Jump to content
BC Boards
Alfreda

Where's the gather?

Recommended Posts

Jumpin Boots, that's a great point and I have heard others say similar things about their adolescent dogs. Thanks!

 

Mr. McCaig- if its instinct, then I am thinking that those dogs who require a lot of physical and mechanical learning aids (such as long-lines used to place, stop, and shape), are those who have less instinct. Correct?

Rebecca

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Julie- great point about the antagonistic positioning. Yes, there was a lot of that in this session. I think the trainer was trying to back up as you describe, but felt that every time she "gave" the dog rushed in to "get" the sheep... Working on being calm at close range now, and using the 2-person technique with the longline loose (unless there's a lunge), to give him the feel of pushing sheep to me (I'm backing up).

 

Also, it might be incorrect to call it driving since he's on a line, but it is loose and he does do small casts.

 

Hopefully that is progress !

Rebecca

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jumpin Boots may just have something there. I've seen that with some of my own dogs and those of others who just needed a little more maturity before they were ready to work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I'd second or third the idea of just laying him off to grow up for a while longer.

If it's *that* hard to get him to work right and it requires such a frustration-inducing method to keep him from bashing the sheep around, I'd be inclined to just put him up for a couple more months. Let him grow up and meanwhile spend time with you and build your own rapport and companionship. Maturity really is a wonderful thing and sometimes 60 days brings back a whole new dog.

Just a thought and possibly not a popular one. :)

~ Gloria

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have owned and started my own dogs for the last 30 years, still have much to learn and continue to learn from every dog I start. As I am sure many will acknowledge, every dog is different. I have learned more from the trainer in the posted videos than from many years of going to clinics, reading books and watching trials. I was a witness to part of the lesson with 'Otto' and having experienced that type of dog on many occasions, I have faith that given time he will settle. However, he is at a disadvantage working with a novice handler who does not own sheep and is only recieving weekly lessons. I did not own sheep for my first BC and only had weekly lessons and I can tell you the progress was painfully slow. We spent the first 20min of the lesson just trying to get my dog to settle and listen and well, mostly no progress was made.

 

My current male who is 19mths is doing very well but was hellish to start. He attacked sheep, busted through them, knocked me down, pulled me down all in an excited chase. Off sheep he was quite submissive. I took him to a Jack Knox clinic and he would not work at all, scared of Jack. I put him up for two months, took him back to sheep and he was a new dog, thoughtful, kind to his sheep, quiet, it was quite a transformation. In retrospect he was imature, excited, insecure and my pressure on him did not help, but its difficult not to put pressure on a dog that is diving and gripping. He is now doing 200 yd outruns, starting to drive, off balance flanks just a nice dog. If I had showed you all a video of him when he started, I venture most would have said "he's not going to make it, how about just leaving him as a pet". Kevin Evans whom sold me my male as a pup said that generally males mature later than females and since this was my first male and Mr Evans has had numerous males to start, I gave that information much value. He also said pups from my dogs sire were sometimes grippers to start. So ceraintly breeding plays a large role in how a dog will start.

 

I am just thinking that making judgements based on video's can sometimes be very misleading and maybe not all that productive. There is probably lot's of people who have bought a trained dog from a video and found out they had quite a different animal than appeared on the video when they worked the dog in person.

 

I was not going to respond to this post but after thinking it over and having to fight feelings of defensiveness for my trainer, decided to offer my two cents, That may be all its worth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like to use the round pen for the same reasons Julie stated.

Jumpin Boots has an excellent suggestion

 

Samantha

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I suppose if someone posts a video and asks for opinions they will get opinions and they can take them for what they're worth, right? Personally I don't know the trainer, and my comments weren't meant to disparage her, but rather to give Alfreda an idea of how *I* start a youngster and why. Food for thought as it were. I'm sorry if that makes you feel defensive about the trainer MJA, but I took the comments on this thread as an exchange of ideas on starting a young dog and answered in that spirit, and I think the other posters did the same.

 

To the OP,

I had a young dog (well, coming two) here the other day that the owner was having a hard time with--all she wanted to do was dive in and grab, apparently with the intent to do some serious damage. Because of this tendency, most of the work that had been done with the dog had been punitive, really getting on her for diving and grabbing. He wouldn't go in the pen with her without some weapon (stick, buggy whip, etc.) because he didn't feel that he could back her off the sheep without it and if he couldn't back her off, then she was going to injure something. He had also actually tried punishing the dog for her behavior.

 

I watched her in the round pen with him and all I saw was a dog circling along the fence, never actually engaging with the sheep, except for the occasional dive in (but she was wearing a basket muzzle, so no need to worry about the sheep). I also saw tension that increased every time the owner spoke harshly or used the buggy whip to try to influence her.

 

After hearing all that and watching her with her owner, my first thought was " What if I take the pressure off instead of putting more pressure on in response to her bad behavior?" I took her into the round pen with a line on her. The line was quite long and I was able to let her go around the sheep while still holding on to it. I said nothing to her unless it was encouragement. I had nothing in my hands other than the line. I let her go around, but I kept my hand on the line and followed her, somewhat like lungeing a horse, except that the sheep still stayed between her and me. She started actually paying attention to the sheep. She dove in once or twice. All she got from me was a quick, quiet voice correction, while I stopped her from continuing the bad behavior with the line in my hand, and then asking her to go around again (in other words, aside from letting her know--ahht!--that I didn't like what she was doing, I didn't get on her in any real way). I wish I had a video to share, because it's hard to describe. But in effect I wasn't doing anything to her for the mistakes she made except using the line to prevent her from continuing to try to worry sheep and the second she gave I let her start going around again.

 

As MJA correctly pointed out every dog *is* different, and I think all this dog really needed was for someone to quit getting after her. I saw her as a dog who lacked confidence, even though she had been described as "very hard." I honestly think that the training up to that point was *making* her hard, or at the least making worse any hardness that existed. That's why I chose to try something completely different.

 

Again, these comments aren't an assessment of the trainer in the video. It's really just an illustration of how a dog behaving in a particular way can earn a label that might not necessarily be correct, and sometimes thinking outside the box or just doing things completely differently can bring a different result.

 

To be fair, I did point out to her owner that the dog and I had no relationship and I had no preconceived notions about her beyond what he had described to me, so it was easy for me to work her without any emotional reaction to her (that is, if she dove in, I didn't take it personally or get upset about it, thinking that she was being a jerk or whatever--no baggage hanging there between the two of us).

 

There's also nothing wrong with putting the dog up for a while. But if you want to continue, consider exploring some different methods to see if they make a difference. Just my opinion, for what it's worth.

 

J.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All due respect to trainers who quote or refer to Bobby D. and his "long line", they are not Bobby D. It's a real talent to effectively use a long line to effectively correct a border collie on live stock...no silver bullets for the rest of us.

 

Good comments from Donald C. and Julie P. .

 

Doesn't make a difference if the World Champion has this or that .. it's the dog in front of you that matters. Antidotes are interesting, but not necessary useful.

 

That two party rope trick isn't going to work. You're just getting a bigger hammer to hit your finger with.

 

The horse on a lunge line is an example of lack of understanding. Acceptable in a novice, but not in a good trainer.

 

I guess I'm a little perplexed about the concept of not judging what I saw on the video because it was a video. Were there visual, high tech tricks used to make it look like it did?

 

One needs to carefully think about fear in young animals. I can make any dog lie down or get back from sheep, but once I've done that, it's not probable that I can "make" it walk up. Read Temple Grandlin.

 

Most of the good advice on gripping says we have to figure out why (probably) the dog is doing it. I would vote that more weak dogs, ie ones that may have be made weak are likely to grip that those that have be taught to work livestock.

 

Anyway, few dogs get trained online or on the phone Alfreda, but if you want to call me 541-831-6957, I'll sympathize. You can start them too early, but rarely too late.

 

B

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear Doggers,

 

Ms. Rebecca asks:" . . . if its instinct, then I am thinking that those dogs who require a lot of physical and mechanical learning aids (such as long-lines used to place, stop, and shape), are those who have less instinct. Correct?"

 

No. The young dog's passion very often gets in his way. Although we know where we want the dog to end up the young dog does not. He's inside a mix of instincts, immaturity, desperate to please and WHATDOIDONEXT!!!!

 

Donald McCaig

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

The horse on a lunge line is an example of lack of understanding. Acceptable in a novice, but not in a good trainer.

 

This is what I actually said:

 

I let her go around, but I kept my hand on the line and followed her, somewhat like lungeing a horse, except that the sheep still stayed between her and me.

This was in the context of a very specific situation described in detail in my original post.

 

I consider myself a good trainer, having trained multiple dogs to the open trial level and then trialed those dogs successfully. Perhaps you misinterpreted my words, Bill, because I certainly didn't mean to imply that I was lungeing a dog on sheep in the same sense as one would lunge a horse. What I was trying to say was that I maintained contact with the line on the dog while the dog went around the sheep. This necessitated my moving in the same direction as the dog. This would be no different than working a youngster freely and still following behind it as it circles in order to encourage it to continue circling (it's the same principle for controlling any animal, including lungeing a horse or moving a dog off our pressure--if you are moving behind the shoulder/hip, the animal will move forward; if you step toward the front of the shoulder or head, the animal will stop or turn).

 

The difference was that when the dog decided to go for a sheep I was able to physically stop it without throwing things at it, yelling, hitting it with a stock stick or anything else of that nature. For this particular dog on this particular day, given the dog's behavior and what had NOT worked in all the sessions before, this DID work.

 

I'm certainly not recommending that the OP or anyone else take up lungeing their dog in the context of working sheep; it was merely meant to illustrate that when a parituclar method isn't--and hasn't been--working, perhaps one might want to try a different approach. The goal in my example was to get the dog going around, let the dog understand that she wouldn't get away with diving in and trying to disembowel anything, while at the same time keeping EVERYTHING ELSE calm, quite, and non-confrontational. You could see the dog visibly relax.

 

But anyway, I'm hoping the OP was able to understand what I was getting at.

 

J.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyway, she did mention Dalziel and how with some dogs they need to be on a long line and lunged like a horse for a long time...

 

If I want to go out and move my flock to a new pasture I don't want to have to spend 10 minutes tiring my dog out before they might listen to me, I need to get work done, not fool around. Same goes for a trial, one can't "lunge" their dog just before they step out on the field. I could be wrong but dogs are just like people and get used to a pattern, and so will expect this is how working sheep is. If they have to be tired out before they are able to be worked then mabye a different approach needs to be tried.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've gone to many clinics taught by Bobby and have never seen him lunge a dog around the stock like you would a horse. Yes, he uses a long line. It's there to enforce to the dog that if it wants to work, it must stay level headed and treat the stock right. It's also there as a guide. From what I have seen of him, Bobby can't stand dogs mindlessly running circles around sheep. He strives to teach them to work calmly and with purpose, to read the sheep and react appropriately. He wants to get their head right (thinking, not just reacting) at the very beginning. Dogs who decide it's in their best interest to work nicely are taken off the line. Trying to describe his method in any real detail would not do it justice. You really have to see Bobby in action. He is absolutely amazing at putting a solid, lasting foundation on dogs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I should have specified that I was responding to the last part of the quote, not towards Bobby Dalziel's training method.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is really cool, to start a young dog in a field on sheep and have him through what is in his bones go out and do a little gather and yeah maybe push too hard and make errors but figure out from the blood running in his veins how to feel and do chores early.

 

I like to test my pups. Do they have natural cast, short cover, can they feel, can they come in and give an appropriate grip? Are they calm. Can they do chores by what is bred into them. I have learned to stay silent.

 

Today I took my young dogs, who have been gathering the small flock of about 60 to 80 sheep and goats. And did pen work. Interesting to see, who had trouble with the pressure of the small area and who did not.

 

Or course, those that need my help, I help. But I watch carefully the calm reasoning, young man dog who walked in and quietly did this, without me teaching him. It was there already.

 

They are about 1 yr 4 months.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear Aspiring Sheepdoggers,

 

Tea makes a good point. The small ring/pen is useful because the coach/handler/instructor can physically get to the dog before it can do too much damage to sheep. He/she has more control. The downside is that the dog cannot get away and most of them knowit. For all its virtues, the small pen does increase stress on a young dog uncertain of his vocation.

 

Real work: feeding, checking the breeding, moving stock to pasture are enormously beneficial to the young dog because they teach the dog better than you can.

 

Donald McCaig

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wanted to thank everyone for their posts- a lot has been transpiring in a short time…

 

MJA, thanks for your post and for sharing your perspective after 30 yrs worth of experience starting dogs! I actually think it would be great if more videos were posted that showed challenges and how they were met or resolved or worked around-- Some young BCs in videos look as if they came out of the whelping box ready to go out and gather up all the lambs! ;-)

I am happy to hear your 19 mo old male is doing so well –what age was he when started and when you gave him a break? I agree that if training sessions are “hellish” it’s important to alter the approach, the setting, the trainer and/or the maturity level. I do not want an antagonistic relationship with my dog. Nor do I believe that is necessary for learning. I’m in this for the teamwork.

 

I imagine that some of the on-line courses suggested here by others might show some examples of tough challenges in the early stages. In the Andy Nickless DVD I watched, he demos 3 kinds of “problems” with starting dogs. I've also read V. Holland, and the early chapters of Julie Hill's book as well. Unless you’ve started an awful lot of dogs yourself, and are familiar with a variety of methods it’s hard to know what might work best with a specific dog. I have just enough knowledge to ask questions- and try things. I certainly understand that my dog is at a disadvantage with me as a novice --that's why I brought him to a qualified trainer to get started, and also why I wanted to learn along with him.

 

It might be accurate, as MJA and others have suggested, that Otto isn't mature enough yet. We'll have to make that call at some point. In the meantime, I have seen what I think is progress in his ability to be close to stock without lunging, and in his attitude. So, we'll see.... I tried him at 10 mo.s, now at almost 15 mos, I thought he’d be ready. I've also been warned by other trainers who’ve worked with his siblings not to wait too long to start him... but, maybe he's just one of those late-blooming males! (Incidentally, we had been working in short, near daily sessions not once/wk)

 

I agree with Julie that sometimes *lessening* the pressure, and *not* correcting is a better approach with an amped-up, anxious, but naive dog (or person for that matter). I personally don't have the skill to protect the sheep with a keen, grippy dog. Again, that’s why I chose to work with an experienced trainer.

 

Julie: Thanks for all your suggestions and examples. I wish you had video of that too… From your posts, I think I really like your philosophy of training.… In general, I favor an approach that: 1) prevents bad mistakes, but lets the dog learn 2) uses reward (praise, and work), 3) teaches the right or good alternative, 4) and uses verbal corrections/feedback (not physical). And that is how Otto has been trained in his life off sheep.

 

I did have a hard time visualizing this part: if you’re lunging a dog around a circle and the sheep are between you, then when dog dives in, it would seem that you’d be pulling the dog toward you and the sheep instead of being able to pull him off…? In my mind the only way you can pull a dog off stock is if you are behind, or between him and the sheep…?

 

One thing I appreciate about this trainer is that since the posted video session, she has tried different techniques. If I had a progression of videos, I could show that. One technique she tried was a “packed pen,” on the idea that the pup is afraid of being close to sheep. Maybe that helped some… I don’t know. In session #4 she also tried letting Otto loose (dragging a line) on 3 sheep in a larger area. Picture this” at the beginning of the session Otto is about 20 feet from 3 sheep and trainer put him in a sit-stay and walked to the sheep to throw a feed bin over the fence before starting. He held that obediently the whole time. Then, after a productive minute or two, in which he cast some- it turned into a disaster, sheep split, chasing and one sheep broke her nose against a panel.

 

In our last session, (#10 ?) with 2 people and the long line, we did use a few more sheep in a larger area. We worked along a fence line with turns at 2 corners. I was backing and trainer walking behind dog, holding longline enforcing stops, correcting lunges. In that session, only 1 or 2 lunges, pretty calm, very controlled.

 

Bill: I’m not sure why you say this 2-person technique won’t work? I see that it’s not letting the dog completely have his sheep. He’s not going around them either. But at least it’s giving him exposure to stock while keeping things calm and safe.

I am not clear how one might transition from the line to letting the dog be off it. Also, are some of you saying that just by doing some of this at the beginning, it’s ruining his ability to ever learn to gather?

My concern would be that if done too much, he won’t learn to work without always looking over his shoulder wondering if he’s going to get yanked back.

 

In general, I feel it is unfortunate that so many dog trainers still think of young, naïve, excited dogs in terms like: “bad,” “naughty,” “hard,” “disrespectful,” "dominant" and therefore use physical and verbal correction/ punishment when what the dog really needs is confidence, experience, and teamwork. I wish I personally had the skills to stop a dog on balance AND protect the sheep.

 

Anyway, I'm glad to know that others, like MJA and Liz P etc., have had similar challenges, and that their dogs turned out to be skillful sheepdogs. I come to this with an interest in: caring for livestock, caring for my dog, and caring about my relationship with my dog—more than as a competitor or a professional. So I really appreciate knowing what others can see in these early stages that I am probably missing, and how they would handle or approach it.

 

These days we have the ability to take and watch videos. This enables us to look at body language and positioning that we might otherwise miss –especially as beginners. Frankly, I see this as a mostly constructive thing –not only for novices, but also for experienced handlers. In many professions (physical therapy, speech therapy, writing, sports) people learn and improve their practice in forums in which perspectives and constructive critiques are shared and discussed. I think most of us understand that a photo or even a video is only a snapshot of one period in time. As Pam said, a progression of videos is most useful to show progress, or areas that may need changing.

 

With luck, I'll be able to post another video some day (hopefully from my own place!) that shows some good progression from these early days. For now, the original posted video (which was an unedited, unaltered 11 min. session) has been removed at the trainer’s request.

Thanks again! Rebecca

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tea that was a lovely description. I don't know if it could be replicated without access to 60 (dog-broke heavy?) sheep. And I am curious to know exactly how you test your pups in the larger area on a large group of stock? What if you have a diver and a gripper?

 

Mr. McCaig- I think you're right about work- sometimes dogs learn by in routines that appear to have a purpose.

 

In the last week I have been taking Otto out at another farm. We go on-line and move large and small groups of sheep around morning and evening from pen to pasture in their daily rotations. I've also had him holding them calmly against a fence lying down calmly, watching. Lunging is down and I see him watching and learning that he can move in with subtlety ;-)

 

What I don't know is how to train a gather. I don't know when to try letting him off the line. These are not my sheep. They are in a larger area, or a round pen that has equipment in it used for other purposes (ie: a creep feeder). I don't know how he will ever get to learn to feel balance unless he's going around them and I can't get him around without letting him off the line...

 

Anyway, as far as maturity I am thinking that just moving and holding stock in this way is good, at least for a little while?

Rebecca

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't train the gather in a Border Collie. They do it naturally once they settle down and start working the sheep instead of chasing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know when to try letting him off the line. These are not my sheep.

Talk to your trainer and let her know this, since she has been working your dog. I'm sure she will help you with that answer. As for the other farm you have been to, wait until your dog has a little more control and knowledge under his belt, and you have a better idea of how to help your dog as well.

Like Liz said, the gather is there you just need to help focus that exuberant energy in the right direction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't train the gather in a Border Collie. They do it naturally once they settle down and start working the sheep instead of chasing.

Sorry- poor wording on my part. I understand that if it's in there, it should emerge with skillful handling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the last week I have been taking Otto out at another farm. We go on-line and move large and small groups of sheep around morning and evening from pen to pasture in their daily rotations. I've also had him holding them calmly against a fence lying down calmly, watching. Lunging is down and I see him watching and learning that he can move in with subtlety ;-)

 

What I don't know is how to train a gather. I don't know when to try letting him off the line. These are not my sheep. They are in a larger area, or a round pen that has equipment in it used for other purposes (ie: a creep feeder). I don't know how he will ever get to learn to feel balance unless he's going around them and I can't get him around without letting him off the line...

 

It's good that he is learning to be quiet around stock.

 

IMO It sounds to me as if the issue you may be having is not so much 'How does Otto learn to gather?' but rather 'How do I get into a good position so that I can help Otto understand that he has to flank round me and the sheep in order to gather them towards me?'

 

Don't know if this is any help, but when I was starting out, I too had an over-enthusiastic youngster who felt he 'had to' rush at the sheep, I put the dog on a long line, ask for a lie down near the fence and fed the line around the fence post. This way the fence 'held' him back while I had time to get into a position near the sheep where I could protect them and block the dog from rushing straight at them (I was still holding the end of the line - loosely).

 

I was now in a good position to help my dog understand what is required.

 

I could then continue with my 'usual' starting method.

 

Keeping the dog lying down position, I wait until the dog's body language is calm and then I drop the line (still attached to the dog) and calmly move to the side slightly and encourage my dog to flank round me and the sheep (he will pull the line through the fence as he moves). The dog usually takes a few seconds to realise he can move.

 

If he rushes straight forward, I'm in a good position to immediately move to a blocking position. I can then calmly ask him to think about what he is doing. The dog quickly realises that he has to flank round me to get to the back of the stock. For the first few sessions, I don't mind which direction the dog flanks in. I just want him to think about getting behind his sheep.

 

Once the dog is behind the sheep, If he rushes at them then I move through the stock to block him again, but if he is relatively calm and at the balance point then I walk backwards and let him continue bringing them to me for a few paces. I then will move through the sheep and ask him (with my body language, no verbal commands) to flank around the stock again.

 

On the couple of occasions I have used the 'line through the fence' trick, I've found that I've only needed to do it a few times before the dog understands that if he lies down and waits for me to get into a good position (and indicate that he can move) that he will be allowed to work his stock.

 

In general, like some others who have posted here, when I have a keen youngster just starting on sheep I let him trail the line (without me holding it) because it gives me an opportunity to catch him and show him how to walk away from stock calmly (we practice this a few times throughout the session). However, once I've finished with the 'line through the fence' approach, I tend to move to using a a 'shorter' long line (if that makes sense).

 

My early training sessions usually consist of practice 'walk towards sheep with a calm mind', lie down and set up for an initial small flank (this includes letting me get close to the sheep before he moves), do a small flank and then let the dog walk onto sheep for a few paces (ie balance and fetch the sheep towards me), practice a further small flank or two, and do bit more balancing and holding sheep towards me. I will then pick up the line, walk with the dog so that he is again a short distance away from the sheep and set up for another start..repeat the whole thing once or twice more. The complete training session usually only lasts 5-10 minutes.

 

YMMV

 

Good luck

 

ETA. I tend to start my young dogs in a round pen - at least for the first few occassions. This is so I can protect my sheep (they are a primitive breed and even my 'training' sheep are not excessively dogged). However, if I think the dog is stressed by the enclosed environment, or as soon as I think he is more likely to flank stock than rush excitedly straight into them, then I move the training into a 1 acre field. Like others here, once the dog has some basic understanding, I actually do most of my 'training' by just doing routine shepherding 'chores' (a definite advantage of having my own sheep).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Maxi,

Yes -(quote below) that's the issue and exactly the kind of idea I was looking for... there has been a lot of discussion here about people not being between the dog and the sheep, ie: having the sheep between the dog and the person bringing them. In your fence post scenario, when you get into position, are you in front, facing and blocking the dog then? So, if the dog does the correct thing and bends out and around, you must then pivot so you can back up, correct?

 

 

 

IMO It sounds to me as if the issue you may be having is not so much 'How does Otto learn to gather?' but rather 'How do I get into a good position so that I can help Otto understand that he has to flank round me and the sheep in order to gather them towards me?'


Don't know if this is any help, but when I was starting out, I too had an over-enthusiastic youngster who felt he 'had to' rush at the sheep, I put the dog on a long line, ask for a lie down near the fence and fed the line around the fence post. This way the fence 'held' him back while I had time to get into a position near the sheep where I could protect them and block the dog from rushing straight at them (I was still holding the end of the line - loosely).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Maxi,

Yes -(quote below) that's the issue and exactly the kind of idea I was looking for... there has been a lot of discussion here about people not being between the dog and the sheep, ie: having the sheep between the dog and the person bringing them. In your fence post scenario, when you get into position, are you in front, facing and blocking the dog then? So, if the dog does the correct thing and bends out and around, you must then pivot so you can back up, correct?

 

Yep our relative positions are: fence, dog, me (near sheep), sheep.

 

I face the dog, blocking his direct line to the sheep and wait ( plus ask) for him to be calm.

 

I watch his body language.

 

Because he wants to get round me, he will probably angle his body (or just his head) in one direction, I let this be his choice. And if he is calm I, take a step in the opposite direction and let him go. As he starts to flank,, I pivot with him and point my arm/ stick at his shoulder to keep him out, while also making sure that the pointing end is not too far forward as otherwise this could act as a block and stop his flanking movement.

 

If he starts to bend in towards the sheep too soon, I take a step towards him and if necessary give a warning 'hey' to push him out.

 

Once he is at the balance point behind the sheep, if he is still calm, I start walking backwards. But, if he is too excited, I stand still with my hand raised in a 'half halt' position to block him and maybe add a warning 'hey' ask him to think about things. If he continues to be too excited, I step into the sheep ( ie towards him) and use my body language to push him out.

 

For me, an important lesson is that the dog learns to be calm before he starts and when he walks onto his sheep, so I'm prepared to stand in a block position ( with maybe a warning 'hey') and wait, while he considers his options. Some days with some dogs, it can feel as if we hardly move at all..This doesn't bother me, because often the next time I go to sheep with the dog, he had time to think things over and he will begin to understand what he has to do in order for me to let him work his sheep.

 

FWIW When I start a young dog on his inital flank/and then on teaching him his outruns I always stand between the dog and the sheep (ask the dog to stay in his lie down while I get into a good positio) Initially, this is close to the sheep, facing the dog (standing between the sheep and dog). As the outrun distance increases, my start position will shift so it will become half way between the dog and stock (and with my body now facing the stock, but I will still be keeping an eye on the dog over my shoulder to make sure he sets off correctly). It can be many weeks before I send the dog from my side.

 

ETA you said in an earlier post that you had Julie Hills book. If this is the new edition, Check out the pictures and diagram on page 92 on 'teaching the natural flank'

 

ETA2. If he continues to circle rather than stop at the balance point, I move across and physically block his forward movement in stop him circling back to 'my side' of the sheep. Then in order to keep him behind the sheep and to help him,I move to a position where he is balancing sheep to me and continue as I previously described.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...