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Pippin's person

Pressure senstivie

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Hi Bob,

 

My dog is almost 5 and has recently developed a new issue of seriously not wanting to give up pressure. We'd been going along pretty nicely and making good progress until late last fall when he started to get more and more reluctant to work (flanking slowly, turning off, eating poop, etc.) I thought it was because I was transitioning him to whistles; however, given what he's done the last three times I worked him, I'm not sure that's it.

 

On the advice of a couple of different handlers, I've been working to build his confidence by taking most of the pressure from me off of him (basically just walking the field with him wearing the sheep behind me and letting him do little drives without worrying about lines and such) and doing more to let him be in control of the sheep. That seems to have worked o.k. and he has a much better attitude about working most of the time.

 

Tonight, I was working in a fairly small pen and I couldn't get him to flank left at all because it meant he would have to give up the pressure at the gate. He kept trying to flank right instead and the only way I could get the left flank was to put myself very close to the sheep and ask him around, which he did. We did that about 5 times until he was going left pretty freely. Then, we moved the sheep out of that pen, worked them for a couple of minutes in a small adjacent field and then put them back in the pen to try the right hand flank again. Same issue. While this is the most obvious place where I've understood that he didn't want to give up the pressure, upon reflection, I realize that many of the places where he's had a bad attitude over the last several months are when he's being asked to give up pressure.

 

Is this something that develops with age? What strategies should I use to help him through this? He's my first dog to work and so has suffered from my many (and continued) novice mistakes.

 

Thanks

Robin

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Hi Bob,

 

My dog is almost 5 and has recently developed a new issue of seriously not wanting to give up pressure. We'd been going along pretty nicely and making good progress until late last fall when he started to get more and more reluctant to work (flanking slowly, turning off, eating poop, etc.) I thought it was because I was transitioning him to whistles; however, given what he's done the last three times I worked him, I'm not sure that's it.

 

On the advice of a couple of different handlers, I've been working to build his confidence by taking most of the pressure from me off of him (basically just walking the field with him wearing the sheep behind me and letting him do little drives without worrying about lines and such) and doing more to let him be in control of the sheep. That seems to have worked o.k. and he has a much better attitude about working most of the time.

 

Tonight, I was working in a fairly small pen and I couldn't get him to flank left at all because it meant he would have to give up the pressure at the gate. He kept trying to flank right instead and the only way I could get the left flank was to put myself very close to the sheep and ask him around, which he did. We did that about 5 times until he was going left pretty freely. Then, we moved the sheep out of that pen, worked them for a couple of minutes in a small adjacent field and then put them back in the pen to try the right hand flank again. Same issue. While this is the most obvious place where I've understood that he didn't want to give up the pressure, upon reflection, I realize that many of the places where he's had a bad attitude over the last several months are when he's being asked to give up pressure.

 

Is this something that develops with age? What strategies should I use to help him through this? He's my first dog to work and so has suffered from my many (and continued) novice mistakes.

 

Thanks

Robin

 

Hi there. Sorry I'm late answering but I've been away trialing for two weeks and not much time to get to the computer. In my opinion you are experiencing the actions of a manipulative dog. He is not wanting to give up the pressure because that takes away control from him, which is, most of the time, a good thing. However, when you want him to release pressure, which could be for lots of good reasons, he must do that. To hold that pressure when it's not needed would quite possibly get you and the dog in lots of trouble and create a wreck that would take a lot of time to resolve. He is getting a little on a power trip and not listening well so you need to step up to the plate and become firm and demanding when you ask him to come off the pressure. When you ask for a flank you need to get it from him, right away. When you're in the pen and ask him to go around the sheep one way or the other, be determined that you will MAKE him go the way you want and don't accept anything less. Block him from going the way he wants to and make him go the way you want by repeating the flank command and discouraging him from going the wrong way. Make sure you win the battle and don't five up. I would suggest you have been seeing some sulking over the past while also and that is his way of getting what he wants. Don't let him do it!!! You are the commander in chief and he must do as he is told all the time. Work him through the sulks and don't accept them as some kind of pressure that you are putting on him. It is he who is putting the pressure on you. Just keep working him through it and get back to me in a week or so and let me know how things are going. Good luck.....Bob

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Hi Bob,

 

I wanted to give you a brief update about the dog I asked about a while ago. I've been working a lot on my own handling (and got some hands-on expert help as well). One thing I finally understood was how unclear I have been in my handling and how much I'd been nagging rather than helping; coddling rather than controlling. In any event, the dog I wrote about has turned around almost completely now that I'm handling him more consistently and clearly. He's much happier; I'm much happier and that's been great. Your advice that he was manipulating me was part of what made me start to seriously reconsider my handling and to think about where I wasn't holding up my end of the partnership and it seems to be working. So, many thanks for your advice.

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Hi Bob,

 

I wanted to give you a brief update about the dog I asked about a while ago. I've been working a lot on my own handling (and got some hands-on expert help as well). One thing I finally understood was how unclear I have been in my handling and how much I'd been nagging rather than helping; coddling rather than controlling. In any event, the dog I wrote about has turned around almost completely now that I'm handling him more consistently and clearly. He's much happier; I'm much happier and that's been great. Your advice that he was manipulating me was part of what made me start to seriously reconsider my handling and to think about where I wasn't holding up my end of the partnership and it seems to be working. So, many thanks for your advice.

 

Thanks for getting back to me with the update. It is always appreciated when I hear of the successes that have come about through hard work, seeking help, and determination. Bob

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