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Foggy

Drive by sheep herding

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I have a 4 YO BC who has been herding for a year (one or two times per week). We are both new to the sport and unfortunately we had a bad start and he developed a few bad habits. We found some good help and he has improved, but I'm wondering if he'll ever really be any good. I'd like to compete, but am not sure he's ever going to be the dog to do it. I'm OK with that, it's for his enjoyment as well and I do have a promising young dog to start soon. But I'd like to get the most out of the older dog as well....

 

His biggest problem now is he likes to do drive bys on the sheep. He'll head out, then cut in buzz the sheep and run past, then come back around to the top. I've been trying to slow him down and push him out. We work on downs in the outrun so I can redirect. I stay near the sheep to push him out. But as soon as I try to give him more room, he comes back in.... Then it's back to square one.... We've been at this a while and I think I need a new approach.....

 

 

At home he is very well behaved, very submissive and willing to listen (all I have to do is look at him and he gets submissive and wants to please), but on sheep, he's a different dog..he thinks he's top dog and wants to do it his way...

 

Any suggestions?

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The little bugger. Fly bys are a poor excuse for handling sheep. You are completely entitled to be annoyed. Be sure never to let it start with your young promiser.

 

You see, practice makes perfect. If your four year old has done it since he was two, or whenever he started, my guess is, and it sounds like you concur, the fly bys are entrenched behaviour. There is something to the old dog, new tricks adage.

 

One of the reasons fly bys start and gain momentum is that young dogs are not corrected in a timely fashion. Timing in life is everything. A trainer has to anticipate the problem, and intervene and stop it just as the infraction is commencing. There is only one golden moment to make your point: a few seconds later or a few seconds before, and the value of the correction is lost. Seeing the moment and using it, distinguishes good trainers from ordinary ones. Novice handlers can and have, got youngs dogs started. Chaos from two sides, however, from the dog and the handler, make it difficult. My most frequent advice to aspiring handlers is to send their young dogs out to a pro, who will bring the advantage of good timing to the job--when to stop everything, when to let things go, when to reward or correct.

 

If you insist on trying to correct his behaviour, you will have to concentrate very hard, and anticipate the moment his back flattens out and he is readying himself to take his dive at the sheep. You need to take your dive just at that moment. You have to make clesr that you don't like what he is doing and he had better cut it out. Your corrections have to be sufficiently attention getting that his modus vivendi gets thwarted. That might be more severe than you are prepared to be, given that you say he is an outstanding canine citizen until he gets drugged by sheep. Maybe he's a junkie. Junkies need tough love. It sounds like you have to try. Nothing can be done about fly bys at a distance, so keep his work close until the cheap shots stop.

 

They might not stop. Sometimes dogs do unacceptable things that they refuse to give up. I try not to bash my head against the wall over a dog.

 

Your reasoning for doing the sheep work, to make your dog happy, is a nice point. Successful working dogs are happy with an empowered personal sense of pride. However, the formula is far more complicated than letting him loose on sheep. Sounds like you have learned enough to understand how elaborate the relationship between dog and hand is. The development of dog/handler relationship is the rewarding part. A dog doing fly bys is high on self gratification. He is missing the point. A dog on his handler's page, with his job ideas all synced up with his handler's head, is an elevated canine, a partner, a beauty, the force is with him.

 

Being able to recognize and parse your problem, would mean that your older dog has already brought you something, something that you can bring to the one not yet started.

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The little bugger. Fly bys are a poor excuse for handling sheep. You are completely entitled to be annoyed. Be sure never to let it start with your young promiser.

 

You see, practice makes perfect. If your four year old has done it since he was two, or whenever he started, my guess is, and it sounds like you concur, the fly bys are entrenched behaviour. There is something to the old dog, new tricks adage.

 

One of the reasons fly bys start and gain momentum is that young dogs are not corrected in a timely fashion. Timing in life is everything. A trainer has to anticipate the problem, and intervene and stop it just as the infraction is commencing. There is only one golden moment to make your point: a few seconds later or a few seconds before, and the value of the correction is lost. Seeing the moment and using it, distinguishes good trainers from ordinary ones. Novice handlers can and have, got youngs dogs started. Chaos from two sides, however, from the dog and the handler, make it difficult. My most frequent advice to aspiring handlers is to send their young dogs out to a pro, who will bring the advantage of good timing to the job--when to stop everything, when to let things go, when to reward or correct.

 

If you insist on trying to correct his behaviour, you will have to concentrate very hard, and anticipate the moment his back flattens out and he is readying himself to take his dive at the sheep. You need to take your dive just at that moment. You have to make clesr that you don't like what he is doing and he had better cut it out. Your corrections have to be sufficiently attention getting that his modus vivendi gets thwarted. That might be more severe than you are prepared to be, given that you say he is an outstanding canine citizen until he gets drugged by sheep. Maybe he's a junkie. Junkies need tough love. It sounds like you have to try. Nothing can be done about fly bys at a distance, so keep his work close until the cheap shots stop.

 

They might not stop. Sometimes dogs do unacceptable things that they refuse to give up. I try not to bash my head against the wall over a dog.

 

Your reasoning for doing the sheep work, to make your dog happy, is a nice point. Successful working dogs are happy with an empowered personal sense of pride. However, the formula is far more complicated than letting him loose on sheep. Sounds like you have learned enough to understand how elaborate the relationship between dog and hand is. The development of dog/handler relationship is the rewarding part. A dog doing fly bys is high on self gratification. He is missing the point. A dog on his handler's page, with his job ideas all synced up with his handler's head, is an elevated canine, a partner, a beauty, the force is with him.

 

Being able to recognize and parse your problem, would mean that your older dog has already brought you something, something that you can bring to the one not yet started.

 

Thanks for the response. I think you hit the nail on the head, he's "high on self gratification". It was actually something that my friend said while watching him the other day...He said "he gets his kicks out of it".

 

I'm somewhat saddened that it has come to this....but I appreciate your honesty! My current trainer has not said it is hopeless, she still thinks she can get through to him..... I however wonder if it's gonna happen..... My original trainer never made a big deal out of it. It should have been stopped from the start. Unfortunately, I didn't have the experience and trusted we were on the right path. I've learned a lot since then and at least know what to look for, even if I'm not sure how exactly to get there.... He had also learned to wear the sheep to great excess, the original trainers dogs work this way and and it wasn't until I found a different trainer that I knew how bad that was. That, we were able to get rid of, but the drive bys persist.....

 

the good news is I'm now working with someone who has had success on a national level with multiple dogs, so I think we can get the youngster started on the right path.....

 

Your comments on timing are spot on, my timing with the dogs has not been stellar.....I'm a horse trainer, so I understand the importance....and the consequences of poor timing.... It was actually my preference that the original trainer work the dog so he could get a correct start, but she felt we were doing OK...lesson learned.... I knew it too... It became very clear over time.... I think I could have done better if we'd known what behaviours we were trying to avoid....

 

So thanks for your comments.... I'm inclined to wait for the little guy to be ready....

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