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KelliePup

Removal?

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So I consider myself a fairly decent obedience trainer with a fair knowledge of canine behavior. One method I use with dogs that become overly excited/frustrated at seeing other dogs/people/cats/insert object here to the point of becoming aggressive is to remove the dog the instant the transgression occurs and reapproach. Getting closer to the object is always the reward for staying calm and doing what you're supposed to do.

 

One problem I had with Kellie when we were taking lessons was that she was a shark on the flip. We tried smacking the ground with the paddle coupled with a verbal warning when she turned her head in to bite, but it seemed like it was only somewhat working. She would be alright for a couple of flips, but would go back into shark mode.

 

Granted, she's no longer with me, but I always wondered if perhaps we needed to switch gears on the training method. That type of correction, to me, wasn't working and, seeing as how she loved working, I had started to wonder if perhaps removal might be the better way in that situation? The idea I had, and I really wish I had the chance to try it, was when Kellie turned her head, I would issue a verbal correction and then, if she didn't straighten her act and went in for a bite, she'd be removed from the sheep for a period before trying again. I know with obedience, I only have to use removal 3-5 times before the dog gets the idea that they have to behave a certain way or they don't get to even see the object they really want.

 

Any thoughts on this? I think it would only work on a dog that really loves having the sheep as the reinforcer. Has anyone here tried it? I'd like to hear some feedback and/or experiences.

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Not sure what a "flip" is...but I would guess it's when the dog would change direction when going round the stock?

 

There are a number of things that can influence why a dog is grippy on stock. How old is the dog? What is the dog's breeding? Did the dog grip *every* time, or more when it went to one side than the other? Where, on the sheep's body, did the dog grip? Heel? Hock? Grab a shoulder? Pull a little wool or hang on? Was the dog just plain frustrated because it wasn't really being "allowed" to work because the handler was just "fending" the dog off (a practice I've seen used where the handler is so busy with a paddle or rake keeping the dog away from the stock, in the guise of "protecting" the stock, that the dog is never really allowed to *work*)? The first thing you have to try to figure out is WHY the dog is gripping. More often than not, a dog/pup will grip because it is a bit unsure--the pressure of the stock makes it nervous/uncomfortable to varying degrees. So, to the dog, the best defense is a good offense. So the dog will grip in a show of "bravery." Very few dogs grip out of "meanness" or with vicious intent. Basically, they can be anything from really scared to just plain trying to figure out who the stock are in relation to themselves.

 

So "removal" would do nothing to deal with the underlying issue of why the dog is gripping, would it? Neither does yelling, hitting, or throwing things (I've seen lengths of garden hose used to lob at the dog). Now certainly those things can let the dog know, clearly, that the gripping is a behavior that you do not like. And in many cases, the dog will then try to avoid doing that behavior, since you don't like it. But the underlying cause of the grip is still there and has not been dealt with, and so, somewhere down the line, will resurface again (usually when you least want it to) when the dog is in a situation where it feels the pressure from the stock. So, IMO, "removal" would confuse/frustrate the dog--we get to go work with the sheepies, then we stop, then on another day, we go back again, but soon stop, what's up with this?

 

So the bottom line is that there are probably few issues a dog has when working stock that will respond to "ordinary" obedience kind of training or "conditioning," since there is a huge element there--the relationship between the dog and the stock--that is the foundation for the dog's work. The sheep are not just the treat or the reinforcement or reward, as in big, wooly things there for the dog to move around like pool balls on a nice green table; they are beings who give off pressure/energy to the dog, and who also have their own "agenda"--places they'd rather be or things they'd rather be doing--than being moved around by the dog at that point in time.

 

Working with a dog on livestock is so much more complex than basic conditioning, and dealing with the issues a working dog may have on its stock is usually best approached from looking at things from the dog's perspective--what makes sense to the dog and what doesn't--and making a plan from there.

 

Just my .02,

A

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Okay, I'm trying really hard to understand. It never fitted right that I would have to use punishment on Kellie to get her to do what I wanted, none of her other training was that way. For dangerious behaviors, I was always very pro-active in getting her attention back to me through positive reinforcement and removal if the situation got too intense.

 

Kellie was always very insecure and prone to a fight response when she was uncomfortable. I had worked very hard to find her triggers and desensitize her to them. A combination of triggers would still get her anxious and set her off to bite (ie being a strange place+wearing boots+a strange person coming close to me+said stranger reaching over her head to pet=fear bite, vs. stranger=fear bite, which is where she used to be). There was a lot going on in her mind I'm sure. We went from a dog that used to bite people and other dogs on sight to a dog that solicited petting and invited other dogs to play

 

She was almost 5 when we started stock, so just this year before she was killed, and this is my first exposure as well. She never would work for the trainer, just me, and I'm a visual learner so that complicates things a bit. She was definately more proned to grip a sheep's hock when we turned to circle clockwise...I'm trying to remember if it was every time, but I don't think it was, just most of the time. It usually took her about 5 minutes from the time we entered the roundpen for her to get out of play mode and into work mode. I never did see any of her usual displacement behaviors that indicated when she was afraid or uncomfortable or frustrated, but that's not to say she hadn't developed a new one based on the situation and I didn't catch it. I just know she was going to bite when she turned her head in.

 

I suppose looking in hindsight now is very difficult. All I have to go off is my memories. I just feel like she still had so much to teach me, and I know Kayzie is better for the instruction. I also don't know a lot about Kellie's breeding, or if she was all bc. I adopted her shortly after she and her 15 littermates had been dumped in a Montanan shelter at four weeks old (and yes, this did cause plenty of problems throughout her lilfe including health and temperment/behavioral). I know she came from a local ranch in the area, mom was a bc, and that's about it...and the man that owned mom had relinquished several other litters averageing about 4 a year. So there have been a lot of unknowns. I'm just hoping to continue learning from some of the things she did to help me with future dogs...plus I don't like unanswered questions.

 

I still think I'm missing some paramount aspect, even after reading those other two threads. There seems to be some underlying philosophy regarding stockdogs that is different from the obedience training and behavior modification I have been practicing, and I can't decifer what it is. I really would like to figure this out; what is the fundamental difference?

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Hello all, Removal is my method of choice for teaching a stockdog how to properly influence livestock, but not to the extent that KelliePup means. While allowing the dog to stay on task, I will step in between the dog and sheep if the dog gets rash, and my intention in doing so will match that of the dog. Maybe I just have to step in, maybe I have to include a verbal correction, maybe I have to physically restrain the dog, or use my body pressure to push the dog off. It all depends on the dog and degree of rashness.

 

It's a balancing act. Dog is sensible, it gets sheep undeterred. That is a stockdog's only effective positive reinforcement. Dog isn't sensible, it gets me in some form or fashion until it is sensible. Sensibility may be obtained in one lesson or 10, but the degree of success is completely determined by my ability to time pressure AND the release of it correctly. Dogs do not learn from pressure, they learn from the release of it and the quicker we release pressure, the faster the dog will learn.

 

Cheers all,

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Don't have much time, so this will be short.

 

The difference being obedience is the dogs conditioned response to a command that you have taught it. It's just you and the dog..even if there are outside factors coming into play..example you want a sit stay and other dogs are running past.

 

In stock work its you the dog AND the sheep. The dog is being taught to read and respond to the sheep. We aren't trying to modifiy their behavior nor are we demanding absolute obedience from them. We are treaching them to read and correctly work sheep. Gripping is a sign of an underlying problem in the dogs training. That problem needs to be address..behavior modification has nothing to do with it. The gripping can be from lots of things, including fustration caused by the handler not allowing the dog to work right. Once the problem is address and fixed the dog will no longer feel the need to grip. You could say that gripping is stressed related.

 

I'm sure others will jump in and try to explain..running late gotta go

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I think the fundamental difference between obedience or basic behavior modification exercises and stockdog training is that in stockdog training there's a whole other BIG factor: the livestock. Livestock are not static and so they add their own element of variability that can't always be predicted or controlled. By saying they can't be predicted I mean that the pressures livestock can put on a dog depend not only on the stock themselves but also on the individual dog. What's a lot of pressure to one dog may not be a lot to another.

 

This fundamental difference makes a huge difference when it comes to training on stock. That said, you seem to think that stockdog training is punishment based and it's not. It's correction based, meaning that when the dog does something wrong a correction is given and then the dog is allowed to continue to make choices about the work, right or wrong.

 

As Anna noted, most dogs grip out of fear or stress. Work on taking away the fear and stress and you will also resolve the gripping problem. It's important to note that trying to "punish" the dog for such behavior actually only serves to escalate the behavior because the act of punishing (even whacking a stick on the ground) adds stress, and the dog is already reacting badly to stress (by gripping).

 

The problem with redirecting your dog's attention when the dog is working is that the dog's attention *should* be on the stock. Yes, the dog should listen to the human, but the dog's main orientation/attention should be *on the stock.* If every time you think the dog might grip you ask her to look at you, then you are taking her off contact with her stock. A dog that's not in contact with its stock can't work that stock properly. Consider also that by taking the dog's attention off the stock, you may actually be adding to the dog's stress, since the dog *wants* to work....

 

J.

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I still think I'm missing some paramount aspect, even after reading those other two threads. There seems to be some underlying philosophy regarding stockdogs that is different from the obedience training and behavior modification I have been practicing, and I can't decifer what it is. I really would like to figure this out; what is the fundamental difference?

 

I don't know that there is really a fundamental difference, it's more of what you are expecting and understanding. When you are dealing with obedience I suspect that you know what you are expecting, it is pretty cut and dry as to what is right or wrong. Do you have the same confidence in your understanding with stock work. When you and your dog step out on to the field and you ask for a flank, what do you expect your dog to do, how do you expect the sheep to respond and when did the flank end vs. when should have it ended, or did the flank change from a flank into something else, was the dog ever truely flanking?

 

You mentioned that it would take 5 minutes to get her out of Play Mode, right there is a huge difference between what you would allow her to do as an older dog and what I would allow. Stock work is not play, yes you may let a pup play a little as long as they are learning, gaining confidence and not risking the well being of the livestock. Yes, I will let an older dog discover, but they can't just play in respect to our relationship, if during this "discovery mode" they disrespect me by blowing off my help or a correction then the buck stops here. If you and her were in the obedience ring would you allow her to "Play" before getting to serious work?

 

Stockdog training is just that, training, us training the dog to execute particular commands as they relate to their natural reflexes, if the dog is not reflexing correctly by nature we then step in to show them what they should do. Understanding how the dog should respond/reflex at any given time based on the livestock and our command is the key to the training. It's a three way communication, we ask the dog to do something based on what we want done with the stock, the dog responds to our command but takes into consideration the livestock, the stock responds to the dog, we watch the response and adjust our commands or make corrections accordingly. When we are close enough to effect the livestock with our pressure then we have to factor that in also, the dog has to adjust for how we influence the stock accordingly so that control is maintained based on what ever task is being done.

 

When you were having your dog circle the stock, what was the goal, what were you teaching and how did you know if the dog was understanding and how did you determine if your dog was right or wrong? I've asked many people that same question after they told me that is what their trainer had them do, in most cases the answers were... "I don't know."

 

I hope this helps you, I appoligize if I miss my mark and make it more confusing.

 

ETA: Amelia's example of removal is in line with my thoughts, IMO the key is to just get change, if you remove them too far you teach them that they should not engage stock, we don't want that. With some of the more sensitive dogs just a growl will be enough to remove them from their intented path. Reading your dog, understanding what the dog should be doing at any given time in regards to the livestock are all keys.

 

 

Deb

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I think the fundamental difference between obedience or basic behavior modification exercises and stockdog training is that in stockdog training there's a whole other BIG factor: the livestock. Livestock are not static and so they add their own element of variability that can't always be predicted or controlled. By saying they can't be predicted I mean that the pressures livestock can put on a dog depend not only on the stock themselves but also on the individual dog. What's a lot of pressure to one dog may not be a lot to another.

 

This fundamental difference makes a huge difference when it comes to training on stock. That said, you seem to think that stockdog training is punishment based and it's not. It's correction based, meaning that when the dog does something wrong a correction is given and then the dog is allowed to continue to make choices about the work, right or wrong.

 

As Anna noted, most dogs grip out of fear or stress. Work on taking away the fear and stress and you will also resolve the gripping problem. It's important to note that trying to "punish" the dog for such behavior actually only serves to escalate the behavior because the act of punishing (even whacking a stick on the ground) adds stress, and the dog is already reacting badly to stress (by gripping).

 

The problem with redirecting your dog's attention when the dog is working is that the dog's attention *should* be on the stock. Yes, the dog should listen to the human, but the dog's main orientation/attention should be *on the stock.* If every time you think the dog might grip you ask her to look at you, then you are taking her off contact with her stock. A dog that's not in contact with its stock can't work that stock properly. Consider also that by taking the dog's attention off the stock, you may actually be adding to the dog's stress, since the dog *wants* to work....

 

 

J.

 

 

I agree with parts of this, but not the part about corrections NOT equalling punishment?!?!?!?!!? (I admit to busting out laughing with that remark)

 

Yes, the dog grips due to pressure, fear or breeding. The difference when training is that this is an internal drive and therefore stronger than a 'learned' drive such as agility or obedience. But the biggest factor is the safety of the stock when training. Removal may actually cause the pup more anxiety and he may grip more. It is different with a fully trained dog that is removed when being disobedient. While the theory is good, the practice does not follow.

 

Stock work does and CAN have more corrections due to the fact that the innate drive of the dog is so very high. When training a dog in high drive, sometimes you need to override the instinct <to bite> in order to cause no harm to the sheep. Since working the sheep is what the dog REALLY wants then you can apply techniques that may not be helpful when training things not as innate such as agility or obedience that require external rewards.

 

Some techniques are more harsh, some dogs require this in order to protect the sheep. Other techniques are milder and these can be applied to softer or less grippy dogs. The method should fit the dog

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As I tried to say in my first post, and as others have added, the difference is the LIVESTOCK. Some have pointed out various methods for working with a grippy dog, but to me, the main deciding factor in how to deal with any particular grippy dog is to understand the REASON the dog is gripping. Once you understand why the dog grips, you can suit your response to the gripping accordingly. The OP states that the dog seemed to be grippier on one side more than the other, which is very common. Most dogs have one side/direction which is more comfortable to them. So on the uncomfortable side, they will usually be tighter and tend to grab on more.

A

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I agree with parts of this, but not the part about corrections NOT equalling punishment?!?!?!?!!? (I admit to busting out laughing with that remark)

Huh? I can certainly correct my dog without punishing it. Maybe you do things differently, but to me correction certainly does NOT equal punishment. Do you think saying "Hey!" or "Aaaht!" is punishment? I took a dog last spring who was taking sheep down in tight places (and whose owner was ready to give up on her) and was able to get her working without gripping without using punishment, but instead by simply using body pressure corrections and voice corrections (= Amelia's pressure and release). Nothing funny about that....

 

Maybe you need to define *your* definitions for correction and punishment before laughing at my perfectly reasonable comments.

 

J.

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I agree with parts of this, but not the part about corrections NOT equalling punishment?!?!?!?!!? (I admit to busting out laughing with that remark)

 

Then you don't understand a correction. It simply means don't do that, try something else and keep trying until you get it right at which point I communicate; "right, do that." In the latest edition of the Working Border Collie, Patrick Shannahan penned an article called "Correction: such a negative word for such a positive result." He states, and I quote; "A correction is simply getting the dog to make a different choice."

 

Punishment deters an specific action, but leaves no alternatives. Correction is something completely different and not understanding the difference is no laughing matter when it comes to training stockdogs.

 

Cheers all,

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The OP states that the dog seemed to be grippier on one side more than the other, which is very common. Most dogs have one side/direction which is more comfortable to them. So on the uncomfortable side, they will usually be tighter and tend to grab on more.

 

 

Just to add to Anna's comment, when I first started this journey I had a trainer that had us circle the dog around the sheep and us, he wanted us to correct the dog when the dog came in to grip, often times the dog got ahead of us and get the grip in, as we got good at correcting we could then stop the dog flank it back the other way and begin walking backwards with the sheep, quickly stopping the dog again creating what we were told was a wear. We were told that we could then get through the early tests and trials, and that over time we could build distance, eventually the dog will drive and we will be able to do it all, double lifts, 300 yard outruns, yadda yadda....

 

In trying to correct the dog on his fly-ins it had been suggested to use the stock stick, rake, pieces of garden hose and was even told that rocks would work if nothing else was convienent. I've even heard of people taking multiple hog paddles out with them, they would just fling one and have more in reserve.

 

The shoe fell one day when I went out to the round pen with my dog Clyde without sheep just to see if he would move left or right when I gave him the command, this was after someone asking me via an internet discussion, "Does your dog understand his directions". My thought was that if he did understand, even without stock he should atleast try to initiate left or right in trying to figure out what it was he suppose to flank around. I placed my stock stick to the right of me while facing him and asked for an Away to me, I really expected him to go to his right, but instead he came at me full bore and attacked the stock stick. It was then I realized I had a big problem... :rolleyes:

 

This made me really think, what is it that I am teaching my dogs and just exactly why are they gripping. I did a lot of analysis as to what we were asked to do, what we were told to do in response to the dogs action and what all created the grip. (In many cases the dog gripped more in the directing that we were stronger at, my thought is that we were placing more pressure on the sheep and the dog in that direction actually helping to create what we were trying to prevent. Once I began to understand how the pressure of the sheep and myself effected the dog, it didn't take long to discover that if I did not release pressure when the sheep were between me and the dog and asked the dog to engage the sheep that he was going to grip, he was just doing what he thought he had to to move the sheep...oh yeah and me. I sware the dog thought that moving me and the sheep was the job, not just the sheep.

 

Anyway, I went into a story that probably was not needed but, maybe it will make someone else think a little more about their piece of the puzzle and reconsider how they are approaching their training.

 

Deb

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Just to add to Anna's comment, when I first started this journey I had a trainer that had us circle the dog around the sheep and us, he wanted us to correct the dog when the dog came in to grip, often times the dog got ahead of us and get the grip in, as we got good at correcting we could then stop the dog flank it back the other way and begin walking backwards with the sheep, quickly stopping the dog again creating what we were told was a wear. We were told that we could then get through the early tests and trials, and that over time we could build distance, eventually the dog will drive and we will be able to do it all, double lifts, 300 yard outruns, yadda yadda....

 

In trying to correct the dog on his fly-ins it had been suggested to use the stock stick, rake, pieces of garden hose and was even told that rocks would work if nothing else was convienent. I've even heard of people taking multiple hog paddles out with them, they would just fling one and have more in reserve.

 

The shoe fell one day when I went out to the round pen with my dog Clyde without sheep just to see if he would move left or right when I gave him the command, this was after someone asking me via an internet discussion, "Does your dog understand his directions". My thought was that if he did understand, even without stock he should atleast try to initiate left or right in trying to figure out what it was he suppose to flank around. I placed my stock stick to the right of me while facing him and asked for an Away to me, I really expected him to go to his right, but instead he came at me full bore and attacked the stock stick. It was then I realized I had a big problem... :rolleyes:

 

This made me really think, what is it that I am teaching my dogs and just exactly why are they gripping. I did a lot of analysis as to what we were asked to do, what we were told to do in response to the dogs action and what all created the grip. (In many cases the dog gripped more in the directing that we were stronger at, my thought is that we were placing more pressure on the sheep and the dog in that direction actually helping to create what we were trying to prevent. Once I began to understand how the pressure of the sheep and myself effected the dog, it didn't take long to discover that if I did not release pressure when the sheep were between me and the dog and asked the dog to engage the sheep that he was going to grip, he was just doing what he thought he had to to move the sheep...oh yeah and me. I sware the dog thought that moving me and the sheep was the job, not just the sheep.

 

Anyway, I went into a story that probably was not needed but, maybe it will make someone else think a little more about their piece of the puzzle and reconsider how they are approaching their training.

 

Deb

 

 

Your story is definately helpful! I can see Kellie in Clyde the way you describe. Knowing that Kellie was insecure, I can say with almost complete confidence that the paddle probably made her nervous and she reverted back to attack first and figure it out latter--which is what she used to do before. The reason I say this is because I don't think I'm very good at switching directions yet, and the paddle always seemed to get between me and Kellie when we switched back to the right. I wouldn't say that Kellie prefered going anti-clockwise, she spent most her time turning back clockwise and seemed to want to go that way provided the paddle wasn't between us.

 

I'm also certain that Kellie didn't show the same regard for me in the roundpen as she did when we were walking down the street, playing frisbee, or running an agility course. More than once I left training feeling there was a lack of respect she had toward me in the presense of sheep, and it puzzled me that we really didn't seem to work on getting that respect. The training we do at home--not herding--involves correction, redirection, and praise/reinforcement, and of course good timing. It varies with the dog I'm working with, but Kayzie is being trained differently than I trained my other dogs. With her, it isn't "I don't want you to chew on my shoes" it's "bring me the shoe" if that makes sense. So I'm not extinguishing any of her behaviors, I'm modifying them to suite my ideas/needs/desires, and she loves making me happy. In teaching "wait at the door," I'll put pressure on when she tries to bolt out and remove the pressure (step back) when she's behind the threshold again, and she's learned it without the use of treats or any other external rewards. It sounds like working stock runs along that same principle with the addition of me not just reading my dog, but reading the stock as well? That opens up a whole other world I need to study since my stock sense is virtually non-existant.

 

So am I starting to get the idea, or totally off base? And I appreciate everyone's responses.

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One problem I had with Kellie when we were taking lessons was that she was a shark on the flip. We tried smacking the ground with the paddle coupled with a verbal warning when she turned her head in to bite, but it seemed like it was only somewhat working. She would be alright for a couple of flips, but would go back into shark mode.

 

...I had started to wonder if perhaps removal might be the better way in that situation? The idea I had, and I really wish I had the chance to try it, was when Kellie turned her head, I would issue a verbal correction and then, if she didn't straighten her act and went in for a bite, she'd be removed from the sheep for a period before trying again. I know with obedience, I only have to use removal 3-5 times before the dog gets the idea that they have to behave a certain way or they don't get to even see the object they really want.

 

Any thoughts on this? I think it would only work on a dog that really loves having the sheep as the reinforcer. Has anyone here tried it? I'd like to hear some feedback and/or experiences.

 

Others have explained why this probably wouldn't work too well, better than I could. But you mentioned you do other activities, so here is an example from agility that maybe will be a good example (more familiar to you) of the point others have made. I know someone with a dog who hits bars. The correction was to remove the dog from the course every time a bar came down. The dog did learn, you aren't supposed to hit bars. But, he started refusing to jump, and he started a weird scrambling type of run at the jump when he did jump. Apparently the root of the problem was the dog really didn't know what he had to do with his body to get over the jump cleanly. Going over and hitting the bar was his best attempt at it. When he realized hitting the bar wasn't an option (and he wanted to be a good boy and not hit it) he still didn't know how to get over the jump, so he just refused to do it a lot of them time, and other times when he did do it he was so stressed worrying about how to get over it that he did weird things with his body, which caused him to hit the bar most of the time when he did attempt to jump, which led to more corrections and more refusals. A viscious circle. The mistake here is correcting the original error in such a way that the dog had no chance to figure out a better way to do it - he just knew the wrong way wouldn't be permitted, but he was never allowed to figure out the right way. I know an inanimate bar is not the same as livestock, but the situation is similar in that the dog needs to figure out for himself how things work before he can find out what 'right' is - what makes sheep move, what combination of distance, speed, and trajectory will get him over the bar? He needs the freedom to try different things and find for himself what works and what doesn't, without fear of an honest mistake having such extreme consequences that's he afraid to try again.

 

So, to get back to stockwork - if the dog grips, and you take it off the course, it may learn don't grip (assuming you can get a hold of the dog immediately when the grip occurs which is easier said than done) but it won't learn a better way to control livestock in the situation that caused the grip. It may learn you don't want it to work, or get so stressed over not being able to figure out what to do that it causes more grips and actually makes the problem worse. It may set you up as the adversary - the person who takes the stock away and doesn't give them back. It may raise the stakes for the dog - he's already uncomfortable in a particular situation and then you add to that the threat of being removed when he gets into that situation, on top of whatever other discomfort the situation was already creating, so now he is even more worried about getting into that particular situation, whether it's a particular direction or sheep in the corner or whatever. A pressure/release correction tells the dog 'no don't do that, yes, do that instead', and it's the second part of that (the 'yes' part) that will help the dog cope and figure out how to control without the gripping.

 

I'm still relatively new at this (have been doing it over 10 years but so far just finding out more and more I didn't know). My current dog was very difficult for me in the beginning and I've learned a lot from her in the hard school of 'been there, done that, I'll know better for next time', including quite a few lessons from her in what doesn't work to stop gripping. The thing that stopped it? It was simply her becoming comfortable and relaxing - she stopped gripping because she didn't feel she had to anymore, not because of anything to do with me or how I might correct her. I can literally pinpoint the training session where it happened - it was night and day between the start and when we finished - she accidentally hit on the right thing or maybe I accidentally did something right, and I could see her expression change, like a huge sigh of relief when she realized there was another better option. I remember wondering if it was a fluke and if she'd revert the next time, but she never did.

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It sounds like working stock runs along that same principle with the addition of me not just reading my dog, but reading the stock as well? That opens up a whole other world I need to study since my stock sense is virtually non-existant.

 

So am I starting to get the idea, or totally off base? And I appreciate everyone's responses.

 

You will find that as you progress you will keep what works and makes sense and leave what does not, but in many cases you will come back and pick up something you left behind, you just were not ready to hear it yet.

 

Just thinking about you reading both the stock and the dog, it is difficult to do when you are closer to the stock then the dog is. Working in among the sheep or always being between the dog and the sheep can be a hard habit to break. I find that if I am at the same distance from the sheep as I am the dog but at a different angle or at greater distance it is alot easier to read both.

 

The sooner you can trust your dogs actions the sooner you can build distance and see the big picture (all of the factors, sheep/dog/draws). When I am saying build distance, I'm not talking the distance between the dog and sheep, I'm talking the distance between you and the dog. But you can't build distance unless you have the ability to correct without being in close. As you build distance from the dog you can then start to lengthen your dogs outruns, but you don't want your dog to outrun further then your ability to correct.

 

Kinda funny looking back, the only way we could stop our dogs was when the sheep were close to us or we were between the dog and the sheep, even then it could be a struggle with a lot of repeating commands. But, we would let our dogs go out much greater distances in an attempt to outrun and gather. Let your dog go, hold your breath, start yelling and hope your sheep get to you in one piece.

 

So much different then the first trial I took JJ to this spring when he was 1 year old, sent him out on his outrun, he began to cut in about halfway, I stopped him, reflanked (redirected) him and he was off back on the right path.

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