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Making Progress?

Jen C

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So - Wesley continues with herding... He is going for lessons once a week and our trainer thinks he is getting through to him - but, it is hard to be told that your dog "is one of the hardest dogs" the trainer has ever seen or that "this dog will take more corrections and keep coming back for more" than any dog that this trainer (working with dogs for 30+ years) has ever seen... It is just frustrating to hear that I may be outmatched by my dog...


On the plus side - Wes didn't bite the sheep today (our trainer said he had turned off slightly due to very severe corrections last week) but that Wes was giving the trainer ground and was showing some restaint and biddability and that this was more important...


He also said that Wesley had more drive than he had seen in a very long time and that if he was bigger, he would recommed that I put him in a k-9 program...


I am a little frustrated - Wesley is a family dog - we are commtitted to spending the time effort and money (whatever it is - name it - we will do it) - to making sure Wes is able to live a happy life with us. Do I just keep at it? Any more ideas? Should we work sheep more often to help teach him compliance? I just feel like we are making such good progress in his home life (ex - we were able to go away this weekend to our house in VT and Wes was off leash outside, we had abother couple with us - and he was a very good boy - no growling, never ran off, came back each time he was called from the trails and in the woods and dealt very well with dtrangers in the house etc.) - but obviously he continues to be a more difficult dog and we are committed to making sure he has every single thing and as much effort as can help him...


Sorry so long - part ranting, part hoping someone has some words of wisdom...

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I have a lot of sympathy for you. I haven't seen your dog and I'm not an expert anyway, but it sounds like your experience on livestock has been a lot of battles thus far. I've definitely been there. I only got anywhere by finding ways to make what you want from your dog easy, while stopping his other choices as quietly as possible. Make things very, very simple so the choices are clear to everyone.


Look for evidence that he "hears" you on a correction, then accept WHATEVER he gives after that. Don't fight for a full "lie down" - accept a hesitation, then a pause, then a stop, etc. If all he can give you after a correction that obviously makes an impression, is a step back, that's ok. You should start having conversations rather than battles soon.


I don't want to advise you to disregard your trainer's experience, but it would be more helpful for your relationship with this dog, I think, to forget "hard" and "drive" and just remember that he wants to work very badly and right now you may or may not be part of the picture. I don't think continued, prolonged confrontations will help him see you as part of the picture - just my very limited experience. Back up to a situation where quieter corrections do make him pause and think, then build on that.


Good luck!

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