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catfish

Dog who stresses

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I have a 5 y/o border collie who I compete with in novice trials occassionaly. Do you have

any suggestions on how to get him to stop stressing out so much. When he gets stressed

it tends to grip at the sheep, eat manure, etc. When I practice with him at the trainers

he does okay. Your input would greatly be appreciated.

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I have a 5 y/o border collie who I compete with in novice trials occassionaly. Do you have

any suggestions on how to get him to stop stressing out so much. When he gets stressed

it tends to grip at the sheep, eat manure, etc. When I practice with him at the trainers

he does okay. Your input would greatly be appreciated.

 

Ok, a few questions to start with. 1) Does the dog do agility or flyball or any other action sport and how often? 2) You say that he is ok at the trainers. Does that mean that he still stresses but not as much or does he not stress at all at your trainers? 3)Is the dog a fast mover and high strung under normal conditions or just when working sheep at a trial? 4) Are you extremely nervous when trialling or are you having fun or trying to? 5) How often do you train and on what kind of sheep? 6) Are you limited in the amount that you can train? 7) Do you play games with your dog and what kind of games?

I have seen a few dogs that react on the trial field this way and, at times, it is because of a high level of stress created by the handler for many different reasons and, at times, it is because of some outside activity other that sheep work that is causing the stress. I would very much like you to answer my questions as well as possible so that I can get some background on this dog in order to assist you with your difficulty. There are lots of things that can cause a dog to stress like this so I will wait for your answers and then we can try to sort this thing out. Thanks...........Bob

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Ok, a few questions to start with. 1) Does the dog do agility or flyball or any other action sport and how often? 2) You say that he is ok at the trainers. Does that mean that he still stresses but not as much or does he not stress at all at your trainers? 3)Is the dog a fast mover and high strung under normal conditions or just when working sheep at a trial? 4) Are you extremely nervous when trialling or are you having fun or trying to? 5) How often do you train and on what kind of sheep? 6) Are you limited in the amount that you can train? 7) Do you play games with your dog and what kind of games?

I have seen a few dogs that react on the trial field this way and, at times, it is because of a high level of stress created by the handler for many different reasons and, at times, it is because of some outside activity other that sheep work that is causing the stress. I would very much like you to answer my questions as well as possible so that I can get some background on this dog in order to assist you with your difficulty. There are lots of things that can cause a dog to stress like this so I will wait for your answers and then we can try to sort this thing out. Thanks...........Bob

Reply from dog who stresses! I am very sorry t hat it has taken me so long to respond back.

No I do not use for agility or flyball. He does not stress to bad at trainers, however, occasionallly

he will eat a little manure. No he is very laid back type of dog, however, the trainer has said

that he is very sensitive to my cues and pressures. Yes I am extremely nervous when it comes

to trialing and sometimes even when practicing. I do not get to the trainers very often as I run

a funeral business and I never know when I am needed also live about 2-2 1/2 hours from trainer.

I play ball with him or frisbee, also take him horseback riding when I go. I know that a lot of his stressing probably comes from me being so nervous and I have been doing this only around 3 years and probably want to have things too soon and must remember that it all takes lots of time and

patience. Thanks for your time and again I apoloize for not getting back to you sooner.

 

Thanks again,

 

catfish

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Reply from dog who stresses! I am very sorry t hat it has taken me so long to respond back.

No I do not use for agility or flyball. He does not stress to bad at trainers, however, occasionallly

he will eat a little manure. No he is very laid back type of dog, however, the trainer has said

that he is very sensitive to my cues and pressures. Yes I am extremely nervous when it comes

to trialing and sometimes even when practicing. I do not get to the trainers very often as I run

a funeral business and I never know when I am needed also live about 2-2 1/2 hours from trainer.

I play ball with him or frisbee, also take him horseback riding when I go. I know that a lot of his stressing probably comes from me being so nervous and I have been doing this only around 3 years and probably want to have things too soon and must remember that it all takes lots of time and

patience. Thanks for your time and again I apoloize for not getting back to you sooner.

 

Thanks again,

 

catfish

 

 

Hi there. Sorry I haven't gotten back sooner but things get a little hectic at this time of the year, especially when trying to get ready for both Nationals. I kind of get a picture of what is happening here and most of it can be remedied over time with you relaxing and having some fun with your dog. This does not mean to stop training or letting the dog do as he pleases. It means setting baby step goals for you and your dog so that your expectations don't leave you and your dog in failure mode all the time. When you go to your trainers, ask for some homework that you can do off sheep as I understand that you don't have sheep to work with. Another suggestion is to find someone in your locale that has sheep that would let you use them to train your dog. This may be a little tough depending on where you are but it would certainly relieve some of the stress from both of you to be able to work more often. Folks in your situation tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves and their dogs unknowingly due to the fact that you feel the need to accomplish a lot when at the trainers as it is a long drive, there's not much time, you're trying to soak as much into your brain as you can because it's a long time before you can get back, and a whole bunch of other factors that create a lot of stress on you both. Learning to run a stockdog and training the dog at the same time is a time consuming experience. You only get out what you can put in in the form of time and energy and knowledge. You are at a bit of a limitation in that you can't put in a lot of time on sheep so it will take you much longer to reap the rewards of training. So, set some realistic goals for yourself and your dog. 1) Ensure that your dog is under control and that you can stop him. This is something that is very necessary when working stock to protect the sheep and also to be able to put your dog in the right place. Once you have control of the dog, some of the stress will be alleviated. 2) Try and understand how sheep react to you and the dog. When at your trainers spend some time trying to work the sheep by yourself to learn to read them. If you don't read what the sheep are doing, it is pretty well impossible to help the dog when he needs it. 3) Work in a progression of phases of work with your dog. The progression should go something like this: 1) control which means a good stop and a good recall so that you can call the dog off the sheep when needed and stop the dog in case things start getting out of hand. 2) Balance: I usually start a young dog doing short outruns. I don't circle the dog. A short ountrun takes the form of a gather. Get between the sheep and the dog. Move yourself from one side or the other so that you force the dog to go one way or the other. Ssshh the dog to get him around the sheep. When he gets to the sheep start backing up so he can bring them to you. You can move one way or the other to ensure the dog is balancing and do lots of walking backwards. Use your "stop" command, whatever it is, to control the pace of the sheep while doing this. As the dog gets more proficient move your gathers out a little further until proficient and on and on. When you see that you and the dog are comfortable with this then you can start working on flanks and driving. Try and keep everything as quiet as possible and don't worry about making mistakes. We are human and we all make mistakes. You won't ruin your dog provided you recognize the mistakes and don't keep making the same ones. Ask questions of your trainer if you don't understand something so that you do understand it. Watch videos, read books and, above all, get to some trials and watch the Open folks running and try and figure out what it is they do that makes things look so easy. Ask them questions also. Most of the Open folks are quite happy to see interested new handlers and will share some of their knowledge with you. You are building a team and the more information you have the better the team that you build. Be patient. It's a long road, especially in your situation. Enjoy what you can and build on that. Feel free to ask for more info any time as we have just got you started in solving your stress problems. Try this for a while and see if you can find some sheep to work when not at the trainers. Make sure your dog is under control so you don't harm someone's sheep that is kind enough to let you work them. Find someone else in your area that likes to do the same thing or already does and try to work with them if possible. Gtet back to me and let me know how you are doing and we'll continue on from there. Bob

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