Cyberdog Posted June 11, 2012 Report Share Posted June 11, 2012 I was only able to attend one day of the Jack Knox clinic, but it was worth it. I arrived late because I had to work early that morning, and there were about 5 dogs ahead of me on the roster. One thing Jack kept telling everyone was that they needed to relax; not to worry about how well the dog preformed. My friends in the association told me the same thing. I think that secretly, anyone who pays for a clinic wants to impress the clinician with their dog. If Jack Knox really likes your dog; wouldn't that be something? My biggest insecurity was that I would enroll in a clinic; my dog and I being so inexperienced, and the clinician would tell me, "Your dog is terrible, you don't know what you're doing, and neither of you should be here." So, I tried to take everyone's advice seriously; don't worry about how the dog will do. In fact, I knew our first turn would probably be pretty terrible. Rocket hadn't seen sheep in a month, and got really antsy and fussy the minute she saw them through the fence. Also, Jack used a flag rather intensely with the dogs that went before us. Rocket always shuts down when I use a flag, so I use a dressage whip when necessary. Jack talked a lot about not allowing the dog to be fearful, so I thought that asking him to use my dressage whip instead of a flag was completely out of the question. I also convinced myself that there probably wasn't much Jack hadn't seen when it comes to sheep dogs, and Rocket probably wasn't going to surprise him or be the first dog in the history of border collies to be soft on flags. So, when it was out turn I explained we were new, she hadn't been on sheep more than handful of times, I could down her- just not while she was herding sheep, and that she is fond of working too close and cutting in. I'd been assured by the other handlers that these things are pretty typical of inexperienced dogs, and that she isn't just a half-wit that likes to chase sheep. In fact, I have seen her do some wonderfully intuitive things while on sheep, just not with consistency. So, Jack asked me to let her go and send her off. I did, and she immediately cut in, scattering the sheep everywhere. Jack smacked down the flag and gave her a correction. When she tried to run for the gate, he chased her and prodded her with the flag. She came off the gate and I sent her again. This time she came up behind the sheep and Jack gave her a "lie down" command. Boom: she laid down. I was impressed. Jack used the flag, and issued the corrections. I encouraged the dog to keep going in-spite of the flag, and we made some headway. She was really stopping to think about what she was doing. During out second turn she didn't run and cut in like a wild thing, but hung back a bit more and paid some mind to what Jack and I wanted her to do. She wasn't perfect, and still cut in a couple times when she was unsure of what she needed to do, but her mindset changed. She was thinking about what I wanted; rather than running me over with sheep. I really want to go to more clinics, and hear about different training philosophies. Its been hard for me to abandon my old habits concerning rewards and punishment because I have done so much obedience/trick training. At one point I leaned over to a friend of mine and whispered, "Don't tell anyone, but I have dog treats in my bag!" We both had a good laugh. I didn't intend to use the treats for training, but I tend to keep them with my dog stuff, and have had an interesting conversation or two about them while at stock dog event. Training dogs on stock is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay different than anything I have ever done, and I don't have it remotely figured out. Going to the clinic was a great first exposure, and I have many years ahead to learn to be a better trainer. One nice thing is that Rocket and I do this for fun. I take her because she appears to enjoy it, and I've always wanted to learn how to train sheep dogs. I don't have the pressure of running a farm, breeding dogs, or taking Rocket to trials. We are there to have fun, and if we learn something: great! So far, we've learned lots and we get better each time I take her out. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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