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Bicoastal

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About Bicoastal

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Good info, thanks Julie! I will speak with the family and send Stacy a note if I can go.
  5. Thank you for all of the suggestions and the discussion about flooding. I agree my dog doesn't seem fearful. I guess if I find the read-a-book method too upsetting, I could abandon it and head home. Or is that the worse thing I could do and I need to be prepared to sit there all day AND all night until he's calm? Once I stand up, I bet he'd ping up again. Sit back down. Rinse repeat until we can walk around the pasture calmly, yes? Then I reward him by letting him move the sheep while on lead?? I've seen Tommy a couple of times and have exchanged a few words and a joke with him. I would be pretty scared to ask HIM for help! He's a really big hat, right? He also knows who's been training my dog... I don't know if he would decline out of professional courtesy. I want everything to be above-board and matter of fact to avoid any hurt feelings. I will be in Charlottesville this weekend visiting family but maybe I could sneak away for a few hours . My dog would have to ride along, so the behavior might be on display from the parking lot. Embarrassing! As an "advanced clinic," would it be way, waaay over my head? Julie, do you know if I need to provide advanced notice to audit or if I can arrive unannounced midday and bring a check? My availability would depend on my hosts' schedule. Is there a sheepdog trainer in Shipman? I thought there was but I can't find anything online. (BTW, this world seems to be mostly offline so it's difficult for a newbie to find resources in the day of "google it." I'm thankful for this discussion board.) Lots of questions. Sorry! If any locals would prefer email, I'm happy to share my email address privately.
  6. I'm in Northern VA. I'm happy to drive a couple hours and understand we may be done after 15 minutes. The dog was bred by a sheepdog trialer and trainer. I was connected through the sport world. I don't know if the litter's intention was for herding or sports. I'm not knocking the trainer we've been going to at all. He got some great work out of my dog, warmly welcomed me into this community, and was big enough to say he doesn't know what else to do. Maybe it's not the right training match, maybe my suburban lifestyle is too incompatible (weekend warrior sheepdog), maybe the dog has a crossed wire. I'd like a second opinion before throwing in the towel completely.
  7. Hey Blackdawgs, thanks for sharing your own heartache. I appreciate hearing your story. I really benefited from Sarah Stremming's online class called Worked Up. Biting at the end of the run seems pretty common. I think Sarah would say something like the dog might be frustrated because he expects to receive reinforcement at the end of the run but doesn't in a trial. She might suggest practicing an end-of-run routine so the dog learns what to expect when the run ends and when/how he will receive reinforcement. That class revolutionized how I warm up my dog for agility. He doesn't need any revving up, thankyouverymuch! Then I discovered this whole herding thing and that is calling me, now.
  8. Apparently I just missed an opportunity for a Jack Knox Clinic in VA. Darn it! As far as don't take him to just anybody [because trying to 'screw him down' is only going to backfire], where do I go? Yes, he pulls me to the sheep and I try to hold his brains inside his head with commands from car to sheep. I imagine all of that is building pressure. He snaps into a "here" with a BAM! He obeys with loads of excitement. When I ask him to lie down, he drops like he's been shot, ears and eyes forward as his brain screams "SHEEP!" How do I avoid that control and pressure build up before we even reach sheep? Do I let him jump out of the car and run to the fence? Then he runs the fence line or jumps at the gate. I am astounded by the dogs at trials: calmly and nonchalantly watching the previous run then suddenly exuding keen focus when they trot to the post. They take off like a shot when sent. After their run, they hop in the stock tank, turn their back to the field, and walk away seeming to completely turn their mind off of sheep. Can that only be achieved by starting as puppies? Or only a small percentage of dogs are mentally capable? I'm from the sports world where pulling on leash, barking, spinning, and being maniacs who can't settle is considered the price to pay for "drive." Where Border Collies are being bred with higher and higher innate arousal and adrenaline levels and losing the ability to be clear headed or calm [i may have one of those on my hands]. Handlers jazz their dogs up more before going to the line. As another poster mentioned, this level of 'high' is now routine and handlers one up each other in tales of being bitten by their BCs. I'm seeing the sports world could learn A LOT from the stockdog world. I'm confident the trainer would let me borrow some sheep time to sit in a tiny pen with a chair. Or sit in a pasture with sheep grazing. Which would be a better scenario?
  9. I really appreciate everyone's time and care in reading and replying. It gives me a little hope. For the suggestion to take a chair and sit, I think I would be "flooding" him until he gives up. I would definitely need a cable or chain because he'll chew a regular lead. He would probably whine, bark, leap about, maybe scream. It is a passive exercise and no one is exerting any force on him, but it seems like it would torture him. The trainer has already said he has no quit. With his arousal starting before we leave the car, it would probably be better training to start that exercise before we reach the driveway, then at the driveway, then in the parking area, etc. thoughts? I don't want to dump on the trainer or blast him on the interwebs. It could be they aren't a good match or it could be the dog isn't suitable (or can't cope with the scant frequency I can provide).
  10. Dog is 3yo. I don’t have any video because… disaster. Gloria, how does one dial a dog down? I know from the horse world that “lunging down” can become it’s own problem as more and more lunging is needed to tire a fitter and fitter horse. Running him before work definitely adrenalized him but adrenaline surges as soon as he unloads from the car. If dialing down is physical correction, the trainer remarked he feels no pain. My response was he can’t think, so he’s not processing cause and effect even if he were beat with a baseball bat. Ludi, he travels crated in the car and the crate is covered. He still knows where we are . Honestly, I’m not disciplined enough to pull off of the road and wait for him to be quiet before proceeding, nor do I believe it will work. He doesn’t seem conscious or in control of his actions. We tried demanding calm loose leash walking to the pen, backing up if he lunges forward, leash pops, clapping his noise for whining or barking. Demanding manners from car to pen makes that walk take an eternity, while he’s senses are overloaded screaming S-H-E-E-P. The longer he has to wait while exposed to that stimulus, the more wired he gets. It’s like the steam builds and the faulty pressure cooker is going to explode. Sjones, I think I understand what you are saying about possibly incorrect pressure, correction, and positioning. I would be mortified and I think he would be totally inappropriate to take to a clinic. I want to say we aren’t even capable of discussing herding elements now: if he’s put to sheep, he’s going to dive in, scattering them like bowling pins, chasing them into the fence, and gripping whatever flies past his face. I’m afraid he’s going to injure or kill a sheep, more likely by running it to death but possibly through biting. When he is still, he’s like an arrow pulled taught ready to spring from the bow: pupils are dilated, muscles are taught, claws are gripping the soil. I want to cry. I saved a few short video clips from a year ago where he was just lovely. Donald, right now there is no real work. Putting him on sheep (with any amount of rein) would be completely unfair to the sheep and probably to him, too. Small enclosed area… like smaller than a round pen? I’m in the Mid-Atlantic. Any referral recommendations? I obviously need to provide a full disclosure about his current behavior. Thank you all for reading and contributing. I'm really heartbroken. It was so amazing to me to see him do what he's bred to do. He just goes out and does it: all the handler has to do is to be there to provide a little direction. It turns out I'm not too hopeless at reading stock. I was really excited about pursuing what he was bred and loves to do.
  11. I posted a year ago asking if an agility person could cross over to herding. In the Fall of 2016, I started taking herding lessons with an experienced sheepdog trialer and trainer. I was quickly addicted! My boy was lovely, with typical baby dog issues. Another experienced sheepdogger visiting watched him move pregnant ewes and commented how perfect he was for a beginner like me: "so nice and easy" while still powerful. I still remember the day the lightbulb turned on over his head and he suddenly "got" balance. It was like magic! He was described as soft to handler, steady under pressure ("this ain't no chicken shit dog"), learning pace, "stylish," and no quit in him. I started lessoning as often as I could, which is once a week according to weather. I spectated at trials. The interaction between dog and stock is fascinating. I love the community I've found of supportive, encouraging people welcoming me into a world that's been right under my nose. As my dog's exposure to sheep increased, so did his arousal. He was tuning out the handler, chasing or singling out sheep, diving into them like a bowling ball, starting to grip. He went from a stylish green dog showing the innate instincts of outrun, balance, and fetch; to looking like a pet mutt chasing wildlife in a field. Back on the longline. We tried running him before putting him on sheep. We tried calmly walking behind 100+ flock for an hour or working a small packet in a controlled area for 15 mins. I worked on lots and lots of impulse control and obedience at home. We took a break of several months then tried again. Nope. Chasing, splitting, gripping, chasing, chasing. Glimpses of covering but never settled into working instead of wanting to chase them willy nilly. I keep thinking it's supposed to go the other way: I've watched many young dogs at their first intro chase and run amok or grip, then they settle with more exposure. We've had the opposite. What is going on? Is there any way to get my "nice and easy" dog back or is he done? The trainer commented that his brain flies to Mach 10 in a blink (basically as soon as the car hits the farm driveway) and he can't come back down. Trainer doesn't know what else to do. Everyone who knows us is sadly shaking their heads and saying that's too bad. I'm a pet person who enjoys herding. I can't go out and get another dog because this one isn't working out, nor will I place him elsewhere (Where?!!?!) Is there anything that can be done?
  12. I know someone near Winchester (PM me) and there is Keepstone Farm in Berryville.
  13. Hey B Point, I just saw your response. If my boy never had to leave farm life, you'd never know he had any issues. I'm sure his breeder didn't, stating his best trait was how he gets along with every dog. Thank you for the encouragement. I have really enjoyed each lesson. The trainer is fascinating, it's a gorgeous time of year, and watching the communications and pressures is mesmerizing. My dog loves it and I guess ain't half bad. I leave the field sooo proud of my boy. Just this morning, I might have bought a better coat and pants for withstanding sheepdog training. Maybe. Just maybe . I guess I'm starting to sniff out that dragon.
  14. My dog's "behavioral problems" nearly vanish in the presence of sheep. He thinks, he exercises self-restraint, he is confident. He is not a gripper. He can watch other BCs with a quiet, intense excitement that appears more stable and thoughtful than the barking outbursts when watching or hearing BCs run agility. As a newbie to this, I do feel conflict keeping pets (sheep) for our pets. The farm and the livestock exist for sheepdog work, not for wool or meat where working them would be a necessary by-product. After our lesson, we did some practical farm work but still those sheep and that farm exist for the dogs. If not for the sheepdog hobby, they wouldn't exist.
  15. I have studied Control Unleashed, Control Unleashed Puppy Program, BAT, and Fired Up, Frantic and Freaked Out. I have taken online classes for reactive dogs with Amy Cook at FDSA. I have had him about a year, so he is ~2.5yo. He is on L-theanine and Melatonin daily. My vet does not want to prescribe a rx for daily anxiety. I have a plug-in DAP diffuser. We use Alprazolam (generic Xanax) and Trazadone for extreme sound situations like thunderstorms and fireworks. We also tried chinese herbs on the recommendation of a vet but they caused GI upset. I'm trying. Simply walking in the neighborhood can include outbursts of reactivity to dogs across the street. If he sees another dog, he does not willingly accept treats or toys, so I have very limited tools besides dragging him away to get more distance from the trigger. Where we have taking herding lessons, any dog in view is a calm and mannerly herding dog. He can look at them quietly. Plus there's sheep: he'd much rather look at them! He was bred by an experienced sheepdog handler and definitely wants to work stock. I'm afraid taking him in that direction is unrealistic for someone working full time and living in a crowded suburb.
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