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A year later- The More Work, the More Amped?


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#41 juliepoudrier

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 02:33 PM

Alasdair MacRae used to be in Shipman, but hasn't been there for some years now.

I don't know about just showing up at the clinic. I doubt they'd mind, but it may be wise to just send Stacy a quick email to let her know you might be coming.

Tommy is super nice so no need to feel intimidated. As for your current trainer, I don't think they should object to you going to audit someone else or even take lessons with someone else. Sometimes a dog and trainer just don't mesh, through no one's fault. If something's not working and your current trainer is at a loss to"fix" it, what other options do you have?

Parking at the clinic is away from where the stock/training takes place, so your dog might not notice unless you walk him over to the training area. Note that depending on where they are in the clinic they could be working sheep near the house or up in the larger field, which you can't see from the road (though you can see the drive leading to it).

J.

I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.

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Julie Poudrier
New Kent, VA

Beloved, and living in memory:
Willow (6/1997-5/2014, run free, my heart), Boy (3/1995-10/2010, RIP), Jill (8/1996-5/2012, RIP), Farleigh (12/1998-7/2014, RIP), Kat (4/2000-6/2015, I miss you, my sweet, funny little clown), Twist (11/2001-11/2016, you were my once-in-a-lifetime dog and forever my BEST girl), and Phoebe (7/2006-8/2017, gone too soon).

The current pack:
Lark, Pipit (Pip), Birdie, Kiskadee (Kiss), Rue, Corbie, Kite, Cooper, and little Lonesome Dove!

Willow's Rest, Tunis, Tunis mules, Leicester Longwool, Teeswater, Border Leicester, Karakul, and Gulf Coast Native sheep


Visit me on Facebook at Poudrier and Crowder, Set Out Specialists (P&C, SOS)

#42 Bicoastal

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 03:34 PM

Good info, thanks Julie! I will speak with the family and send Stacy a note if I can go.



#43 sjones

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Posted 29 November 2017 - 09:26 PM

Hopefully you can make it to the clinic, even if it's just to audit.  I wouldn't feel bad about taking your dog to someone else, its not dissing your current trainer, just trying to broaden your horizen and help your dog. 

As to this stockdog community being mostly offline- Many stockdog clubs have a website or facebook page that will have information about clinics, trials, and worksites.

 

Samantha



#44 Bicoastal

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 08:23 AM

I was able to attend one afternoon of Tommy's clinic. I did not ask Tommy about a private lesson since he was busy clinic'ing. Someone else said his schedule is full year round and he doesn't have room to take on new clients  :(I learned a lot, and a lot was over my head. Tommy's quite funny, even at the end of a long, tiring weekend.

 

My boy hung out in the car for hours and hours and did great!! I walked him for a minute before hitting the road again and he saw the sheep in the smaller front field but didn't lock in on them. For me, where we stand now, I took that as a good thing. 

 

The trainer I've been going to OK'ed us coming over to sit and read a book. 



#45 GentleLake

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 10:47 AM

I'm glad you were able to get to the clinic. Even though other people told you Tommy won't have time, it can't hurt to contact him and ask him yourself. You never know what he knows about his availability that everyone else doesn't. :D It could be worthwhile if he could even manage to fit you in for one assessment/advice session.

 

If your dog didn't go from 0 to 60 at what I assume was a greater distance than what he normally does, maybe some classic desensitization and counter-conditioning at a distance would be helpful rather than the close up flooding-type exposure? Just a thought. You'd probably still need your chair and a book though. ;)

 

Hope you can make some progress with this. 


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#46 Hooper2

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 04:07 PM

Have you worked your dog any place other that at your instructor's?  Even if you were parked a  long ways from the action at the clinic this weekend, I guarantee you that your dog knew sheep were present.  If he was able to keep himself under control in the car for hours, and you were able to walk him within sight of sheep without him losing control, I wonder how much of his issue is a response to sheep, and how much is a response to a location that he associates with stress.   I'm not dissing your instructor.  Learning new stuff, even if it is stuff we enjoy, is stressful.  But if every time he comes to that location he feels stressed, and then gets corrected for being stressed, you may need to change the picture  of what working sheep is like as completely as possible for him.

 

Years ago, a friend of mine put her 8-ish month old pup on what were thought to be very docile sheep, but one of them read lack of confidence in a totally green young dog, and butted it.    The dog was okay, albeit a bit cautious the next time it was put on sheep, and then the third time on sheep it got stomped at (no physical contact), and the dog refused to work sheep at all after that.  About once a year for several years after that, the owner would give the dog another try on sheep, and the dog just did every avoidance behavior in the book. The dog was a great companion dog and the owner did ASCA duck trials with him and he was great at that, with a great innate sense of balance and rate on ducks,  but he clearly wasn't a sheep dog.  Then one day when the dog was about seven, the owner went to a clinic with another dog, and on a lark at the end of the weekend she decided to try her " 'fraidy dog" on the sheep at the clinic.  To everyone's surprise, especially the owner's, the dog circled around the sheep, came to balance, paused, walked calmly straight into the sheep and did a picture perfect little micro-fetch.   Dog went around again, squeezed between the sheep and the fence, another lovely little gather.   The owner called her dog to her, they left the pen, and she never tried him on sheep again. 

 

I'm not saying that he would have been perfectly fine if only the owner would have tried a different location when he was younger.  The sheep that challenged him when he was younger were no doubt reading something in him, because that flock was really very reliable for starting young dogs in general.  But I do wonder iwhen he first started having difficulty, if the owner had changed the picture entirely, by changing the location, if the dog might have been able to build his confidence and at least have been able to work reasonably cooperative sheep.   

 

I think it might be worth your while to seek out another trainer at another location if you can find a good trainer who doesn't crank too hard on a green dog a long as the dog isn't a danger to the sheep.   Again, I'm not dissing your current instructor.  But sometimes a little thing can happen that unduly stresses the dog (especially a border collie!) that causes the dog to respond inappropriately, and when the trainer tries to correct the inappropriate behavior the dog just gets more stressed and everyone quickly gets caught in a downward spiral.  I know it's not easy to find knowledgeable people with good stock to help you, but I do wonder if you might be pleasantly surprised if you could start all over again in a totally new location on different stock with a different instructor. 



#47 Bicoastal

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 07:36 AM

Thanks makes sense, Hooper. My dog had no history at this location. I was stunned at how chill and "normal" he was when we walked towards sheep where he could see them as well as hear and smell them.

 

He definitely has a strong history of excitement at the instructor's location. So do I need to find a new farm to go sit and read a book?

 

It seems like there are actually lots of herding folks in VA but no one knows me or my dog and my introduction of where we're at would naturally alarm anyone who owns stock.



#48 Hooper2

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 01:07 PM

Well, first of all, full disclaimer, I am waaaayyy far from being any sort of expert at this so bear that in mind in taking any advice from me.  :)

 

Based on what you've said about this past weekend, if you can find a different location, I think you might have more success with the "read a book" approach someplace where your dog doesn't already have a history of blowing up than trying that someplace where your dog is already acting out before he gets any where near sheep.  And, if he's reasonably calm at a new location, I'm not sure the packed pen is the first thing I would try there.   I've seen packed pen work really help some dogs deal with pressure appropriately and calmly.  I've used it with my own dogs to help teach them to calmly stand up to pressure, to build confidence, to control their own pressure on sheep.  But  I've seen a couple spectacular failures in packed pens as well. If your dog is reasonably calm at a new location, you might consider just taking him there to walk around, watch other dogs working sheep, approach sheep on a loose leash calmly a few times, and then start  introducing him to working sheep as your instructor would for any inexperienced dog.  Be honest with the instructor about your dog's history, but if an instructor is any good at all, believe me, s/he has already dealt with dogs slicing, diving, mindlessly chasing, grabbing random sheep parts, you name it.  I truly appreciate your consideration for the stock, but an skilled experienced trainer will be able to protect stock even from a pretty grabby dog.  Honestly, it may turn out that this just isn't the sport for your dog.  But if you enjoy it, and your dog showed some initial promise, and he showed he can keep his brain in his head around sheep in a different location, I think you  owe it to yourself to try to start over from scratch in a completely different setting with a new set of experienced eyes assessing and coaching the two of you.



#49 juliepoudrier

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 01:39 PM

Bicoastal,
I sent you a message via this forum regarding another clinic in Virginia.

J.

I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream.

~Vincent van Gogh

mydogs_small2.jpg
Julie Poudrier
New Kent, VA

Beloved, and living in memory:
Willow (6/1997-5/2014, run free, my heart), Boy (3/1995-10/2010, RIP), Jill (8/1996-5/2012, RIP), Farleigh (12/1998-7/2014, RIP), Kat (4/2000-6/2015, I miss you, my sweet, funny little clown), Twist (11/2001-11/2016, you were my once-in-a-lifetime dog and forever my BEST girl), and Phoebe (7/2006-8/2017, gone too soon).

The current pack:
Lark, Pipit (Pip), Birdie, Kiskadee (Kiss), Rue, Corbie, Kite, Cooper, and little Lonesome Dove!

Willow's Rest, Tunis, Tunis mules, Leicester Longwool, Teeswater, Border Leicester, Karakul, and Gulf Coast Native sheep


Visit me on Facebook at Poudrier and Crowder, Set Out Specialists (P&C, SOS)

#50 Alchemist

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Posted 30 January 2018 - 05:13 PM

I held off on answering this part until I knew more for sure (my emphasis added below).

 

Unfortunately we no longer have access to Clarke's Farm for the Patrick Shannahan clinics. (I say "we", although I'm not involved in putting on this clinic, I'm just a regular attendee). They may well resume in some other form and location (and with someone else's sheep), but for now, I still think your best bet is to attend one of Kathy Knox's clinics at Sarah Ruckelshaus's place. I've seen Kathy work dogs there that were grippy (as in, seriously wanted to take livestock down; this sounds a lot more extreme than your dog). The dog was still allowed to work for the entire clinic, and we all saw considerable improvement by the end. There are some clinic hosts who would have asked the handler to take the dog home well before that point. 

 

Different hosts, different rules. Some hosts are less flexible than others about dogs that want to harm their livestock. Some hosts have larger flocks and for them, ending up with a few sheep that have become too sour to be worked isn't as much of an issue. I'm not going to judge either way (though as my flock is small, I'm in the former camp). As I've mentioned before, it's always best to contact the host and ask about your dogs' specific issues, and whether this would be an appropriate setting for them. It's better than being turned away once your dog has had one work. Or having clinic hosts throw in the towel and deciding to no longer offer them (this is NOT the situation with the clinic that was held at Clarke's Farm!).

 

I'm not sure how I can phrase this next part tactfully, so I'll just conclude by saying: keep in mind that the objective of training a dog is so that it can learn to move stock in a low-stress manner. Sure, trialing is a lot of fun, too. And a lot of us have progressed along a slippery slope we might never have originally imagined, progressing from enjoying training our dogs to owning our own stock. But we still have to be mindful that it might not be a lot of fun for the stock at times. We should respect them, and do what we can to ensure they're treated well.

 

Best of luck!

 

 

Kathy Knox used to do two clinics a year at Chestertown MD at Sarah Ruckelshaus' Victory farm, one in December and one in April. Even if you could not get into one at this time, auditing might be an option, or being put on a waiting list. 

 

Patrick Shanahan does more than one a year in eastern MD, either with Linda Tesdahl or one of the other handlers in that area. One of the handlers that frequents those clinics is a member here. 



#51 Bicoastal

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 08:59 AM

Update!

 

I took my dog to a new-to-me trainer. I laid out our history, the problems as I saw them, my concern for the sheep, and my unwillingness to permit pain be inflicted to attempt to change behavior. I handed him my fee and said it's ok if you see what you need to see in five minutes and need to tell me this isn't for us.

 

He had me get my dog out and observed us for maybe 45 seconds before taking the lead. Somehow, he managed to not get into a battle from parking lot to pen (I do), while still requiring -and getting, through lots of patience- a loose leash and responsiveness to the handler. We spent maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of our lesson walking toward and away from the paddock very casually and patiently like we had all of the time in the world. My dog was excited and intense but did not seem like a pressure cooker building steam.

 

Then we entered the paddock and meandered around on lead following the sheep for the rest of our lesson. I kept thinking he's gonna blow up, but he never truly did. When the sheep popped out of corners, he would leap after them and the trainer would wait until he was calm before moving again.

He said many of the same exact things the first trainer said about teaching patience and listening, so I'm very cautious. I thought we had been teaching that; it was definitely a goal. Maybe the new environment and new handler threw my dog off a little (for the better) and once he's had more history there, we'll have all of the same arousal problems. Or maybe this trainer has a different energy and approach that will work better for this particular dog. 

 

He said there's not a darn thing wrong with this dog, he's just young and practiced bad behavior. We are welcome back any time, so we scheduled another visit. I told him I want to go as slow as this dog needs. I suspect the first trainer feels obligated to put dogs on sheep because clients drive aways and pay him for herding lessons. I hope this trainer believes me that I'm in no rush to see my dog turned loose on stock. Actually, now I'm a little scared to see that. The trainer seemed very confident the dog is capable and this is achievable. He gave me some homework that is helping in our day-to-day routine. That is the best thing to come out of my "herding lesson!"

 

I'm not sure how I can phrase this next part tactfully, so I'll just conclude by saying: keep in mind that the objective of training a dog is so that it can learn to move stock in a low-stress manner. Sure, trialing is a lot of fun, too. And a lot of us have progressed along a slippery slope we might never have originally imagined, progressing from enjoying training our dogs to owning our own stock. But we still have to be mindful that it might not be a lot of fun for the stock at times. We should respect them, and do what we can to ensure they're treated well.

 

Very tactfully said. For me and my dog, this is a hobby. This particular hobby involves other animals, so their safety and peace of mind is paramount. They didn't volunteer for this gig. That is exactly what I told the new trainer before taking my dog out.



#52 Sue R

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Posted 31 January 2018 - 09:06 PM

Update!
 
I took my dog to a new-to-me trainer. I laid out our history, the problems as I saw them, my concern for the sheep, and my unwillingness to permit pain be inflicted to attempt to change behavior. I handed him my fee and said it's ok if you see what you need to see in five minutes and need to tell me this isn't for us.
 
He had me get my dog out and observed us for maybe 45 seconds before taking the lead. Somehow, he managed to not get into a battle from parking lot to pen (I do), while still requiring -and getting, through lots of patience- a loose leash and responsiveness to the handler. We spent maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of our lesson walking toward and away from the paddock very casually and patiently like we had all of the time in the world. My dog was excited and intense but did not seem like a pressure cooker building steam.
 
Then we entered the paddock and meandered around on lead following the sheep for the rest of our lesson. I kept thinking he's gonna blow up, but he never truly did. When the sheep popped out of corners, he would leap after them and the trainer would wait until he was calm before moving again.

He said many of the same exact things the first trainer said about teaching patience and listening, so I'm very cautious. I thought we had been teaching that; it was definitely a goal. Maybe the new environment and new handler threw my dog off a little (for the better) and once he's had more history there, we'll have all of the same arousal problems. Or maybe this trainer has a different energy and approach that will work better for this particular dog. 
 
He said there's not a darn thing wrong with this dog, he's just young and practiced bad behavior. We are welcome back any time, so we scheduled another visit. I told him I want to go as slow as this dog needs. I suspect the first trainer feels obligated to put dogs on sheep because clients drive aways and pay him for herding lessons. I hope this trainer believes me that I'm in no rush to see my dog turned loose on stock. Actually, now I'm a little scared to see that. The trainer seemed very confident the dog is capable and this is achievable. He gave me some homework that is helping in our day-to-day routine. That is the best thing to come out of my "herding lesson!"
 
 
Very tactfully said. For me and my dog, this is a hobby. This particular hobby involves other animals, so their safety and peace of mind is paramount. They didn't volunteer for this gig. That is exactly what I told the new trainer before taking my dog out.

Good for you, quite perceptive, and especially that last paragraph.

Best wishes!
Sue Rayburn - Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult, but not the brightest firefly in the jar.

Celt, Megan, and Dan

"When the chips are down, watch where you step."

"The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything." - author unknown

#53 Alchemist

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 02:27 PM

Bicoastal, totally awesome news!!! I wish you and your dog every success. And I commend you for going into this with totally the right attitude!

 

Hopefully I'll run into you at a trial at some point. (We'll be the ones hoping to complete the course with numbers rather than letters). They're fun to spectate at (and good training on chilling for your dog) even if you aren't yet competing.




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