bonnie is cutting in at the top when the sheep don't lift on their own as a method of adding power to herself. Dogs normally get wider with age naturally. I wouldn't push her out anymore, but perhaps help her have the proper shape to her outrun at the top.

 

Most Border Collie owners (myself included) are control freaks. We like things a particular way.

 

Because of the way my field works, I always do the combye outrun south to north, and away outrun north to south.

 

And I am sure the sheep have learned that, as well as Bonnie. You might want to try mixing things up and making things a bit more natural instead of so mechanical.

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I wonder if you might try something I've been doing with my Gael, to get her shape better at the top.

 

What I do is set the sheep (use grain or a bit of hay, if yours won't stay put) and walk Gael off to the distance I want. I put her on a down-stay, then I walk *back* to my sheep, and send her from there. That way the sheep are more inclined to stay put, and I'm there to make sure she's not cutting her outrun short and failing to get a good lift. As she's gotten more honest, then I mix it up sometimes by only going part way to my sheep, but the moment she offers to slice in, I go back to the earlier method.

 

If your sheep simply won't settle or have gotten a little spoiled, you might need to look for some new sheep, if possible.

 

But see if they'll settle on grain for you and maybe consider my trick that I use with Gael.

Cheers ~

 

Gloria

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Why would you make her any wider when, in the ask an expert thread, Bob said, "She looks like she is plenty wide now so don't push her out any more at the start of her outrun or you'll have wide running dog on your hands down the road."

I agree with jdarling.

If a young dog's going out quite well, it will probably widen out even more as it gains experience. When you're flanking your dog close-bye, teach it to go out wider on command. That way, if an outrun is looking tight, you can widen the dog out with the command.

 

I wouldn't push her out anymore, but perhaps help her have the proper shape to her outrun at the top.
Agreed again. (And with Gloria Atwater).

If the dog's tight at the top, simply giving it lots of outruns isn't going to help much. Set the dog up for its outrun, then walk right up to the sheep - but move out wide on the side that you're going to send the dog. Then you simply send the dog off and push it out wide around you.

 

Sounds as though your sheep are learning the (North / South) routine. As jdarling said, it's really important to mix up the routine as much as possible. This is good for the dog, but also helps prevent the sheep from learning the routine.

 

Sheep are not stupid. As they get more and more used to being worked, they will sometimes run to the handler, rather than be chased there by a dog. I once had sheep that ran to me as soon as I appeared in the field with a dog!

 

To prevent this, I now teach my dogs to drive as early as I possibly can (sometimes, maybe a little earlier than I should). It stops the sheep running to me because they learn that running to me won't help them avoid the dog. It also widens the dog's experience and gives it more challenging things to learn.

 

Don't overdo the driving though - dogs get mentally tired very quickly when learning to drive.

 

WHY do you keep to this North / South routine? What's wrong with West / East - and every other point of the compass for that matter? Mix it up as much as possible or your dog (and sheep) will become institutionalised.

 

Just because the sheep are always in the same corner of the field when you go to train your dog doesn't mean you have to allow this to dictate where you send the dog from. Move the sheep to somewhere new to give the dog a new challenge.

 

Hope this helps.

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"I agree with jdarling. If a young dog's going out quite well, it will probably widen out even more as it gains experience. When you're flanking your dog close-bye, teach it to go out wider on command. That way, if an outrun is looking tight, you can widen the dog out with the command."

 

I think that's what I was trying to say. And yes, in the expert section Bob Stephens said that her outrun is far enough. And I would not dream of disagreeing with it. However, Bonnie's "away" outrun is about 20 yards wider than the "come bye" and yet, it is not too wide according to the expert. Also it does not cause the sheep to to lift on their own too early. Thus, I think it is worth trying to widen the come by only (but not the away) so that her come bye is the same as away, on which the sheep do stay put. There are a number of variables on why the sheep lift too early, and the difference in the width of come bye and away might be the reason, which is worth testing. Does it make sense or am I full of confused nonsense?

 

I know the differences so exactly, because Bonnie works on two fields and I know the the exact dimensions of.

 

"If the dog's tight at the top, simply giving it lots of outruns isn't going to help much. Set the dog up for its outrun, then walk right up to the sheep - but move out wide on the side that you're going to send the dog. Then you simply send the dog off and push it out wide around you."

 

I don't believe, I said that anywhere that I wanted to improve the outruns by making her do a lot of outruns without any strategy related to it :). The pushing the dog out is excellent piece of advice, and I have had many people tell me to do it. But it does not work with Bonnie - she tightens in instead (it's not me that is the problem, I had an experienced trainer try it with Bonnie with the same result). I got her to widen the way she is now (and she used to be very tight) by verbal command only.

 

Sounds as though your sheep are learning the (North / South) routine. As jdarling said, it's really important to mix up the routine as much as possible. This is good for the dog, but also helps prevent the sheep from learning the routine.

I know, but I am not doing it because I want to. My field is 30 yrds wide only. That's where the sheep can be. The neighbor on the one side is letting me use her field for the dog to run across, so I have 60 yrs available for the outrun when it comes to width and 200 yrs length. On the other side of my field I have a neighbor who'll be on the phone to the police in no time telling them that there is a dog trespassing on his field, should my dog run that way. So I am doing it the way I am doing it because I have to. But even as we are exchanging these posts, an animal trailer is being made for us so that I can teach Bonnie to load up the trailer and take the sheep to our other field - 5 acres of meadow in the middle of nowhere.

 

To prevent this, I now teach my dogs to drive as early as I possibly can (sometimes, maybe a little earlier than I should). It stops the sheep running to me because they learn that running to me won't help them avoid the dog. It also widens the dog's experience and gives it more challenging things to learn.

This is an excellent piece of advice. I have been wanting to teach Bonnie that very badly, because she has very strong balance, but I am slow with starting because I don't know exactly how to go about it so I shelved it until I can go to the trainer and get started on his sheep.

 

"WHY do you keep to this North / South routine? What's wrong with West / East - and every other point of the compass for that matter? Mix it up as much as possible or your dog (and sheep) will become institutionalised.

Just because the sheep are always in the same corner of the field when you go to train your dog doesn't mean you have to allow this to dictate where you send the dog from. Move the sheep to somewhere new to give the dog a new challenge."

I think I explained it above. This is something I was not happy to do from the very beginning, but then I did not expect to have to increase the length (and thus the width) of the outrun so soon, I thought we'd get to this point (90-100 yrds) next spring. I had to start on longer outruns, because of the already mentioned problem with the sheep, if the outrun is short - they might start as soon as I send the dog. The suggestion of changing the sheep starts a whole new topic of the sheep market in Poland and all the intricacies and difficulties related to it.

 

So I hope you all understand that I really appreciate all your wonderful advice, and I try to do all that I can, and that I am only trying to explain why I do certain things the way I do - what I can chance I do, but what I can't I have to work with. My sheep are my breeding flock, put together with quite a bit of difficulty so that they are not crosses with woollies, not inbred, healthy and all that. I am not going to change them soon. I have considered buying four-five small woolly males and keeping them through the next season separately out in the field and them butchering them in the fall.

 

So today I will test the option of equalizing the width of the comebye outruns with the away outruns and see what happens.

 

Thank you for all the responses!!

 

Maja

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Dear Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

 

I'm reluctant to offer specific help without watching the real dog and real handler working. Some gneralities, however:

 

1. The Outrun is the sheepdog's pulse, heart and motor. Screw it up and you'll regret it. NEVER correct a good one.

 

2. I have never seen an open trial dog seriously defective on one side or another. From this I conclude that, unlike humans sheepdogs are not strongly right or left handed. Most open handlers don't worry when a young dog is stronger on one side than another because, with maturity it'll sort out.

 

3.Many novices try to correct a defective outrun WHEN THEY SHOULD BE TRAINING THE REDIRECT.

 

Examples: a. Very young dog starts right down the middle. Down him. Walk in front of him. Rap the ground on the DON"T GO HERE side with your stick. Resend.

b. Dog starts to come in too tight at any point on the outrun. Down it and as above.

 

4. If a young dog starts running too wide, you're in trouble. Like the too tight dog, it will widen as it ages. You can bring it in, somewhat with your recall whistle.

 

5. Never ever ever run at the dog to push it out. You'll get a C shaped outrun which will very likely come in short.

 

In as much as you can TRAIN an outrun (EXPERIENCE is much much better) training the redirect will train your outrun and should the dog come in too tight, you can redirect it without a terrifying loss of points. I've won open trials where I needed several redirects and June got in the Gettysburg Semi Finals after three redirects.

 

Donald McCaig

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Dear Mr. Donald,

 

Thank your for your advice. I think I did not explain myself very well, and up until your post I did not know that redirecting and correcting an outrun were two separate things. Partly my failure to communicate was because I had intended for the video to show how fast or slow Bonnie is doing her outrun because I don't really know what her speed is in relation to the population at large. Had I expected all the (helpful) responses related to the outruns that I got I would have made myself clearer from the beginning.

 

"4. If a young dog starts running too wide, you're in trouble. Like the too tight dog, it will widen as it ages. You can bring it in, somewhat with your recall whistle."

Am I to understand that Bonnie is running too wide now? I thought she was running wide enough when the sheep stay put? and her width on away causes the sheep to stay put.

 

What I did today, was to sent her on comebye, when she didn't widen enough on the way in spite of my "out" command, I stopped her and called her back. She came back, we started all over again and she did better the second time, widening almost as much as for her away, and the sheep obliged by staying put. However, tomorrow I will try the redirecting technique. I have a question though about distances:

 

If Bonnie slices e.g. in at 10 o'clock, I lie her down, come about 90yrds to her, redirect (form what I understand stand at about 11:00 somewhat past the dog tap the ground and send?) and then what? I am nowhere near where I should be for the fetch and there is no way for me to get there in time. Or should I practice once or twice on small outruns, and not worry about what the sheep are doing or about the fetch?

 

Maja

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P.S. I very much appreciate that people are willing to look at a video and post helpful comments, and I realize that it is difficult to fully see the situation. I asked once a person in Poland to help me with the training remotely, and the answer was "It's a strange and crazy idea, it won't work". The teacher I go to once a month lives too far out in the sticks and his connection is not very good.

Maja

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Dear Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

 

Ms. Maya asked:

"Am I to understand that Bonnie is running too wide now? I thought she was running wide enough when the sheep stay put? and her width on away causes the sheep to stay put."

 

My remarks were general in nature. I didn't look at the video. I don't give specific training advice to dogs and trainers I haven't seen in person.

 

And she asked:

"If Bonnie slices e.g. in at 10 o'clock, I lie her down, come about 90yrds to her, redirect (form what I understand stand at about 11:00 somewhat past the dog tap the ground and send?) and then what? I am nowhere near where I should be for the fetch and there is no way for me to get there in time. Or should I practice once or twice on small outruns, and not worry about what the sheep are doing or about the fetch?

 

No. If she's slicing in at ten oclock, you'd down her (probably have to down,down,down, down as you walk out there) come to her head and block her slice, forcing her out. I imagine you'd be standing at about 10:02.

 

And don't worry about the fetch. If you get a good redirect, that's the lesson. The ENTIRE lesson.

 

Most trainers have longer sessions than I do. If I was training the redirect, I'd set the dog up properly and send her - probably on her worst side - do NOTHING IF SHE'S RIGHT - if she slices, down. walk out, threaten, redirect and be silent as she brought the sheep to me (unless she was harming them). I would walk with her to another corner of the field, set her up properly and send her again - either side - and, if she outran properly I'd say nothing until she brought the sheep, then, praise and a third OR. I'd be hoping, of course, that she sliced again. If she did, the described correction. If not, praise, take her in and crate her.

 

With young dogs, only train the redirect on incorrect outruns. If the OR is good, let the dog have her sheep.

 

 

I hope the dog will partially learn one thing during our session and as soon as (a) she's REALLY REALLY GOT IT ONE TIME, I quit, praise and put her up to think about her brilliant new strategy. I cannot understand trainers who having got the result they want when the dog's mind is sharp, repeat the task over and over the same day with the chance the dog will do it wrong and forget the right way he learned earlier.

 

Quit when you're ahead.

 

 

 

 

Donald McCaig

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Maja, I feel I must bow out of this discussion.

I do not know who Donald McCaig is and I certainly don't intend to get into an argument with anyone but please understand that I totally disagree with most (not all) of the points in Donald's first post on this topic.

 

My advice to you is this :

 

Every dog, just like every person in the world, is an individual.

Listen carefully to the advice you glean from those who are willing to offer it and then make up your own mind what's right (or what works) for you and your dog.

 

I'm happy to talk to you privately if you feel I can be of help.

 

Best wishes,

Andy

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Andy,

I agree with Jodi. Hearing different methods and approaches makes learning that much better for those who are reading. I may never work a thousand head of cattle on the open range, but I still probably could learn something from someone who does. I think by hearing different philosophies and methods we can all learn--and we can choose the approaches that make the most sense to us and our situations. Healthy discussions can also cause the participants to rethink their own believes and perhaps adjust their own methods.

 

Maja,

There are a couple of reasons why it's difficult, if not nearly impossible, to train long distance via video. For me, anyway, training takes place in the moment, and I adjust what I'm doing second by second based on what the young dog in front of me is doing. On a video, we're seeing a slice of training after the fact, and maybe not even the entire session, and in many ways it's completely out of context (which is why you find yourself explaining stuff all the time, which must be rather frustrating for you). Someone trying to offer you advice can say "at X:XX I might have done this," but that person has no way of knowing the (outside) circumstances that were occurring at X:XX that might have caused the dog or the sheep to react/respond the way they did at that moment and so the advice may or may not be appropriate. I remember early on when you started posting videos (and they make for some very good training discussion, so thank you for being willing to put yourself and Bonnie out there) and there was a lot of going around about you lying Bonnie down too much when in fact I think at least a good part of the time she was lying herself down, but it wasn't easy to tell what was really happening in the videos, especially when your voice couldn't be heard and when it wasn't clear why, for example, Bonnie kept wanting to head the sheep (until we later found out that they are extremely light and tend to run away every chance they get). Because the dog's behavior WRT you and the stock is not as clear in a video as it is in real life, it then becomes rather difficult to give specific advice vs. generalities. I think that's largely the problem you're running into on this forum as well.

 

J.

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"Listen carefully to the advice you glean from those who are willing to offer it and then make up your own mind what's right (or what works) for you and your dog."

Yes, that's a very good piece of advice, and I have a strong sense of being responsible for what I actually do, advice is given in good faith, usually without full information, and thus it is my responsibility to use it or not. Because of the limited information given to the advice giver (simply by the nature of things) the advice has to be considered very carefully.

 

Julie,

I fully agree with you, and I am not frustrated about people not realizing what the situation is.

 

Only (in the past) some people did take offense at my explanations thinking that I always disagree and argue, when I was trying to explain. So I wanted to avoid this situation here.

 

I hope that the discussion continues. Bonnie never ceases to amaze me with her learning process, I think it is more complex than I ever realized. When I was slowing her down verbally, since bodily persuasion was not a good idea, she seemed not to react to my "stand! "STAND! STAAAAAND" An then suddenly, before she began to consistently obey, she started to slow down on her own. Now she sometimes comes to a screeching halt also on her own. So she does not learn to obey, she learns to translate my commands into the way she's thinking about the sheep. It was quite a revelation.

 

Tomorrow I will have my friend over so I will probably have a video.

 

Maja

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P.S. I never considered the help with the video as actual training, considering all the limitations of the situation that Julie has pointed out. Basically, I see it that way: good people see bits and pies of video and help with what they can. I read it, analyze it, adjust it to me, my dog, my sheep and other circumstances (e.g. paranoid neighbor, lamb market) to the best of my abilities, try it, and see what happens. When something interesting happens, I show you another video.

 

With this approach I think the actual success has been tremendous. I don't know really how Bonnie compares to an average 12 month old with a rather inexperienced handler, but I never expected her to reach this level of cooperation and skill, considering that after the clinic in the beginning of August (which did not bring much improvement in her stop) I had only about 50 minutes of training with a teacher in real life. So all the people who have tried to help have contributed to this success.

 

Maja

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OK - it’s head on the block time!

I'm happy to give my opinion if someone want to listen. Equally, I'm happy to learn if someone can show me a better way. Unless someone (or my dogs) can convince me otherwise, these are a few of my sheepdog training beliefs.

 

I believe sheepdogs are using their hunting instinct when they work sheep. (Fortunately, we’re able to modify this instinct.)

 

Confidence is absolutely paramount in a sheepdog. Above all else, you must do everything you can to ensure your dog has as much confidence as possible (without jeopardising your own position as leader).

 

Sheepdogs are pack animals - their instinct is to hunt in groups and the dog sees its handler as a part of the pack. The farther away the young dog is from the remainder of the pack (the handler) the more it feels insecure because it’s apparently getting no backup whilst hunting. Consequently, the dog’s basic hunting instinct takes over. This means the farther away the dog is from the handler, the less likely it is to listen to the handler’s commands, especially if the commands are desperate or excited because things have gone wrong. I believe this merely comes over to the dog as barking - possibly even encouragement. Far better to give a sharp rebuke and then continue giving firm but relaxed commands, showing the dog that you’re actually still in command (even though you clearly are not) rather than screaming at the dog.

 

Within reason, the best reward you can give your sheepdog (for good work) is to allow it to continue working sheep. Consequently, a young dog which is really desperate to work might interpret being taken away immediately after it’s learned to do something well, as a punishment for bad work. If your dog has achieved a particular goal, whether or not you continue practicing the action should depend on the dog and the circumstances. If you take the dog away, be careful to ensure it’s in no doubt you’re very pleased with it. I believe it will get the message home better if you repeat the operation a couple of times, correcting if the dog makes a mistake or of course, praising the dog if it does well. If the dog does something really good and then gets it wrong the next time, it obviously hadn’t learned it that well. You wouldn’t know this if you’d ended the session. If it’s been an arduous struggle to get the lesson through and the dog’s clearly not enjoying itself, I strongly advise you to change to something the dog loves to do. One favourite is to simply walk around and allow the dog to bring the sheep up behind you, giving the dog as much leeway as you can and only giving commands if absolutely necessary.

 

Dogs learn from us via our voice, our body position and our hand signals. Our voice can tell the dog it’s doing wrong (gruff, sharp voice) or right (soft, gentle commands and in some cases telling the dog it’s done well). With no apparent guidance from the handler, the dog will work by instinct and in the absence of any feedback, assume all’s OK. The more you allow your dog to work on its instinct alone, the more difficult it can be to change a particular behaviour. Therefore, if the dog has done a great outrun you should tell it (as it’s outrunning) but if the fetch is bad, it’s vital to communicate this to the dog immediately, with a harsh voice and whatever hand and body signals are appropriate.

 

Most dogs (just as humans and other mammals) are left or right handed. It’s a proven fact that if a child is taught to be ambidextrous from and early age, this can be very easily overcome. The same applies to dogs. I believe it’s extremely important to get the dog working equally well in both directions at an early stage of training. How can you possibly train a dog correctly if its work is unbalanced? The more you leave to the dog’s instinct, the more difficult it will be to correct the balance later. (This is one reason why I like to teach the dog a tiny bit of driving as early as possible - to make it easier - for dog as well as handler - later on). If you don’t believe me, just move your computer mouse to the other side of your desk and try using it with your other hand. At our sheepdog training classes at least ninety percent of dogs work better in one direction or the other and we regularly see dogs which are so “handed” it’s extremely difficult to get them to go around the sheep at all on their worst side, yet they’ll flank freely the other way. This also drastically affects the dog’s confidence. Dogs are always more likely to grip when working on their worst side - another reason to get them balanced early.

 

Normally, you should never stop a dog on its outrun. The outrun is the time when your dog goes out away from the pack to hunt alone. If you stop your dog to correct it, you’re giving it an excuse to stop when it’s on a long outrun at some trial where the sheep are far from the post and in a difficult position for the dog. It’s extremely bad for the dog to stop on its outrun - and disastrous for your points in a sheepdog trial. If you teach the dog to flank in a balanced way when it’s close to you, then gradually increase the distance, the outrun will take care of itself. The exception to this is when a dog comes in tight at the top. If this happens, go back to the flanking lessons and teach the dog to go wider on command - it’s that easy!

 

I can never understand people who worry that their dog will go out too wide, just as I cannot understand a handler silently watching their dog when it’s going too wide. I put a command on it by quietly and calmly calling the dog in, using a combination of ‘that’ll do” and “come in Kay” (or whatever name of dog) until the dog has learned the command. Border collies are extremely intelligent, and by calling them in and out in this way, they’ll soon learn the distance you like them to work at. If you can steer your dog this way, it’s invaluable when sending it back for sheep it can’t see. Training a dog is all about communication.

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Andy, Thank you so much for the very informative post. I will reply to it only in relation to my dog.

 

"This means the farther away the dog is from the handler, the less likely it is to listen to the handler’s commands, especially if the commands are desperate or excited because things have gone wrong. I believe this merely comes over to the dog as barking - possibly even encouragement."

I do not think that in the particular case of Bonnie her instinct takes over because I am far away. Rather, as you said, she feels insecure, and my displeasure causes her more distress and decreases her thinking ability. Hence....

 

"Far better to give a sharp rebuke and then continue giving firm but relaxed commands, showing the dog that you’re actually still in command (even though you clearly are not) rather than screaming at the dog."

... the above quote should work, so I will try to concentrate on communicating properly. When I send her out and she if going well, I say 'away, away' ro 'come bye, comebye' in a nice voice and this is supposed to be her reward, if she is too close, I say "OUT" when she corrects i go back to direction command. Does it sound ok?

 

Considering when to end a session, in Bonnie's case I am a firm believer in the dog's ability to think things through after the herding. So if Bonnie does something well, I usually stop doing the thing which she did well, praise her and do something else that's easy and liked. The session itself always ends with the sheep being bought back to the fenced pasture, I find it a natural ending of a session that gives me and Bonnie a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and I usually try not to correct her too much at this stage. I regulate how far we take the sheep by Bonnie's condition, if she is perky we take the sheep all the way to the enclosure, if she is tired, we leave them at the pasture. At home however, she goes straight to her bed and stays there to rest and have a "dog-think". So I guess I use something between lookback's and Donald McCaig's technique.

 

On a slightly different topic, yesterday Bonnie did something very interesting. I changed the way we do the outrun slightly, and sent Bonnie out. Rather than going, as I had wrongly expected, in a slightly narrow way because of the forest, she went right into the forest and emerged about 50 yrds farther out, but not far enough to lift the sheep, I shouted (as nice as I could) "Out" and she continued the outrun along the forest, then turned and lifted the sheep reasonably well.

 

However, a few meters into the fetch, she blocked the sheep and started to push them in the opposite direction. She sheep resisted, but she insisted, and in her own inelegant way, she will move the sheep where she want to. She effectively drove them away from me and towards the home. I was calling to her all this time, when I realized that (1) she couldn't see me, (2) the forest was bouncing off my voice. I walked quickly back to our filed, whereupon she immediately turned the sheep around again and brought them to me. So I found her behavior very interesting.

 

Please don't beat me over the head for being daft and setting the outrun wrong, it's just a story from the series "50 billion unexpected things that happen to newbie handlers."

 

Maja

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Maja,

I just looked again at the video you posted to show how your dog is cutting in.

 

First, I should point out that it's very difficult to see where the dog is in relation to the sheep because of the low camera angle. If the camera was behind you when your dog went on its outrun, that would enable the viewer to judge the angle better.

 

From what I can make out, the dog is going out very well but she's not "covering her sheep" (going to a point just past 12 o clock).

Please correct me if I'm wrong on this.

 

If I'm right, this is something that should be taught when the dog is learning its basic flanking and short outruns.

 

If I've interpreted the video incorrectly and the dog is going to the point of balance BEFORE it turns onto the sheep (even if it's too close to them) please let me know.

 

Either way, you need to shorten the outrun and get the dog flanking out freely around to the back of the sheep before it turns onto them. THEN you should stop, or at least, slow the dog down. As it is, I heard no attempt to check the dog's speed before it lifted them.

 

Get it right at short distances, then VERY gradually increase the outrun distance (shortening again if it goes wrong).

 

Hope this helps.

Andy

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