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First time on sheep this year

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I do not have any dogged sheep so I trained 7 weaned ewe lambs to come when called and follow me.

Now that Tilly is 1 year and over her first heat I tried her on this group.

This is what resulted

  1. She went around and stayed opposite me and tried to maintain balance but her tail was up and she was whining off and on.
  2. Two lambs broke away she went after them sort of tried to head them off but was more of body check bounced in to there sides.
  3. Did bring them back was able to get her to lie down for a few seconds.
  4. Tried walking an lambs followed she trailed along but when we got to pond she left and went swimming
  5. When she got out she did not seem to know if she should come to me or balance tried to do both
  6. I walked back to pen she trailed sheep on balance.
  7. I have found a person with dogged sheep to help me but I don’t want to waste her time from what I am seeing I think she needs to mature a little longer could some one tell me if that is what they see too.
  8. On the bright side she did not blow through them or try to grip which she did at 6 months. So some progress

Dan & Tilly

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If you have found someone locally to help you, I would bring Tilly to them for a "look-see" on their sheep with the understanding that if they don't think she is ready, you will wait another month or two before bringing her to try again. If they think she is ready, then go for it.


I think you run the risk of creating bad habits in Tilly if you try to train a little bit by yourself. It is always harder to break bad habits, then to teach good habits from the start.


Note: Take my advice with a grain of salt since I have never trained a dog to sheep, but from what I read on these boards, the training is much more complex than simple training for tricks or agility and is best accomplished under a mentor.


Just my 2 cents.

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I was hoping to be able to see if her instincts had kicked in before bothering someone to use there sheep

I figured if the sheep stuck with me like the dog broke ones do in the videos it would be the same

I guess i was wrong

I will take Tilly this week to try out the real dog broke sheep

At least I know she is over her gripping(fingers crossed)

Hopefully by the time I go to start the next dog I will have Tilly to help and I will have some of my sheep broke to a dog


Thanks Liz P & gcv_borders


Dan & Tilly

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I took Tilly out and tried here on Dogged sheep

I stood off to side Trainer took her in on my Leash and her long line

Dropped leash and she ran at sheep tail up and pushed them into the corner tried to hold them there

Called her back she returned allowed sheep to leave the corner.

Discussed her reaction which was more excited and play, less like work

After sheep were scattered about let her go again much the same as before until all sheep except one left the corner This one she held there and barked at recalled her and discussed this new development

I have never seen her bark at sheep

We gave her a few more minutes to relax

Sheep were now more out in the middle of field

This time she went out tail was down she began to go around as she should tail down

then tail came up and we called her off

Trainer said she needs more exposure to sheep

Have arranged to take her back Thursday for another go


Dan & Tilly

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Training session today(Thursday)

1. Tilly seemed more interested in really working tail down head down

2. Still wants to go straight in blow sheep apart then bring them back together

3. Trainer started stepping in front of her to make her go around started to circle

4. Did a good job of collecting and regrouping sheep but still not circling well


I was told by trainer today that she is confident we can make Tilly in to a real good farm dog but she doubts she could ever make an open level caliber dog


The main problems she is seeing is Tilly has to much of a upright style and does not seem to have finesse


So I guess my girl and I will most likely never make it into a trial but if she can help here with the sheep and keep my feet warm at night that is enough


Dan & Tilly

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Based on what you're saying she's going to be ok. Sounds like she's about where a dog with two exposures to sheep should be. And there are a lot of levels to work through before you get to open, so keep at it. Novice, pronovice, ranch....

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Thanks for the words of encouragement

When I went into this i swore that where ever I could get to with her training I would be happy

But I have to admit I did feel like some one had squeezed the jam out of my doughnut

When she said Tilly would not make an open level dog :unsure:


Dan & Tilly

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There are a few other options than only being an open level dog to make it onto the trial field. Training first. Do it right. Take your time making your working partner for your farm. As you figure it out, go get your feet wet on the field. Then you can see how far you can or even want to go. So much time yet. :)

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Everybody says good things here. Derek Scrimgeour says also that he is very careful not to judge a dog too early, because you can be unfair to the dog. And he is talking about too early in actual training.


Second time on sheep I would not expect finesse from a dog, if the dog does not wreak havoc, I would asay, that's a good beginning. Some dogs are upright some are stylish, this does not determine the dogs intelligence on sheep, it's just a different style of work. And some dogs work upright when close, so they don't show style in the very beginning.


Above everything don't ever let anybody squeeze anything out for you in sheepherding. When I talk to people about their dogs - and I don't really train anybody since it is too early for me - the most difficult thing for me is to communicate what I want, be honest about it, and also be understood correctly, because the emotions run very high, and it's so easy to say something that goes wrong.


So enjoy your work with the dog and make the two of you a team as was said here. For me the feeling of being a team is unbeatable.

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Two exposures is nothing; Both of my husbands open dogs are loose eyed; and he does ok (those would be his words...he has won trials and been in Kingston SDT double lift! They also work over 3500 sheep and does ok...so don't take that as they might not make an open level dog.


It takes a lot of training and work to get a dog to open level, far more than a very good farm dog. The finesse is taught and practiced.


Hope to see you at some trials coming up. As Donald posted, come see us at www.ontariobordercollieclub.com We have a fun day this sunday near Blackstock Ontario and a trial near Lindsay next month.


Good luck and keep at it!



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There was a time, and I don't know if it's still the case, where a good number of open handlers preferred loose-eyed dogs because they believed that they were easier to place anywhere you wanted them, which helped with precision handling (vs. a dog with more eye, which would "fight" the handler over being placed precisely on the stock because their eye would draw them to a particular spot and that's where they want to stay to control things). I prefer a dog with more eye, but certainly plenty of folks run open dogs who are looser eyed and more upright.



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