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Back to the dog that wouldn't come in

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#1 Guest_Riptide_*

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 09:29 AM

Hi Albion
I would like to go back to the young dog that I wrote you about who wouldn't come in to the sheep. I won't take the time now to totally refresh your memory as the old posts are there. I built a small (30ft)round pen as you suggested and have been working the dog in that environment. I must admit not as much as I would like to between weather, work and the holidays. Anyway, here is where we are at. We are working relatively heavy sheep who are quite content to stay with me most of the time. The dog will now move in either direction around the sheep and will actually turn in to move them across the round pen. He is improving on not coming in and then turning back to run away. The times that he tries to grip as he comes around the back of the sheep have lessened and I think we are making progress. If I take the sheep to the middle of the pen he will move around the circle right at the fence but will go in either direction. Haven't quite decided when he is at the fence if he is thinking about leaving (which of course he can't) or if he is actually relaxing and moving around confidently. You were certainly right about the pen being small (I have never worked in a round pen before). If I move into the dog and flank him around it is only a couple of steps before we hit the edge of the pen. He is doing this well. For the most part he will change directions by my body language. I did discover the other day that earlier training before he came to me had trained him to lie down to the correction for lie down rather than to lie down so we are reworking some commands right now. The month since I last wrote has allowed the dog and I more firmly establish our relationship and he is eager to work when it is his turn. I do not have to keep the lead on at all anymore except to walk him into the pen. The beginning is not as smooth as I would like it but he does settle down after a bit. Sometimes when he flanks he will not make it all the way around the sheep and will split one off but a small verbal correction will move him along and keep him from grabbing the sheep unnecessarily. There are times that he will and I have to figure out what the circumstances are that actually cause that to happen. He seems to be slowly gaining confidence. I realize that I really haven't asked a question here but wanted to update our progress. I am guessing that the timing on enlarging the round pen may be critical so that he does not get bored and create new bad habits due to the pressure of it seeming to him like we are not really doing anything productive with the sheep. Right now I have only been using a few sheep and wonder if I should increase the amount of sheep to continue to create a situation where he has to be in close proximity with a larger number of sheep until I get the same responses I am seeing now, or should the pen increase. So I guess that really is my question is where do we go from here. I don't think he is quite ready for the next step but would like to be thinking ahead on where we go. Thanks again for all your suggestions they are really helping us make progress. I look forward to hearing from you on the next steps!

#2 Guest_aurdank_*

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Posted 31 December 2003 - 11:07 PM


This all sounds great. Only starting seems to be a little difficult, you say. I'd make him hold a lie down or stand and position myself in front of the sheep, and then flank him as a way of starting. This way he can't get ahead of you with his enthusiasm. You could enlarge the round pen as a transition to working in an open field. In the larger round pen, I'd do square "figure eights" (90 degree turns)to shore up his balance to the handler and to help square his flanks; also in this context you can teach him the commands for flanking by naming them as you have him flank (usually he'd be responding to your body pressure as you turn but will learn to associate the name of the flank with the movement and eventually take it independently of your body movement). I imagine it would be hard to do actual square turns in a small round pen, probably just circles. And then once his confidence is good, you can try the same exercises in the open field with dog broken sheep and see how it goes. The round pen will probably have tightened him up, which would be good since his propensity seems to be to flank too widely. And after a period of these balance exercises, you can move into teaching him the outrun/lift/fetch and eventually the start of the drive. But all of this comes later, naturally. There is however a natural progreession from one set exercises to another. Great. Keep up the good work and keep us posted about further progress.



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