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Slides off Pressure on the Drive

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I have made mistakes while teaching my 4 yr old to drive. She does not want to walk into pressure on the drive and slides off to either side. Usually the side that will allow her to turn the sheep back to me.


What I am trying is taking a position off to the side of her and walking in parallel calling her in when I see the sheeps heads start to turn. My biggest issue is that I do not see the sheep turning until they are more than 45deg away from where they were going. I flank her, we over correct and the whole thing turns into a zig zag mess.


Assuming that I can train myself to see the sheep turning in time to give her direction/correction, what can I do to help her stay in position and walk into the pressure?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Someone should send me alerts to there being questions on this list. I look for a while and nothing and then I stop looking.

I, of course, am unfamiliar with the precedents to your driving. I see a lot of dog starting that is left and right, breaking through the sheep, with new dynamics for what is balance, between dog and hand all the time--rather than letting the dog settle in behind and learn to make a good line while in the infantile stages of gathering. Once dogs get the hang of holding a line in a gather, not much of a stretch is involved, in doing it while driving, These early gathers require a hand to check a dog when it swings left or right and fall in behind the sheep. Intelligent dogs in the hands of perceptive trainers, learn to hold those lines, They can equally learn to do it in a drive. No wondering where we are headed with something--the dogs see, with the help of the hand.

If you believe that you have these gathering principals down pat, you can move on to your driving with confidence. If you are having trouble keeping your dog behind, walk on one side, dog behind, sheep at right angles to you, fence on the other. The fence will keep your sheep on the straight and narrow with you on the other side. The dog will get the hang of holding a line, in what amounts to a breach of its perception of balance. The dog can accept it.

It could be that your dog lacks the gas to take the sheep, whether its away from you or towards you. Judging that would be up to you or a supervising clinician. Perhaps you are confident of the dog's power, in which case, the driving should be no problem.

You claim to be late in demanding a stop, which escalates a zig zag fest. Handlers who become good, must discipline themselves to see sheep turning, before they turn. Stop your dog before you think it needs to be stopped. Same with the other direction. Purify your concentration on your sheep. Your dog will reward you by seeing your logic, joining you on the job.

These training sessions are anything but haphazard. The concentration involved comes as a surprise, as trainers become better. No little slips. Don't make your dog wonder where you are headed with your sheep.

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  • 11 months later...

What a difference a year makes.  We needed to put the mileage in.  I needed the repetition of watching the sheep to start to see the movement before it happens.   Sometime around June, I could see her starting to actually maintain pressure on the sheep as she was driving them.  This is still a work in progress, but it has gotten so much better.   As she learned that, the line straightened as the sheep are now moving forward instead of being turned by her slipping to one side.  On another good note, this year I learned to shut up and let her work.  It is amazing how good she is doing her job without my interference.  

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