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Laura Vishoot

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  1. Laura Vishoot

    walking backward

    More space, and moving on to some sheep that are less likely to just follow you regardless of what your dog is doing will help you. Sheep can teach a dog a lot but these are following you while your dog follows them. Since the sheep are virtually attached to your body he can't tell that he's supposed to be controlling them and holding them to you. You can mechanically help him be in the right place for now by lying him down when he's directly behind the sheep. Try not to send your dog at the beginning after the sheep have already turned to follow you so he can get the idea that he is supposed to lift the sheep and hold them to you. Maybe if they have some grain they will stay put so he can get around them. Have fun!
  2. Laura Vishoot

    Training technique - holding sheep against fence?

    IMO it's showing the dog's natural abilities rather than a trained skill (i.e. holding sheep on a fence). Holding sheep to a person that's standing against a fence is very pressure filled for a dog, I assume that he is asking the dog to really put the sheep on him so the dog is walking into a lot of sheep, fence AND human pressure. A potential buyer will like to see that a dog can handle this without blowing up, orbiting off the pressure or refusing to walk in. He'll also usually back off and have the dog go between the sheep and the fence, also something a buyer wants to see. I've watched a lot of his sale videos. Often he will also have the dog push the sheep right up into a fence (without standing between sheep and dog) until they split and squirt out the sides; the good dog will flank off to cover the escapees without either letting them go, diving into them, and / or gripping.
  3. Laura Vishoot

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

    It sounds like your dog is very frustrated and the training methods are making him more so. Things like: are indeed building up rather than diffusing his "drive". The pressure cooker analogy is a good one! Coming once a week and then being asked to be "calm" (heh heh) before getting on the sheep may be causing his brain to fall out of his head. Is he "sport bred"? I have seen this more than once in dogs that were bred with the main criteria being HIGH DRIVE. Training for agility and some other dog sports also encourage this. In my experience, dogs with a ton of DRIVE but without the rest of the sheepdog package are at a pretty big disadvantage. I actually feel sorry for them, the adrenaline, frustration and panic must not feel great, and on top of it they are constantly in trouble and can't do anything right. That said, I know of dogs definitely bred for nothing but what makes a good working dog that have been at this place. I own one. Frankly, I'm not sure if she will get through it well enough to be a good sheepdog. One thing I've learned with her is to let her work a LOT of sheep and to take care not to try very hard to keep her under my thumb for now because the other side of that waits an explosion. I think you should try a different trainer and make sure you get to a clinic with one of the mentioned great dog people. Maybe, if your dog actually has promise that would warrant this, put him in training with a sheepdog trainer for at least 2 months. It's hard for a dog who is OTT keen to get on sheep one time a week. I'm sure they are always thinking it's like a once in a lifetime opportunity that may never happen again, and they cannot possibly settle down. When walking out and working sheep on a daily basis becomes a norm, they can often learn to take it all in stride. They really need to have experiences of being "right" a lot of the time during their trainings. Also - maybe have his hearing checked. I had a dog who was doing great and at 3 he turned into the worlds biggest ass (I unfairly thought). I rehomed him. Turns out, he had lost his hearing. Good luck and I agree that video would be very helpful here.
  4. Please do not fall into the trap of trying to give a border collie "enough" exercise. There is no such thing and you will just create a dog with an insatiable need to go, go, go, go. It's not that fun. I've seen a lot of ball crazy dogs that were created by their owners' wish to "wear them out;" that never happened. The dogs just developed amazing stamina and a ball obsession. Yes, they do need their exercise, but mental stimulation will probably work better, after a point, to fulfill them. Your puppy is very cute, have fun!
  5. Laura Vishoot

    A deal breaker

    I always will keep my old dogs. I may let one go for the first time in the near future. He is not yet actually old (8), really really loves being the farm helper AND trialing, but I have 2 younger Open dogs as well as a third ready to move up, a Nursery dog with a promising future, and some avid youngsters who will benefit from doing chores with me. Key consideration is that this dog is terrified of my old male guardian dog and will not work around him, so he's not doing as much as he would like. If he crosses over the threshold of another year here, he'll remain for the duration. In this case, thinking of letting him go somewhere else is absolutely, 100% in consideration of the happiness of the dog. He is my companion, pet and trial partner. His presence enhances my life. I believe that he might want more out of his remaining vital years than what he might get with me. If he did go, I would love to have him back with me for his dotage, if the person wanted that. This was all just musing and rambling. He's snoring by my foot and it doesn't seem likely that he's headed anywhere soon.
  6. Laura Vishoot

    A deal breaker

    I use the term "deal breaker" in all kinds of situations where no actual two way deal was made; for example, when I was online dating, hearing a man complaining about the ex wife was an automatic "deal breaker" for me. But, there was actually no deal. There was every chance that said complaining man was not interested in me anyway. Still, there was that "deal breaker." Without the "deal." If I'm looking for real estate, and the property has less than 20 acres, that's a "deal breaker" for me. Except ... I have not even made an offer on the property, there was no deal or even the beginning of a deal, yet, still, there was a "deal breaker." My friend is a vegan. If a restaurant has no vegan choices on the menu, it's a "deal breaker" for her. Did the restaurant actually enter into any type of deal with her whatsoever? Do they even realize that she has rejected their offerings? Nope. If I say that there are "deal breakers" where dogs are concerned, I'm using the term just as I am in the above examples.
  7. Laura Vishoot

    A deal breaker

    I appreciate your post and don't fully disagree with it, but I am being honest, and I am not kidding myself. I'm also not anthropomorphizing; I certainly don't think that my dogs came to me and signed a contract, or that they are effectively comparable to special needs children. Who are we to say that an individual dog would hate to be in a different home than the one I am providing for it, and that they will experience that the same way that you, as a human, experience rejection? Some dogs, maybe. Other dogs - life is an adventure, they are opportunists, bring on the better deal. The better deal that they did not actively seek ... or maybe they somehow did. Because the older I get, the more amazed I am at how some dogs seem to find the right places for themselves in their lives. That said, my dogs and I have symbiotic relationships; I have expectations, even of pets. It's my responsibility to communicate these to my dogs through training, and the interaction and environment I provide. My respect for dogs, especially those that come into our lives bringing some kind of partnership, has increased monumentally since I started working with sheepdogs. I believe that we are really selling these dogs, and our relationships with them, short when we choose not to accept them as sentient beings. This is not rationalization or excuses, though I believe you will perceive it as such.
  8. Laura Vishoot

    Another Breeder Post

    If you are too picky with all conditions, you may well end up with a puppy bred with very poor priorities in mind. I'm not dissing your priorities, they are mostly fine IMO. I will say that I know personally of some depressing backyard breeders who have no idea what they are doing with border collies. What they do know is that they want to appeal to a buyer like you, who will pay much more for a puppy simply because of health tests than those who are willing to go to a farm and get one from a line that they know and like. In their favor, they do the health testing that is important to many. Unfortunately, passing the tests is about the limit of their criteria for breeding decisions. A breeding pair that can pass health tests is not necessarily indicative of a good breeding decision. One such "breeder" that comes to mind had her first litter 2 years ago due to the fact that she sent her female (her first and only border collie) out for training, unaware that she was in standing heat. An accidental breeding with an Open trial dog resulted; thus, an empire was created. Two years later, the current sire is on site (a puppy she bought specifically to use as stud on her females, of which she now has 5 - without any clue about how he works, but health tests look good. First litter he sired at 10 months of age). This is a plus because she can just keep the puppies coming and not ever have to pay a stud fee. I won't name names, but if I did, I think that many would find her website and Facebook presence impressive. There are pictures of puppies with children, flowers and colorful ribbons. Testimonies from happy customers. I believe that most of the "breeder" websites that present like this are suspect. In my experience, those who are breeding the really good border collies don't have that type of web presence. You will see more of a focus on the accomplishments of the dogs. So - bottom line is, I think you're going about this a little backwards. Why not be on the lookout for dogs that you really like, and see where they came from. Find other people who have dogs from the same place and talk to them. From there, investigate about the health tests that are important to you.
  9. Laura Vishoot

    A deal breaker

    When I was starting out with these dogs, I read "A Way of Life." In it, Glynn Jones wrote about moving dogs on if they didn't work out, and how it could be better for the dog to be someplace where it was the right fit rather than where it was not. I thought, "what a cop out." Now, I'm there. I actually think that it's more like an apprenticeship than a solid deal when I start working as a team with a dog. I think it's my responsibility to do everything I can to FAIRLY teach the dog what I need from it and give it opportunities to fulfill that role. That is my part of the deal. The dog also has its end of the deal. There are some traits that are "deal breakers" for me. These are things about the way a dog works or learns that are a bad fit for me. I used to try harder, and longer, with these dogs. As time wears on, I've learned to let go of a dog sooner, when I know for sure that we don't match up well. These dogs can definitely go on to be successful with a person who does not have the same needs and preferences that I do. Also, working endlessly on changing an innate quality in a dog can saddle that dog with a lot of needless baggage. Somebody is not going to give a hoot about that sorry outrun or predatory approach to baby lambs. Generally, though, a dog moves on from me NOT because of a working trait (like too much eye, bad flanks, no natural outrun, etc.) but because I have come to the conclusion that it does not want to try to be on the team with me. If a dog is eternally working for itself and consistently failing to care about my input, I will ultimately let that dog go. Often, a threshold is crossed where a dog will never go away from here no matter what. For me, it has to do with a shared history, a special bond formed by working through some difficulties, or simply an emotional attachment. There are dogs here right now (on the couch, in fact) that do nothing for me except be who and what they are. We are permanent members of the same tribe. This is not a "deal" that I make with a dog when I get started with it, though. It develops, or it doesn't. All of that said, I start out with a level of commitment. I believe that dogs can sense when we are not committed and often respond by giving less.
  10. Laura Vishoot

    Preliminary DNA test for Early Adult Onset Deafness now available!

    Several weeks is not a long time. ABCA was not under any type of requirement to make a statement at all; they did it by request of the membership, to which they responded in appropriate and timely fashion - just not by Facebook standards! The inflammation of many avid users of social media doesn't set the pace of thoughtful research, communication or decision making, thank goodness! Peace out!
  11. Laura Vishoot

    Preliminary DNA test for Early Adult Onset Deafness now available!

    Not specifically in response to you, gcv, but I take issue in general with this trend: something has become a hot topic in social media, and then an entity or individual is maligned for "failing" to immediately respond to it, on public media. It was generally known that ABCA was discussing where they stood on this. ABCA committees are volunteer and it takes organization and time for everyone to weigh in and for a statement to be created and reviewed by all. This is not an "excuse," this is reality. They came forward with theirs in a timely fashion. There was not "secrecy" or lack of transparency. Their timeline simply was not aligned with that of Facebook, these boards, Sheepdog-L and other online bastions of opinion. If someone made a testing or breeding decision based on lack of a statement from the ABCA, that would be on them for not waiting. Again, this is not directed at the person whose post I quoted; I read a lot on Facebook along the lines of "why the secrecy" and what the ABCA "should" be doing. Public media and people reacting like they're on fire there is not what drives thoughtful decision making. At least it should not be.
  12. Laura Vishoot

    "A Football Field of Dogs"

    If the dog doesn't have a great temperament, it would have to be pretty stellar for me to breed it. And I would have to really see the ways in which it was stellar. There are very many dogs that are beating a lot of teams at sheepdog trials that will never produce puppies. It might be wiser to go back to that dog's parents and get one that's the same way bred.
  13. Laura Vishoot

    "A Football Field of Dogs"

    I just re-read that article. Some of it makes a bit of sense to me and I disagree heartily with much of it, but that's beside the point. I really think you can't apply the concept of breeding to sustain a BREED of dog which is identified by a physical standard, to the concept of breeding to maintain innate working ability in dogs with no physical standard to conform to. That whole issue aside, though: We humans have proven that without a doubt we are not the best stewards of dogs. Whether it's better for the size of the gene pool or not, it's ridiculous to suggest that MOST dogs, barring terrible faults, should be bred.
  14. Laura Vishoot

    "A Football Field of Dogs"

    I really don't think I am. Those yellow and red dogs being sold to sport or pet homes, or bred by sport breeders is a red herring. People who are "breeding for excellence" would, in many cases, not choose to breed to those dogs no matter who owned them. They are not "culls," they are simply not what many people would consider worthy of breeding. Breeding for excellence means to try to produce the best dogs you can.
  15. Laura Vishoot

    "A Football Field of Dogs"

    I don't know anyone who generally breeds just to "the best." Most people who produce great crosses are choosing complementary dogs. I don't, however, know anyone personally who is going to actively seek dogs who are "just okay" in order to keep the gene pool bigger. As I pointed out, not that many of us are breeding a large quantity of dogs. If we are moved to breed, it is with one idea in mind: that this cross might produce great dogs. Or at least produce a kind of dog we really want. We are not working to "preserve the breed," as it is expressed in "the purebred dog fancy." te class="ipsBlockquote"> I don't think it was suggested to "abandon" that criteria, but to consider the big picture. Working ability is very important, but of the gene pool narrows to the point you have issues then a dog with great working ability and auto immune problems might happen. Do you honestly believe that those who are breeding top tier working dogs aren't considering the big picture? People who are breeding an identifiable line of dogs will certainly be seeking to outcross regularly. Where my view diverges from yours is here: they are not going to look for an "okay" dog or less proven littermates of some accomplished dog when they are choosing their outcross, in pursuit of widening the gene pool of working border collies. They are going to choose the best dog they can find THAT WILL BE COMPLIMENTARY to their line, and expresses what THEY value most highly in working border collies. Of course it does. And, of course we are "narrowing things." Real working border collies exist in a pretty small niche. That's fine. From my perspective, there are thousands of mediocre (or worse) breedings going on every single day; in fact, lately it's been in my face in a big way and that's the reason this is kind of a hot button for me. There is a whole world of self professed "working border collie breeders" who wouldn't know a good dog if one bit them in the face (which would be nice ) who are producing mountains of puppies, selling them and promoting their lackluster stud dogs on the Internet - ALL registered by the ABCA. They are not hurting for customers. I am sure that the preponderance of ABCA registered border collies come from exactly that scenario. That "just okay," or worse, part of the gene pool is multiplying just fine. Meanwhile, people making conscientious breeding choices are not blindly breeding to the International Supreme Champion or whatever happens to be the flavor of the month. They are making thoughtful decisions which include selecting away from genetic defects. IMO we don't need to be producing more border collies just to grow the gene pool. There are plenty of people doing that out of sheer ignorance.
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