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Rorys mom

New to herding, would love advice

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I just started taking my guys and gal to a sheepdog trainer in central KY, and the oldest one immediately went for the sheep, but when it was time to listen (especially lie down) he just wanted to chase them (which ended up resulting in me deciding to buy new boots after getting stepped on, and pinned up against the fence by sheep!!). Has anyone seen good herding dogs start out like this? The other two were more interested in me, and each other, so next time he suggested letting them do it while I was out of sight. Also, They all have basic obedience on them, but can this lead to problems working them? I have read some things about how that all goes out the door, but would it help to get him to master "lie down"?
I am having fun and thats what matters but I really want to get into this more and got a little discouraged. Any advice on what I can do, or should I just go with the flow? Can I do other things to prepare? I'm not going to give up, because that's not the person I am. Thanks in advance!

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Dear Aspiring Sheepdogger.

 

DiscouragedRUS!! Happens to me every other morning. After 40 years it seems like one step forward/two steps back.

 

Yes, I've seen good sheepdogs start out as you describe. Some very good sheepdogs in fact.

 

As you will read elsewhere in these forums, beginning sheepdogs seem to have a Jekyl/Hyde personality - obedient off sheep, hold terror when turned in with them. That's ok. Normal. You can get a bulletproof down off sheep and hope that'll translate but I'm of two minds: sometimes that works, sometimes not. I do believe that your relationship - how and for what the dog values you off sheep - makes a difference on sheep (others disagree).

 

Instead of spending time training for sheepwork off sheep get back to your instructor as soon and as often as you can. By the sixth time some of the clouds will start to lift.

 

Donald McCaig

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I don't know whom you are working with but I do know that Bob Washer is located reasonably near Lexington and is a good trainer of dogs (I don't know if he trains people as well). A good trainer will be able to help you and your dogs, and be able to evaluate your dogs' potential after a few visits (a first visit is often not a good determinant).

 

Best wishes, and welcome!

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I don't know whom you are working with but I do know that Bob Washer is located reasonably near Lexington and is a good trainer of dogs (I don't know if he trains people as well). A good trainer will be able to help you and your dogs, and be able to evaluate your dogs' potential after a few visits (a first visit is often not a good determinant).

 

Best wishes, and welcome!

Yep! Bob Washer is who I am training with. He suggested coming back a few times and we are going again this friday. Since I got Rory, I had this feeling he was going to be a great sheepdog.

He is a very loyal dog, and stays by me a lot, but no separation anxiety thankfully. Going to get him OFA/CEA tested soon.

I got to watch Away to Me last night - and Rory literally watched it with me, he was responsive to the sound of the sheep and the whistle, which I thought was too funny! Thanks for the advice.

-Katie

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Both Mr McCaig and SueR give a good advice here

 

FWIW I am also one who completely agrees with Mr McCaig's sentiment '....I do believe that your relationship - how and for what the dog values you off sheep - makes a difference on sheep".

 

Enjoy your journey into stockwork.

 

Good luck

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You are in good hands with Bob Washer. :)

 

Perhaps I will see you down there sometime.

Do you have a dog there with him now, or do you bring yours? I got to watch a few the other day.

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I just got back from a clinic and almost all of the new dogs wouldn't down while on sheep, and I've seen several people here mention how wild their pup was the first couple times on sheep, so I have to imagine that not downing at first is pretty common.

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Bob's a great person; you won't go wrong with him. I sent my pup Ross off to train with him for several months last summer, and he was the original trainer (before Emily put finishing touches on her) of my Spain. He's the nicest person in the world, to boot, and his explanations (when I went down to collect Ross) made a ton of sense to me. Tell him that Lynn (and Ross and Spain) say hello!

 

Oh: and in my experience, the dog that DID lie down obediently when first being trained later became the dog who wouldn't lie down (on sheep, that is) if his life depended on it. All you can tell from the first time or two of working a dog is whether they're showing signs of interest in sheep (at that point). You can't expect to get more from them than that, and if you do, it doesn't necessarily portend how they'll turn out.

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It is easy to get discouraged, but just have fun. As folks have said all that obedience kind of goes out the window. I am stil fairly new to all of this as well. It was pretty hard for me to understand why I couldn't get the down, but that was also, at least in part, because I didn't understand what the down meant in relationship to the stock. At the beginning I was asking for the down all the time to try to stop the action and get a handle on things. For my young, beginner dog, by asking for the down when I did, I was not letting him get to balance or was asking him to take pressure off at the wrong time, so it was a battle. As both of us gain confidence and understanding the down has gotten better and the training much less discouraging.

 

Enjoy it, it is addicting!

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Oh: and in my experience, the dog that DID lie down obediently when first being trained later became the dog who wouldn't lie down (on sheep, that is) if his life depended on it.

 

Yep, I was all smug that my dog was so well-behaved his first few lessons, downed when I told him and came right to me until a few lessons in and increased confidence and then suddenly he wasn't and his ears were magically non-functional for a while. :)

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