Jump to content
BC Boards
Sign in to follow this  
Wendy V

Too young to train?

Recommended Posts

Okay, so I know that is an old topic but I haven't had a pup in a long while, so it is fresh to me.

 

My pup is now 5 months old and is chasing and hawking anything that moves. His initial obedience to recall commands and such has declined a bit, so I decided that this boy needs some training. I put him on sheep in the round pen, and he circles both directions, keeping an appropriate distance behind stock, and I can get him to stop before all hell breaks loose. He is so keen and instense, that it is scary. He is also quite stylish and has a bit of eye. Should I stop now and wait a month or more, or try it again in a week or so? Is 5 months too early to start training? He was unfazed by the gentle training pressure I used and has enough leg to cover sheep (about 30 lbs. in size). I don't want to inadvetantly put more eye into him, but since he is, in affect, working on his own, I figure I might as well start him off in the correct direction.

 

Wendy V

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My personal feelings (and everyone has an opinion) is that 5 months is too young. He has the interest but sheepherding is so much more than other sports which might be ok to teach that young. What happens when you start to push him off and square his flanks? He's just not mentally ready for the controll he needs for training. If you try that controll too soon, you will either make them too careful or quit all together. If you don't try for controll, you will just be teaching bad habits. I have a six month old in the same boat. I put him on once a month to see where his mind is at (but my husband would prefer I left him alone until he's older) About the only thing you can work on at this age is balance and the dog needs to be naturally comfortable going both ways to do this, and not be wanting to dive in. You don't want to have to need a correction at this age.

Jenny Glen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm in the same boat. Two talented youngsters doing everything they can to get in the sheep. Really, it could be a worse boat to be in! :rolleyes:

 

I got burned really bad trying to start one too early so I'm highly motivated to err in the opposite direction - and on that I had/have the blessing of both their breeder and the breeder whose lines they go back to.

 

I like how Jennifer put it. Anything you have to do to put yourself into the picture is pressure, and I don't think it's time for that yet with my pups. The male could probably be allowed to gather and do a bit of wearing but what then? My goal is to end up with dogs that are useful for 10 or 12 years - I don't want to risk spoiling that. So we will go VERY slowly for a few more months yet.

 

I know how you feel! My pups are ten months old now. When they were 20 weeks old it seemed like forever to wait until their breeder even wanted to put them on sheep for the FIRST time (no sooner than seven months)!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, flog me with a wet noodle!! :rolleyes: I might put him on sheep every so often to see how he does.

 

Robin, can you elaborate about your bad experience when you started a dog young? What happened?

 

Wendy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you meant me? :rolleyes:

 

It was pretty egregious - I was lulled into thinking a little bitch pup I had was doing just fine and I just kept working her. At four months old she was doing wee outruns. At five months she could gather small fields, work big flocks of lambs, drive short distances on steady sheep, and on one memorable occaision at about 24 weeks old, helped load a bunch of recalcitrant culls (with another dog). She's really fast, very correct when she wants to be, and had an early bloom of both power and the ability to settle stock. It was irresistable at the time . . .

 

I got REALLY cocky.

 

I totally forgot how young she was and started trying to lengthen her outrun, get her pace exact, etc. Everybody altogether now - "Duuuuuhhhh." She shut down completely and it took over a year to get her to look at a sheep. I'm not sure she ever would have been really great - she may have been OK with the right upbringing but who knows now? As it is she's a natural at flyball and should make my hubby a nice novice and chore dog.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, I'm going to jump in with a little bit different take on things. If a pup is keen and physically able at five months old, I think it can benefit from experience on sheep, provided that it's done right.

 

Where I think a lot of us fall down is that we try to push too hard too fast. It seems to me, this can happen regardless of whether the dog is five months old or three years. By insisting on and demanding work that the dog isn't ready for yet, we either a.) get into a habit of fighting the dog or b.) shut the dog down or c.) create a dog that works out of contact with the sheep.

 

It might be just as easy to put the dog up and wait until it's older and can take the training pressure, but I think there's some scope for trying to adjust the level of pressure to the stage of the pup's development. There's no substitute for experience.

 

With a dog like Wendy's I might be taking him along to check sheep in the fields, letting him gather little groups and put them back with the main flock -- just walk up, lie down, that'll do sorts of stuff. As long as it seemed that the dog wasn't getting overly worked up or doing lots of wrong stuff, I'd keep trying to expand his horizons with practical work.

 

I think that this might make it that much easier when it comes time for schooling, which I agree must be later, because he will be confident in his ability to control sheep and will be used to responding to his handler.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I generally agree with Jenny.

Corrections will be necessary to make sure the pup is working correctly; if the pup is not mentally ready for these corrections it's not ready for training. Working sheep can be too stressful for less mature pups.

 

However, some pups don't need much correction to be right and/or you can limit what they do so they are right and not stressed. Pups mature mentally at different rates and there can be some that are ready for some training at 5 months. I didn't believe one would be ready at 5 months until I got Jody.

 

Mark

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They say Dryden Joe and Wiston Cap both came right out of the litter box working, and working right. I suppose the key is to have the type of work available they can do that won't put too much stress on them. My farm is so limited in scope I have to be careful. Since I have basically one flock, all my sheep are pretty challenging - even the young lambs pick up attitude from mom pretty quick. :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm, I didn't intend to sound like I was denying that different dogs mature at different rates. That's a factor too, of course.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Part of my reason for starting this topic is that wonder-pup's obedience is going down the tubes and with him hawking and chasing stuff, I figured that some structured training would do him some good, to say nothing of the fact that he is a bit bored.

 

So, I put him back on sheep and his work was much sloppier - lots of holding sheep against the fence, busting in, and such. We could not continue without corrections, so I used the rattle bottle to make noise to free him up to circle sheep. This worked fine and he was unscathed by the experience.

 

However, Jennifer made an eloquent point when she said that the training goals at this age would be so small, that what was the point of training yet?

 

I believe that with some dogs, there might be some middle ground. As many respected trainers suggest, that when raising a pup, it must be raised to take corrections to mentally withstand stockdog training. Is it our role to protect the youngsters from corrections, or to apply some reasonable corrections, if given the opportunity?

 

Wendy

 

ps. Thanks, Rebecca, for sharing your experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by Rebecca, Brook Cove Farm:

Since I have basically one flock, all my sheep are pretty challenging - even the young lambs pick up attitude from mom pretty quick. :rolleyes:

Seconded, and worse. Since my bitch went back to work after her pups she's forgotten what flanks are and hammers straight up the middle of the field. Great example.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...