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What tools do you use to slow a young dog in the ring? I've seen rattle paddles, shopping bags tied to herding sticks and a soda bottle with rocks. I need to find something instant and loud enough to break my young dog before she starts a dive.


I can see it coming, but I'm too slow to catch up to her and my bag-on-a-stick (comes free with screaming handler) is about as effective as a marshmallow.


The ring I'm using is fairly large — about 100 feet in diameter — but it's what I've got and, otherwise, it's perfect.

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Just a thought, but if you can see it coming can you also see what's triggering the dive? If so, your answer may be to try to set up the situation so that fewer dives are triggered rather than finding something to correct her with. Just thinking that if the bag on a stick isn't working, maybe none of the other noise makers will work any better, so maybe figuring out what it is about the situation is making her dive in and then working to prevent that would help. Caveat: Youngsters will dive; it's a fact of life. But if it's excessive, maybe the stock aren't appropriate, the working space isn't appropriate, you're inadvertently putting pressure on (poor timing, inconsistent signals, body in wrong place/position, flapping bag actually ginning her up, etc.) and causing the dive, and so on. You get the idea.



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A rank novice here, so take anything I say with the appropriate boulder of salt. I do have one dog who will sometimes grip when she feels a lot of pressure. I initially tried to respond by telling her "HEY YOU GET OUTTA THAT!!!" when I could see she was revving up, but it was counterproductive. The person I train with convinced me to gently utter the dog's name at the critical moment before she committed to gripping. It's been fascinating to see her immediately check herself - her eyes stop whirling and she completes her action (e.g., peeling sheep off a fence) beautifully.


Of course it took WAY longer for me to retrain myself than it should have. I was very proud of her at a recent trial when she had to pull sheep off the fence when they'd bolted to the exhaust, and she and I both kept our cool.


I found this article very useful: http://www.patrickshannahan.com/abcmgripnogrip.asp


ETA: corrected link - weird, as far as I could tell it was identical to the one Nancy provided. Nope, I copied it from Nancy's post, and it still didn't take. I give up. Get it from the following message.

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Lynn, that link didn't work for me. This http://www.patrickshannahan.com/abcmgripnogrip.asp may work better.


PS: This is a terrific article, Priscilla, and I fully agree that often what we do makes a big difference in the dog's behavior. Many times, less is more.



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Hi there!

I'll second what Julie said. If the diving is excessive, then it's not always the dog that needs to change, it's very apt to be the situation that she's in. Either the stock or the training space or the handling may not be suitable, or some combination of those.

Depending how old she is, perhaps she also needs some time off to grow up a little more. Sometimes if a youngster just keeps diving and grabbing, it's because they're not quite ready for the focus and intensity of training. In other words, their enthusiasm over working overrides their ability to absorb your training. That's not big thing, it's just a matter of being patient and letting her come along at her own speed.

For my own part, I really dislike the use of rattle paddles, rock bottles and all those noisy gismos because they are applications of pressure. If a youngster is diving and dashing, she's already amped and excited, so adding pressure to excitement is not my preferred method of dealing with it. Patrick talks about this very thing in his article which is linked above. Changing the situation in which she does the diving may give you both the happiest results.

Keep us posted on how things go! :)

~ Gloria

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Whilst I agree with most of Patrick's views in the linked article (above) I have to say I disagree with shouting at the dog after it's gripped.


In my experience (during the early stages of training) dogs which have an aggression problem dive in and grip, and then rush out wide (presumably to escape any reprisal from the prey they just attacked). I call it "dive bombing".


Dogs can think many times more quickly than we mere humans, so I think shouting at the dog after the event is a mistake. After all, having dived in and gripped, and then rushed out wide, the dog is now in exactly the position I want it to be (nice and wide, away from the sheep) - so I praise it!

I believe that a single (sharp) yell - immediately BEFORE the grip does wonders - and then when the dog's out wide, I praise it, and we carry on the session as though nothing happened.


Repeated yelling is one of the most common mistakes made by beginners in our classes. They are so nervous of their dog doing something awful, the dog picks up on it and can get excited. Repeated excited commands, simply add to the dog's excitement (as Patrick rightly says).


If you can talk softly to the dog it will be calmer - but have a sharp rebuke in reserve when you need it. The rarely used rebuke is far more effective than one which the dog hears all the time (they just get used to it).


If your dog is gripping, it will do it to a pattern - usually when you make it change direction, or when you first send it off. There are too many occasions that might trigger it for me to list - but look for them. Find out what triggers the grip, and then be ready for it. If you correct the dog a millisecond (or more) before it grips, it will pay you dividends - as I said, the dog will go out wider, and then you'll use your soft "luvvy" voice to praise the little "cutie".


Often the dog's body language will tell you it's going to grip - ears go back, determined look, speeding up, head going down - it could be any or more of these - look for them.


Be CALM with your dog.


Lastly - Is is possible to make the training ring smaller?

Any ring over 60ft diameter is too big really (at first). You need to be close enough to control the dog and unless you can run as fast as the dog and the sheep, you need a smaller ring to keep the action close.

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Hey, y'all,


Thank you for the excellent advice.


Julie: I heard you loud and clear. Without realizing it, I'd been letting her go, then diving in myself, expecting disaster. When I went back, I let her go and simply backed away. She still dove, but not right away and hardly with the enthusiasm of before. She then drove well, and I moved a little more helpfully in the ring.


Lynn, et al: The link to Patrick's post was incredibly helpful. I watched a part of his first video last night, and it was wonderful reinforcement. I found a subtle but real shift in my own approach as I realized I need to work on transferring our partnership from outside to inside the ring. I've allowed that to evaporate as I entered the ring, replacing it with pressure and anxiety.


Lookback: Thank you for solid, solid advice that is easy for this novice to understand. I will try my best, as American youngsters say, to chill.


We go back to work in the morning. I'll let you all know what happens.

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