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Liz P

developing eye

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I made a horrible mistake with a young dog. She used to have lovely eye and style. During training I have clearly done something wrong, because she has less and less eye and isn't as pushy as she used to be. What exercises do you use to encourage eye and push in a dog?

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I doubt very much if you have done anything horribly wrong with your dog. Good dogs survive all kinds of mismanagement and come out on the other side like real sheepdogs. People bumble along with dogs but sometimes slow, no pressure, is the best policy, so it all turns out. You can accelerate your training with good supervision and conversely, the lack of supervision will let you stray in unproductive directions.


Don't take this too hard but I am skeptical of your assessment of your dog. I don't know of dogs who get less eye. They usually mature into more. Eye isn't something you encourage. Dogs bring it to their work innately. Having too much, would mean they locked themselves up on it and refused to accept command through it. Stuck. Not having much eye can be an advantage so long as a dog maintains good balance. For instance, western sheep adore a dog without much eye. The plain ones are their favourites.


More than sounding like your bitch has less eye, it sounds like she has less interest, when you couple that with her disdain for pushiness. Maybe something has soured her. I will make a possible list. Your sheep are dull and uninteresting. Your routine is excessively repetitive. Your demands are more obedience oriented, than synced up with a job that your dog can understand. She sounds bored. Spice things up.


My remarks come from an armchair, without seeing you in action. There is no replacement for an assessment from a serious handler, in a clinic situation. Not even me being the expert :)

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I prefer honesty to sugar coating, so feel free to let me know what you really think.


She broke her leg as a pup, had surgery and needed 4 months of rest and rehab. She did get to do a few fun puppy sessions on sheep and goats. She looked wonderful. Then I moved and did not have access to livestock for awhile.


I started her when she was a year old. We did one or two sessions with her on some schooling sheep at another farm. (I did not yet have my own livestock at the new farm.) She had lovely pace, very natural flanks and excellent feel.


Then we did a 10 day clinic with a handler who has won the International and is well respected. I expressed to him that I had heard dogs who start so "easy" can be lacking and not turn out. He said she had plenty of push and lovely style and assured me that she would turn out just fine. He even compared her to Micheal Gallagher's Cap while she was driving.


Since the clinic I have mostly been working her at home on the goats I purchased this spring. I think you could be spot on about her being bored, because she gets bored really easily. I do have a smaller farm with limited training opportunities, so I try to get her to another farm at least once a month for training. At home I do my best to create interesting situations and to make things exciting. Maybe I am not creative enough. I always welcome new ideas.


I will definitely try to get her on some exciting lambs this spring.


So when can you be in southern New England for some lessons or a clinic? :D/>


ETA: This dog is desperate to please and obedient to a fault.

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