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No one has any question but I have a point to make. It was a helpful reminder to me and it might help you.

I was out with a young dog a few weeks ago and a coyote showed up, with the temerity to pace around the edge of the field, in which I was working. I do not enjoy good relations with wolves and I didn't have a gun so it was safe. But I couldn't stop glancing at it.

I bring this up, to point out what a serious compromise to training a distraction is. When I should have been giving that youngster every gram of my attention, giving words to everything he was doing and everything he was about to do, my concentration was diverted to a thuggy, no good wolf. The whole training period was a bust, for my insufficient attention.

If you have distractions of any type, interrupting your training, dispense with them. No barking dogs, no whining kids, sometimes it's people watching, whatever takes your concentration from the job. Honour the one you are training by purifying your attention.

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Thanks for that, Amanda. I have a kind of related question for you then: do you think it is possible to learn to block out all distractions?


I know you're talking about training, but what about, say, at trials? Nerves affect me terribly at trials, and I tend to let the distractions of being watched, being timed, being judged, etc., compromise my attention to the dog and sheep in front of me and the task at hand, which affects my timing among other things. Any thoughts?

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Thanks for that, Amanda.


Concentration is not something that always comes easily for me. In fact, I've been on a deliberate and ongoing journey lately, to teach myself better focus and concentration. I get terrible trial nerves and am easily distracted at any time. So, I'm trying to be fierce about holding my focus to the task at hand, and it takes an act of will every time. It's working, though, however slowly ...


(Yes, Laurae, it is possible, but it takes as much willpower as anything.) :)


~ Gloria

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That coyote was admiring beautiful controlled stockwork, a little like painters and musicians aspire to the great masters of our day. :) Do you think he was beginning to believe that a full compliment of predatory instinct may not be all his mother told him it was? No, I don't think so either, but I'll bet he will regale his friends and relatives about their wonderful cousins who kicked-wide on outruns and balanced drives...new stories around the fire for generations.


While ago the instructor at our local weekly clinic showed-up with a high powered rifle strapped to his back, telling us a cougar had been sighted nearby. I don't know whether I felt safer or not. Believed, he said, it had taken down a bottle lamb, almost from his porch. For years he had told stories of wolverines and other bad-tempered animals roaming around, so my level of anxiety never got too high.


I'm sure the coyote was a concern and a distraction, and anyone would feel uneasy. IMO, based on local coyotes' behavior, they won't bother dogs, livestock and handler actively working a field. Others may have differing experience. He/she likely was looking for a meal of rodents disturbed from their homes by the moving sheep.


My chief distraction is what's going on inside. If I'm having a bad day for dog-unrelated reasons, and don't feel I can will may way through a training session, I wait until tomorrow to work my dog. That kind of thing is my greatest distraction. Thanks for the reminder.


Wishing BC Board members, their friends and family wonderful Thanksgiving or harvest celebrations. I know it's belated for Amanda, and other far north North Americans :) -- Regards, TEC

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  • 4 weeks later...

I am blessed with a dog that is extremely acute in detecting my distraction or nervousness. And I have come to see being nervous as a distraction, because it is an additional thought turning in the back of my head using up the RAM. And we stood one day before the obvious that either I get hold of myself or we will never ever compete. Because whenever we had to do anything in front of people I was awful nervous and distracted, and Bonnie would fall apart. So I did have tremendous motivation. But once I transferred my focus from myself to my dog entirely, I managed to master concentration in about three months. Since then we went trials 4 times and had placings three times (not many trials around here). And every time, I had this distinctive feeling of having shed the whole world around me, and only me, sheep, dog and the field were left. Everything fell away.


So now I can make a ton of handling mistakes fully focused and see myself making those mistakes right there on the field :D/>.


I am constantly working on maintaining this focused frame of mind, and I see it as something as very valuable as well as fragile.


The one thing though I can't possibly come up with a way to communicate to people how to do it. This is the only way that springs mind ;)





P.S. I thought the coyote is supposed to wily ;)/>

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