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Fear not, my dogs won't let me forget to take them :-)

I wonder if you have to fight for your seat at the steering wheel? I do :D . And if I leave any door open I immediately get the whole gang inside, including 80lb of my Bernese.

 

Concerning the original question, I thought it had to do with remembering the name of the local beer and ordering it instead of Bud Light :lol: .

 

Maja

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Dear Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

 

While one can "train" the sheepdog to walk onto his sheep and can "train" the timid sheepdog to have more confidence or the pushy sheepdog to push less, one cannot "train" the lift.

 

The sheepdog often influences the sheep from the moment it leaves the handler's feet. The lift is the moment the sheep decide to move off the dog and how. Sheepdogs adopt a variety of strategies: the sheep may move because they trust the "sheep kindly" dog or they may move because his authority is mesmerizing or . . .

 

While I think the ability is inherent in some dogs, I doubt that it is heritable. Just because sheep "like" Shep doesn't mean they'll "like" any of Shep's pups.

 

One can "teach" the lift - I think - in two ways. Either provide a tremendous amount of varied work on the same biggish flock of sheep or travel to different flocks of different breeds. Sheepdogs adapt strongly to specific terrain and familiar sheep breeds. It was no accident, I think, that most of the Finalists in the last World Trial (run ion Wales on Welsh Mountain Sheep) were welsh sheepdogs.

 

Donald McCaig

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While I think the ability is inherent in some dogs, I doubt that it is heritable. Just because sheep "like" Shep doesn't mean they'll "like" any of Shep's pups.

 

 

 

Uh-oh, just when I thought I was getting the hang of things. Can you say a little more about what you mean, Donald? I don't imagine you would say as long as one can train and get one of those border-doodles on the Welsh terrain enough he'll have the presence to move the stock well. And offspring (even clones) will never be exactly like their parents, understood.

 

But if careful breeding isn't the way to more likely predict power, what is?

 

Thank you,

Barbara

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Dear Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

 

While one can "train" the sheepdog to walk onto his sheep and can "train" the timid sheepdog to have more confidence or the pushy sheepdog to push less, one cannot "train" the lift.

 

The sheepdog often influences the sheep from the moment it leaves the handler's feet. The lift is the moment the sheep decide to move off the dog and how. Sheepdogs adopt a variety of strategies: the sheep may move because they trust the "sheep kindly" dog or they may move because his authority is mesmerizing or . . .

 

While I think the ability is inherent in some dogs, I doubt that it is heritable. Just because sheep "like" Shep doesn't mean they'll "like" any of Shep's pups.

 

One can "teach" the lift - I think - in two ways. Either provide a tremendous amount of varied work on the same biggish flock of sheep or travel to different flocks of different breeds. Sheepdogs adapt strongly to specific terrain and familiar sheep breeds. It was no accident, I think, that most of the Finalists in the last World Trial (run ion Wales on Welsh Mountain Sheep) were welsh sheepdogs.

 

Donald McCaig

So basically what you are saying is, you can not "train" the lift, but you can "teach" it.

You kinda lost me here.

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You can show someone on which keys on the piano they should place their fingers and tell them when to press down and which keys they should strike next. But do they really learn how to play the piano without doing it themselves (practice) and figuring out how to do it on their own?

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Dear Actual and Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

 

Pam asked:

"Teach = train?"

 

No. To offer a dog new and hopefully instructive experience is quite different from insisting on a down.

 

I am impatient with what my Philo teacher called " mere terminological disputes". If Pam wishes to "train" her dogs' lifts I wish her every success.

 

Donald McCaig

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I am not sure it would be "mere"? I would see it rather as worthwhile to define these two terms for clarity. I wrote elsewhere that I noticed that Bonnie translates my commands into her treatment of sheep, and she does not merely obey what I say, but tries to figure out what I am expecting from her in relation to the sheep (so "lie down" does not mean "lie down" but "I want you to have such and such effect on the sheep by doing this"). Hence, it seems to take her much longer to begin to do what I ask, though theoretically she understands the command, but once she catches on, she tries to implement the element by herself and include it in her behavior and the way she influences the sheep. Of course then she also obeys, but more crucial to me is this translation of what I say into her own strategies. Would you then consider it as teaching or is it still training?

 

Maja

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Dear Actual, Wouldbe, or Wannabe Authors,

 

Please consider whether this type of salutation is condescending. Discuss.

To me the answer depends on whether you are the type to look for offense where none is actually intended or the type to take things at face value and not read anything into a salutation beyond what's actually there.

 

J.

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Dear Actual, Wouldbe, or Wannabe Authors,

 

Please consider whether this type of salutation is condescending. Discuss.

 

 

To me the answer depends on whether you are the type to look for offense where none is actually intended or the type to take things at face value and not read anything into a salutation beyond what's actually there.

 

J.

 

Actually, I was thinking the same thing as Jodi, and I haven't participated in these threads, so I'm certainly not taking the terminology as though it was directed towards me personally. But, I think making assumptions about others' experience levels or ability and assigning judgmental categories to them may not be the best way to greet someone (whether intended humorously or not). What is an "Actual Sheepdogger?" Is that only a person who owns sheep? Only a person who is competitive in Open level trials? Is it a person who both owns sheep AND is competitive in Open? Is a "Wouldbe Sheepdogger" someone like me, a person who "Wouldbe" an "Actual" Sheepdogger, except I suck? :P (LOL) Maybe "Wannabes" are people who participate only in AKC "herding" trials.

 

I don't think Donald was trying to take a sly dig at any specific individual here, but as a Novice sheepdogger, to me, the long-term, judgemental use of Wouldbe and Wannabe is unfriendly to those of us who are working at gaining our miles and experience. I don't think I've ever seen the term "Wannabe" used except to indicate criticism or belittlement.

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Dear those who have great experience with sheepdogs and those who dream of gaining such,

 

Ms. Kelliwic writes, " I don't think I've ever seen the term "Wannabe" used except to indicate criticism or belittlement."

 

Precisely why I didn't use it. I believe it was Oscar Wilde who said that " A gentleman never offends -unintentionally""

 

The Lift: How do you get a good one?

 

Donald McCaig

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as a Novice sheepdogger, to me, the long-term, judgemental use of Wouldbe and Wannabe is unfriendly to those of us who are working at gaining our miles and experience. I don't think I've ever seen the term "Wannabe" used except to indicate criticism or belittlement.

Hmmmm...I wonder if the folks who used to go to Littlehats (and maybe still do go there) take offense at the "Wannabe" label Heather uses there? I'm quite sure she never meant it to be disparaging. Seriously, I guess it just surprises me at the things people will choose to be offended by. I still think that it's easier to choose NOT to be offended and wait until someone seriously tries to offend you (the general you) before getting your back up. But that's just me--I find it easier to go through life assuming that people aren't trying to be offensive unless they make it clear that they are.

 

J.

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"The Lift: How do you get a good one?"

 

Personally, I am not keen on dogs that are naturally very cautious to lift. (Although, I concede I am likely impatient, and "too long" for me, may not be "too long" for alot of judges.) In my very limited experience, I don't like some of the other traits that often seem to be part of the total package of a dog that is cautious to lift.

 

Because I tend to favor forward dogs, I am left with stopping them at the top, and sometimes again on their way to the actual lift. It took me years to come to understand and accept how lifting too hard or too fast, regardless of the line, was negatively affecting the rest of my run. I don't necessarily look at it as "natural" vs. not, but rather that most dogs don't think so well when their feet are moving fast, or sometime, just moving. They simply read their sheep better when backed off and reminded of pace, and they may have to be reminded alot. I think this is most important at the lift. If the dogs don't do it on their own, the handler has to step it and do it for them.

 

Likewise, I am convinced that the #1, most common mistake new handlers (or whatever the PC term of the day is for new handlers) make is not having a reliable stop on their dog, starting at the top.

 

Lori Cunningham

Milton, PA

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I wish I knew how to get a good lift. My instructor says I should just let my dog be at the top where as I prefer to stop her. The school sheep are likely to head towards me regardless of where the dog is and my dog has had a tendency to slice in at the top though that is resolving lately. Now we get a fish hook shape & no stop at all & I don't think it looks nice. My dog can be pushy on the fetch though in training I can stop her pretty well. We haven't trialed this year so I can't be sure that would happen in a trial.

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Dear Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

 

Teaching the lift on "training"sheep is difficult. What are you actually teaching the dog?

 

1. That when it approaches, the sheep take off past it toward the handler.

 

2. That the best strategy for taking control of the sheep is the slice.

 

One often can change positions so the sheep don't start from the same place for the same place as soon as they see the dog but this, on account of the training field may be difficult. One can also spot (better) but if on corn, the dog learns that sheep are oblivious to his approach and if with an experienced spotting dog (remember, I'm talking about "training" sheep, the sheep may take off like a bat out of hell as soon as the spotter is released.

 

Ask yourself, always: what is my sheepdog learning from this experience?

 

Donald McCaig

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Teaching the lift on "training"sheep is difficult. What are you actually teaching the dog?

 

 

Personally, I think using "training" sheep is difficult for any lessons beyond initial at hand introduction work. We have training sheep, as soon as formal training begins with the dog we also get creative with the sheep and work hard to try to keep them reasonably honest.

 

We drive them alot especially with the older dogs and fetch them relatively little, basically working hard to reduce anticipation in the sheep. We don't allow them to get into the habit of running from a dog to the barns and allow them peace and quiet out grazing while being accompanied by a dog. Regardless of how hard we work to try to keep them acting like sheep they will still try a dog harder toward the draw or to me. But, if a person is really aware of their surroundings they can find places around our farm where the sheep will stay put on their own accord and allow a correct lift. But, it won't happen if the dog is incorrect in their work leading up to where you think the actual lift should occur. Many times a dog is out of position way before balance, they never have a chance to execute a correct lift

 

Deb

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Very interesting topic. And my initial gut feeling would lead me to believe that natural ability plus good training adapted to that particular dog and his/her way of working should be partially teaching it to lift? Maybe add the word somewhat correctly? Exposure to different locals and sheep would do nothing give the dog more chance to possibly respond in ways fitting to different kind of sheep?

I suppose there are those great dogs out there that can and will alter some of their approach depending on the sheep? Or does it boil down to a dog that is more cautious simply always being more successful at a trial with sheep that are a bit more sensitive and the more take charge character better with less cooperative sheep?

Can a dog adjust enough to carry this through a whole trial? Especially if it is understood that the general mood of a certain run is set right from the beginning and the dogs presence?

 

PS: Call me anything you want too...I am sure I have heard it before! ;)

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Ricky and I had a lesson here at our place on Monday with Marc, he dropped in on his way home from Minnesota. We worked on Ricky's flanks, stops, holding balance, control, a soft calm mindset and letting go. The reward, perfect outruns and lifts.

 

Ricky naturally brings the following to the table, feel, pace, rate and a desire to control, my job was to refine what he brings naturally so that he can handle the sheep in that just perfect fashion. When it is working right it is almost as if all are in a zone, dog, sheep and me.

 

Sorta seeps over to the inherited trait thread, Ricky is almost a cookie cutter replica of his dam Vicki. He shows very little of his sire Jake from a working or physical standpoint but you see Jake in him from a training standpoint, Jake gave Ricky his bidability. Jake is a odd ball when you compare him to his parents and grandparents, which may have helped Vicki to stamp Ricky so strongly.

 

When I had my lesson with Marc he had a cousin of Ricky's along with, their common relative is Ricky's grandsire Ken (Marc is Ken's breeder). Observing both Ricky and his cousin, you would think that they were littermates they held so much in common. Marc mentioned that Ricky shows alot of Ken's traits and believes that Ricky will stamp those traits on his future pups being that he inherited them so strongly from his dam.

 

Anyway, sorry for rambling and wallowing around sorta off topic...IMO, a consistent good lift is only acheived when a dog offers consistent good work as it is interpreted by the livestock. "Yield to my wishes but do not fear me", in discussing my lesson the best description of the dog/sheep relationship that I heard, "Controlled Escape".

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I would have to say that I probably don't teach the "lift" as such. I see it as developing along with the dog's other sheep handling skills that are learned in the early going when we're doing short outruns and fetches and circles and flanks and the dog is figuring out its 'method'. So I see the lift as an extension of the general timbre of the work that is set by the trainer and the dog, an extension of the general way they do things. Your time to have an influence on how the dog lifts would be in the early going not after sending the dog X100's of yards to gather sheep.

 

The only trained dog I ever bought had his former trainer (overseas) mess with his lift in a big way.. to the point of using an e-collar I was told long after I purchased him. His lift was always erratic. One day good enough to win, the next day drawn in by the sheep's motion and trying to grip the first one that moved. Contrast this with a dog that feels the sheep on the outrun and bows out (forming the large part of the inverted pear) to give the sheep room so they'll still be standing in one place when it arrives behind them. I see this as a product of both nature and nurture. Some dogs will never be able to do this, and some can develop this kind of feel with coaching. Some are born this way.

 

I also don't automatically associate a slow approach on the lift with "weakness". I'll take a dog that approaches the lift slowly, methodically, and confidently anytime over one that busts in or establishes contact too harshly/rashly. To me a good dog will come with a fuse. The fuse will burn slowly as the sheep decide what they're going to do (at the lift or any part of a course). If one of the sheep becomes defiant or unruly, trying to take advantage of the dog's patience, then in time the fuse burns down and the sheep gets a nip.

 

And as much as the lift establishes the tone of the run, I feel the outrun establishes the tone of the lift. One of the things I notice when I'm up top setting sheep is how many dogs are allowed to finish their outruns waaay too close to the sheep. I see many dogs finishing right on the butts and this startles the sheep most likely blowing the tone of the entire run. This too, IMO, is taught in the early going. You can compromise with a dog in some aspects of the work, in others you cannot (or should not).

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

 

Ray

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