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Smalahundur

Second try

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Hm, I did it, I entered Gláma in a trial that will be held tomorrow...

 

I kinda had given up on her trialing career We trialed only once, and won a cup for being third of a three entry class... our run was less than stellar (read a train wreck), here is the story http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showtopic=34746

 

I intended just to be a spectator, and phoned the organizer to find out what time the event starts, and he asked me if I would compete (he remembered me from that first trial).

I explained why I did not intend to run, but he convinced me to to give it a go anyway. His strongest argument is that most of his sheep are well dogged, and I believe him, he belongs to the best handlers here in Iceland.

 

On the negative side I think my dog still has the same weak points, lack of self confidence in the face of "difficult sheep", especially working at a distance from the handler.

 

On the positive side there is some improvement since then and of course a lot more working experience now.

Also the weather forecast is good (that first trial was under stormy snowy conditions), They predict cold, bright hardly any wind. I have seen this trial field, there is no chance of loosing sight of the dog or sheep.

 

So as ever the scariest moment of the run will be the meeting of the sheep at the top of the outrun. When she manages to lift them and start the fetch without too much trouble I think ( read hope) we have a good chance of clearing the course.

 

If not, and trouble starts right away, with sheep that see through her act, and decide to fight her, I think the best course of action Will be resigning, and go and help her get the sheep off the course. I intend not to waste to much time before taking that decision.

 

We will go in rather unprepared, I have not been doing any training last couple of weeks, but she has been working a lot in the roundup, during August and September.

 

The trial starts at about 13.00 tomorrow Saturday the 21. november.

Wish us luck and any tips or advice are welcome.

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Good Luck! I hope your experience this time is a bit better than last year (every experience is a learning experience). Please don't throw Glama to the icebears! ;)

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Haha, not to worry, Gláma has more than proven her worth as a working dog.

Trialing is fun, but for me no more than a bonus.

By the way that first trial is almost exactly two years ago (how time flies), the details of that crash are in the 46th post of the topic linked in the opening post.

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Go for it! and Good Luck! :) ...a great opportunity for another kind of experience and teamwork!

 

Glama, may all your sheep be respectful!

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First off, yes we had fun, and I am happy we went.

Secondly, ahum we had a bit of a repeat of history...

 

We arrived at the trial a bit on the late side, ten minutes after the announced start, and they had started early so we just saw the tail of the third and last run of the young dog (under 3 years) class (they started early, short days this time of year).

 

I was told to tell the guy in the car (the judge) I liked to partake, so I went and told him. Reply: yeah no problem, you want to start in the B class (this is the lowest of the two open classes).

I affirmed that and after asking my name and my dog´s, he said you are the first.

Huh? the first?

Yeah you are the only competitor in the B.

Oookay, when do I start?

Right now, there is the post, cross drive is from right to left.

What? Right now?

Yep.

 

Ran to the post (and back; stick still in the car).

So back at the post again, Gláma at my side, sheep get shoved out of the horse trailer (We don´t settle sheep here in Iceland, better send your dog before they notice what is going on).

I decide to send her left, good choice; in that direction lies the farm with a rather strong draw, (saw someone in a later run in the A class who send right and lost the outrun points due to over-crossing).

 

Gláma spots the sheep straight away, great outrun; nice and wide without loosing contact, the sheep recognize this quality and move down the course and the fetch starts.

 

Well now things quickly start to go wrong, the sheep are rather quick (though not overly so) and Gláma looses her cool, does what she does when insecure, starts to push to much and then heads the sheep because they respond by accelerating (one can hardly blame them).

 

She did not take my downs , circled once, then we got it under (more or less) control and we get the sheep down to the post, curved around it (even the right side).

But It had happened; during the fetch the sheep had found out what kind of dog Gláma really is and decided on the way to the second gate to the right, against the draw, that they did not have to obey anymore.

First I tried to let Gláma resolve it by just encouraging to walk up, then I tried some other stuff for a few moments, some flanks, making her back off and go near again.

But the sheep didn´t budge, and as I had said to myself beforehand, I did not waste too much time before throwing the towel in the ring.

Went to Gláma and together we drove the sheep without problems to the exhaust area.

 

I have nothing to complain about; the sheep I drew were fine, the weather was great, Although pretty cold, also sunny, and hardly any wind.

 

The reason it went the way it went is the kind of dog Gláma is and how we work together (actually how we work around her weaker points); if sheep cause trouble I go and help her, and she counts on this. Her modus operandi when it gets difficult and she gets unsure is to stop the sheep, pin them where they are and wait for help. Works fine in the roundup on the hills, not so great on the trial field. I am sure she has been thinking during the run "What are you standing there lazy bum, come here and do something! ;)

 

We stayed to watch the A class (same course but with shedding) and saw a lot of great dogs. By now I know most of the competitors so that makes it even more interesting.

 

After it we had coffee at the hosting farm, and of course as the winner of the B class we took home a trofee :lol: (Thankfully no cup this time but just a medal).. Well it is also nice to provide some comic relief...

 

Gláma and I agreed it is best to stop at the height of your career, so I won´t be running this dog again.

Hope it will be a long time before I have to retire her from farm work though.

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Great report! Sounds like fun. :)

 

I don't get it tho, why stop now?

 

Someone told me recently: "There's always a work-around." Meaning: whether you're running dogs in herding trials, or agility, every dog has her strengths and weaknesses. And so with Glama... no?

 

It sounds like she just needs more trialing experience and more practice eg: working against a draw, pushing, and getting less help from you... no?

 

Anyway, congratulations and thanks for sharing!

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Well, to answer Alfreda, and misterMcCaigs optimistic questins and advice (not a shred of sarcasm, I really appreciate it);

 

I have been training and working with this dog for some years now, the described weakness, imo revolving around insecurity/ lack of confidence seem to be a basic character flaw in her case.

 

I asked around for advice from better and more experieced handlers than me, amongst them the current expert on these forums. The answer is variations on the same theme; avoiding difficult sheep/work for a loooong time, and train her to build confidence on very nice dogged sheep. That is simply not what I have dogs for, I do not want to own a grown up dog for years, training her solely for the goal of trial ability, which she may never achieve. I got into bordercollies because I own a flock of sheep that range free in summer, not because I wanted to trial.

Btw I do realize she'd be a better working dog if she achieved that goal, but during the long proces she would be useless for work.

 

As for teaching a grip, though lack of grip is not the reason of her problems, I see how a good grip on command might help boost confidence in a dog. We have been working on it, but it did not result in much improvement. There is also a limit to what I am prepared to put a sheep and a dog through to teach that grip.

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Glad you went!

I suppose every one of us has had days like that at the trials!!! But you did it and had fun......

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Btw I do realize she'd be a better working dog if she achieved that goal, but during the long proces she would be useless for work.

This is a dumb, not-even-a-newbie question, but why?

 

Is it that differing "rules" would be too confusing to the dog? If so, consider this. I used to use different collars for different kinds of training with my Doberman Pinscher. For obedience work she wore a metal choke only. For ball, Frisbee and such, she wore her usual flat collar. When we did scent work, she wore a harness. She knew what the different tack meant, and would get into that "frame." I could use the same command in two frames and get a different response. For instance, in a flat collar, "sit" meant just stop moving and put your butt on the ground in whatever way is comfortable. (Hip-sit OK) If she was wearing a choke, it meant sit straight, in a snappy fashion, and maintain eye-contact.

 

Could you put a different type of collar on when you were doing training for trialing? A stallion knows that when his groom puts on the covering tackle, he knows he's about to have a hot date. If you put on a double-bitted bridle with a drop nose-band, he will be expecting dressage training; if you put on a hackamore he will expect western pleasure stuff. (Assuming he's had experience with those types of work) If a horse can figure that out, your collie should be able to get what different type collars mean. It might lessen his anxiety about what's allowed - or even encouraged - in a different "frame." It might illuminate her perplexity as to why you don't get in there an shove sheep around when they're being stroppy.

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Because the idea behind advice is to avoid any situations (sheep she can´t handle alone), and build that up in little steps.

 

The most important work here, where it is really good to have a trained dog by your side is the annual roundup, beginning end of August til end of October. Free range sheep most of them not yours most of them undogged, all of them with a couple of lambs they want to protect, in combination with very difficult terrain.

You will encounter situations that are going to pose problems. Solvable problems, but not helping build confidence.

And very likely thwarting the process of gradually with help of very compliant sheep building up that confidence (at least that´s the theory).

 

I like your idea of dressing for the occasion, but I think you are forgetting something; you are talking about different kind of training;obedience, scent work, ball frisbee and so on.

 

I just train for one thing, stockwork. Glama doesn´t care if I call it trialing or farm work.

Her date with the sheep is always hot.

What difference would another collar make when she is meeting that stroppy sheep, it is and should be the same thing for her on the trial field and in the hills. It is the same frame; in principle I would not want her to react differently at all (of course she does react differently than I would like ;) ).

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Maybe I'm wrong here, but I thought I remembered that there was only one trial available to you each year, so taking her to trial more often wouldn't be possible, at least not in any meaningful way. And the only sheep available are Icelandic sheep, not optimal for building confidence in a soft dog? If I remember right, I think you are probably doing the best you can with what is available.

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Just trying to better understand the topography of the GAP between the farmwork Glama already does and what she would need to do at a trial--

 

I'm thinking she must already have a good deal of confidence to work free-range, unfamiliar, non-flocking, dog-challenging sheep during the round-up, no? So, where does her lack of confidence show up in her farm work- are you standing there with her all the time or something?

 

The description of the trial sounded more like she needs practice on pacing, working farther out of the "bubble," (on the fetch), and then she needs more push to move them against a draw- would working on those things really detract from what she can already do? (I understand it would take time away from other work etc.)

 

I used to think that training had to be a gradual, additive, simplified process, but I have been integrating information from other fields (motor learning and neuroscience) and I am not so sure... :)

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Smalahundar- not intending to challenge you, or your judgement-- :) just really curious!

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Can a sheepdog gain confidence and courage from working with another sheepdog possessed of those qualities? If so, could you arrange to regularly combine your efforts with someone who owns such a dog? Or is that even done?... :unsure:

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Yes. Sometimes it is a "permission" thing. Seeing another dog grip a recalcitrant sheep can encourage and embolden a dog lacking confidence.

 

A dog can also gain confidence and courage from their handler with confidence and courage. The relationship and trust is built while training and working. A dog understanding that his handler has his back and will step in when working at home can take that to the trial field and grow in strength and ability. It is a beautiful and heartwarming thing to watch when you know the before and after.

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