Posted 09 May 2003 - 10:28 AM
I now have two, four month old pups that I would like to attempt to show in Nursery (if all goes well). Their mother's full sisters won 1st and 2nd place in the Scottish National Nursery finals several years ago, so I am hoping one of the pups has what it takes to start young without my running into compliations during training.
My question is, how do you assess whether a pup will be able to handle the training requirements for Nursery competition and how do you go about training a pup for competitions without ruining its natural ability and stock sense?
Posted 11 May 2003 - 09:23 PM
I guess I have to say I really dont really have any choice with the dogs that come in. They all have to be trained or sold in some context. If they dont work out, I usually sell them to goose jobs or they go to Agility or pet homes. The others that do work, I just take it a step at a time all the while keeping an eye out for signs that they might be getting too much pressure...The dogs that I select to keep are the ones that will take alot of training and drilling as I dont own a large farm. I like them to be a tad hot, extremely keen, very intelligent and they can not have one ounce of sulk in them. I like them to have a good attitude towards learning, they must have very good stamina and I like a dog with a natural outrun and a good listener. I have been extremely fortunate that even given my dogs faults, they have almost all met the above criteria and have been very keen from about 3-4 months old and could take training at a very early age. (not the dogs I bought for resale, but my own personal dogs)
With my dogs I tend to start them young and just take them out a time or two a month from about 4-5 months on...they all generally want to work but I wait till they seem ready to take training. In these first sessions I am just walking about with the sheep encouraging them to stay on the oposite side and balance on me. From there I go to just doing little chores, I sort sheep with them, start putting their sides on them and a stop. After I get a bit of control, I will start calling them thru sheep and working on shedding large groups and asking them to drive a bit. With a fast learner, and one who knows their flanks really well, I will start putting whistles on them as well...For alot of their early training, I will work them on large groups of say 40-50 and I try to simulate real work as well as I can given limited acreage. Of course you can take all this with a grain of salt as the man I train with says I adopt the fly by the seat of your pants philosphy of dog training and then he just kind of walks away shaking his head! But it works for me and the line of dogs I run most of the time and I am like my dogs, a tad impatient and very keen..Maybe one day I will learn to take time! Anyway I will be off to Bluegrass tomorrow so if you respond and I dont that is why..Good luck with your young dogs and I would love more questions as that is my favorite thing, starting the young dogs. Each one is a surprise and a clean slate. So much untapped potential...It is a real rush! Anyway, good luck!
Posted 12 May 2003 - 07:10 AM
What behaviors do you keep an eye on during training to determine whether it is handling the pressure of training for trialing in Nursery class? I understand why one would want to do chores with a pup and work large flocks with a pup. Those are all the things I would do, too, to make certain I raise up and train a pup to maintain its natural abilities (which, by the way, is my highest goal when training a working dog).
But, trialing at the Open level-minus the shed requires so much more precision and obedience to commands and handling tougher situations than 40-50 sheep walk-abouts or sorting chores does for a "baby mind". I, too, have trained a few dogs that are a "tad bit hot", keen and intelligent. I prefer that sort of dog. I also have found that the most intelligent dogs seem to need to be given the latitude of "intelligent disobedience" during training, as they do make good decisions even when the handler doesn't see it right off. So, with these dogs I tend to be less strict on my absolute compliance, for example, especially when they are young. I allow them to disobey at times, especially if I think they were making a right decision in their minds regarding covering and controlling stock. It's my way of building confidence - albeit I do realize it can cause problems later on. I am willing to put some added absolute compliance on a dog later rather than earlier to make certain that pup knows I expect it to control its stock.
But.... If one wants to show in Nursery, you need a dog that still has the natural talent to handle tough jobs but will allow itself to be overridden by the handler's commands at any moment in time - that's the sacrifice I see in trialing versus ranch work. Some dogs can remain intact under those circumstances, others unravel.
What I'm asking is how do you assess a pup, during its initial training, to determine whether you will continue to move towards compliance to commands for trial work without stripping natural ability?
I am making the assumption that not all dogs have what it takes to become TRIAL dogs as early as they must for Nursery. I will not sacrifice a pup's ability to be a good ranch dog for the sake of competing in Nursery. It's not worth it to me.
Are there things that you see in a pup during training that tell you that you are not going to be able to push this one along as fast as another? If so, what is it? Do you demand absolute compliance to commands from day-one of training for dogs you may think are Nursery (or just trial) prospects? If so, when you see a pup looking back at you for the next command or other "mechanical" type behaviors, what do you do?
I have a method of training stock dogs that is, like yours, a bit haphazard. If I go out to work one task and I see something happen in the first few minutes that I think requires work, I'll maybe spend the whole time on that item and never get to the training I had planned on doing. It has worked for me, but I've never felt a need to accomplish trial specific requirements in an abbreviated timeframe. Maybe I am worrying about nothing and I will see things that tell me I need to back off or I can move forward more quickly. Maybe I just have never put my training on a schedule before. Iím just curious whether there are things I should watch for carefully to make certain I grow up a valuable ranch partner (my most important goal) while creating a trial dog in short order.
Posted 12 May 2003 - 09:27 AM
<small>[ May 12, 2003, 10:29 AM: Message edited by: Sam Furman ]</small>
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