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Luana

Spillo herding lesson #4

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Saturday for the first time I was attempting to work sheep with Spillo (the trainer is giving instructions).

this is lesson 4 for Spillo, the starting is still a bit difficult as he is still rushing when on the long line, but when he is free he starts to relax around sheep.

What I did not understand so far very well is when to block him, my timing is off...

if I start walking back, he cuts in and goes in circle, particularly in the counter clock-wise direction, which he prefers. so I guess I'm not blocking him fast enough?

also, as the pen is rectangular, the sheep often escape in the corner so I was attempting to learn how to help Spillo to collect all of them from the corner (one of them was in a fighting mood :)).

about the crouch and stare: I saw him doing it at other things, but so far it seems upright working with the sheep.

below is a link to a video we did:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5Y11Q_Ldi6ON2VTc1oxRmNTdnc

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Cool, I'm envious! Keep up the good work.

this is harder than I thought :)

an other question I have is regarding the lie down command:

we did not introduce it yet with sheep but observing my trainer and other videos it seems more like a stop command. so my question is, why is the dog required to actually lie down on?

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Some handlers do stop their dogs on their feet but I find that a lot of people especially novice handlers have a hard time enforcing that stop... a lie down is very easy to visualize and correct if the dog doesn't do it. Where as with a standing stop, the handler maybe a little late correcting a few steps here and there and then all of a sudden the dog is walking through the stop.

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Hi Luana! It's Rachel from the Spicy Lamb!

 

Let me just first say that I think you are doing very well with Spillo. I know that rectangular pen with the ditch running through it is not the easiest thing to work in! I have been hoping that they might set up an actual round pen. It would make things so much easier for folks starting out with dogs for the first time.

 

Is there any chance that you can bring Spillo out to Nova? Judi's farm is dedicated to training stock dogs, and I think we could work in an area where it would be easier for you to move around, and for Spillo to learn what you are asking of him. Do you know where this is? Maureen knows the farm.

 

I am going to talk to Maureen and Laura about setting up a round pen. I think it will make a big difference in training young dogs/ green handlers starting out.

 

You're doing a great job with your boy, Luana! Keep it up!

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Dear Ms. Luana,

You're doing fine and Spillo seems a good beginner's dog: brave enough, calm enough, keen enough and biddable. Sheepdog training seems counter-intuitive to many - especially those who've trained dogs who need extrinsic rewards to work - but the basics will become clear fairly quickly. Becoming skilled takes years but it is wonderful fun, you'll meet wonderful people and many beautiful dogs. Enjoy!

 

Donald McCaig

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Hi Rachel!!

thank you, we are really trying...Spillo does pretty good when he is free but we are having some problem at the very beginning of the training session as he has impulse control issues when attached to the long line and we are trying to have him walk behind the sheep and have them move calmly.

he did better last time, but there is much work to do on this. Maurene is great with Spillo and very patient with me.

 

 

Dear Donald, yes coming from obedience and counter conditioning training, I'm having some trouble... I'm trying to be less controlling and let him think more even if this means he is going to make the wrong decision...

a couple of weeks ago we let him outside the pen while the sheep were inside and I let him free, he run strait to the sheep and forgot there was a wire fence there...he did learn a lesson!

we surely are having a lot of fun!

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also Rachel not sure I can commit to Nova, the Spicy lamb farm is very convenient for me because is 10 minutes away from my home. I wish I had more time to dedicate to this, training more often would help with the progresses. might be in the fall I could be able to book some training, but I will discuss with Maurene.

a round pen would be great, so that the sheep can flow more easily.

 

this is us trying to master figure 8... B)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5Y11Q_Ldi6ONU93cG82MVo4UW8/view?usp=sharing

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Dear Ms. Luana,

 

You are doing much better and consequently so is your dog. If I were your instructor I would advise you to lose the long line. It's hard on the dog - especially when the grass is high - and Spillo clearly doesn't need it. Lie him down and leash him when you're finished. Absence of the long line might increase his keenness but . . .

 

What follows is pertinent to all novices, not just you.

 

Because a whippy stick is no big deal to humans it's easy to assume it's the same for the dog. Not so: like an airplane propeller on a runway it signifies danger both by blur and noise. Add a plastic bag to it you have a powerful tool - so powerful I never use it except on a dog who wasn't listening at all and was determined to take down a sheep. It's the trainer's nuclear bomb and in the video I can see Spillo being overwhelmed by it. His response is to become vague and disregard everything he's learned (coming through, splitting them up). When your instructor suggests you lower the whippy stick, I'd go a couple steps farther. First I'd try without it and if it turns out Spillo does need it (I don't think he does), remove the plastic bag. You're using a very powerful correction every few seconds and this sucks the want-to out of the dog and encourages you to rely on a tool when you should be work-bonding with Spillo.

 

Keep at it. The better you get the more fun it is, for you and the dog.

 

Donald McCaig

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Dear Donald,

thanks for the very valuable suggestions. I will keep in mind and try without the stick.

he does not have a good lie down when working sheep yet, I'm trying but he does not want to stop easily and stay in position so this is why he has the cord attached still, but I hope we can get rid of it soon.

 

Luana

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Dear Ms. Luana,

 

When I ask a young dog-new-to-sheep to lie down and he does I wonder what's wrong with him. Lyme? Fearful? Happy to disconnect?

 

But: you can get most of them to lie down IF you're on the same side of the sheep as they are. Block them left, block them right, repeating lie down, each time meaning it. No liedownliedownliedown. After the dog discovers it cannot get around you to the sheep (and sometimes he'll be able to) you approach him softly. repeating the lie down command. Try to hold his eyes. Don't stop saying Lie Down until you've got his collar.

 

Get between him and the sheep and block his access. He'll try to trick you but you have the advantage.

 

Donald McCaig

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Hi Luana!

 

I was concerned about Spillo after your lesson last Saturday! Please tell me that he is ok! Did you take him to the vet?

 

I've noticed that you and Maureen have very long lessons (2 hours!!). That is a long time for a young dog to be going through this kind of training, and is especially hard on them when the weather is as hot and humid as it has been!

 

One thing that I've noticed in your work on the long line, Spillo seems to be getting more and more frustrated and stressed. You have to allow him to move around the sheep, and find that balance point. If he gets a bit aggressive with the sheep, you have to move through the sheep and get him to back off. He barks a lot, and I think that is his frustration. You have to allow him to gather, that's his instinct. Constantly interfering with that frustrates the heck out of him, and could cause him to quit on you.

 

Again, I hope that he is okay.

 

Rachel

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Also, Luana, the video looked good! Whoever was taking the video, and mentioned something about using "shockers" to keep Spillo from gripping the sheep, please tell him to keep his shockers to himself!!

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Hi Rachel,

he is doing ok but I will have him checked at the end of the month just to make sure.

yes I agree that I did push him too much and I'm not going to train any more during the summer, he is too much of a beginner for this additional stress.

I am also a beginner so I do not know what is the regular training session time...I will surely make them shorter.

we can have a discussion with Maurene and the suggestions you just gave about the long line, surely he is frustrated and I'm working on the stop/lie down command in the pen with the sheep, going in front of him, but so far he is very hard to stop, even when he is clearly tired.

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