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Need some advice here..

 

Bought this dog about 9 months ago, was a fairly succesful nursery dog, 3 years old.

 

He seems to almost have TO MUCH eye when I want him to flank, he really lacks flexibility on his flanks and that's what cost us the most in trials. If we driving the sheep it is VERY difficult to flank him all the way to turn them, same problem on the fetch. He will not come off his sheep to give me a bigger flank.

 

Yet sometimes he appears to be TO MUCH off his sheep..at the top of his outrun he will often times lie down(with out me asking) and just stick there..letting his sheep go where ever..not making contact. It will take all my urging to get him up and going. I am trying to not stop him at the top now but give him a steady..or a check, he will often times lie down and stick anyway!!!

 

Also...when driving, even though he seems to have lack of flexibility when driving and fetching..he will, like I said, loose contact with his sheep and often looks back at me....which RRREEAALLLYYY bugs me..

 

SO...two issues here I'm not quite sure which is more important to approach or how to go about it...is this a confidence thing?? I've let him "take the reins" a little bit more to try and build his conficence..but then is almost completely unwilling to be flexible AT ALL!!!

 

Any advice would be great...

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Dear Sheepdoggers,

 

Sounds like too soon/too young/too high expectations. The locking up is probably too much eye but the looking back is usually too much pressure/uncertainty.

 

And it sounds like the poster wants to GODDAMNEDWINWITHTHISDOG!!!!

 

One of the very best pieces of advice I was ever given was: "it has to be fun for the dog too"

 

Many years ago Jack Knox visited Jock Richardson whose Sweep and Mirk had gripped off the day before at a big trial. When Jack arrived, both dogs were running wild at the sheep, pulling wool, gripping and Jock was egging him on.

 

When Jack expressed surprise, Jock replied, "We screw 'em down and screw 'em down and screw 'em down some more. The poor buggers need a little fun sometimes."

 

Bring him inbye for ten minutes sessions, do quick happy off balance flanks, keep him on his feet (when he starts to clap flank him), crank him up, let him have a little fun and forget about winning trials for a while.

 

Donald McCaig

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Many years ago Jack Knox visited Jock Richardson whose Sweep and Mirk had gripped off the day before at a big trial. When Jack arrived, both dogs were running wild at the sheep, pulling wool, gripping and Jock was egging him on.

When Jack expressed surprise, Jock replied, "We screw 'em down and screw 'em down and screw 'em down some more. The poor buggers need a little fun sometimes."

 

 

Hm, doesn´t sound like "fun" for the sheep involved, poor things.

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Where do you live? It really sounds like you could use an experienced eye to give you some help and advice. The lying down and sticking at the top is not a "too far off" issue, it's the same one - lack of flexibility/sticking because of his eye. The looking back at you on the drive is probably because you've either been fussing at him about his flanks and he's worried you're upset with him so checking in, or else you've been cheerleading/egging him on and he's actually taking that as even more pressure. You need to loosen him up at hand.

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I'm not super interested in winning trials as I am I'm learning and helping my dog and I be successful.....I'm still a mostly a novice and I bought the dog with hopes of trailing him and learning a ton. I haven't run him in a trial since early fall.... Just been working him and trying to get right as a team.

 

I have a hard time being a novice, seeing things as a progression in sheepdog training. It's hard for me to let certain things go... To help build up or work on more important things. And letting him have his sheep more seems to create a slew of other problems......

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Shoofly, I live in northern Iowa?? I agree with you, what do you mean by "loosening him up at hand"?? Not be so hard on him?? Are there some exercises you could recommend??

 

Right now I've been having him do a short outrun... Giving him a steady... Let him bring me the sheep with some nice pace, and letting him drive them strait away off of me. He seems to be in-nerves if I walk behind him though....

 

I've also been doing some exercises where I send him out for his sheep, he brings them half way then I have him flank all the way around and drive them back up.... He seems to enjoy flanking and off balance exercises....

 

I'm trying to keep sessions short and fun... Tie him up a bit, work another dog, then work him again...

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Do tons and tons of fast, happy off balance flanking right at hand, asking him to go directions he doesn't want to go. Flank him past where he naturally wants to stop and walk in, keep him moving as freely as you can. Send him to bring sheep off fences, that sort of thing, where he's going to want to eye up, with you nearby to keep him moving. I'd also work this dog a little more quickly in training than a looser dog, at a faster pace. Can't stick if you don't stop. Work on faster "gears" as well as the slower ones. If he's moving faster he won't mind you behind him on the drive as much - faster sheep are more interesting so he'll be concentrating on them more and you less. As for him liking the off balance flanking and such, my guess would be that it feels familiar to him from previous training.

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Sometimes it helps if you just do some real work. You would be suprised how much this helps to take a young dog and just move livestock for a few miles if you can. Stay off the commands an just let the dog relax. I have bad knees so I go horseback and just let the dog bring the livestock .... stop ... let the animals graze and smell the wildflowers .... lol .... That is when I had a trained dog ... lol .... I am just getting started back and only have untrained pups right now.

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I'm no expert trainer or handler, but your dog sounds a lot like my Hoot. He's just 2.5, and has a fair amount of eye. He'll naturally stop on top, and I advised by several Big Hats to not ask him for a stop there. I've also worked close at hand along a fence, having Hoot hold the sheep to me while I move around A LOT so he never has a chance to eye up and get stuck. If he starts getting stuck, I'm close enough to correct him, or, if that's too much pressure (which it often was, even for my hard-headed tough dog), I could scatter the sheep myself so the dog had to bring them back together. Hoot has just started to loosen up and learn pace, and to widen his outruns and flanks.

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There are plenty of people in Iowa who could help you. There are also clinics with Kathy Knox in Council Bluffs and eastern Nebraska that you could attend to get some help.

 

Kathy

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Thanks for the advice so far..Kathy f, where would I find info on the Kathy Knox clinics?!

 

I will say also.... He's pretty good with up close work, it's adding any kind of distance.... Listening ears go off, all flexibility and push seems to go out the window!!! When I put some pressure on him to try and correct, he gets all wiggidy... Looking at me, etc.

 

Because its winter I haven't had a chance to stretch him out much, so I'm hoping the closer at hand drills/work will transfer to longer distances... But that was a big problem last fall/summer

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I would take a step back and try to proof your dogs work up close to see if he can do it with you close but without your interference. I've yet to see where a dog that does not show the same issues at hand as it would at distance, typically the failure at distance was there at hand, we just didn't allow the dog to have the chance to make the wrong decision so the mistake was averted. I'm having to rework my dogs left flank as it collaped out in the open field at Jack Knox's, luckily I had a good stop so I was able to get around the course without a wreck. Didn't see it here at home and at hand, until I stepped out of the way to a place where I was certain to not effect it, then there it was, proof that I was effecting the flank making it look like it was right but not really teaching the dog that I expect him to hold it correctly on his own, and actually teaching the opposite as I stood there allowing it to be wrong not realizing why, back to the teach what we allow... It's real easy to think that the dog is holding up his end of the work when he has actually let us do it via commands and our placement.

 

You may be helping him/controlling him way to much up close which will translate to failure when he get further from you. In an effort to force myself to factor myself out I will do things like step out of the pen and just leave the dog in there with the sheep to determine if the dog is even trustworthy without me hoovering over him, sometimes we are the ones that need to learn to let go not realizing that we are inhibiting the formation of trust and independent thought on behalf of the dog. If the dog is found to not be trustworthy (splits things up, goes to chasing or biting unwarrented) then I have to make some adjustments to help him learn how I want the livestock handled over time giving him a chance to show that he can do it with little to no help other then occassional repositioning or reminder. That is where your drills and exercises come in.

 

 

There may be an even more basic issue to deal with, I guess a question to ask: What does the dog think his job is in regard to the sheep? Stop them, control them, make them move, create random motion, do nothing unless you tell him where to go, etc. Might just be that your hand drill/work is not actually teaching the dog anything but instead exercising you, the sheep and the dog.

 

 

Ideally, go spend a couple of weeks working with someone, maybe who ever you purchased the dog from to help you figure out what it is that you are not understanding that is not allowing you to build distance on your dog. Sue is making great progress by using that approach and visiting Anna. One lesson here and there often times does not accomplish a breakthrough when it comes to understanding. Each time you learn something new it leads to more new things to learn, basically the more you understand the more you realize that there is alot more that you don't understand.

 

 

 

 

I'm hoping the closer at hand drills/work will transfer to longer distances

 

Hoping typically does not translate into anything useful. When I hear people say that they hope what they do works it indicates that they may not know what it is that the hand drills/work are suppose to result in from a teaching stand point. There is a reason that you pick a drill and only use it as needed, when the dog shows that they understand a particular concept you move on but you may pull that drill back out of the toolbox for a refresher if needed. Often times people just know how to put the dog through the drill hoping that in the end it will result in a trained dog, when that is not what the drill was intended to do. Instead the drill was developed to help diagnose and/or identify a issue so that you can work through it, but you have to have a bit of a vision of what you are trying to accomplish along with being able to see little indications that the right change is occuring in order to know as to whether or not it is working.

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I just heard Bobby's clinic is pretty much full, but might be worth attending to watch

 

Definitely. Worth every penny to audit! I learned as much watching other people's dogs as I did my own, more even.

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I second Kathy F's advice to attend Kathy Knox's clinic, even if its already full go and audit, you will learn a ton. I just went to audit Jack Knox's clinic this weekend and came back with more good nuggets of info. Many people at the clinic were putting pressure on their dogs without even realizing it which created many problems(tightness on outrun/flanks, gripping...)From an auditors view point it was eye opening to watch him help handlers and their dogs.

My advice, never stop learning, go to clinics to help enhance you and your dogs learning, or find a quality trainer to help you. Stick with clinicians/trainers whose philosophies are similar and that make sense to you, that way when it comes to trying to put what you learned into practice you aren't confusing your dog with too many different methods.

Good luck!

 

Samantha

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Dear Wouldbe Sheepdoggers,

 

It is counterintuitive but:

 

Auditing your first clinic - or first clinics - without a dog is often more beneficial than bringing Spot. If you bring Spot you may be so concerned about: "How did my Spot do?", "Is my Spot promising?", "Am I looking ridiculous?" (You will be but nobody will care). that the instructor's lessons go unheard. Too - you're likely to hear only the one thing that at today's skill level you are able to accomplish "Lie down!", "Get off!" "You better listen!!!!" being popular choices - instead of hearing advice for where you'll be next month or the month after.

 

I don't know a single top handler who learned his/her skills without a mentor. Unless you're fortunate in your choice of neighbors, the only way to learn how to handle a sheepdog is coaching and clinics.

 

I've been doing this for 25 years. I had a lesson with Barbara Ray yesterday.

 

Donald McCaig

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I think Kathy Knox sounds like the closest clinician I can get to, and I've heard ALOT of wonderful things about her!!!! Bummer the clinic isn't until July...but I'll keep at with my guy until then...we'll keep things fast, and fun...I'll keep him on his feet, asking for flanks and walk ups, etc.

 

I also posted on the "ask and expert" section...maybe AJM will have some expert advice also??

 

Thanks all for the input :)

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I had kind of a similar problem with my dog when I bought him...I think alot of it is just developing a relationship with the dog and "figuring eachother out" kinda stuff..

 

I was lucky to have a dog who tried his heart out for me, but still had to learn to deal with my...ugh..relative "handicap" compared to his previous owner ;) Me being a novice n all also...

 

I would second staying in close contact with who you bought him from, they know the dog best, will probably know where the dogs weaknesses are and can help you!!

 

I do alot of fun short sessions with my guy, always keeping him on his feet and moving!!! I know it's hard being a novice, you want to stop the dog alot so you can THINK :D But I'm starting to learn the "flow" of just working my dog!! Remember this is supposed to be FUN!!! And I try and go out there with that attitude with my young guy!!!

 

He has taught me so much already!!!! :) :) :)

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