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I have a mature dog (6) who I continue to work with because 1. I like him, 2. he has some talent and 3. He presents such problems that I'm sure I can learn a lot from him - more than my easier young dog. I assume I'm addicted, so want to learn what I can. When I'm tearing at my hat and asking "what are you THINKING?" I'm really trying to figure out what he might have been thinking.

 

He works for authoritative males much better than for me, and probably would have done much better with one of them (but he's our family dog). What I'd like to ask about today is a dog's consideration of sheep. He has a powerful affect on sheep from a distance. Sheep take notice when he is far off - that affected his early training, because I could never find a situation where sheep would hold still. Now, he tends to come in too close and I can see that puts him under great pressure. Although he will circle wide when he has enough room, it's as if he's saying, "yes, I will do this, but I'm not really doing anything" and when asked to pick up sheep, tends to slice and get them running really fast so he can zoom past to the other side. Often opening his mouth sideways, but he doesn't really grip. The only time he acts like he can be nice and respectful to sheep is when taking them out of a corner.

 

So my question is (as quite the novice) is how does one change the respect a dog has for sheep? Or develop it if it isn't there. I've tried just sitting with him in a stall with sheep and he relaxes, but it doesn't translate. Any ideas or reflections?

 

Thanks,

Nancy

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I have a mature dog (6) who I continue to work with because 1. I like him, 2. he has some talent and 3. He presents such problems that I'm sure I can learn a lot from him - more than my easier young dog. I assume I'm addicted, so want to learn what I can. When I'm tearing at my hat and asking "what are you THINKING?" I'm really trying to figure out what he might have been thinking.

 

He works for authoritative males much better than for me, and probably would have done much better with one of them (but he's our family dog). What I'd like to ask about today is a dog's consideration of sheep. He has a powerful affect on sheep from a distance. Sheep take notice when he is far off - that affected his early training, because I could never find a situation where sheep would hold still. Now, he tends to come in too close and I can see that puts him under great pressure. Although he will circle wide when he has enough room, it's as if he's saying, "yes, I will do this, but I'm not really doing anything" and when asked to pick up sheep, tends to slice and get them running really fast so he can zoom past to the other side. Often opening his mouth sideways, but he doesn't really grip. The only time he acts like he can be nice and respectful to sheep is when taking them out of a corner.

 

So my question is (as quite the novice) is how does one change the respect a dog has for sheep? Or develop it if it isn't there. I've tried just sitting with him in a stall with sheep and he relaxes, but it doesn't translate. Any ideas or reflections?

 

Thanks,

Nancy

 

 

Hi Nancy. What we are looking at here with your dog requires a little more information to determine why he is just going through the motions but not really working, because that is what he is doing. I need to have some questions answered before going any further with this so I can reach some kind of conclusion on the steps you need to take to make this dog happy in the service again. You say that, when he was younger he could move sheep from a distance which is telling me that he used to have pretty great presence and possibly even somewhat aggressive presence. I don't want to know any names when you answer these questions as this is not a blaming forum. Question 1. Was the dog sent out for outside training? Question 2. What tools or methods were used in the training? Question 3. How old was the dog when sent for training or when started? What changes did you notice in the dog over that period? You have already stated some of them but I need to know more. I am seeing a dog right now that has had a bit too much force used on him over too short a time and he has soured to working. You say that he will slice and harrass the sheep when gathering and this is pretty well just a control problem but not quite that simple. In my opinion you have a big job on your hands but one that could be rewarding if you can get the dog back enjoying his work. My take on him being stressed when in too close is that he has been reprimanded harshly for getting too close and possibly gripping and has lost a lot of his confidence and is afraid that he is going to "get it" again. He is virtually "running scared" and just going through the motions so he doesn't get chastised. Anyway this is just a start so answer some of the questions you can and get back to me and we'll try to fgure this out together.......Bob

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Hi Nancy. What we are looking at here with your dog requires a little more information to determine why he is just going through the motions but not really working, because that is what he is doing. I need to have some questions answered before going any further with this so I can reach some kind of conclusion on the steps you need to take to make this dog happy in the service again. You say that, when he was younger he could move sheep from a distance which is telling me that he used to have pretty great presence and possibly even somewhat aggressive presence. I don't want to know any names when you answer these questions as this is not a blaming forum. Question 1. Was the dog sent out for outside training? Question 2. What tools or methods were used in the training? Question 3. How old was the dog when sent for training or when started? What changes did you notice in the dog over that period? You have already stated some of them but I need to know more. I am seeing a dog right now that has had a bit too much force used on him over too short a time and he has soured to working. You say that he will slice and harrass the sheep when gathering and this is pretty well just a control problem but not quite that simple. In my opinion you have a big job on your hands but one that could be rewarding if you can get the dog back enjoying his work. My take on him being stressed when in too close is that he has been reprimanded harshly for getting too close and possibly gripping and has lost a lot of his confidence and is afraid that he is going to "get it" again. He is virtually "running scared" and just going through the motions so he doesn't get chastised. Anyway this is just a start so answer some of the questions you can and get back to me and we'll try to fgure this out together.......Bob

 

Thank you for the reply and thanks for being on this forum. I learn a lot from all the questions and replies, and want to learn more about training (once you ruin that first dog I guess it's quit ar get even more determined....) Earl (that's the dog) seems to be described by Virgil Holland's personality types as an extremely pressure-sensitive dog with a huge amount of presence. I want to talk about his attitude toward sheep. You are correct in advising me to get a down on him at any cost (that's been the advice of some very good trainers and clinicians) but even when he is down, most of the time his eyes are gleaming with that "if you even twitch, sheep, it's rodeo time."

 

I got a little bit of education this week when my 27 year old son (big, strapping lad) came out to see the dogs work and asked if he could try and first worked with my younger dog who very carefully and quietly moved the sheep around and through panels for him. My son said, "How do I get things going, I want some action out here?" And I told him he should work Earl. Bingo. I realized how much alike they are!!!! I tried to coach this boy in a couple sports and got nothing but disrespect, but the most rough, general-like coaches had him completely in line and begging for more. Of course, he goes out with Earl, the sheep are running instantly, but he asks for a down and Earl complies. My son doesn't know the names of flanks and changed his call mid-flank a couple of times, and Earl just doubled back on himself to obey. However, neither of those boys (my son or Earl) had the sheep's well-being in mind.

 

The dog and I have had good trainers and he hasn't been abused. He is the kind of dog who could be hit on the head with a 2x4 and he might wince but immediately ask, "....and now????" I'm sure that the key to him is not harshness, but some kind of exuded confidence. I just wish he didn't think of the sheep as giant dog toys which are easily self-activated.

 

Nancy

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Thank you for the reply and thanks for being on this forum. I learn a lot from all the questions and replies, and want to learn more about training (once you ruin that first dog I guess it's quit ar get even more determined....) Earl (that's the dog) seems to be described by Virgil Holland's personality types as an extremely pressure-sensitive dog with a huge amount of presence. I want to talk about his attitude toward sheep. You are correct in advising me to get a down on him at any cost (that's been the advice of some very good trainers and clinicians) but even when he is down, most of the time his eyes are gleaming with that "if you even twitch, sheep, it's rodeo time."

 

I got a little bit of education this week when my 27 year old son (big, strapping lad) came out to see the dogs work and asked if he could try and first worked with my younger dog who very carefully and quietly moved the sheep around and through panels for him. My son said, "How do I get things going, I want some action out here?" And I told him he should work Earl. Bingo. I realized how much alike they are!!!! I tried to coach this boy in a couple sports and got nothing but disrespect, but the most rough, general-like coaches had him completely in line and begging for more. Of course, he goes out with Earl, the sheep are running instantly, but he asks for a down and Earl complies. My son doesn't know the names of flanks and changed his call mid-flank a couple of times, and Earl just doubled back on himself to obey. However, neither of those boys (my son or Earl) had the sheep's well-being in mind.

 

The dog and I have had good trainers and he hasn't been abused. He is the kind of dog who could be hit on the head with a 2x4 and he might wince but immediately ask, "....and now????" I'm sure that the key to him is not harshness, but some kind of exuded confidence. I just wish he didn't think of the sheep as giant dog toys which are easily self-activated.

 

Nancy

 

Hi Nancy. You got a good education with your son being able to stop the dog and handle him and the dog complying when handled by a person with a firm voice and confident manner. The key to handling him is not harshness but firmness and consistency making sure that he obeys your commands when given. This is a great dog and the kind that I personally like but they are not easy nor do they have a great willingness to please. They like to be in control and they also like to get things rolling when they can. If the handler does not make themselves known at all times these dogs will forget the handler is even there. He may not be the kind of dog you are used to or you would like to own but he is a good one. You may have to change what you want to see in the dog and accept the fact that he is who he is and treat him accordingly. They are all different and need to be handled differently. The sheep, to him, are objectes to be controlled and that is good. Now you have to teach him that you are the one that makes the decisions as to how they are controlled and not him. Once he respects you things will be much easier and you will start to make progress. I know you like the dog or you wouldn't be asking the questions. Try to be more firm with him and demand obedience of your instructions to him. He will respect you for that. He requires that kind of quidance and, without it, he will just be wandering aimlessly not accomplishing anything. One other very important thing: This dog will make you a better handler and trainer just in the mere fact that you get him to listen. Once he is listening you will be able to walk to the post with a great deal of confidence that you will not lose sheep on the course and you will finish so keep at it. Don't give up. It will come provided you are willing to learn and do the work. If I have sounded harsh or too overbearing forgive me as I sometimes come across this way. It is just because I know this type of dog and respect what they are capable of doing and there just aren't enough like them.......sincerely........Bob

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