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"Right There"

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Good day Amanda,

Do you use the command "There" or "Right there" for driving? Or something similar and what exactly does it mean to the dog? Does it mean 'hold that line'? So that if the sheep start to lean off that line, you expect the dog to correct them on his own? Or do you help by giving a flank command? This would be near the beginning in training but dog completely understands inside flanks etc. but we are wanting to stretch out driving distance.

thanks Lani

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I do not use the command "right there" or "there". I use "steady" which amounts to the same thing. It means to my dogs, "this is the line, please help me hold this in a civilized manner." While training , I do give a little flank, more giving a word to what the dog is doing, affirming the decisions he is making in his sheepdog head, than giving flat direction. Later, with a very sophisticated dog, handling becomes more fluid and whistles and direction, assume a force the circumstances demand. The clever, more mature dog, understands the direction of the work and helps.


The idea of "steady", "there" or "right there", gets its beginnings, is wearing sheep to you, when the young dog first gets behind them. With the dog at twelve, however he got there, you can lie him down and then use "steady" as he lifts them. You give the sheep some room on your side and let your young dog be in charge of keeping the sheep towards you, in an orderly fashion. That act becomes "steady", a rewarding experience for a good forward, balanced sheep dog, on the way to getting it together.


As you progress with your training, refinements are constantly built into your work, so that dogs accept tiny flanks left and right, half stops, changes of direction on the fly. We train for pliability, and dogs accepting direction under extenuating circumstances. As a dog matures, we expect more and better. "Steady" brings you a move in between "lie down" and "walk up", helping to bring free flow to your work. Stop start work is never as mesmerizing as the dog that pours onto his sheep, handling freely on the frontlines, with the handler steering. The former is kinda coarse, the latter strikes at the heart of beauty.

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I do not use the command "right there" or "there". I use "steady" which amounts to the same thing. It means to my dogs, "this is the line, please help me hold this in a civilized manner."


Amanda -- If this question should be a new topic let me know, but it came to mind as I read the above material.


My dog has to work pretty hard to get heavy sheep driving away from near my position. Once they get out to say, 15-25 yds away, the sheep I have been training-on tend to line-out, and my dog is able to choose a balance point (sometimes with my help and a "there" cue), and march them right along. But in order to get my sheep out to a nice sweet spot in the drive, she has to wear back and forth on the flanks from quite close behind them. I sometimes help her a little with flanking commands to get the dog-wise sheep separated from me, so that she does not inadvertently over-flank. If we are not careful, the sheep can abrupty turn back toward me, sucking my dog along with them, changing a drive into a section of fetch. But to her credit, Josie can generally wear the sheep out away from me.


Can I accept the way she gets the drive started, under the above-described circumstances? Is it always better for border collies in all situations to drive from a certain balance point (little wearing, if any), simply via using their position and eye? Is wearing OK to get heavy sheep started on the drive, depending on the dog's style and personality? If not, how would I train/help her to drive heavy sheep from a balance point, without the need to wear?


Appreciate your guidance on this. -- Thank you, TEC

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You are describing something as a dog problem, which might very well be a sheep problem.


Getting chummy with sheep is never a good idea. As beginning handlers get going with young dogs, they do a lot of holding sheep to you--always bringing. Small flocks are particularly susceptible--ten sheep being gathered over and over and over again. They anticipate the dog and go to you, usually without the dog having much input in getting to you. You are describing sheep that are clinging to you, unwilling to leave. I could be wrong about this. But your comment about repeat performance, reinforces my view.


You can do a few things. Get rid of those sheep and get fresh ones. Or increase you flock number to something higher that won't get so doggy. Replace the few with a lighter breed, like North Country cheviots, Shetlands, Scottish blackface. The heavier meat type sheep are notorious for getting too doggy. Do not allow you and feed to be associated. Feed only hay. If you must grain them, put the grain out in a separate paddock and let them go in and eat there without seeing you carrying grain. Don't be palling with them.


Maybe your training patterns are overly entrenched. Break them up. Gather and drive from different places that will change the pressure. Your sheep may not be so willing to hang around from another part of the field.


Finally the concision of your handling should be addressed. A dog who gets around in front, has not been stopped in time. One wonders if you have stopped him in time as you pass a post. Practise stopping your dog on your post turn, letting the sheep drift away and then ask him up with no flanks at all. If he tries to flank stop him and in a timely way ,or even ahead of when you think you need to stop him, to get your timing right.

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Thank you. I'll try the suggestions this afternoon. Finding the right part of the field, with correct draws/pressures has been difficult. The sheep seem to be overly drawn toward something, whether the "something" is in front or behind them. Perhaps angling the drive diagonally across field might level-out the draws a little. -- Thank you again, TEC

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