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A steady pace comes as the dog's confidence, experience and obedience grow - you can't really teach it, as such.

If your dog knows you want it to stay well back from the sheep and not rush in close, it will pick up on this with time.

 

Keeping calm yourself is important here too. If you can give the dog some flock work (say 50 or more sheep) that will help but mainly keeping the dog well back from the sheep with wide flanks, will eventually get the message through to your dog that you want it to work calmly.

Good luck,

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Dear Sheepdoggers,

 

I look forward to others' answers. Myself - I dunno. Dogs have different characters and different relationships to their handlers and their sheep - which vary by breed, by flock and by trial flocklet (your "draw") how they respond to a dog.

 

We've all seen "sheep-kindly" dogs that can work practically at Kathadin's heels. We've seen those same dogs unable to control range sheep. My powerful Luke can shift a rank Suffolk or a ewe with an hour old single but light sheep fly off him.

 

Within the limits of his character and training, the dog can improve his method by deep experience on a variety of sheep breeds and conditions. The correct pace must vary with circumstance. Real work is a better teacher of method than training - and I suspect non-routine big flock work teaches best.

 

I envy the Brits fall gather and (the increasingly rare) sheep trailing in our west. Great sheepdog educations.

 

Routine work and training produce sheepdogs able to deal with one band of sheep in one set of circumstances. That's one reason useful farm and ranch dogs can fare so poorly at trials.

 

If you have access to a few dog-broke sheep or your dogs work the same flock doing the same seasonal work every day, you must get off your farm. An hour spent training on different sheep is far more valuable for your dog than 8 minutes at any sheepdog trial which can show you what you're doing wrong but not what to do to correct it.

 

I don't know any exercises to teach your dog a pace that'll calmly shift undogged cheviots, polypays in full fleece and dog school kathadins. I hope others do.

 

Donald McCaig

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Routine work and training produce sheepdogs able to deal with one band of sheep in one set of circumstances. That's one reason useful farm and ranch dogs can fare so poorly at trials.

 

If you have access to a few dog-broke sheep or your dogs work the same flock doing the same seasonal work every day, you must get off your farm. An hour spent training on different sheep is far more valuable for your dog than 8 minutes at any sheepdog trial which can show you what you're doing wrong but not what to do to correct it.

 

Agreed - 100%

Give the dog as much experience on as wide a variety of tasks, flocks, territory and conditions as you possibly can. Don't take it out on the dog if its work is not as good in a new situation - they need to re-gain their confidence in new situations.

 

If you can do this, it will pay you dividends in the long run - and help to give you a calm, confident dog that works in a steady but authoritative manner.

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That said :) I will have the dog start the lift then stop the dog. \LOTS of walkabout. He should approach the stock softly(not rushing) with athority. He should keep a flow when walking about. If he approaches the stock too hard, slow or stop him. Working on that right now with a dog. It is difficult to teach him to feel the sheep. IMO it is related to the balance the dog has. That enables the dog to feel the sheep.

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I agree that some dogs will develop a pace (the pace that THEY deem appropriate to the situation) over time and with experience. You may not like their pace, however, and also may not have the patience to wait for them to accumulate all the experiences they'll need to achieve their "light bulb moment". You can wait a decade for a dog to develop pace, and, IF this happens, are you really seeing the result of the dog finally processing its experiences into a reasonable working speed, or are you just watching a dog working that's getting a little long in the tooth ?

 

I also agree that working a dog that has the "feel" for different kinds of sheep is a joy to work with. Seeing how it keeps itself off flighty ones, and the handler getting fooled when it brings the sheep quickly, butting in with a 'stop' or 'slow down' command then seeing that the speed the dog chose was actually best because it keeps them together and keeps them moving. Unfortunately not all the dogs possess this attribute.

 

Pace can be taught (or to say more correctly, you can teach the dog to work slower), I know because I've seen it and done it (and taught others). It's something that the dog will have to be reminded of from time to time. And if the dog is young I'll work it 'stop and go' until I see how it works when it's finally a young adult. One can go a long ways working a youngster 'stop and go', and I feel it's generally better to wait and see how it matures.

 

Obviously a good stop is necessary to work a dog 'stop and go', and it is also necessary later on if you decide to work more specifically on slowing the dog down. The first step involves watching the dog working the sheep and observing just exactly where and how the dog gets the sheep running. The dogs have different methods so you have to see how this happens. Is it when you ask the dog up as it's rising off the ground, or is it as it approaches the sheep, lifts the sheep, or after it has them moving. It's important to identify what is happening and when. A trainer or a more experienced eye can help here if you're kind of new at this.

 

So firstly you must have a good stop given with one fairly calm, quiet command, not a "maybe now maybe later" stop that needs several commands to become reality. Next you need to identify just where and how the dog is accelerating things.

 

Ray

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My boy, Nick, is a brother/littermate to one of Tea's dogs, Sweep. They will be 4 in May. Nick's idea of "pace" varies rather a lot. While driving, he's a pushy little rascal but if I don't let him start wearing, and keep him holding a good line, he achieves a pretty nice driving pace.

 

But on the fetch, especially as I lengthen his outruns ... his idea of pace is pretty much drop-the-blade-and-push-like-hell! So, what I have to do sometimes is just lie his punk a** down! :P Then I let him up and continue his fetch, but hit him with a few "steady" whistles, and if that doesn't work, I try to down him again. And maybe growl at him. Until he starts feeling that every time he gets pushy, he gets stopped.

 

In practice, I can usually get him dialed down and listening. But at trial time ... urgh. When I finally move up to Open, I think I'll feel like I'm training Nick all over again. B)

 

~ Gloria

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I've had a couple of dogs that at a very young age can rate my stock (not to say they would be different somewhere else); Instead of induldging them in their eye and the beautiful pace as a youngster, I use lie down and walk up so that I can get a faster pace should i need it.

 

I've seen pups with beautiful pace as youngsters get sticky and not have push later on. So I create the flexibility in young pups with genetic pace to create push as well..If that makes sense.

 

I've also had the type that seem to take for ever to feel the pace correctly. I manage them more and will allow them to get up if they are correct and make them stand or down if they start to become too pushy

 

Cynthia

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