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jgambill

Fun on the drive

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Hi Amanda,

 

I writing to ask for any advice you can give to help me teach a young dog the fun of driving. Cal is 2 1/2 years old. On the fetch he demonstrates good control of his sheep, a thinking attitude and bidability (very happy there!) However, when it comes to the drive he is still having a tendency to get too careful. He sometimes acts as if he is just doing it because he knows that's what I'm asking, but he doesn't like it and he would be much happier to sneak around and bring the sheep back. I have started out with just driving short distances to a place and then leaving the sheep there and going back to start something new or setting up a working situation that would require a drive to complete. Now I'm trying to stretch him out of his comfort zone. At first any driving practice was mostly cross driving at short distances so he could still see me, but now I am asking him to drive them away from me. I am continuing to walk behind him so I'm close enough to 'help' if neccessary. Just lately he's showing glimpses of 'getting it' by automatically reacting to any movement on the sheep's part and putting them back on line before I have to issue a command. He is stopping less frequently, needs less encouragement to keep going, will drive and then do a bit of a cross drive as well. I think we are on the right track, but would love to hear any suggestions you can give.

 

Thanks,

Judy

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Sounds like you are on all the right tracks.

 

I am training a young one right now and facing all the things you are. One thing that has helped my bitch accept the driving is to start it off in a direction I know the sheep want to go anyway. There is always such a preferred direction on any field on which you work. Gather to a place that can situate your sheep to flow freely away. Stop your dog as the sheep make the turn past you and let them drift. You step to the inside. At the same time, let her feel them slip away. Then control the line, staying in eyeshot of your dog but stepping out of the way at the same time, so that she feels you less and less. Sometimes resistance to driving stems from not being eager to push anyway and particularly not in a direction that feels wrong. Make sure they don't have to push to perfect the driving. Arrange things so it is easy and your dog's confidence will be inspired. Inspired should make him work more freely.

 

The straight line maintenance is important, however brief the line may be. If for instance, you drove the sheep around in circles, instead of holding straight lines, how would the dog ever get the hang of where you were headed? I like clear lines and well defined turns, so the dog understands the route plainly. "This is the turn. Now we have a new line. This is the new line." You should not wonder where you are headed when you commence a drive. Decide and then do it. Be organized. Your dog should never have to ask where you are headed with something.

 

Maybe you are spending too long trying to do it. Make your efforts short, cashing in on his early and therefore best moments of concentration. Dogs can get exasperated with trying and failing over and over again. Don't try so much that you are bringing on a failure. Do a little bit of good driving and then let it go. That could improve his attitude about it.

 

He's quite young at 2 and half but he should be driving in disciplined way. I'll see you at the Nursery in Oregon next year.

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Sounds like you are on all the right tracks.

 

I am training a young one right now and facing all the things you are. One thing that has helped my bitch accept the driving is to start it off in a direction I know the sheep want to go anyway. There is always such a preferred direction on any field on which you work. Gather to a place that can situate your sheep to flow freely away. Stop your dog as the sheep make the turn past you and let them drift. You step to the inside. At the same time, let her feel them slip away. Then control the line, staying in eyeshot of your dog but stepping out of the way at the same time, so that she feels you less and less. Sometimes resistance to driving stems from not being eager to push anyway and particularly not in a direction that feels wrong. Make sure they don't have to push to perfect the driving. Arrange things so it is easy and your dog's confidence will be inspired. Inspired should make him work more freely.

 

The straight line maintenance is important, however brief the line may be. If for instance, you drove the sheep around in circles, instead of holding straight lines, how would the dog ever get the hang of where you were headed? I like clear lines and well defined turns, so the dog understands the route plainly. "This is the turn. Now we have a new line. This is the new line." You should not wonder where you are headed when you commence a drive. Decide and then do it. Be organized. Your dog should never have to ask where you are headed with something.

 

Maybe you are spending too long trying to do it. Make your efforts short, cashing in on his early and therefore best moments of concentration. Dogs can get exasperated with trying and failing over and over again. Don't try so much that you are bringing on a failure. Do a little bit of good driving and then let it go. That could improve his attitude about it.

 

He's quite young at 2 and half but he should be driving in disciplined way. I'll see you at the Nursery in Oregon next year.

 

 

Thank you, Amanda. It is nice to hear that you think we are on the right track. Sometimes patience is what is required, but hard to find!! I will be especially careful to assess myself and what I am asking of the dog so that I am not adding to the problem. (-: Judy

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