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Laurae

overcommanding and inside flanks

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Hi Bob,

 

I have a five-year-old dog (my first) whom I trial with in the pro-novice/open ranch classes. He is a pretty natural, if pushy, dog, but I'm afraid I've taken some of his feel for the sheep away from him by constantly telling him what to do (before I really understood the big picture). I was wondering if you have any ideas for exercises we can do that will allow him to make his own decisions about moving the sheep without encouraging sloppy or incorrect work.

 

Also, he pushes forward when he does inside flanks, and I was wondering how best to let him know he should not be moving forward when he takes his inside flanks. Any ideas?

 

Thanks!

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Hi Bob,

 

I have a five-year-old dog (my first) whom I trial with in the pro-novice/open ranch classes. He is a pretty natural, if pushy, dog, but I'm afraid I've taken some of his feel for the sheep away from him by constantly telling him what to do (before I really understood the big picture). I was wondering if you have any ideas for exercises we can do that will allow him to make his own decisions about moving the sheep without encouraging sloppy or incorrect work.

 

Also, he pushes forward when he does inside flanks, and I was wondering how best to let him know he should not be moving forward when he takes his inside flanks. Any ideas?

 

Thanks!

 

 

Hi Laurae. You have a very common occurence happening here with those folks who do a lot of trialling or just use their dogs for the purpose of trialling. Your dog has lost his balance. Not a big deal as far as fixing it is concerned but a very big deal if you want him to help you on the trial field. Whenever you are out doing your training sessions always end your session with walk abouts with your dog following the sheep bringing them to you. Make all kinds of turns while doing this, sharp and slow, long and short etc. No commands other than a shush if he's not going to balance! You just need to do this at the end of your sessions for a minute or so just to keep the balance in the dog. Also, when you are practising your gathers, and your dog is fetching the sheep to you, move yourself around to change the target for the dog so that he has to become aware of where you are all the time so that he can make the changes necessary to keep the sheep coming to you. Again, no commands! It is very important that you keep the balance in your dog as that is what lets the dog know where he must be and how much pressure to put on the sheep. They become dependant on you telling them what to do pretty quickly, especially if all they do is trial. There is nothing greater and more exciting than watching a good dog fetch his sheep down the field to you with him staying out on balance all the way to keep the sheep straight to you without being told a thing. I'll say it again, as I often do; You need to be in control but not controlling. As far as your inside flanks are concerned, a flank is a flank, no matter where it occurs. The dog must be square when doing a flank. The way I train inside flanks is I call the dogs name to get his head pointed the right way and then give him the flank. I do this on the fence because we don't have to worry about the sheep going anywhere other than up and down the fence and we can practise both ways at the same time. If the dog is pushing only when doing an inside flank, try calling his name to get him to look your way and then give the flank. If he does it wrong (still pushing), correct him in whatever way you use and let him know he's wrong, then give him the flank again. Don't ever let him do it wrong from now on and make sure he's square every time he flanks from now on. Try some of this and let me know how you're doing and if you need any more help don't hesitate to get in touch.........Good luck....Bob

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Thanks for your response, Bob. I am definitely guilty of using my dog only for trialing--I don't have sheep of my own, and though I try to mix things up when I go out and work my dog, we invariably fall into trial training. It's true he has lost some of his sense of balance, and the walkabouts are easy enough to do, as is moving around when he's fetching them to me. Thanks also for the advice on the inside flanks. He is actually quite well-trained, but I didn't send him out until he was 4, and he'd been running over me a bit before then. I think the pushiness on the inside flanks is more of him running over me, but I just couldn't figure out how to let him know to stop moving forward without also telling him that I didn't want him to flank at all. So I couldn't work out how to tell him yes, do the flank, but no, don't go forward. Calling his name first will probably work, since he's been trained to come in when he hears his name, so I don't know why I didn't think of that myself! Thank you, adn I'll let you know how it goes.

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