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I posted this question in the "ask the expert" section, and several people suggested I post it here in the training discussion, so here goes!


My dog, Pete, loves to run his "away" flank so much that he doesn't want to stop and hit that balance point. He just keeps going! On his "come bye" flank, he'll stop at the top, and want to turn around and do his anti-clockwise zoomies.


I believe that this behavior is probably a good deal my fault, as he is my first border collie and my first experience working a dog on sheep. He has always been a strong, fast dog, and I believe that made me nervous about being run over by stampeding sheep (it's happened more than once), so I'm wondering if I have frustrated him by asking him to lie down too much, or by not moving with the sheep fast enough (after he has lifted them and is bringing them to me). I have worked with several different people, as far as training goes, but most of them work towards the AKC titles, or AHBA and ASCA, which are fine but are quite different from the border collie trials that I would like to run with Pete.


I now have a larger farm, with bigger fields to train him, but I need to help him to understand how to do this work with me. It was way too hot to do any work this weekend, but last weekend, he did some nice work with a group of about 15 yearling lambs. I have started using a "rattle-paddle" that I found on the farm, which I smack on the ground to get his attention and turn him around. It worked well, but I'm wondering how long it will take for him to understand about hitting that balance point, and I will be able to ditch that thing?


Any experienced insight on this situation will be most appreciated!





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if you can get on the usbcha web site find and find a trial near you.


then quietly ask around for someone who can help you.


watch the dogs running.


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My 3 year old bitch does this, but on her come-bye side. I think initially it was tension-release for her and now it's become something of a habit. In close work, I also have to be careful that she doesn't blow out wide on a come-bye flank.


I recently got some good advice from a well-known expert who suggested that I break her concentration by calling her name, to get her to start thinking and not just reacting. If she ignores her name, then the voice escalates to a correction like "HEY!" Of course, this has to be done up close, not at distance at first. I think it's helping her. In close work, I am careful to give a VERY quiet come-bye to avoid making that flank sound exciting. So you may be on the right track with the rattle paddle.


The temptation I have to resist is to stretch the distance out too soon, as she's got a lovely wide, deep outrun - but I think it's important to get her head right before continuing to let her rehearse incorrect work.


Good luck and keep us posted!



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You scared me! I thought this was another version of Sputnik 2.


I was in 6th grade when the Soviets put that dog up in the satelite - with no plans to bring her down alive. My now best friend Sandy and I were livid. We started "The Room 6 Weekly" - with our teacher's permission - to write a scathing editorial about that. And equally scathing anti-Soviet editorials each week. We knew that Kruschev was quaking in his boot when our issue came out!


BTW, the dog was not named Laika, no matter what you keep hearing. She was a Laika - a Russian huskie breed. She was either Belka (Squirrel) or Strelka (Arrow).

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Some young dogs - be that over energetic or inexperienced - hit that balance and want to keep going. sometimes that is turning and going the other direction sometimes that is zooming on past. Basically I would say he need to think more.

I would work him in a round pen 50 -80 feet across with 4 - 6 sheep or a smaller space like a horse stall with 3 - 5 Calm dog broke sheep. You can not help him in a pasture. I bet your position is a bit off and most like any help or corrections are a bit late which all lead to confusion.

In a small pen I would put him on a lead and walk him both directions, then w/o a lead with him next to the outside and you on the inside walk with him. He should be gaining confidence and staying on the outside of all the sheep. Then get him where he will go on around in front of you and begin to balance sheep. Change his direction by changing yours - all pressure and release. Do not worry about command other than a call off. Then get him stopping behind the sheep. Then doing mini outruns. GRADUALLY give him more room so you can back away and move around giving him room to work sheep and keep sheep with you. If he is still favoring one side set it up so you are able to block him on his preferred side like along a fence. Do not make it a huge deal if he goes the wrong way. He needs to be thinking and be respectful and just help him.

Watch for him being pressure sensitive - maybe he is worried about you so watch him over your shoulder as opposed to square on. Watch your tone, be encouraging and calm.

In a small space if you need a stick or something to help I have had success with a stock stick just scraping it on the group to change his direction. Use as little extra stuff as possible. Going smaller I think is the key. Dont be afraid to use a leash and show him what you want.

With really young pups I have started them with sheep in a pen of panels and the pup on the outside and me on the outside. Teach them to call off and go both directions and stop on the other side of sheep. Really helpful if you do not have sheep suited for puppies at the moment. Usually a few lessons and they are ready for the round pen but this ensures you can start teaching them things like a call off young. Just depends on your situation and sheep. Lots of options, lots of different dogs out there. There is no ONE right way that works with them all.

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I'm by no means an expert, but in my experience, every young dog I've worked with has a preferred direction to flank. Just as people are left handed or right handed, dogs seem to be away dogs or go bye dogs. Not only will the dogs generally pick the same direction anytime they are given a choice which way to go, but the will flank nicely on one side and slice in when going in their "bad" direction. And just as people can become ambidextrous with practice, dogs can become equally adept at flanking in either direction, but imho it helps to approach this as a physical issue, not a training or obedience or work ethic issue.


I've heard some trainers suggest that if for example your dog prefers to go bye, to flank the away direction much more frequently to build up the dog's "dexterity" in his bad direction. But I've found that for me this often ends up with me just battling with my dog, so I take more or less the opposite approach. If the dog is a go bye dog, I might initially set him up so that when he flanks away he only has to flank maybe 90 degrees (or less) to get to balance without slicing. Then as a reward he gets to flank in his easy direction. Lather, rinse, repeat. Over the course of several training sessions I will set things up so that he has to gradually flank further and further in his bad direction to get to balance, and I gradually ask for more bad direction flanks before he gets to go in his preferred direction. But my goal is always to set things up so that he can flank the difficult direction successfully. I don't always manage to get in set up perfectly, but my goal is to reduce stress by making sure he is successful any time I ask for a flank in the difficult direction. With most dogs, it seems like they build up their "ambidexterity" pretty quickly if they aren't constantly being corrected or stopped or asked for too much too soon.


I did have one really hard case who was a lovely eager but sensible dog, but oh my doG, he just could not do an away. I finally took the stock out of the picture completely, and for a few minutes every day for a couple weeks I worked on getting him to follow a toy on a stick in his away direction. I was essentially lunging him as if he were a horse, and it worked like a charm. I could barely get him to take two steps in the away direction at first, and by the end of a couple weeks I could no longer see any difference in his ability to chase his toy in either direction, and when I put him back on stock he flanked equally well either way.

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