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finding an instructor

muddy bob

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Recently, I saw a post from someone looking for and instructor. Some names were mentioned but no advice on how to get a good one.

There are plenty out there I consider suspect.

Last year I saw a man with a dog that was so hot that it was quitting on him at the pen. The dog kept shading up under the judge's stand instead of circling circling circling the pen. Personally I would have retired this dog for his own good. This man was not about to as he had previously had a good run going. But he's got a shingle hung and is called a trainer and a "real stockman". This concerns me.

I also know people that buy open trained dogs and send the young ones to well known handlers until trial ready. But they'll train a student's dog.

I know one dog wonders and people that have only ever trained one dog to pro-novice. They have students.

I'd like to compile a list of advice for the potential student. Please help me to improve this list with constructive criticism, your own insights etc.


1. go to some trials and ask the open handlers who they would go to if they were in your shoes.

2. Ask a potential instructor how many dogs they've started and where are they now. I know it is not always possible to know.

3. Ask how many dogs the have they trained to open level.

4. ask how long they have been involved in trialling.


I know it has flaws but it's a start.




P.S. If this has already been done let's tell the newbies where to find the information

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Regarding this:


ask the open handlers who they would go to if they were in your shoes.
Most handlers will not make such recommendations without knowing you a little. You'll get geographic information "I think so and so is out your way and takes students" but they may and may not suit you.


The other questions would have gotten me off to a rotten start when meeting two of my favorite trainers - because they are sort of newbie-nosy and smack a bit of "that other venue" where the worth of the trainer is counted by numbers of dog titled in such-and-such. I have two friends who are a open trialers and have both been trialing fewer years than I have. But they have put much more actual time and energy into it, and are very talented and have a good eye for troubleshooting, so I wouldn't hesitate getting professional help from them (and do, in fact, from one).


I don't mean to pick this apart because I know what you mean about needing a way to point people in the right directions, but sometimes in this world what works for one person might not for another. And there are many of us who started with someone, then grew beyond the basics and then knew enough to look for what we needed specifically in a trainer. By that time you don't have to ask the questions because you usually know.


What you DO want to do when looking for a trainer, is go (this has been said many times in different ways, but it deserves repeating) watch several training sessions with other students. I eyeball the trainer's stock, because my main goal is to end up with a dog that can take it easy with market stock and doesn't have to rough up fiesty stock to make it move. Stock that is standing quietly for the dogs, not seeking the fence frantically, in good condition, not scarred up, and changed frequently - these indicate correct attitude toward stock.


On the other hand you don't want someone who gets frenzied and abusive toward the dog when the beginner dogs buzz the stock and grip a little. Look for someone who keeps their cool the majority of the time and does their best to help the students relax and understand what is going on. That goes a LONG way towards getting your feet wet in this.


I don't think you can quantify any of this into a simple Q&A, and I think you can put off a lot of really good top handlers by asking THEM to quantify their experience into years, munbers of dogs, etc. You're right, it would be nice to know that stuff, but it's best discovered secondhand for a number of reasons - at least it seems to me.


Edited twice for really bonehead spelling errors, sheesh. Maybe I need a nap . . .

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Hello Fooshuman, I appreciate it, but I was not looking for myself. I'm trying to find a way for newbies to be more discerning in their choices so they can avoid making the same mistakes I once did. In the past, I have looked at this list out of curiosity. To me it is just a list of names. A newbie could call any trainer on that list and of course the trainer would talk about how great they were. It may be true. Or they might just get a lot of smoke blown up their skirt! I've seen names on that list that I wouldn't take a dog to if my life depended on it! I've also noted an awful lot of really fine people missing from this list.



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Thanks alot Muddy I really appriciate it. I have found some trials with in 5 hours of me so I plan on going to a few to get an idea how this "new world" works. Do you think it is OK for me to take my puppy with me. I try and take her everywhere with me but I have never been to this type of situation. I already planned to call ahead but thought for now I would ask y'all

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Actually this post is very timely for me too. Phoenix and I will be attending our very 1st actual clinic, in a couple of weeks. We went to an "intro to sheepherding", in May, but this is our 1st actual, lesson. We are fortunate to be attending the Jack Knox clinic. From what I have heard on these boards he is way on the top of the list if not the top itself.

I am very excited and of course a bit nervous. Phoenix did (what I was told) pretty good for a dog who has never seen sheep during his intro., so we are starting in on a hopefully long career of sheepherding mostly for fun, with a dream to have our own someday!

Since we are on the subject of "just starting", I want to ask a question that has been asked before but, it too is a question that bears repeating. For us newbies who will not be working our dogs on sheep on a daily basis...

is it ok to take your dog through herding training when it will only be an occassional thing for him/her? and (this may be a dumb ?), but... can any of the herding lessons be practiced at home when there are no sheep, like getting them familiar with commands etc???

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