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Progression in working sheeps

SS Cressa

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Ok so I thought maybe I could share here also...


Here is our latest video this time I got of my kids on video.


Since we break up their lesson, the video is showing the second time they went in with the sheep.


Cressa was awesome! I so love doing it with her. :) I don't know how far we will get but we will see. She is showing a ton of improvements(at least I think so!). She is willing to go against the fence to keep the sheep moving and off the fence. Although if they refuse to move she doesn't have the confidence to get them moving again (in Troy video you see them get stucked against the fence and not want to budge, sadly I brought Cressa in after that and we got them moving a little bit but then the sheep just refused to move and I could NOT get them moving. I hated leaving on such a bad note.). She is even going out to where the sheep are and bringing them to me. She is getting more sure of herself. Although as I stated in a different thread... when I start "sending" her to her position I am using agility cues instead of letting her just figure it out and can make her stress a little and loose some focus. She doesn't like to quit which I think is cute as of now. In the end of this video even though she was loosing it (partial my fault) she still wanted to keep the sheep next to me. and she HATES it when I work Troy or when she has to see another work them. So far though she seem to be very nice to the sheep. I did see her think about nipping toward one sheep I wasn't to sure what I thought of it. It was a sheep that keep putting pressure on her and staring at her. Cressa does have a tendency to if a sheep doesn't want to work with the other sheep or listen to her she will just leave it alone and work the others.


Anyways here is Cressa latest updated video. This is us being on sheep about 6 or 7x now.


and This is what she was like about a month ago.


Troy-boy so far is a hit or miss. Not sure if anyone on here ever ended up using a thunder shirt on a dog to try herding with? So far *I* think it has helped him out a ton. Although this video showed him in a poor light this is what he is like when he is off or stressing. When I had put his thunder shirt on him the lesson before he was acting more like Cressa did in her first video. On the day of this lesson(no thunder shirt was used) he started out AWESOME very focused on sheep and working but thanks to me I kept making him focus on me. Again instead of letting him figure out the job I kept being a helicoptor owner and just telling him what I thought he should be doing. By the second lesson he was super focused on me. :( Was thinking next time I will be putting his thunder shirt on him again. Any ideas on how to get a dog not to be so hyper-focus on the human (this isn't just toward herding but towards life in general)?


*I do hold out hope for Troy. I think I just need to build a more positive experience with them and maybe encourage him to figure it out for himself. When he is turn on to the sheep I find him impressive to learn with. He doesn't accept disobedience from the sheep. So if one is challenging him or spliting off from the rest he doesn't nip or anything(more like he body checks them literally like he shoulders them back into the group LOL not sure how else to discribe it) but he makes them go back to the group and enforces they need to stay near me.


I have tried to let some one else work my kids. Cressa was met with some success but Troy wasn't buying it. Even Cressa when she waa reaching her limit she wouldn't take pressure and would come over to check on me.


***I know my dogs know more about livestock then me so I just need to let them do it and try NOT to get in the way. Totally different mindset then agility.

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Will they work with the instructor in there; you might want to move to a little larger area as well; Make it a little more exciting as well; take a look and see if there are any clinics in your area.


They both look very easy going and shouldn't be too hard to train. Troy more so because he seems so confused; Try not saying anything to him and make it a bit more exciting. no yelling if they grip initially; A little intensity can go a long way!


I second some sturdier foot wear. Solomon hiking boots are great

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I do have hiking boots although now I wear my toe shoes everywhere and they make excellent hiking footwear. I been staying away from boots since they always really hurt my feet.


O.o been wearing toe shoes for about a year now(summer,fall,winter,spring).


Was thinking about looking for better foot wear though cause it does hurt when the sheep use your foot as traction.

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Yes, i've heard very good things about the toe shoes; however with livestock it would be a better idea to get some more top supportive shoes


Also, does your instructor have any more lively sheep, that might envoke a little more enthusiasm?


I'm not sure your dogs know how much enthusiasm they are allowed to have :)



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Silly me--I had to look up "toe shoes." I read toe shoes and was thinking sur le pointe. I was trying to picture that :blink:


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Hi again ~


First, a question. Why would you ask your dog to do something that requires he wears a thunder shirt? If the dog is THAT stressed, then you're not doing it for him. Ask yourself why you're trying to get him to work sheep, if it's not something that fills him with joy and eagerness.


If it's because YOU think he should want to do it ... leave it alone. Just because he's a border collie doesn't mean he's a sheepdog. If his joy is working agility and other things with you, then be happy with that. Please think about that, okay?


Cressa meanwhile shows nice improvement. The main thing I would add is to stop shushing her to go around the sheep. That turns her focus on you, and you don't want that. The sheep aren't agility equipment so you need to drop the agility cues. Instead, if the sheep stall out around your legs and Cressa looks uncertain, try this: simply about-face and walk swiftly away from her and the sheep - her instincts should prompt her to scoop them up and bring them after you. Any time she comes around the front of the sheep and stops beside/in front of you - don't wave or shoo. Simply turn around and walk - fast - past the sheep in the opposite direction. Let her bring them. :)


Also, try to stop walking backwards. Facing her is putting pressure on here. She is NOT going to do anything bad, so you don't need to walk backwards at all. Instead, trust her to do good and just turn around and walk with the sheep - fast. Walk in big figure-8s, walk in big circles then spin swiftly and go the other way. The more you do that, the more you speed things up and the more you leave Cressa to bring the sheep after you, the stronger her instincts will become and the more confidence she'll get.


See, that's what her instinct is for. That's her job. Bring sheep to the human. The more she learns about that, the more natural she becomes, the less she'll be willing to just accidentally leave one sheep.


So, in summary - walk more. Walk a LOT faster. Stride around out there like you mean it. This will keep the sheep and the dog all moving more freely. And stop walking backwards and stop shooing at her! ;) (If you can work in a bigger area with possibly lighter sheep, try that, too.)


Best of luck!


~ Gloria


And yes, for goodness sakes, wear sturdier shoes! My toes are cringing in horror - those hooves can cut your toes like heck!

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A few thoughts:


--Train yourself NEVER to use your hands/arms to direct the dog where to be. Never. Use them only to block, not to point.


--These sheep are very predictable and velcro. If those are the sheep your trainer wants you to use, you'll have to make the best of that. Notice how the sheep are reacting to you. Try to think of ways you could move that would draw the sheep to do what you want them to do, which could tend to draw the dog into the right position, rather than trying to put the dog where you want him/her to be. The dog's position should always be determined by what the sheep are doing -- he should be reacting to them, not to you. Time spent analyzing how the sheep are moving in relation to you, and how their movements will change in reaction to what you're doing, may pay off in terms of not getting stuck, and will certainly pay off in increasing your understanding of sheep, which you absolutely have to do.


For example, when sheep are stuck on the fence Troy sometimes starts to move as if starting to go between the sheep and the fence, which is what you want him to do. When that happens, you want to move directly away from the fence (so you're not blocking the sheep from coming away from the fence), and be alert for the instant he's going to change course and come back around to you instead (which he always does). At that instant, make a corrective noise (something like "Ahhhp) and put out your arm to block that direction. You don't actually prevent him with your arm/hand from turning back toward you -- think of it more as a quick cue meaning, "No, don't come this way." See if that makes him turn back the way he was going before, toward the fence. But you must move away from the fence yourself, which at least opens up a noticeable path for the sheep, and at best attracts them.


It would be good if you could work in a somewhat larger area. Neither dog seems to be a threat to sheep, and in a larger enclosure you could move more quickly, freely, and unpredictably, which would be especially beneficial for Cressa. For better or worse, the sheep are following you (especially with Cressa, because she doesn't get in their way and prevent them), and she seems to be getting the idea of holding them to you. So by moving faster and more unpredictably yourself, that will ginger up the sheep a little and make Cressa have to react to them more, and gain more confidence in how to handle them and where to be.


--I would forget the thundershirt if I were you. I'm not seeing any need for it. I don't think Troy is stressed. He's just not that interested. And if he WERE stressed, it's not the kind of stress that a thundershirt could help with.

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Troy I am just seeing what he will offer. As said earlier when he is ON he is in my opinion(novice that it is) great. But he has always been like this in training. He has always been hit and miss. Some days he is on and willing to work other days he can't focus. The thunder shirt seem to help him regain his train of thoughts and help him focus.


What I had thought was that use the thunder shirt with the sheep to increase his confidence and make him less worry. Then to decrease using it.


:) Not using myself will be the hardest thing ever but will start working on it.


I have never been to sure exactly what I am supposed to be doing out there other then walk around. I do prefer the larger inside ring but I normal just take what I am offered. When we were inside I wasn't quite so crowded. Will have to stop focusing on my dogs and just watch what I am doing and the sheep.


I am not if we are using the same sheep each lesson. I know one lesson we had a sheep that was being a little hard headed. I know their have been comment made about when in that pen the sheep knows what to expect? Don't sure if that makes sense?


So note to self start speed walking more and think steps ahead.


When I go back in too many circles I am told walk a straigt line and see what happens.



I am hoping to get more input from Ron in Nov. Will see what he has available. And I did sent him a video of us on sheep again.



Total sidenote ;) Almost everyone who I showed the video of Duke and Ron were totally impressed with how calm and focus Duke was. They were all just like OMG that dog is just laying there watching the other dog move sheep.

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  • 2 months later...

OK so not sheep. But today Cressa got to try to work cattle. Well technical it was calves. We had to round up the cattle and push them into a small pen since tomorrow they have to sort them for selling.


She was definitely 100% green and a novice. But she did help out and actually work a little bit. She had the idea down. She definitely doesn't like pressure as in when they turn to look at her she gets nervous. But she kept at it trying bring them together and up.


Super proud of her.


I wasn't sure if she would help work or not. I work at a metal shop on the ranch and she pretty much ignore the cattle. I had just figured why not try and she what she does. :)

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  • 1 month later...

So we had our first lesson since coming back from MT.


Idk. Cressa had lost all of her confidence. I am pretty sure the sheep knew too since they kept turning to her and stomping their feet. Cressa wanted to go out and balance but the second a sheep turn to stare at her she would come to me and stay at my side.


I was told to put a leash on her and help her with moving the sheep. And doing that helped out a ton. She started to connect and keep wit her stock. As long as she was by me. I did a couple time drop her leash and she was starting to do better but she was still being very sticky with me. Also according to

The person watching when she was with me she knew what to do. And Cressa if a sheep refuse to budge was starting to nip the air behind it to move it. But again she would only do that if she was with me.


Her tail was never up and she was "working". She just wasn't confidence.

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I was hoping to start my pup with someone else.


And these are my friends sheep. I can't say they are well dogged. They do stay close to people when they want to(if there is no food or walls... they stick close to me. Also as long as there is a dog present. )


I am kind of debating if I want to still use her facilities. Not sure who else I could use but maybe this is wrong but it seems like Cressa is slipping backwards in her progression with livestock. Although it could just be our time off. Idk


Sorry for my poor terminology.

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Other dogs(breeds) and handlers use her building and livestock to work with. They don't seem to have issues. But that is my interpretation of what I am told and a little I saw.



The other thing while I don't know if it would matter but the other dogs that I have seen, move the sheep at full tilt run. It sometimes seem as a mad dash for the person or pass the person. I say that can sheep be use to hard dogs as in can sheep be use to dogs who go all in?



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I would try to find sheep that aren't "harrassed" like that (racing); When a dog is a bit tentative, setting up in a driving position can give some confidence.


The sheep know she isn't confident. But you can create it; Try to find a different trainer that can help you bring out her confidence with sheep that are dog broke, but normal :)



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I think at this point YOU are not far enough along in your own training/understanding to really help Cressa, and that's the underlying problem here. The sheep may even be a bit sour if they are routinely worked/harrassed by a variety of dogs. That being the case, it's not surprising that they are willing to take advantage of the less confident dog. I know you want to make progress, but at this stage, I think you will make MORE progress working Cressa less often, but always with a competent trainer/mentor helping. You can return to your friend's place when you and Cressa are at a stage where you are able to work on your own and have the work sessions be productive. When that might be is something your current instructor could advise you on.


As far as being on the same side as the dog, there are times when that can be useful. I've been doing it with my own youngster because I can keep her brain engaged when we are working in close proximity. But, I do recognize that adding driving training in now is going to have an adverse effect on her gathering and I am prepared to work through that as I need to. But if you are not confident in teaching a dog to drive, then you are not going to be able to help Cressa get it right. I really think you need to just slow down at this point and continue to work with your trainer on a regular basis and leave off working on your own for now.



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  • 1 month later...

Herding is fun! Now to convince my dogs to agree. >.<

We went to Ron again.

Ron was wondering if Cressa just doesn't want to work. He was like if she was soft he would expect her to shut down if he put a ton of pressure on her to go "away" or "come bye". Yet he could do that with Cressa. And she would just give him a dirty look and do what he wanted. He was wondering if she was just being lazy and not wanting to work sheep. She still didn't have balance but in my thought she much more engaged. Not sure what to think with her. She was for a little bit in the fall taking pressure and balancing. Still not sure why the regression.


Troy got to try it again. Ron opinions was Troy was acting like a 6 month old pup. Troy was the best I have seen him. He stayed with his sheep 60-70% of the time and he kept them together. He was in awe of the cattle across the fence and kept stopping to stare and check them out. He wasn't sure what to think of those cows.


Valek got to actually meet sheep. Well he could have if everything else didn't also distract him. Also he was very vocal about it all. I mean there was sheep in the barn, a horse on the path, cows eating grain, manure in the yard , snow, dogs in their kennel, and people... how was he suppose to see the sheep in the yard with him?! Not that concern. Valek is very young and doesn't have a mature brain yet.


Lol with my dogs not sure why I am still fascinated with herding. Look forward to what the next 6 months will bring. I think if for whatever reason Valek doesn't turn on to sheep I might just buy a started dog and work them or something.


Eta: if I am able to I would like to get another video soon. I wonder if I did a herding camp with Cressa for a couple of days if that would help?! In the spring I was thinking of doing a 2-3 day herding lesson with Cheryl/Dick William every month or something.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Super proud of all of my kids at today herding lessons.

Troy was 100% present. He was fantastic. Like WOW! He is pretty strong... not sure what the term is but he has no problem getting the stock to respect or respond to him with little to no effort on his part. He is also really good about keeping them together. He was way more aware of his stock. A couple time he would respond to the sheep before they could finish their plot to get away. A couple time I would start to correct him when one of the sheep would, just as I open my mouth, make a break for it but since Troy had already sensed it and had responded the sheep couldn't escape. (Bad handler good boy!). Just really proud of him. Not sure if it is possible to tune him down a little or teach him to calmly and slowly to move the stock. He even had one sheep challenge him a couple time, like face to face trying to imtimadate him, and Troy refused to back down or budge. Troy didn't nip he just refused to back down. For me it was just like an OMG! Moment. Good boy Troy!

Cressa was 100% there also. We were able to get her to start balancing the sheep. She was silly though while with Ron she refused to gather the sheep or to go in front of the sheep. With Kathy she wouldn't stop?! She was slightly soft when they turn to watch but she wasn't going to give up. She did amazing though. She even did a couple creep ups with them. Like the border collie crouch/stare down. She would do it when the sheep were watching her. Still not sure what to make of her. How is it she has no problem doing the crouch when they are watching her but if they are moving and turn she iimmediately backs down?

Valek was much more there. He was like OMG sheep! You could definitely tell he needs to mature more. He was really good about keeping them all together. Actually he didn't want them to move from wherever he put them. He had no problem turning them to keep them together. He was really good about knowing what he needed to do. Omg he is fast! He is going to get a break. He also wouldn't stop barking in his puppy bark. The second he would lock on to the sheep he would start to bark. Really hoping it is just a puppy thing and not something he is going to keep up. Slightly worried since this has been his reaction each time he has seen sheep. :( Does anyone else have a barker? They do grow out of it right?!

Super proud of all of my kids. Might be a little addicted to herding. Sorry agility. o.O We made sure top quit on a good note.


ETA: If I could afford it I would be so tempted to send Troy and Cressa away to get train. I am probably just bias but they both have potential I just don't know enough to tap into it. And with TRoy normally when he is "on" I just stand there in awe of him. He is always just awesome for me to watch. Not sure how to descibe it?! LOL

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It is a ton of fun! I just hope I can give them a decent foundations.


With Troy I never know what to do when he is "on" . When he focuses on the herd they immediately respond. Like in my opinion he needs to be father back to ease the pressure on the stock but I haven't a clue how to do that without crushing his desire to work the sheep and not me.

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I am really getting addicted to herding. Love how much of a challenge it is. It not just you and the dog like in agility. It you, the dog, AND another unpredictable being out there the sheep. If you or your dogs have any weakness they will show you them.

Had a great lesson today again. Really not sure what is going on with Cressa maybe she heard what Ron said about her being lazy and decided to step up to the plate or what have you. She was totally awesome! She is starting to figure out walk up, when to ease off the pressure so I am not getting trampled, she is starting to fetch them again, drive them, she is starting to realize there is a balance point, she was even pushing the sheep off the fence. Lol We are trying to work on direction. It feels like whatever direction I want her to do she want the other way?! I am just really impress with how much she is improving. At times she would didn't have any problem with catching their eye and moving them even if they turn. Other times she would worry a little. Hoping she just gets it. I am totally loving working her though. So happy to see improvement s.

Troy was doing great too. He is extremely powerful. He was slightly grasping the whole ease off the pressure. He loves to keep his sheep together and to keep them moving. Wether or not I am involved depends on if I can catch up. He doesn't see the point in waiting for me. He got horribly distracted when the bottle fed baby/lamb came by. Troy always has a horrible soft spot for babies specially ones in distress. And this baby lamb was crying to get in with her people. When the sheep realized Troy distraction they started to challenge him and were refusing to move. We did end on a good note.
He started off really good. I don't know what to call it he just gets distracted easy?! Like he will totally be working the sheep than our friend show up and he lost all interest in the sheep. His whole mind was "OMG best friend EVER!". I put him up and worked Cressa. Got him back out. He was OK we had to get his focus on the sheep or remind of the sheep and in the pen with him. Than the bottle fed baby lamb showed up and all hope was lost. He would attempt to say hi to the baby I would redirect him to the sheep he would push the sheep to the fence where the baby lamb was crying. Sheep would move off the lamb and troy would stick back with the lamb. The lamb was in the adjacent field to the round pen. We repeated this a couple times till the sheep realized Troy really only wanted to be with the lamb. Once they figure that they just refused to move and lay down.

Valek didn't get to work at all. I did let him see the sheep a couple of times. If he barked we backed off to a distance that he wouldn't bark. He also thought the baby lamb was pretty cute. He did, after he said hi to it, tried to get the baby to move by barking in his face. A quick NO and walking away made him stop.

Sorry no pics or videos. Hope it is OK to keep posting our updates in here. I would love to get some videos of my kids progression. ;) and yes I have gotten better shoes.

If you are my friend on fb. Sorry for repeating myself! Lol

Not sure if this will work.

Troy sleeping off his hard day of work





ETA: When i say "baby" I mean a bottle fed lamb. That was wondering the fence line crying where we were. S/he was way too cute.

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