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Puppy manners classes impact on stock work?


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#1 YeseniaBeauchamp

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 01:40 PM

I have never taken a young puppy to puppy manners classes, all they've ever learned has been on stock. Lie down and stand were really the only things that they might have picked up if they'd gone to puppy classes that would have been useful on stock and that wouldn't have interfered. For example, I've seen classes where they teach watch me, but a sheepdog would be learning watch 'em. The focus should be on the stock all the time. So it would be detrimental to teach them watch me. Another concern is that they're trained with a clicker and a sheepdog trains on whistles and voice.
However, until a puppy is ready to begin training and working, he should be learning something. I'm tempted to take him to a class called Puppy Manners or something similar, at Petsmart.
Has anyone experienced negative results from taking a sheepdog to these types of puppy classes until they're ready to handle training on stock?

#2 Sue R

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 05:50 PM

I took all my youngsters to puppy and family dog classes to learn basic manners and how to live nicely in our household. I don't feel that had any negative effect on dogs that were also properly started on stock.

I think it is a different case for a youngster with minimal stock focus and instinct. In that case, the training may override instinct that isn't there in sufficient abundance anyway.

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#3 GentleLake

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 06:20 PM

My first working dog went through a number of obedience classes and even did some obedience competition before being started on sheep. It didn't seem to affect him negatively, but he was a very keen dog (actually a little too keen) on sheep and I never asked for that constant attention on me that some obedience competitors do, so these may (or may not) have made a difference.

 

If I were doing this now, I probably would probably explain to the instructor that I don't want to work too much on the dog watching me and why.

 

I'm not sure that clicker training would interfere either, as long as you're just doing basics and work to fade it out pretty quickly. Once the dog gets on sheep, the work will be self rewarding, so should be a whole different experience. I think these dogs are eminently capable of distinguishing between the two types of training as long as the strict obedience-style training hasn't been overdone.

 

Some, of course, may disagree. ;)

 

ETA: Remember, too, that most livestock people are training their dogs some sort of basic manners before they're going to stock anyway. The puppies are learning all the time.


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#4 denice

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 06:36 AM

I believe there are good things possible in puppy classes - socialization and interacting with other puppies, leash manners, focus, coming to you with distractions ect.  I also think you could get them headed down a path that would not do them much good if you trained in a way that rewarded simple actions over thoughtful actions.  Raising pups to make choices, think for themselves, I believe transfer to  stock work 

 

I think having freedom to make mistakes, be corrected then rewarded ( not necessarily with treats) sets a pup up for success in life and in stock work.  Some classes are taught without allowing for mistakes and correction.  I think there are lots of things you can do with a pup between the time it is 8 weeks old and the time it starts working stock.  Teaching sit, lie down ect leash manners, going places and seeing new things ect.  I walk my pups through the pastures with sheep grazing before their instinct kick in which for some seem to happen at 4 months.  They get accustomed to walking near me, coming when asked, able to go explore - they start watching sheep and may even follow them a bit but learn to call off.  I think those first few months are about exposure to all the things that are 'normal'

I believe all things need to build their confidence and your relationship.  I feel knowing what a correction is and how to process that is a great skill to learn young and makes stock work that much easier. Respect and trust in each other are the  foundation for a good stock working relationship.  I would want to observe a class before signing up. 



#5 Smalahundur

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 08:05 AM

My wife is always making fun of me when I worry if something could have a negative impact on future stocktraining of my pup. Her take is "if he is worth his salt" almost nothing should be able to keep him from working stock.
Maybe that is taking it a bit far, but I think she has a point. I at least have a tendency to worry too much and overthink this stuff.
A dog with good strong instincts probably forgets everything anyway when he is put on sheep, and those instincts kick in.

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#6 Maja

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Posted 16 June 2017 - 10:30 AM

I did, and the trainer was very unhappy with me because I was doing everything "wrong". So I dropped the trainer.  I think a lot depends on how the class is conducted, and I am sure there nice  classes for that.   

 

Socializing is good, and also everything a pup learns in regular training can be undone on stock (like "watch me"). I hear often, "I did X and Y and was told not to because of stock work, and see? there she is running in a trial."  Fine, but that's not the point. The point is to spend the time before the pup is put on stock in such a way as to make it the easiest to work with the pup on stock, not just merely make it possible to work stock.  Most pups no matter what you do with them first, will work sheep. But that's not the purpose of pre-stock training, the purpose is to make it easy and natural. 

 

I think that socializing is good and necessary and manners - like Derek Scrimgeour's "Shepherd's pup" 


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#7 Heartful

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 02:51 PM

Agreed. Dogs do have a brilliant way of generalizing behaviors. My agility dogs do not go into herding mode when i am doing agility, nor do they go into agility mode when they are working sheep. My young dog, in fact, has much more patience and even thoughtfulness on sheep than he does in the agility ring.  This is just my personal experience...I am no professional trainer or competitor and my dogs are not "finished" in either venue. 

My wife is always making fun of me when I worry if something could have a negative impact on future stocktraining of my pup. Her take is "if he is worth his salt" almost nothing should be able to keep him from working stock.
Maybe that is taking it a bit far, but I think she has a point. I at least have a tendency to worry too much and overthink this stuff.
A dog with good strong instincts probably forgets everything anyway when he is put on sheep, and those instincts kick in.


Tell me and I forget, teach me an I remember, involve me and I learn." - Benjamin Franklin

#8 YeseniaBeauchamp

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 03:50 PM

Loved the responses.  Thank you so much.

I talked to the woman at Petsmart near me and I asked how strict she was with things like "come" for recall and bypassing "whatch me."  She didn't seem too happy with the questions.  I'll try to go elsewhere.



#9 GentleLake

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 04:49 PM

PetSmart wouldn't be my first choice for training anyway.

 

I'd inquired about becoming a trainer for them when they opened here, maybe 10 years or so ago. They really weren't interested in anyone who already had much experience training dogs. They train their trainers over a weekend course. :rolleyes:


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#10 Hooper2

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Posted 17 June 2017 - 05:47 PM

I agree that Petsmart or similar pet store training classes are generally not great.  If there is a dog training club in your area, that's where I would suggest looking for classes.  And I've seen a pretty good argument on this board for signing your dog up for a conformation class for socialization.  No, you are not ever going to participate in conformation showing in any way shape or form.  But, conformation classes are good for getting your dog out around lots of other dogs and people without being expected to actually "play" with other dogs as often happens in other types of pet classes.  The dog learns to focus on you (see below) rather than all the commotion going on around him, learns to accept the proximity of other dogs without interacting with them, and to stoically accept a stranger examining the dog.  Yeah, I know, conformation and border collies don't mix.  But really, conformation classes are pretty good for teaching the dog basic manners in public without a lot of the nonsense that can occur in other types of socialization classes.

 

And I think you are being overly concerned about the possible negative consequences of teaching a dog a "watch me" command.  It's useful in many circumstances to be able to communicate to your dog that he needs to stop focusing on something else and focus on you.  Just because you teach a dog to sit on command doesn't mean he suddenly becomes incapable of standing up.  Teaching a dog to stay on command doesn't mean he becomes immobile for the rest of his life.  Teaching a dog to walk politely by your side on command doesn't mean the dog is glued to your left knee for the rest of  his life.  Teaching a dog to watch you on command doesn't mean he will never be able to focus on anything else.  It just means that when you give him that cue, he does what you ask.  When he's not under command he's free to not sit, not stay, go wander around,  or watch something other than you. 



#11 gonetotervs

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Posted 18 June 2017 - 12:43 PM

I did some nosework/ scent games with my youngster as a way to keep her occupied and thinking while waiting for her to grow up. If you can find that type of class offered, it is something puppies can do and the other dogs around will be a variety of breeds and ages. Socialization resulted even though it was not on the curriculum....


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