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Handler question?

SS Cressa

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I am not sure where any of my herding questions should go since we are still in the beginning stages and we haven't a clue how far we will advance.


But one question I have is... My background is agility training. I use my body to tell my dogs where to go. One thing I keep noticing specially when I get a video of my self is how often I combine my body language into herding and I notice when I do, I increase my dogs handler focus. This might be a silly question but is their any ways to correct myself? I know "stop" doing it. But most times I am not aware I am doing it or realize after the fact.


If you do cross disciples how do you keep each venues separate for one self?

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I started my first dog Daisy in agility for a short period of time before we moved on to stock work. But really working your dog on sheep is different than any other type of activity you can do with your dog (agility, flyball, obedience, etc), IMO. It just takes time for "you", the handler to catch up with the natural instinct of your dog. Put your hands in your pockets and try to be "very still" in all of your movements. Not that you should stand in one place but try to put very little pressure on your dog by waving your arms about when they are appropriately/correctly moving the stock. Lots of practice! :)


I remember at my first clinic, the clinician kept telling me that we were rewarding the dog by allowing them to move the sheep and being very calm. Only making some sort of directing or correcting movement to the dog when we want to change what they were doing. It sounds a lot easier than it is to actually do.


I'm not sure if that helps at all... The other suggestion I would make, is if you have not already, pick a copy of a good stock work instruction book. Reading about how to start a dog and seeing diagrams may help you. A few a would suggest are:


Lesson from a Stock Dog by Bruce Fogt

Herding Dogs: Progressive Training by Virgil Holland

Top Trainers Talk about Starting a Sheepdog: compilation from various handlers


Good Luck!

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  • 3 months later...

I"m not sure Don't scare the sheep is a book, more of a concept! Anna Guthrie has a stockdog book, Working with a stockdog, as well. I highly recommend Vergil's progressive training.


There are some videos as well, for handling some of the USBCHA finals are good to watch. Also the series Comebye2007 on Horse and country TV is great.



If you are in the northeast USA you could join NEBCA and they have a huge library of books



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>.< I meant it. Cause when I Google it I got 20 different hits for a variety of things. And seeing I had asked about books.... feeling sheepish.

I, for one, thank you for it. A simple misunderstanding that brought a smile to my face, which was much appreciated today.


As if we haven't all misunderstood someone, something, sometime!

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Hands in pockets! At one point some years ago, my trainer took away my crook, because I was waving it as if I was landing air craft! :P


So, hands in pockets, seriously. And have a friend nag you until you're tired of it - by then, you'll be self-aware enough to stop doing the body language. ;)


~ Gloria

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I think it's good you aren't using a crook for now but if you can when you're not on sheep try and get Cressa used to something like a crook. You might need it one day. And she should be getting used to bits of pressure from you.

So play games with it off stock.

When I'm standing around with friends after working, I'll keep the stick in my hand (I use a very thin yellow driveway marker as a stock stick) I'll used it to scratch my dogs back or tummy. Just touching it on them and telling how beautiful or wonderful they are with my sweet voice gets them comfortable with it.


When I was relatively new, one of my mentors told me I use the stick to much and to quit using it altogether. So I did. I had a dog at the time that was famous for bringing sheep to me hell bent. He never respected my space so would push the sheeps right over the top of me. With a stick I could wave it and the sheep would veer away. Well I left it out of the deal. I ended up on my bum but it made me work through that dogs issues of not being so pushy!


And although hands in your pockets are a great way to not use them, I have fallen that way too! Without my hands to catch me! they don't call me Grace for nothing!

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