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Hi all,

 

We ran in a local trial today & saw some really nice runs under beautiful sunny skies.

 

We didn't do very well but as I like to say...we learned a lot about ourselves :)

 

One issue I was faced with has developed (or reappeared) over the last month or so & it really messed us up today. while standing at the mouth of the pen with what I'd call easy penning sheep (this was N/N) my dog refused to walk up. We needed just a couple steps to close the gate. I think I have spent too much time getting my dog back off the sheep at the pen & now she is confused when I ask her up.

 

I know I get impatient & perhaps if I didn't rush things & stood there (for what would seem like an eternity) she might eventually get up. She usually takes flank commands ok in this situation but she will just lay there if I ask her to walk in. I think for our run tomorrow I will try keeping her on her feet when I stop her.

 

A little background on her/us:

 

This dog has/had tons of potential but I wasted a lot of it when we spent years training with the wrong trainer (all breed AKC) where she was put under too much pressure (lots of yelling & corrections, little praise) too young. Once we got out to trialing (arena trials mostly) she had issues when we would need to push stock thru a chute. As we'd approach the entrance she'd kick out really wide and refuse to come in. With more open field work I thought we'd moved past the issue. Now I think maybe I just hadn't seen it because we stopped doing arena trials & AKC type training & now that we are penning more often...it is back.

 

Anybody have any thoughts or advice?

 

Thanks in advance :)

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while standing at the mouth of the pen with what I'd call easy penning sheep (this was N/N) my dog refused to walk up. We needed just a couple steps to close the gate. I think I have spent too much time getting my dog back off the sheep at the pen & now she is confused when I ask her up.

If you got to the pen, I'd say there's nothing much wrong with the dog - just lacking confidence.

You might be right if the dog's had a hard time in previous training but that should improve with time - particularly if you train with free-moving sheep (not stubborn).

 

What did you do to encourage your dog to push the sheep into the pen?

 

Lots of Shhhh'ing, hissing, tapping your stick on the ground (as long as it doesn't frighten the dog) can help in situations like this.

 

If it was my dog, I'd do all I could to improve its confidence close to sheep. Surprisingly, I find one of the best ways is to pen some sheep in a fairly confined area and put the dog in there with a more confident dog.

 

If you do this, you must take care to protect the sheep if the dog's get rough - but it can do wonders for a dog's confidence.

 

Give your dog a lot of encouragement. If you give the dog the impression you're excited, the dog will get excited too (even if it doesn't show it at first).

Good luck. Andy

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Thanks for the reply! In today's run I flanked her nicely to cover the draw & ran to the pen gate & the sheep walked right in as I opened it! So I didn't get the opportunity to try any of your suggestions.

 

I was really surprised by the judge though who actually took off a point saying my dog was off contact. That was completely untrue she was covering the draw (these sheep are very flighty to the draw as a rule). I thought it unfair to punish us because we drew a particularly easy [to pen] group.

 

I am sure that the issue will come up again this weekend when I go to train & I will try your suggestions- Thanks again!

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If it was my dog, I'd do all I could to improve its confidence close to sheep. Surprisingly, I find one of the best ways is to pen some sheep in a fairly confined area and put the dog in there with a more confident dog.

 

 

I've done that just recently with my girl, Gael. She tends to balk at pushing sheep who are not moving readily, and will actually crane her neck to peer over the sheep's backs towards me, as if saying, "Mom? Help?" So, the other day, I set up an exercise where we fed the sheep some hay in their pen, then I sent Gael and her older, bolder brother Nick to pull the sheep out. They really didn't want to leave, but with Nick there to help provide the muscle, she was all over it. After just a couple turns, she was able to sweep in there and do it all by herself. :)

 

(Granted, the sheep were a bit more willing to move after a couple goes, but she still went in there with confidence.)

 

This in fact reminds me that I should set up a few more scenarios like that, as Gael could use more confidence building in scenarios that don't involve speed.

 

~ Gloria

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Mick is quite a feeling dog. He doesn't like to push sheep into me. Never has but I also gave him a hard time on top cause he would never lie down. NOw he does and it's a bear to get him to lift his sheep. If I keep my mouth shut he'll do a beautiful lift cause he never boggs down with lying down. He is anything but a weak dog, I think I confused him about lying down on top and he's not really great at lifting sheep close up from a donw position so I compounded the issue.

 

Not the "real" answer but if he gets "stuck" so to speak, I can get him moving by giving him a tiny flank then not asking for a lie down.

I think trying to keep her on her feet for now in those situations will proably help. Unless it upsets her sheep. But I'd also work on her being albe to "lift" sheep from a down position. She's proably close, you're close, gates close...lots of closness makes a girl nervous!

Just my 2 cents worth.

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Dear Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

 

How old is the gyp? Has she had pups?

 

Donald McCaig

 

If you are asking about the dog in the original question, she is 7. No she has never had pups. How might that affect her performance at the pen?

 

I was completely prepared to really jazz her up if needed even if that resulted in a DQ- though she is very unlikely to grip in any circumstance. The first day the judge was a great old Colonel (at least that's what they called him) and he told me that I was in too close & the gate wasn't open far enough in the beginning. I suspect my pressure coupled with the pressure of the gate & sheep was just too much for her.

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Dear Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

 

I asked the gyp's age and whether she'd had pups to discover her maturity. What one might try with an immature gyp is not the same as what one might - or can - do with an older one. At seven, she is in her prime trialing years and I'd guess, beginning to be set in her ways - her virtues as well as her vices. While she isn't as fragile as an 18 month old maiden, she will be harder to change. If she had poor training young, that compounds her problems and that a novice/novice handler feels she can disagree with a judge about her dog being off contact is worrisome. It is far, far more likely that the judge was right, the handler wrong and her account inaccurate in other respects

 

At this remove, with a 7 year old gyp, there's not enough information to suggest remedies. The dog may be (A) too strong eyed, (B) timid, © unwilling to approach her handler (D) pen nervous (E) stick shy (F) Other- and the remedies for these problems are, alas, all different.

 

Fortunately, internet insoluble doesn't mean INSOLUBLE. At your next trial, ask a friend to video your run. When you replay at home, at your leisure, adrenalin switch off, you may well see what's causing the problem and, if not, your mentor certainly will.

 

Donald McCaig

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I absolutely 100% agree with all of that, Donald.

The changes that can be made with this dog (at 7 years old) will be slow to make.

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Dear Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

 

I asked the gyp's age and whether she'd had pups to discover her maturity. What one might try with an immature gyp is not the same as what one might - or can - do with an older one. At seven, she is in her prime trialing years and I'd guess, beginning to be set in her ways - her virtues as well as her vices. While she isn't as fragile as an 18 month old maiden, she will be harder to change. If she had poor training young, that compounds her problems and that a novice/novice handler feels she can disagree with a judge about her dog being off contact is worrisome. It is far, far more likely that the judge was right, the handler wrong and her account inaccurate in other respects

 

Well you are certainly entitled to have an opinion and to express it here. But I wasn't really asking for advice on the judging. Since you have no idea that the judge in question was also the AKC trainer that kept my dog on a long line in the round pen for almost a year...or that this same judge ran in the Novice/Novice class last year with a professionally trained dog, or that this judge is not a member of the USBCHA or ABCA but is an AKC herding judge & breeder of very nice Conformation/Herding CH, upright, loose eyed dogs.

 

Since the trial host wanted to run the double lift simultaneously with the Novice class to get folks home earlier on Sunday and the "real" judge was needed for the double lift, they picked the Novice judge out of the audience...it is just for fun & doesn't really mean anything...right? So who cares who runs...or who judges?

 

I know this judge has way more stock handling experience than me and my comment was not really to complain as much as to state my surprise since I felt my dog was working the stock & was not off contact. In rereading my post it may not seem that way & for that I apologize. The judge called almost everyone for the same thing as the sheep were walking in the pen that day with little effort from dog or handler & my run was judged good enough to win the class even with the deduction [see comment about N/N above].

 

However, I wasn't asking for judging opinions...I was asking for help with the trouble I had with the penning exercise the day before and apparently you are unable to help with that.

 

At this remove, with a 7 year old gyp, there's not enough information to suggest remedies. The dog may be (A) too strong eyed, (B) timid, © unwilling to approach her handler (D) pen nervous (E) stick shy (F) Other- and the remedies for these problems are, alas, all different.

 

So why did you bother to respond at all? So that you could put this Novice handler in her place? If so, well done.

 

Fortunately, internet insoluble doesn't mean INSOLUBLE. At your next trial, ask a friend to video your run. When you replay at home, at your leisure, adrenalin switch off, you may well see what's causing the problem and, if not, your mentor certainly will.

 

Will do, thanks for your input.

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I absolutely 100% agree with all of that, Donald.

The changes that can be made with this dog (at 7 years old) will be slow to make.

 

 

Well, I guess all I can say is I'm glad it is about The Journey & not the destination for me. I'm sure plenty of people who are in it for other reasons would have done right by her from the beginning as I have been told she is a very talented dog.

 

I guess we will never know...but I will do my best to learn from her & try to do better with my next dog. What is it they say??...if I only knew then what I know now... B)

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Not the "real" answer but if he gets "stuck" so to speak, I can get him moving by giving him a tiny flank then not asking for a lie down.

I think trying to keep her on her feet for now in those situations will proably help. Unless it upsets her sheep. But I'd also work on her being albe to "lift" sheep from a down position. She's proably close, you're close, gates close...lots of closness makes a girl nervous!

Just my 2 cents worth.

 

Thanks Kristen! :D

 

This is what I am thinking too. It is also what the Colonel implied when I discussed it with him after the class was finished. He said I didn't have the gate open far enough & I was crowding her & putting on too much pressure.

 

I get nervous she will move too fast & far on her flank (she does often) so I give small flank with a quick firm "lie down". I think that makes her nervous....2 nervous girls + a packet of nervous sheep = bad times at the pen :P

 

So in addition to opening the gate. All. The. Way. I will try a quick flank with a stand & see if that makes a difference.

 

Thanks again!

Cindy

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I've done that just recently with my girl, Gael. She tends to balk at pushing sheep who are not moving readily, and will actually crane her neck to peer over the sheep's backs towards me, as if saying, "Mom? Help?" So, the other day, I set up an exercise where we fed the sheep some hay in their pen, then I sent Gael and her older, bolder brother Nick to pull the sheep out. They really didn't want to leave, but with Nick there to help provide the muscle, she was all over it. After just a couple turns, she was able to sweep in there and do it all by herself. :)

 

(Granted, the sheep were a bit more willing to move after a couple goes, but she still went in there with confidence.)

 

This in fact reminds me that I should set up a few more scenarios like that, as Gael could use more confidence building in scenarios that don't involve speed.

 

~ Gloria

 

 

Ha Gloria, speed. That sounds just like us. I too will see if I can get a nice confident dog in the small pen with mine & see what happens.

 

Thanks for the input!

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I get nervous she will move too fast & far on her flank (she does often) so I give small flank with a quick firm "lie down". I think that makes her nervous....2 nervous girls + a packet of nervous sheep = bad times at the pen

 

 

I dunno know if I'm classified as a shouldbe, wouldbe or neverbe but still I offer my advise...take it from someone of the "lower" status be's.

 

When you get nervous I have a feeling you revert to "lie down" with a bit more nerves attached than intended. I know I used to do that with Mick and find myself doing that a bit with Dew (she's a fast little girl and sometimes thinks after she does) but I'd like to say, take lie down out of your equation unless you really need a lie down for what you are doing. Try hard not to fall back on it as a way to get your head on straight, like a time out. It is a time out but in the end I think it messes up the dog. They are never sure if you mean "wait give me a minute to catch my brain up" or "lie down". This is so easy to type and so harrrrrd to do!

 

Gloria's idea's are also something I've used. Dew and I were out in CO with basically range sheep. They would eat a dog for breakfast and then spit them out for lunch. Dew was pretty immature. So every morning I'd go down and feed them, I'd take Mick and Dew. Mick would just lie at the gate but he was enough power for the sheep to listen to Dew. She never really realized or at least I thought she didn't realize Mick was providing the muscle to back her up.

 

Then I get here. We had about 70 or so very undogged suffix sheep. Dew said these are giants and I just can't work them. So I usually took her out on the 15 or so hair and hair crosses. But she built up confidence just working daily.

One morning I found a fall born suffix lamb. Mick and I had to bring her up to a paddock close to the house. Remember they weren't really dog broke. Wow...took me and powerhouse Mick over 1/2 hour to get her up here. She'd never been up to the house and I was carrying the lamb (a black lamb), she kept losing it. She'd see Mick lying there and think it was her lamb. That would mean getting all turned around so we had quite the job. Mick was wonderful. I could of never told him what to do, he had to know. He never hit or roused the ewe. But when we finally got them in the pen and I called him off. He turned around and hit that stubborn ewe right on the nose. Then he came off looking all smug.

 

Dew had been standing on tip toe at the window watching the whole thing. So I took her out a couple days later and decided that she was gonna learn to move these sheep. I brought them into a corner (by then the lamb was a week or so old) and had Dew flank into them. She almost got in there but balked like she was scared. So I got right up there with her and bopped the mean ol ewe on the nose with my stick making sure Dew was not worried about me and the stick. Her lightbulb came on and she hit the ewe right on the heel (it had turned by then)and there it went baby and all. That was a pivotal changing moment for her. She's never been afraid since. I've seen her hit rams that were challenging her in corners, I've seen her hit heels, front legs and noses. She is now way better than her bro cause I don't freak out when it happens. With Mick someone was going to get hurt with Dew, it's just getting the job done.

 

Realize what you can add to this picture or what you can do in a neg. way. I know you can't always control emotions when you're in the thick of it. But if you work on yourself, the dog will follow suit.

 

JMHO or "novice" ideas. And for the record I've been working dogs about 14 years, raising sheep for at least 13 of those years. I'm not out there trialing at the moment, don't know if I want to anymore but I sure do love these dogs and what they teach us!!

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The changes that can be made with this dog (at 7 years old) will be slow to make.

 

 

Ahhh but the changes a handler can make no matter how old they are can be life changing!

Mick is 8. About 2+/- years ago, we had a life changing event. I realized I had made my dog into the dog he was, I was trying to fix things that I had put into him. Once I decided he was what he was and stopped harping on him. He made tons of changes...why...cause he liked the new handler that I turned into. We are the best partners that I could ever want. All after the fact or after he was really to old and unhealthy to keep hammering on getting things as close to perfect as I thought I wanted or needed! No matter what their ages, they never cease to amaze me!

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Cindy, I think that I would be trying to get the dog to place more pressure on the flight zone of the sheep so as to cause or create motion.

 

Amelia Smith posted an exercise a while back that she does with a spring loaded gate. It creates more resistance so that the dog learns to apply more pressure while still maintaining control of both the sheep and themselves. I don't have the link to it but it might be worth searching for it.

 

Deb

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Thanks Kristen!!

 

I <3 your "novice ideas". I think you are right on track- I know I get too excited- especially at the pen.

 

These boards are great- so much support it is amazing. I can't wait until this weekend to try some of this out.

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Cindy, I tried to find the post about the spring gate but I was unable to find it via the search function, it was here at these boards.

 

Anyway, the premise was to create resistance on the sheep so that the dog had to push, things like loading the sheep into a trailer when they are rarely loaded or even driving them into a pen when another handler has a well controlled dog at the back of the pen will help. Basically anything that will cause the sheep to not want to go. Schooling sheep can get to the point where they go most anywhere, they know their surroundings and can be a bit too compliant.

 

 

I know your not happy about what the judge said about your dog in regard to contact, but, regardless of who it comes from it is worth looking at a bit harder. The issue at the pen is an indication that the dog may be a touch or more off contact, yes the dog may be close enough to effect the sheep but not taking hold and actually controlling the sheep.

 

A way to test if your dog is on contact that I have used, is to find a quiet place where the sheep are relaxed and willing to sorta stay put. Flank the dog, stop the dog and watch to see what the sheep do when the dog faces the sheep or takes one step forward, if the sheep are heavy one step will be needed. If the dog has to take many steps before the sheep begin moving off then I question whether or not the dog is on contact or not.

 

Right now I'm working on that with Ricky on his away to me flanks, he is good on the come bye side but tends to go off contact when he flanks away. I stop him walk him up until the sheep start to move away and then flank him again, if he release too much and tries to flank too big I stop him, walk him up and move the sheep a step or two and flank him again. I don't want him to be pushy on his flanks, I still want a release when he initiates a flank, but I need him to ease back to the flight zone and travel around once he let's go, He releases and then falls away further before travelling around, basically off contact.

 

Each of us gets a visual in our minds as to what we expect or are looking for, just sharing one of my visuals. I hope it makes sense.

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Debbie,

This is very interesting what you say about the contact. I don't know about other sheep but my cameroons were very cautious about new things, so if I put something new odd looking in the pen, they would be more reluctant to go in. Maybe something like that would help too as an exercise?

Maja

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Maja, it can be fun to set up different situations in a controlled environment to try to test the dog.

 

I didn't realize how much my dog was floating the sheep until I got to a trial with pretty fresh sheep and a Y Chute that had solid sides. He could keep them in the mouth of the chute but could not hold them together while leaning on them enough to convince them to go into the chute. For fear of loosing control he was refusing to push.

 

Not long after that I order a book that explained it as an inability to "Force and Hold", it dawned on me how often that inability had cost me and also others, heck often times the sheep are blamed.

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Debbie and All Kind Folks who Might Rant to Reply,

 

Floating the sheep? Could you explain?

 

Perhaps from the "dumb question" series - is it always that if the dog is off contact on the flank it is bad? Apart from the outrun where I assume he's supposed to keep an eye on the sheep and yet not have contact until lift right? And other times?

 

I am asking because my dog goes sometimes too far on the flanks (particularly when she's missing the point of what I am trying to accomplish and keeps getting corrected) and I've been thinking that she will figure things out herself, so I left it at that as long as she gets the direction ok.

Maja

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Floating the sheep in Jake's case was being just far enough off contact so as to not push the sheep but close enough so that he could influence their direction with his presence. He would put more pressure on the sheep to hold them in a place, but there was not urgency or lean to get them to go where they didn't want to. In part I kept him off contact because he would be more relaxed out there and it was easier to stop him and flank him a different direction. When he would put pressure on sheep he would get excited and hard to handle, either flashing hard to the head or sticking at balance.

 

As for going off contact, I guess it depends on if it is causing a issue in the work that you want accomplished and what you are used to dealing with. I think that if I was not trying to trial that it wouldn't be as urgent to have to dog be kinda precise in where he is and how he effects the stock.

 

Since Ricky came home from training I've found that he is way more precise, responsive and engaged to the livestock and myself then Jake is. This actually makes him easier to use. I just was out sorting sheep for some buyers, there were times that Ricky was right there at the right time with just the right amount of pressure, it surprised me because I was ready to ask him up as I would have had to do with Jake. Using Ricky is getting me less tolerent of Jake's shortfalls, where as two months ago I was quite happy with Jake, we could get the work done.

 

I guess what I am saying, I think that alot of how a dog works is personal preference based on the individuals view of ideal and in some cases influenced by what you are using the dog for.

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