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Kerales Farm

Tension and eye, clapping

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I have a 2 yr old with quite a bit of eye, and keen/intense as the day is long. I am struggling with how to teach her to flow behind her sheep, particularly on the fetch. She is very clappy, and I can't keep her on her feet. When she gets up from the down, she is so full of tension that you might as well set a bomb off behind the sheep. I am trying to get her to understand to get up quietly, but I'm not getting through. I end up having to tell her to walk up every time she claps, which is frequently. On driving, we had the same issue, but I put a line on her and corrected her every time she clapped, and that has helped loads. She flows pretty nicely on the drive, and will take flank commands. Not so on the fetch--doesn't want to give up the pressure. In new places, she will clap on the outrun, usually several times. My first question is, can this be fixed and can I make her into a decent trial dog, or am I just foolishly hopeful? Second question is, how can I teach her proper pace--she is willing to do what I ask, and she is generally quite quick to catch on...except with this issue. Is this mission impossible, or is there hope for her?

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I have a 2 yr old with quite a bit of eye, and keen/intense as the day is long. I am struggling with how to teach her to flow behind her sheep, particularly on the fetch. She is very clappy, and I can't keep her on her feet. When she gets up from the down, she is so full of tension that you might as well set a bomb off behind the sheep. I am trying to get her to understand to get up quietly, but I'm not getting through. I end up having to tell her to walk up every time she claps, which is frequently. On driving, we had the same issue, but I put a line on her and corrected her every time she clapped, and that has helped loads. She flows pretty nicely on the drive, and will take flank commands. Not so on the fetch--doesn't want to give up the pressure. In new places, she will clap on the outrun, usually several times. My first question is, can this be fixed and can I make her into a decent trial dog, or am I just foolishly hopeful? Second question is, how can I teach her proper pace--she is willing to do what I ask, and she is generally quite quick to catch on...except with this issue. Is this mission impossible, or is there hope for her?

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When you say "she will clap on the outrun", I think you mean stopping short.

 

You are describing dog behaviour, but I have to speculate about you have been doing leading up to the behaviour. You need to re examine too. Let's try a couple of things.

 

Sometimes the setting in which we train dogs leads to the kind of problem you are describing, the stopping short. If the sheep are anticipating the arrival of your dog and making a break down the fetch before your dog gets there, a youngster can pull up short, second guessing the break of the sheep. You can change this at home in a couple of ways. Change the setting from which you gather: stand where the sheep were and gather them from where you were. The pressure gets altered and the dog and sheep are less inclined to predict it. Get someone to help spot for you so that the sheep can't break before the dog gets there. Get sheep less familiar with the game, and not so eager to get to the safety of the hand-- get undogged sheep. Your dog will have to think more fluidly, to control them. Clapping down and watching things go wild will seem less compelling. Doggy sheep hardly ever go wild. Make sure your suspect over eyed dog doesn't lie around watching livestock, a work legend in her own mind.

 

But you say you put her on a line and corrected the clapping while driving. Good. Hope. When you do that, you should give the line work words. Your tell her to walk up, a little jerk on the line. Presto. If it is working, you ought to be able to re apply those words to her fetch work. It should work there too, with the line gone.

 

I would have to see it to decide If the dog really has too much eye. Too much eye would incline the dog to stop and lock up. Nothing moves it. But if a dog will do as you ask, and set aside rabid inclinations to do as its over laden eye instincts would lead it to do, then you can get by. She could obedience past it. Note to handlers: no great hand runs a dog with too much eye. Why would they? There are lots of good dogs with the right balance of eye. Aspiring hands believe that the pros have the same problems they have, have sorted through them, and solved what seems to be an overwhelming difficulty. The truth is, they never keep going with such a problem. For instance, if I see a dog that runs too wide early on, I say good bye, because the wide runner and I will never get along. Similarly with too much eye, a hand is handicapped before they leave the post. Trialling is difficult enough without handicaps. I would be slow to condemn a dog for too much eye without knowing what was behind it. But maybe she does have too much eye. If she does, I would make sure that anything I did to contribute to it, was rectified before I got onto my next dog.

 

During the whole process of training a dog, I scold for commotion caused and continue freely with good work managed. Somewhere in there. my young dog learns pace, or more to point, to manage the sheep on the front line, develop his way with his sheep. Pace happens when a dog has a good way with his sheep. When the "bomb goes off", give her a timely hell, but be swift to change to encouragement when the dog checks himself. Don't hold a grudge.

 

Scott's coming this weekend. Tell us what he says.

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Thanks for your reply. Some great ideas, such as correcting for upsetting the sheep. While I always send her to held sheep, unless she is gathering a mob, i am going to experiment and see what i can do to reproduce the problem at home. If I am able to replicate the problem of stop and start--which is exactly what she essentially does on the fetch--then my problem remains the same, which is that I can get her up, but I can't stop her from laying down. I've been approaching the problem as one of pace--visualizing her staying on her feet and moving quietly behind her sheep. Maybe I am thinking about it wrong--perhaps I should allow her to do the lay down-get up-lay down etc. thing as long as the sheep move the way I want. Then I'd have to really focus on how she gets up, and get her to soften/relax.

I am looking forwards to my lesson with Scott. Last time I worked with him, all she wanted to do was bring down sheep and was a team of one. She wouldn't walk onto sheep at all. So we've come quite a ways, but not nearly far enough.....

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Update: worked with Scott quite a bit. He thought she had become a good farm dog, but the question we shared was, will she make a trial dog. His main suggestion was to walk about 1000 miles with her on a line, never letting her lie down. Doing this on a Gator enabled us to keep the pace quick enough to keep her freely moving, Other suggestions was to never keep her in one spot long, keep her moving. So for example, on the drive, we used lots of little flanks. She's got a quick mind and a willing attitude, so we'll see how far we can get. Thanks again for the feedback.

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