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Guest Smokinjbc

Falling to Pieces

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Guest Smokinjbc

Hi,

 

I have a three year old bitch, has competed and done well in Started cow dog trials, was considering entering her in Pro-Novice sheepdog trials soon- who has really had a hard time lately with pressure. A little history- she is a loose eyed dog, biggest challenge until this point has been getting her to slow down and watch her stock to keep online. She's usually fairly pushy and has to be kept in check on the fetch or she gets too close to her sheep. She's handled the pressure of that fine and was doing well. About 5 months ago, she was scared badly- had a bad horse experience that I responded badly to (frankly, thought the horse was going to kill her). I think she was as shattered and scared by my reaction as she was to the horse charging her.

Since then, the first problem we have is that if a horse is near by- she associates that with the bad experience and will not flank anywhere near the direction the horse is in - horses are always safely behind a chain link fence. This problem seems to be getting worse, even though its been months since anything bad has happened to her. Part of our facility requires that she works around these horses, and would like to get ideas on how to get her past this fear. She quit me today, while taking the sheep past some horses (also safely fenced), on their way to our practice field. Not a good thing on a public road. Secondly, her ability to take corrections is really become inconsistent. Sometimes she's fine and will work well and confidently, but other times she either shuts down completely or she gets faster (not aggressive) and overflanks/won't stop. I know that is not a spoiled "I'm not going to stop" because she gets that frustrated, off contact look when she does it. SOooo .. obviously I've crossed the line somewhere and she's lost her trust in me. Different suggestions so far are to put her up- which I hate to do as she's the only trial-able dog I have at this time and if she's going to be a good dog, this is the time to get her out and get her seasoned, or work her in a small place- next to the horse- where she can't get away from pressure, etc. I'm afraid to do the latter- will be a last resort- don't want to bully her past her fear. I realize its hard to give advice online, and if I had someone close by to help me with this problem, I would. I also realize alot has to do with her ability to take pressure, which has never been 100% but had come along way until this point. I don't want to work around the problem and pretend its not there, but I also don't want every work session to be a downer for her and me. She started out today great when I was using her as a chore dog, then took her out for one-on-one work today and thats when we had all sorts of trouble.

 

Any advice will be helpful- I really like this dog, she can be very useful when she's confident and relaxed. She's a limited dog in many ways, but I'd like to make the best of her.

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Guest tucknjill

Hey Jaimie

Well with not seeing the dog, I will just give you my first reaction answer. Do you have a round pen with solid sides she cant get out of like woven wire or cattle panels? I might tie a horse or two to the sides to start her and sheep on the inside and just walk her around on a leash...kind soothing tones, no bullying her around. Start her on a rope and maybe push her a bit..when and if she gets too wigged out, stop pet her talk to her...if she is fine with that, I would take her off the rope and work her around...keeping in mind that this might take awhile. I myself wouldnt do anything right now that had a real high pressure result like taking sheep down the road where if she doesnt do it there will be bad results because it will make you tense with her wether you realize it or not.. All excercises would be structured so I could control the outcome. ie horses would be where I put them, I might have her on a line so she couldnt quit, work in small areas so she cant get away..but no bullying...everything would be geared towards getting her confidence back at this point. Also keeping in mind that I would do different things and have a different reaction if a dog was just quitting me because he didnt feel like taking the training I was giving...this dog has had a bad experience and would get the benifit of the doubt from me for quite awhile. I hope this helps a bit, sounds like you have your work cut out for you. :-(

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Guest toney

It might be helpful to spend some time in the proximity of horses without the added pressure of working the dog. A good paperback book to read, preferably at least as long as War and Peace, a comfortable folding chair, and the dog on a leash set up near the horse pens might alleviate some of your dog's fear. I like hotdogs for positive reinforcement. Sometimes even the dog gets one. :cool:

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Guest Shoofly

I would maybe consider putting this dog in a crate in the vicinity of horses and keeping her there for awhile, maybe feed her there, etc. Just bore her to death with horses. Tough problem, bet it's going to take a good while to get over it.

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Guest Smokinjbc

Thanks for everyones advice, I do have my work cut out for me, but I think we can make progress. I do need to watch the situation and make sure its not going to escalate into a tense/gotta do it thing. I've come to rely on her for alot of things, so will maybe put her on the back burner for those things and dust off the old dog for while :rolleyes: .

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Guest tucknjill

Well good luck! Hope things work out for you...

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