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Winter training


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#1 Chip

Chip

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 06:03 PM

I have a young dog "Chip" just 13 months. He's come a long way over the summer. Very keen on sheep now and gathering for me. Not perfectly - but he's young.

Our flock is now in large groups outside for winter feeding. My concern is trying to train him during the winter season. Is it necessary? I'm not keen on sheep, dog or myself slipping on the ice or wading through deep snow.

Are there short skills that I can teach him to keep him interested - or should I let him have a break 'till spring? At the moment he's just tagging along while we do the feeding.

#2 ajm

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 11:59 AM

I like, as you seem to do, to have a dog useful by the time it is one. At this stage, I would like to see a youngster accepting left and right, lying down in unusual and off balance places, driving, and doing decent small gathers. The young one has the basics and does them with decisiveness. I am training one at a similar place.
Normally I would give up her training now and let her take a break, a welcome break forced upon me by snow and ice. The timing has always paid off, with a young dog meditating on his work for a few months, maturing, and getting more physical stamina as well as mental. When they have come back in the spring, such April dogs have only benefitted from the break. A training cessation has never been a liability. The footing here has stayed handy for dog work. However, I don't really want to take my young dog project any further. She has learned freely, and asked for every next step. I am doing only small ten minute stints each day--small controlled drives, outruns, occasional splits. My goal is to keep her successful with her basics, but interested, and not push somewhere that will lead to problems or arguments. She is only seven months old. I am certain the footing will soon be compromised, and I will stop, but that is my plan in the immediate future.
I see plenty of dogs that get schooled to death when the winter has afforded good dog running opportunities. An opportunity to overdo it presents itself. The dogs become sourpuss slaves, If you feel this happening to you, go get another dog and train it. However, your situation sounds ideal. A little modest work, setting out feed, to keep your dog reminded of the charm of sheep, and involved in your work. They can help keeping sheep out of the way. Young dogs involved in a work project learn how to watch for where they fit. Perfect. I don't think a break is at all bad. When the weather reforms, your young one will be fifteen months old or better and beautifully ready to become a great sheepdog citizen, and inspired partner. No one, neither you nor your dog, will rupture vertebrae, break legs or ankles on ice, or freeze toes and fingers. Enjoy your fire and watch the National Finals videos on TV.

#3 Chip

Chip

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 04:32 PM

Thanks Amanda
Two recent ice storms (and another forecast for tomorrow)have definitely ended field training here. Chip still tags along every day for feeding. I've decided to occasionally remind Chip of his leash training days on the side road where the footing is sure for both of us. I was surprised at how much calmer he was today on leash, even though he hasn't seen the leash for several months. A break was certainly a benefit in that aspect of his training. I'm quite excited now to see what he'll be like on the sheep in April.
Thanks for your help.



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