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What to do when no open field work is available


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#1 Debbie Meier

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Posted 29 July 2010 - 11:28 AM

Hi Bob, could you give me a little direction on this young male that I have, he's just over 10 months old, by our Jake dog and out of an old female that I had, he's our one and only and there will be no more. so I really hate to mess him up. I'll try to describe him and what I'm doing with him the best I can.

He is coming on strong with a lot of drive and doing some really nice things, he has a good stop, a pretty solid left and right and a powerful commited drive when you give him a walkup command. I really have not pushed this pup other then holding him to a high level of obedience and self control. He's already showing alot of self control around stock and the ability to stay put while working another dog and not volunteer for work until a command is given. This pup is doing things at 10 months old that is coming hard for my 2 year olds. But, my gut feeling is that he needs to get out into a open field on a larger flock to really get the concept of gathering, controlling livestock and developing more feel. At this point we don't have any open field work available, come September/October we should have plenty as the field around us was planted in soybeans (provided they don't tear it up right away). We are also hoping to haul out next weekend down to Southern Iowa.

I have been using him almost daily to load and unload the calves into the pens for their daily milk feedings (morning and night), he is taking his flanks and stops, putting pressure on when I need and learning to control his bite, both nose and heel, he is already beginning to exhibit good judgement as to when he needs to bite, though without guidence he would be a heeling fiend. When clearing pens he's giving to the pressure on his flanks when he goes into the pens (6 foot deep x 3 foot wide, little jersey calves) and not showing any resistence when asked to get around between the calf and pen, but also not being unfair to the calf and easily keeping everything calm and quiet and I am being sure to have him drive the calves on past me taking a little time to flank him over left or right to drive the calf to another location before calling him off and clearing the next pens. He's really a fast learner, if you can clearly show him what you want and get your corrects timed right it only takes about 2 tries and he's got it. He's showing me that he can handle things easily that took me ages to get Jake to handle and is actually easier to handle then Jake in pressure situations, it's kinda sad why you find yourself wanting to go to the pup for some of the chore work. Jake sometimes get's overreactive in pressure situations and will not stay at the heel on his own, tending to slide forward and create a stop.

Here is my question, would you put him up totally until we have open field work or would you continue to do small lot work and use him like I am, but not set him up for the short distance work in the confined areas, where I see he is having difficulty? My biggest area is about 100' x 150'. I have another area that is about 100 yards long but it is only 50 foot wide. It just seems as though he's not getting a chance to see the bigger picture and I can't seem to get enough distance on my drives to really test his ability to rate. In the larger areas he is collapsing or quiting on his flanks and wanting to continuely create a drive line, often times we don't have enough room to get out and around to get a proper flank without having to make an adjustment and deal with a fence. But, he also will take the space when it's available if he is committed to flanking, and example is in our narrow area, it opens up to the big area to the right, on a Away to Me he will go down the fence to the right and then kick out when he gets to the corner.

I hope I'm making sense, this is the best dog I've ever worked with and am finding myself questioning as to where I need to go with him. I'd love to be able to send him out for 90 days to someone that can give him the right type of work environment but it's just not in the finances at this time, and I'm also thinking it would be better served sending him south this winter/early spring when we are down with the snow, ice and mud.

Thanks in advance.

Deb
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"Every poor one you continue to work with equates to a good one that you never get the opportunity to own"- M. Christopher

#2 RMSBORDERCOLLIES

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Posted 29 July 2010 - 12:18 PM

Hi Bob, could you give me a little direction on this young male that I have, he's just over 10 months old, by our Jake dog and out of an old female that I had, he's our one and only and there will be no more. so I really hate to mess him up. I'll try to describe him and what I'm doing with him the best I can.

He is coming on strong with a lot of drive and doing some really nice things, he has a good stop, a pretty solid left and right and a powerful commited drive when you give him a walkup command. I really have not pushed this pup other then holding him to a high level of obedience and self control. He's already showing alot of self control around stock and the ability to stay put while working another dog and not volunteer for work until a command is given. This pup is doing things at 10 months old that is coming hard for my 2 year olds. But, my gut feeling is that he needs to get out into a open field on a larger flock to really get the concept of gathering, controlling livestock and developing more feel. At this point we don't have any open field work available, come September/October we should have plenty as the field around us was planted in soybeans (provided they don't tear it up right away). We are also hoping to haul out next weekend down to Southern Iowa.

I have been using him almost daily to load and unload the calves into the pens for their daily milk feedings (morning and night), he is taking his flanks and stops, putting pressure on when I need and learning to control his bite, both nose and heel, he is already beginning to exhibit good judgement as to when he needs to bite, though without guidence he would be a heeling fiend. When clearing pens he's giving to the pressure on his flanks when he goes into the pens (6 foot deep x 3 foot wide, little jersey calves) and not showing any resistence when asked to get around between the calf and pen, but also not being unfair to the calf and easily keeping everything calm and quiet and I am being sure to have him drive the calves on past me taking a little time to flank him over left or right to drive the calf to another location before calling him off and clearing the next pens. He's really a fast learner, if you can clearly show him what you want and get your corrects timed right it only takes about 2 tries and he's got it. He's showing me that he can handle things easily that took me ages to get Jake to handle and is actually easier to handle then Jake in pressure situations, it's kinda sad why you find yourself wanting to go to the pup for some of the chore work. Jake sometimes get's overreactive in pressure situations and will not stay at the heel on his own, tending to slide forward and create a stop.

Here is my question, would you put him up totally until we have open field work or would you continue to do small lot work and use him like I am, but not set him up for the short distance work in the confined areas, where I see he is having difficulty? My biggest area is about 100' x 150'. I have another area that is about 100 yards long but it is only 50 foot wide. It just seems as though he's not getting a chance to see the bigger picture and I can't seem to get enough distance on my drives to really test his ability to rate. In the larger areas he is collapsing or quiting on his flanks and wanting to continuely create a drive line, often times we don't have enough room to get out and around to get a proper flank without having to make an adjustment and deal with a fence. But, he also will take the space when it's available if he is committed to flanking, and example is in our narrow area, it opens up to the big area to the right, on a Away to Me he will go down the fence to the right and then kick out when he gets to the corner.

I hope I'm making sense, this is the best dog I've ever worked with and am finding myself questioning as to where I need to go with him. I'd love to be able to send him out for 90 days to someone that can give him the right type of work environment but it's just not in the finances at this time, and I'm also thinking it would be better served sending him south this winter/early spring when we are down with the snow, ice and mud.

Thanks in advance.

Deb



Hi Deb. Just keep doing what you're doing and things will go fine. He sounds like quite a little guy to be doing all that at such a young age. He is bending out on his flanks when he can which shows that he is feeling his stock so there is no problem working him in small areas. The real work that he is doing will benefit him greatlly in the big picture so keep on using him to move your stock around as much as possible. In such a case, it is wise to create situations where you can gather as much as possible, rather than drive all the time in order to keep working on a good outrun, lift and fetch. I'm not saying to stop driving though, just introduce the gather when you can. The best advice I can give you at this point is don't pressure him too much and go at his pace of learning which appears to be quite fast. These nice dogs can fool you into thinking they are not under pressure to learn because they are so biddable but be aware that asking too much too soon can be debilitating to say the least. Wait until your field comes available and then start the process of getting the nice outruns and lifts and control on the fetch and long drives etc. when you can. You are still working on lifts etc. even in the small pens anyway so when you get to the bigger field he will already know how to lift. Let me know when you are going to start him on the big field and we'll get him going well then.......Bob

#3 Debbie Meier

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Posted 29 July 2010 - 01:01 PM

Hi Deb. Just keep doing what you're doing and things will go fine. He sounds like quite a little guy to be doing all that at such a young age. He is bending out on his flanks when he can which shows that he is feeling his stock so there is no problem working him in small areas. The real work that he is doing will benefit him greatlly in the big picture so keep on using him to move your stock around as much as possible. In such a case, it is wise to create situations where you can gather as much as possible, rather than drive all the time in order to keep working on a good outrun, lift and fetch. I'm not saying to stop driving though, just introduce the gather when you can. The best advice I can give you at this point is don't pressure him too much and go at his pace of learning which appears to be quite fast. These nice dogs can fool you into thinking they are not under pressure to learn because they are so biddable but be aware that asking too much too soon can be debilitating to say the least. Wait until your field comes available and then start the process of getting the nice outruns and lifts and control on the fetch and long drives etc. when you can. You are still working on lifts etc. even in the small pens anyway so when you get to the bigger field he will already know how to lift. Let me know when you are going to start him on the big field and we'll get him going well then.......Bob


Thank you for your advice, I've been trying to make sure that I am recognizing when the pressure is too much. There have been a couple of times that I realized that I needed to back down or that any more was going to be too much, but for the most part he is just taking stuff in stride if not even challenging me to keep up with him.

The soybean field can't be harvested soon enough, we got luck to have it planted in soybeans vs. corn, first year in 6. I'm hoping to get some fresh wool sheep in come fall also, just keep them as long as the field is available. Would you start him in the big field on the fresh sheep when the time comes or take our home flock of hair sheep out that is pretty savvy and draws heavily to home? I have one 80 acre field and a second that is 180 across the road, but all unfenced and pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

Deb
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"Every poor one you continue to work with equates to a good one that you never get the opportunity to own"- M. Christopher

#4 RMSBORDERCOLLIES

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Posted 29 July 2010 - 08:20 PM

Thank you for your advice, I've been trying to make sure that I am recognizing when the pressure is too much. There have been a couple of times that I realized that I needed to back down or that any more was going to be too much, but for the most part he is just taking stuff in stride if not even challenging me to keep up with him.

The soybean field can't be harvested soon enough, we got luck to have it planted in soybeans vs. corn, first year in 6. I'm hoping to get some fresh wool sheep in come fall also, just keep them as long as the field is available. Would you start him in the big field on the fresh sheep when the time comes or take our home flock of hair sheep out that is pretty savvy and draws heavily to home? I have one 80 acre field and a second that is 180 across the road, but all unfenced and pretty much in the middle of nowhere.

Deb


I would start in the big field on the sheep he knows and work slowly into the fresh sheep as he progresses. Start with short outruns and move out as he becomes more profficient with the gathers. Move yourself around a lot when working on gathers which will change the balance point so that he is aware at all times of where you are. This works very well to teach the dog how to handle changes in pressure on the fetch which will help him to keep the sheep coming straight to you without too many commands. Keep up the work you've been doing until your field becomes available but be sure that you make him work properly and do things right and that he listens to you at all times. If you never let him do it wrong, he will do it right most times. Good luck and stay positive and have fun.........Bob

#5 Debbie Meier

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Posted 01 October 2010 - 03:38 PM

I would start in the big field on the sheep he knows and work slowly into the fresh sheep as he progresses. Start with short outruns and move out as he becomes more profficient with the gathers. Move yourself around a lot when working on gathers which will change the balance point so that he is aware at all times of where you are. This works very well to teach the dog how to handle changes in pressure on the fetch which will help him to keep the sheep coming straight to you without too many commands. Keep up the work you've been doing until your field becomes available but be sure that you make him work properly and do things right and that he listens to you at all times. If you never let him do it wrong, he will do it right most times. Good luck and stay positive and have fun.........Bob



The soybean field across the road was finally harvested yesterday. It is a long 130 acre mostly flat strip with a little rise as it gets close to the road that we can get to the other side of. In the past the rise typically eased the draw toward home. I'm planning on having Wayne and Jake play hazard and set out tonight so that we can get things started. I don't know how long we will have before the field is plowed under. I'll let you know how it goes.

Deb
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"Every poor one you continue to work with equates to a good one that you never get the opportunity to own"- M. Christopher

#6 RMSBORDERCOLLIES

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 09:52 AM

The soybean field across the road was finally harvested yesterday. It is a long 130 acre mostly flat strip with a little rise as it gets close to the road that we can get to the other side of. In the past the rise typically eased the draw toward home. I'm planning on having Wayne and Jake play hazard and set out tonight so that we can get things started. I don't know how long we will have before the field is plowed under. I'll let you know how it goes.

Deb


Hi Deb. Just be sure when you start him that you don't start too far away. Make it easy for him to start and then slowly move the sheep further away as he gets better at it. Like I said before, keep moving yourself around at the bottom so that he is aware of where you are all the time. This will keep the good balance in him and help him to flank on the sheep as needed to keep them coming straight to you. Let me know how you are doing and we'll go from there........Bob

#7 Debbie Meier

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 11:22 AM

Hi Deb. Just be sure when you start him that you don't start too far away. Make it easy for him to start and then slowly move the sheep further away as he gets better at it. Like I said before, keep moving yourself around at the bottom so that he is aware of where you are all the time. This will keep the good balance in him and help him to flank on the sheep as needed to keep them coming straight to you. Let me know how you are doing and we'll go from there........Bob


Hi Bob, I really don't know where to start as far as explaining what is going on. Video would be really nice right now.

When I send him on an outrun he is starting out really nice, I've been adjusting my position relative to him to make sure that I am not influencing how he begins, sometimes with him just behind me, others with him 5-10 feet in front of me. He goes out well until about 10 o'clock/2 o'clock and then wants to go flat, he's ending up right behind the sheep and brings them straight on to me, the sheep are lifting relatively quietly, it's not like he is slamming into them, when they get moving he does ease up a bit. But, I would like to see him hold his distance at the top and rate better, my feeling is that he is only getting away with the way he is doing it by the sheep due to the sheep trusting him. I'm planning on taking a smaller group of the lighter ewes and lambs out today and leaving my older heavier sheep here at home. My hope is that they will move off him in a freer manner and that he can find his rate a little easier. He can rate and hold a line really nicely on a fetch, but he can also be like a bull in a china shop and occasionally can't resist a hard heel shot, but he's not flashing through or playing, it's a very serious direct hit and then he releases pressure and he goes back as if nothing happened, he does the same on cattle.

I've also have been changing where the sheep are relative to myself and the draws, making sure that the sheep are not running away but looking for situations that would allow the sheep to spread out or pull. If the sheep have a draw that they are pulling toward he will tighten up sooner if I send him opposite, to the point of thinking about crossing over to make the cover. I've been keeping those outruns shorter, but not avoiding them, and helping him keep his distance via a stop and redirect. Yesterday he started to stay out all the way around discovering that he could cover the draw by going around the long way as opposed to crossing over.

I think the biggest thing that he and I struggle with is letting go of the sheep, I'm finding myself fighting with him on call off's and he's anticipating be sent. He will call off but then forgets that he was being called off. I've been taking him out with me with the stock and asking him to just be with me and not engage the stock, he always seems to find a way to turn that into work that involves the livestock, he's all work.

Deb
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"Every poor one you continue to work with equates to a good one that you never get the opportunity to own"- M. Christopher

#8 RMSBORDERCOLLIES

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 08:50 PM

Hi Bob, I really don't know where to start as far as explaining what is going on. Video would be really nice right now.

When I send him on an outrun he is starting out really nice, I've been adjusting my position relative to him to make sure that I am not influencing how he begins, sometimes with him just behind me, others with him 5-10 feet in front of me. He goes out well until about 10 o'clock/2 o'clock and then wants to go flat, he's ending up right behind the sheep and brings them straight on to me, the sheep are lifting relatively quietly, it's not like he is slamming into them, when they get moving he does ease up a bit. But, I would like to see him hold his distance at the top and rate better, my feeling is that he is only getting away with the way he is doing it by the sheep due to the sheep trusting him. I'm planning on taking a smaller group of the lighter ewes and lambs out today and leaving my older heavier sheep here at home. My hope is that they will move off him in a freer manner and that he can find his rate a little easier. He can rate and hold a line really nicely on a fetch, but he can also be like a bull in a china shop and occasionally can't resist a hard heel shot, but he's not flashing through or playing, it's a very serious direct hit and then he releases pressure and he goes back as if nothing happened, he does the same on cattle.

I've also have been changing where the sheep are relative to myself and the draws, making sure that the sheep are not running away but looking for situations that would allow the sheep to spread out or pull. If the sheep have a draw that they are pulling toward he will tighten up sooner if I send him opposite, to the point of thinking about crossing over to make the cover. I've been keeping those outruns shorter, but not avoiding them, and helping him keep his distance via a stop and redirect. Yesterday he started to stay out all the way around discovering that he could cover the draw by going around the long way as opposed to crossing over.

I think the biggest thing that he and I struggle with is letting go of the sheep, I'm finding myself fighting with him on call off's and he's anticipating be sent. He will call off but then forgets that he was being called off. I've been taking him out with me with the stock and asking him to just be with me and not engage the stock, he always seems to find a way to turn that into work that involves the livestock, he's all work.

Deb


Hi Deb. Please don't put so much importance on him coming off the sheep when he's been working. If you have to call him off 4 or 5 times that's way better than him wanting to leave and quit working. Not a big deal that he wants to stay out there and work and not come off to you. It is a big deal that he does want to stay out there and work. Just keep on with "that'll do, here" until he gets to you and don't fret the small stuff. It's ok to walk through the stock and not work him and it's also ok that he wants to work all the time when there's stock around. After all that's what he is bred to do and I would be a little upset if he wasn't like that and very pleased that he is. As far as him coming in flat at the top, you will need to move back to a shorter outrun to correct this. Get really close to the sheep about 100 yards from him and the sheep about 50 yards behind you. Send the dog either way and ensure that he stays out nice and wide by moving into him as he comes to 9 or 3 o'clock. As he passes these points keep moving into him and force him to stay back off the sheep as he comes around to start his lift. As he gets to his lift point start backing up quickly so that he will be able to fetch the sheep to you on a short fetch. As you can see you are going back to the basics to cure a problem which is the fix for most things. You are now shaping his outrun so that you get what you are after, the dog staying at the same distance from 9 o'clock to the lift point. Next fix - don't move him out to longer distances until he is doing it right at the shorter distances. He looks like quite a nice boy and will be a good working partner for you. Keep in touch and let me know how things are going. Sorry to be so long getting back but have been pretty busy since returning from Meeker with Clinics and custom dogs etc. sincerely.....Bob

#9 Debbie Meier

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 10:19 AM

Thank you Bob, he's coming along well, I have to keep reminding myself that he is just 1. He gave me some really nice work the other day. Since my last post, I've been able to get him to hold his distance all the way around to the top with at most a correction or two, even when he is going against the draw, he is also showing some bend out when the sheep shift. I was really happy to see him get around without disturbing the sheep when the sheep should have been drawn toward me, as soon as he stopped and started his lift they moved off so he was at the right distance. It was pretty.

I wish I had a few more like this one, though it does not bode well for our other dogs, some are too much work to use compared to him. With this dog you just know that he is going to be there and he's going to give you everything that he has.

I'll keep you posted as things come along, right now things are coming along pretty smooth, he and I are starting to get whistles figured out. We have a trial at the end of November, p/t arena cattle.

Deb
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"Every poor one you continue to work with equates to a good one that you never get the opportunity to own"- M. Christopher



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