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priscilla

It's elementary

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My 2-year-old Rose is progressing well in training. Her handler, on the other hand, well, needs help. I'm utterly dyslexic on my "Away" and "Come by" commands. I'm fine when she's at my feet, but once she's moving well, I lose orientation.

 

Any hints/clues/shortcuts or mnemonic devices? Help!

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Not sure if this is what you mean, but it might be helpful if you can think of it like the face of a clock, with come by being clockwise and away being counterclockwise relative to the stock.

 

I couldn't get it when I was thinking left or right, because it changed depending on the dog's position. But I was easily able to get it when I thought of it like a clock face.

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think of:

 

Comebye as Clockwise

 

Away as Anti-Clockwise

 

you will get it. just takes a bit of time.

 

and you will lose it at some point and give a wrong flank at a most inopportune moment.

 

You will then join the club the rest of us have belonged to for quite some time.

 

dave

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Thanks, y'all. I have used the very A/anti, C/clockwise trick. I still get confused. Maybe it's just a matter of practice and perspective, but I invariably lose orientation when she crosses the "midnight" position and starts in my direction.

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I don't know a single handler that gets the flanks correct 100% of the time. We all screw up. Practice makes it much better, but don't beat yourself up for not being perfect.

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Haha!!! I haven't even started training yet and I worry about that!!! I do the same thing on my horse. The trainer tells me go left; I go right!! She's screaming at me "Left, left!!!" My poor puppy is going to be soooo confused!!!!

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I've watched many a dog save their handler's butt when refusing a flank they absolutely knew was wrong. After the handler gets done yelling at their dog for refusing a flank or going the "wrong" way they realize what was actually going on and become a bit sheepish and very apologetic to and thankful for their partner.

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I will apoligize first if this is just more confusing. But it's what I've done so I don't end up just standing there with a blank look on my face (or at least not quite as often).

 

I take my left hand and cup the fingers so that the thumb is on the bottom, fingers on the top and the side of my hand makes the shape of a 'c'...with me so far. The 'c' that this left hand makes is for come-bye.

 

If I am walking backwards working balancing exercises, etc; then my 'c' hand works like a gate, in that it closes the gate coming counter clockwise and leaves open the door for the dog to go clockwise, thus it is the comebye hand/gate.

 

If I think about closing the gate that is to my right, my right hand. That hand can't make a 'c' so is therefore the away hand thus my dog goes counter-clockwise.

 

This thought process isn't for when we are both going the same direction, but it's not so confusing then. I just tend to get confused going backwards more often and this is what has helped me....hope I didn't send you astray.

 

And then yes, there's the constant apoligizing to my dog or hearing my trainer tell the other direction at me. I also will just go to shushing or maybe it's pathetic whimpering.

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I've watched many a dog save their handler's butt when refusing a flank they absolutely knew was wrong. After the handler gets done yelling at their dog for refusing a flank or going the "wrong" way they realize what was actually going on and become a bit sheepish and very apologetic to and thankful for their partner.

And herein lies the genius of the Border Collie, unreplicated in the canine world - that important distinction between biddable and obedient.

 

The great working dog is biddable. The great pet is obedient. To make a BC a great pet is to understand this and not fight with it. You *cannot* win that war, just a few unsatisfying battles.

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I have dyscalculia, I will never get Comeby and Away when under pressure. I just teach hand signals and hope and pray that my dog sees me at the right moment.

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I've watched many a dog save their handler's butt when refusing a flank they absolutely knew was wrong.

Yep, I'm very grateful to my dog that she will use her initiative when I've got my commands confused or when we're penning and I need her to react faster than I can think.

 

...but sometimes we're in a situation when I need her to take a flank that she clearly believes is a mistake .. So I've added an extra 'listen' command. I don't know if it's the word itself or the exasperated tone I almost inevitably use when saying it, but when she hears this, she'll sit back on her hocks, give a little shrug ( as if to say 'on you're head, be it') and resign herself to actually dong what I've asked!

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I picture myself being in the middle of the sheep and the dog moving around me as I was lunging a horse. If I'd be pushing the dog on around from left side, it's a come bye. If on my right, it's an away. That has always worked for me even with sheep and dog coming towards me.

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I have never understood shortcuts to direct clockwise and counterclockwise (anticlockwise). To me the gloves from Border Collies in Action are only set-up for starting an outrun. The dog looks right for an away, and left for a come-by. Which glove do you use when the dog is in a down at 11:00 O'clock, and the handler wishes him/her to swing back toward the handler on an inside flank ? Dog initially faces left to accomplish that maneuver, and not until it reaches about 9:00 does it begin to face to the right. Based on the gloves a handler would incorrectly give a come-by command. That is just one example of many that could be listed, of how gloves, magic markers, and some other crutches to merely envisioning the face of a clock will ultimately make sides more confusing. IMO it is not a trivial thing, and I believe hand-marking and such are often fundamentally incorrect. The inconsistency to use of certain shortcuts should be taken into account by those just starting-out.

 

Nevertheless, if a particular handler using, for instance, gloves/arrows can do the mental gymnastics that is needed for all the various circumstances quicker and more accurately than simply envisioning the direct face of a clock with sheep at the center, then they are clearly a help.

 

The best memory device I was given, I believe has already been mentioned. Come-by and Clockwise movement of the hands both begin with the letter "C". Away to me and Anticlockwise direction both begin with the letter "A".

 

It is a little hard at first. Learning all the terminology and new concepts are difficult enough without having an issue with sides. Hope the above clarifies things. -- TEC

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The gloves could help, depending on how your brain works. When I first started, it helped me to envision a sweeping motion with my hands. If I start the motion with my right hand, I want away. If I start with my left, it's come.

 

I do think it's mostly a matter of practice, practice and more practice. It takes time to make your reaction automatic. Even then, you still say the wrong one at times.

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I guess I'm in the minority here because I think of it as right and left. Not my right and left, but the dog's right and left. This way my position doesn't matter. If I want the dog to go to its right, it's away to me. If I want the dog to go to its left, it's comebye. It doesn't matter whether the dog is fetching or driving or doing anything else because I am not in the picture--it's all about the direction I want the dog to go in relation to the sheep. I, too, will give wrong flanks on occasion, but it's not because I get confused on direction--it's generally just the result of a brain fart moment.

 

J.

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the only problem i can foresee with the gloves or some other crutch is that it may extend the time it takes for you to actually learn the directions.

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What I did when I was learning flanks (my dog was trained, so he was just waiting for me to catch up) was to watch videos of sheepdog trials, and say (or whistle) the flank that the dog needed per the video. Sounds weird, but it allowed me to work on my timing without frustrating my dog. An added bonus is that it can be done from the comfort of your couch. :)

 

Dave Imas has some EXCELLENT videos on his Vimeo channel. Try watching this video on penning range ewes and give the flanks that you think the dog needs to get the job done. If you feel up to doing a full course, try this one.

 

For me, stuff happens too quickly to look at my hands, or think of a mnemonic tip. And I am utterly hopeless at left/rights, but I am pretty good at flanks because it's reacting to the dog's position relative to sheep, not which way to turn at the corner of 1st and Main Street. :)

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Another exercise for learning flanks I have heard spoken-of involves the steering wheel of a vehicle. As a person drives the roads, he/she can think of the circular (or nearly so in some cars) outer part of the steering wheel as the dog's path flanking around sheep who are located at the center of the wheel. When the driver turns the wheel one direction or the other, the correct flanking command can be mentally recited as an exercise -- "away to me" for counterclockwise, and "come-by" for clockwise.

 

I would try to avoid thinking in terms of turning the vehicle and/or steering wheel to the "right" or "left". Right-left directions for the dog are not always the same as the handler's right/left, depending on whether handler's back or face is toward the sheep, and also depending on whether the dog is near handler or on the far side of sheep.

 

Julie's post #19, above, provides an insight into her nimble mind. She is able to swiftly and under pressure accomplish the mental gymnastics necessary to accurately figure-out the dog's left/right (and then translate those into away or come-by) without regard to: 1) the direction she is facing, whether toward or away from the sheep, and 2) the direction the dog is facing, whether toward her or dog's back to her. Clever method for a quick mind.

 

For me, clockwise and anticlockwise are never changing directions, requiring no mental conversions, which reduces possibility for error. That's my recommendation, but whatever works to get a new handler out in the field with his/her dog, giving correct flanks the majority of the time, is the best strategy. As a handler progresses the mental pictures of dog-sheep-handler-circumstances quadrad become more solid, and so will flanking commands. -- Best wishes, TEC

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It's kind of amusing reading all the tips. We are all so different. Thanks Tom, for saying I have a nimble mind. Most of the time I feel as if my mind is in a fog! I just never really saw a need to learn clockwise/counterclockwise because in my mind the dog needs to go to its left or right to get a task accomplished on the stock. My left or right doesn't ever enter the picture and I've never seen it as the equivalent of driving directions. I have a harder time thinking about a clock and then which way around the clock and then coming up with a command, so to me the folks who do that are the ones with the quick minds! ;)

 

J.

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Must say that Julie's method produced a head-slap for me. Of course! I think I could work that way fairly well (though the jury is out on the nimbleness of my brain). I like the steering-wheel tip; the one with hands clenched appropriately; and, the idea of practice with online videos. I tried this live recently at Donald McCaig's trial. Also: Robin, I'm off to buy a watch ASAP!

 

I also thought of the ring in which we're training. It has two gates, one on the side, at about 4 o'clock, one at 12 o'clock. We always enter the 4 o'clock gate: Gate 1. So, Gate 1 to Gate 2 is "Away," while Gate 2 to 1 is "Come Bye." We've spent a lot of time in that ring, so every part of it etched into my brain. I'd remember it.

 

Thanks to each of you!

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