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Fixing away-from-home outruns


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#1 Maja

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 12:31 PM

I have talked to a number of people about my question and I received some very good advice, but I wanted to ask my questions here to consolidate the information.

So first about my dog. Bonnie is 2 years old, of rather humble breeding, but very dedicated to her task of working sheep and even more so to making me happy with her. She learns, in my estimation, very fast and by the age of less than 18 months she had very good stop, good flanks, very good drive and a decent 100yrd outrun. However, when not at home, these fine qualities would, with the exception of the drive, vanish. After a clinic with Derek Scrimgeour, I regained a very good stop also away from home (so we had a stop and a drive, but lousy flanks and a slice-in at the end of outrun). At home she still did much, much better.

Thanks to good people I became aware that part of the problem with the outrun was that it had never occurred to me to practice with a set out until we went to our first trial-qualifying test where Bonnie saw for the first time a set out team. So I am trying to practice away from home as much as possible and with a set tout team.

The problem with the flanks remained a problem all the away until a week before our last trial this season, just when she turned two. That week we went to our friend's - new place new sheep new everything, sheep very tough to handle by any standards. Bonnie had a good drive good stop and tight flanks and a sliced-in end of outruns.

Our last trial (fourth in the last 6 months and in her life,) was treated by me simply as practice. At the trial though, without me pressing, Bonnie widened out suddenly from the word go, and I had to pretty much invent a pull-in in a couple of situations.

But the outrun was still a problem, she started out well and then sliced in. I enclose the video with the outrun at the trial, and then there an outrun at home. The outrun at the trial is only 100 yards, and the outrun at home is at least 160 yards.

So my questions are these:

I sort of half expect that something will click in Bonnie's brain, as it did with the stop and the flanks, and that one day "voila!" there will the the proper outruns away from home as they are at home. Am I silly expect this? The flanks were pretty dramatic because only a week earlier she was way too tight, and then a week later wham! very wide. So I've been thinking that my original thought that Bonnie simply had to transfer the at-home knowledge to away-from-home knowledge was right. And that trying to widen her at home was not a good idea.

So I think, the same should apply to outruns at home - I should not try to widen her out at the top at home. Only when we are away, and she slices in at the top I should stop her and redirect (I tried to do that at the trial, but I can't whistle yet and I don't think she heard me - it was awful windy there). Do you agree?

And another question: at home I can't practice with a set out most of the time. Will it be somehow damaging if from time to time I put the sheep in a pen and practice just the outrun?

The last question: the trial I included the video of was a big surprise because Bonnie won it. Her end of outrun was very bad, but it was the best of all the dogs there (five). And she was the youngest dog. So my question is could this have something to do with the fact the set out person stood right with the sheep? I realize of course that the dog has to be able to lift sheep well even if the set out person decides to perform a hula dance, and that the sheep most likely necessitated her position, but I want to know this to understand the situation.



Thank you for helping people like me.

Maja

#2 ajm

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Posted 05 December 2011 - 02:25 PM

"Never does that at home." Some of us had said it tongue in cheek. Some of us have meant it.

And what an elaborate training tool your outrun with music is. Holy cow! She sure was tight in the video alright. Being some where new can unnerve the best of them and induce them to make silly mistakes. Your dog is young. Maybe being a tad more worldly will help her cast comfortably-- relax and get into the work with confidence. To that end, take her everywhere and get her worked. Take her to all your friends' farms and let her do small, controllable outruns with a person near the sheep. The spotters don't need to be dogging people--just present at near the sheep to be picked up . Your mother will do. If my mother was there, she'd do it.

In the video you showed me. She does the damage early enough in the outrun that in training you could scold her and bring her back, no letting her have her sheep. The stopping and redirecting will help if she learns to accept all those things at hand. I am cautious about getting them to cast wider with one so young. You should be too. I agree with you there. She looked like quite a wide runner, as your sheep turned the post, so she has an unpleasant tendency. As they learn to avoid chaos, they should learn to cast properly and get around to twelve, to lift with presence. You make it sound as though yours is co-operative enough to get agreeable on this score. If she is, she should get it without your fighting her back. You had better learn to whistle, as the absence of it will hold you, and anyone else back. Practise in the car, when no one else is around.

A pen is a mistake for practising outruns. Dogs cannot learn cause and effect. They never lose the sheep even though they have done damage.

The hula dancing set out person sometimes has to be very near the sheep. Yes your dog is responsible for lifting them. I looked at your set out job at the trial and it looked OK. She could have been one of those Ukrainian dancers, kicking. You are giving me ideas Maja.

#3 Maja

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 04:21 AM

"Never does that at home." Some of us had said it tongue in cheek. Some of us have meant it.

I am very grateful to Derek Scrimgeour for curing me of that. I think, it often stems form the novice's being told over and over that the dog is blowing them off, hence I was always nervous almost to the point of freaking out when I had to go anywhere with my dog and anybody was watching. Derek told me that some dogs when they are young, they just have to learn from the beginning when they are in a new place. It not only allowed me to deal with what the real problem was, but it went a long way for me to become very calm when working my dog. So I wrote that simply to show what is the actual training situation, since if she was tight at home it would mean something different too, I think :) .

And what an elaborate training tool your outrun with music is. Holy cow!

Since I live in a country where working sheep is rare and teachers few and far between, these videos have been of huge help to me. Lots of people helped me (mostly from this board) with training. The videos were a tremendous help as a self-teaching tool - I taught myself to control my originally wild body language and also to see things more for what they are. For a time, I would record every session, watch it at home and draw conclusions. Later, it became more difficult because the camera would not follow where we're going (sheesh! ;) ).

The hula dancing set out person sometimes has to be very near the sheep. Yes your dog is responsible for lifting them. I looked at your set out job at the trial and it looked OK. She could have been one of those Ukrainian dancers, kicking. You are giving me ideas Maja.

I just want to make sure there is no misunderstanding: I didn't mean to say that the set out person did any hula dancing, or that she did anything wrong, I meant to say that even if she did do hula dancing, Bonnie should have lifted properly, but I was wondering maybe if Bonnie is sensitive to human presence, this particular set out influenced the way she lifted. The spotter is a very nice Czech lady :) (so the Ukrainian Cossack dance is out of the question :lol: ).

____________

As I showed in the second outrun in the video, at home Bonnie can do a very decent 160 yard outrun. But until the next trialling season we will do the following when not at home:

Because the outrun is the first thing a dog has to do at a trial, when we visit a new place we will always begin with an outrun. But that very first outrun will be very short. Maybe 30 yards or so at first, so that I can control what she does. Then we will practice other things and when I see that she has relaxed, I will extend the outrun a bit. Then the next time we go to a new place, we will start maybe with a 40 yards, and again we will do other things and then go back to outruns and extend them and/or practice with me half way. So that we end with a nice outrun not too long, lift, fetch and some drive. And so we will build up gradually (with the pace depending on how she does) to the same level she can do at home.

At home, we will practice longer distances because if I repeat the shorter outruns, she widens too much (she does fine once or twice, but when she thinks something is wrong because we repeat, she gallops off into the sunset to make me happy).

I will also work on actually having a pull-in command.

Does all that sound like a plan in agreement with what you wrote?

Thank you for reading my first post and replying to it, it's been very helpful.

Maja

#4 ajm

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 06:31 AM

You are all over it Maja.
Report in in a few months.
aAmanda

#5 Maja

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Posted 07 December 2011 - 01:31 PM

I will :) ! Thank you, Amanda.
Maja

#6 Maja

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 12:51 PM

Just a quick note to report that we finally started practicing in new places today. I was a good girl and we did an embarrassingly short outruns and Bonnie did fine. After the first one I asked my teacher to be right in with the sheep, which made it more difficult for Bonnie because he is the shepherd and the sheep are quite dog broke and clingy to people, so I think it was a very good experience for Bonnie. Bonnie worked a bit close for a change, and I was really lousy at reading those sheep, I just lost all the reflexes that I gained last year (not that I was a particularly sheep-savvy, but I was a bit better than now).[Bonnie worked close, but the meadow was small too, I think she expands according to the space around her]

I have a recording of the first two outruns, I will post it later when I can (m computer died, and I don't have all the programs up yet in the new one).

We are going again to the same place end of the month and then another place mid-May.

Maja

#7 Maja

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 09:58 AM

I lost the recordings.

But here I have two movies from our training session last weekend. An arduous six-hour drive - but well worth it.

My theory that small fenced areas make Bonnie work closer seems true. She expanded in the larger field very nicely.




I worked very slow on purpose so that my brain could process the sheep - so there was a lot of practice for me. That's why I often make Bonnie lie down, because I just had to stop and think. The result was satisfactory for me - we put those 30 sheep though the rather narrow gate, and we also had two very good pens - also 30 sheep crowed in the pen - but penning is Bonnie's strong point, anyhow. Still I remembered to watch the sheep and give command 'blind" that is not knowing where the dog was but giving commands based on the sheep's behavior. So who knows, may be the sheep went in by themselves as some people there stated, and Bonnie had a quick beer in the meantime :)

The practicing at home now is scrapped - all the ewes had lambs.

Maja

#8 Maja

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 10:03 AM

This one is without the set out person, and it's not so good -the outrun I mean, but the rest is ok I think.



#9 Maja

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 01:07 PM

I think my outrun problem has been solved. I went to a trial (it was the first trial since the one in November last year) where Bonnie sliced in again starting at about 2 o'clock. Again she managed to get the ensuing chaos under control nonetheless, and we came fourth out of seven dogs even with me getting stuck at the shed. But what was crucial here was that the next day we had a clinic with the judge. And he first set up the outrun for us, told me to send Bonnie, told me to stop her at two o'clock, and told me to lift from there. The sheep came nice and straight and calm and Bonnie was perfectly nice and calm. And he said "this is where the balance is now". And a little light came on in my muddled brain.

Later I watched some videos from the trial and the majority of dogs lifted from about the same point, but their handlers had the sense to let them do it. The only thing that is positive, apart from me learning what is going on, is that I had felt for quite a while that I should down Bonnie as soon as she begins to move inside and do a lift from there, but I never got the nerve to do it.

Maja

#10 ajm

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:58 AM

I think my outrun problem has been solved. I went to a trial (it was the first trial since the one in November last year) where Bonnie sliced in again starting at about 2 o'clock. Again she managed to get the ensuing chaos under control nonetheless, and we came fourth out of seven dogs even with me getting stuck at the shed. But what was crucial here was that the next day we had a clinic with the judge. And he first set up the outrun for us, told me to send Bonnie, told me to stop her at two o'clock, and told me to lift from there. The sheep came nice and straight and calm and Bonnie was perfectly nice and calm. And he said "this is where the balance is now". And a little light came on in my muddled brain.

Later I watched some videos from the trial and the majority of dogs lifted from about the same point, but their handlers had the sense to let them do it. The only thing that is positive, apart from me learning what is going on, is that I had felt for quite a while that I should down Bonnie as soon as she begins to move inside and do a lift from there, but I never got the nerve to do it.

Maja



#11 ajm

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:59 AM

Go Maja
Amanda



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