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Gaining Confidence


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I'm working with my first dog. I'm pretty green, and so is she. For some background, when she came to me she had *some* training on her, but had been turned off - but turned back on for me. At any rate, we found a trainer, and we've been making quite a good bit of progress, and I've been very pleased. We're weekend warriors right now, but I'm looking forward to eventually having our own sheep.

 

At any rate, June is a fairly soft dog, but then sometimes she's not so soft. What I am seeing is any time we change part of the equation (new place, different sheep, or more challenging sheep) she initially self destructs. At a clinic in Jan, Jack Knox suggested that she needs more confidence, and my trainer and I agree. Here is what she's doing when exposed to new things - either busting in to chase the sheep, or not covering. She has the speed to cover (I've seen it) but she's choosing not to.

 

My trainer has suggested we do a LOT of wearing with his non-schooling sheep in the big field for a while. No driving, no outruns, nothing but just wearing all over the field. She was working nicely in his smaller lot, on his school sheep. Then we take her into the big field on his non-schooling sheep and she self-destructs. Eventually she got it together, but it took her a while to figure out she COULD handle the situation. Once she did, she worked nicely. So, thoughts? Suggestions?

 

My next question would be this. If any of you have ever had a dog like this, is it possible to overcome this? I *was* planning to debut us at Dr. Ben's in novice/novice, but unfortunately I don't think I get 30 minutes to get the dog's brain in gear and then finish the course. :rolleyes:

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I'm with Mark - take her places where she can work easy sheep and is only trying to deal with a new situation. Do everything you can to make her experiences successful (only add in 1 difficult thing at a time, like a new field or fresh sheep) and add complexity as she gets more confident.

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Thanks for your input, Mark and Robin. Celt has some confidence issues also and this is helpful to hear for us, too.

 

He's not quite like June - I think he's pretty good on easy sheep although he does have to "adjust" to new locations (so when we trial, it either starts out very well or goes badly from the beginning).

 

Of course, many of his anxieties may come from me, and I have to work on that.

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Originally posted by Sue R:

 

 

Of course, many of his anxieties may come from me, and I have to work on that. [/QB]

That's for sure. I still have to force myself to chill out even running my open dogs. It's something I've worked very hard at for the last 2 years or so. I distinctly remember a run last year, that part way through the fetch I could feel my self starting to stress out. I had to tell myself I wasn't going to let myself ruin the flow and take a deep breath and relax. It ended up being a placing run. It's amazing the anxiety we communicate to the dogs which of course makes everything worse.

Renee

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Thank you, Robin, Mark, and Sue. Sue, you probably remember her self-destruct act in the beginning of the Jack Knox clinic... when we got demoted back to the round pen. Matter of fact, she ran the entire gamut that day - busting up the sheep, and then not covering. However, by the end of the clinic she was working nicely back in the lot again, covering, and even doing some nice driving. Before that clinic she had had trouble working those particular sheep but since then has worked Becca's sheep nicely.

 

We have been a few places here and there. When we've tried to work more challenging sheep in a different area she's had troubles. However, she has worked some easy sheep in a different place, and she did well then. So I think Robin points out a good thing, changing only one thing at a time. To use non-schooling sheep in the big field (both new situations for her) may have been overload for her.

 

Oh, and Renee, I hear you. At the Jack Knox clinic that was part of our self-destruction. I was wound up like a ball of twine. :rolleyes:

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Not to sound like a dumbie here...but how do you get your dogs on sheep...any sheep when it is hard to find people who have sheep?????

 

I was finding it hard starting out just to find someone willing train me and my dog. I LOVE to work my dog, but I also like to help out with chores to return the favor for getting sheep time...however, I find it hard to find people with the sheep that have the time to extend to newbies like me.

 

I have a feeling that Julie will get sick of me and my dogs after she her sheep get old enough to be worked!!!! At least you will have a handy helper too (me, not my dogs)!!

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Well, there's here too. They know the sheep but it's a new place. You know you are welcome!

 

The round pen is here, and two small paddocks, and a big field.

 

Jen and June were working on the same thing at the clinic. Too much on, or "heck with this" attitude when the "too much" was corrected, and no happy medium.

 

Jack taught them to have more confidence in corrections by crying them right on the sheep, then belting out a sharp correction, then crying them right on again, giving them plenty of room all the while. He put June in the round pen so the sheep wouldn't run off while she decided to "come back." Jen's so fast she never has the problem of not being able to catch her sheep, no matter how long she twiddles her thumbs while she decides whether to play or not. :rolleyes:

 

Anyway, we went through a lot of the same thing with Jen when we moved and she had to gather sheep out of the twenty-acre field. I won't name any names, but someone was sending her from the gate and not understanding when she went 200 yards straight at the sheep and blew them to smithereens when she got there! Bless his heart, he doesn't aspire to be a dog trainer - he just wants to get the sheep put up.

 

We therefore worked Jen in the big field, but "at hand" on the same thing we'd worked on, in the one- to three-acre paddocks. We got her comfortable taking those corrections, and thinking about what she is doing. ATM Patrick is gradually extending how far she'll go for sheep.

 

Now we've got to get PATRICK's confidence back. Cn anyone tell me how to do that? :eek:

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Rachel,

 

That is a problem for many of us. We'll end up driving 2-4 hrs to work our dogs at different places. We have 2 local places we can go occasionally, 2 more a bit farther away, and a few more even farther. We're also on the lookout for fields we can borrow (bring our own sheep). Suggestions would be to take lessons with different instructors, go to fun trials, go to different clinics, beg, etc. It's hard, I know, but getting to different sheep and fields will help you and your dog(s) a LOT and is well worth the effort.

 

Mark

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Becca - I didn't forget about you...and I can't wait to see your new place!!!

 

Thanks Mark...I am slowly but surely getting to the point where I know more people with sheep and can afford this lifestyle...no one told me that my life would totally change after getting a border collie!!!! Then again, I found these boards AFTER I got Keegan.

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Anybody offering slave labor can come help trim feet this weekend! I'll even scare up some extra hoof trimmers. And you can see what out sheep look like nekkid (the sheep, that is)!

 

I think one problem y'all are facing is that you have to not only find people with sheep but also with dog broke sheep that are suitable for young/novice dogs. When I had a youngster I drove *all over the place* to be able to get her out and work her. I mean I drove hours (up to 5) sometimes just to get her out. I even signed her up for the practice field when she was quite young and the finals were in TN (how's that for a drive to work sheep?). Once folks get to know you, you'll find that you'll get invites to farms to work dogs.

 

Up till now I haven't had a need for dog broke puppy sheep so haven't had any. But those little wether lambs are getting plenty of exposure to dogs and they don't freak at least at the sight of my dogs, so in the next few months they may be ready for "strange" dogs!

 

J.

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Originally posted by Keegan's Mom:

Thanks Mark...I am slowly but surely getting to the point where I know more people with sheep and can afford this lifestyle...no one told me that my life would totally change after getting a border collie!!!! Then again, I found these boards AFTER I got Keegan.

I know it takes time to build up your "sheep network". I also understand about affording this lifestyle; we worry about that all the time especially as we hear discussions about taking trialing "big time" like horses. We feel that will push us out due to the money.

 

We're right there with you on how much "getting a Border Collie changed our lives".

 

Mark

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Hey Julie, we're getting faster! A couple weekends ago Rachel and I helped Jason trim feet, worm lambs (and ewes), and we even got to shear the Ram. That was pretty darned cool. My hands were like claws the next day and I almost needed a crane to get my sore body out of the bed, but it was great! I will probably be farm-sitting again this weekend, though, so I probably won't be able to come back down to help.

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Yeah, I'm out for this weekend, but I had planned to come up, Julie, this week to help...but that is now out as well.

 

If you can wait to trim feet early next week, I'm all for it...you know that I can get there by 5:45 pm and we have until about 8 pm nowadays!!!

 

Let me know if you are up for it and I will be up Monday night. Of course this is true "free" labor as I don't have my dogs with me during the week - but I still like to do it.

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I also understand about affording this lifestyle; we worry about that all the time especially as we hear discussions about taking trialing "big time" like horses. We feel that will push us out due to the money.
Sigh.

 

Trialing is already "big time" enough for my pocketbook and severely curtails my participation. Once again an unexpected bill has delayed our entries to a long-anticipated trial and it's possible that here, almost two months out, we could miss out when the class fills.

 

It's so difficult planning that far out - and it's only going to get worse. I'm not even in Open yet. Those trials fill even faster and the fees are going up every year.

 

Hey Julie, I'd be happy to come down and help. I've got to do some quick chores up here and then I've got the day free while Patrick and his dad disassemble the kids' playset and move it here. I don't think they want me around for that!

 

I owe you for helping last fall with clipping, at the least. Plus I actually kind of enjoy feet clipping.

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Hey Becca,

You're welcome to come help if you'd like. There will be farm tours going on, but Joy said that shouldn't stop me from doing what needs doing, so I plan to go ahead and do it as some of them desperately need it and it just doesn't seem to get done in the evenings (spending all day at work and then going home to do chores in two locations doesn't help with that). Don't worry about owing me anything--I'd just like you to come down and see the place and the sheep (and my new karakul ram)!

 

As a matter of fact, there's a piece of property on 119 I want to look at--maybe we should make a plan to meet there (always nice to have second opinions) and then you can come on down (if that works for you).

 

Rachel,

You're always welcome to come out any time. I have set aside this weekend to get sheep feet done, but there's always stuff that needs doing, so even if I get feet finished this weekend, we can find things to do!

 

Laura,

You heading to Virginia? If you need backup (like help with a mare foaling) I will be around this weekend, so call if you need me.

 

Mark,

I agree with Rebecca--trialing is already hitting me hard in the pocketbook. Adding the gas prices on top of that, well, really sucks. I doubt I'll be getting out and about much this year beyond the few trials I've already entered. And I used to do a lot of horse showing, so I can say that dog trialing hasn't reached that cost level yet, but it's creeping up there, and like you said, if it ends up being like the huge horse shows with lots of prestige and huge entry fees, I'll be out.

 

J.

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Laura, You heading to Virginia? If you need backup (like help with a mare foaling) I will be around this weekend, so call if you need me.
Yes, although its still slightly in the air. And yes, if I run into a mare foaling I will be calling you!! You're always on my speed dial. :rolleyes:
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Laura,

Last I saw, there were still some schooling sheep (and lambs) in the riding ring. Since they aren't all the regular schooling sheep, and June has worked there before, it's one more way of slightly changing one variable (some of the sheep) but keeping everything else pretty much the same.

 

J.

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That would be great. I hope that's still the case!

 

If you get your trimming done, or ifn you and Becca wanna travel, y'all can always come hang out with me! DH has to stay home for Softball games, so I'm bachin it again. Just me and June. Loud-mouthed yarky dog is staying at home, as are the chicken-crazy biscuit eaters. :rolleyes:

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I'd be coming right down 119 so meeting somewhere there would be fine. You can give me a call tomorrow on my cell (I accidentally left it at mom's, oops, so I don't have it today).

 

It would be fun to come up to VA if we could work it out. I haven't had a girl's night out since the Jack clinic and we were all pretty zonked for that.

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Becca,

I'll give you a call. It seems the property has been withdrawn, and I have the realtor looking into it. Aaargh!

 

Rachel,

Monday would work. It occurred to me that the sheep at my house need foot trimming and vaccinating, so if you want to work with the "wild bunch" we can do that next week.

 

J.

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