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Deal Breakers

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Hi Amanda,

 

Just wondering what sort of things are "deal breakers" in a dog for you. What sort of things constitute you sending the dog on (ie, you feel they are serious problems that you don't want to deal with), and what sorts of things do you not mind training through?

 

Thank you for your time, I've loved reading your responses to questions!

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I can't run dogs running too wide. In my experience, that is a problem that escalates as they get older. It starts with a reaction to pressure early on and develops into a go to behavior when dogs do not want to face the music--an easy out. Precision required of top runs is nearly impossible with such a dog, as they will take swings at moments of grave inconvenience and hemorrhage points for sloppy turns, or worse stay out of the park when you are trying to shed; or what about a criminal cast off when shovelling them in the pen is demanded. How can a wide one inspire confidence on big unfenced fields as they run out? Which nonsensicle place will they end up? I can't abide a wide dog. Nor will I breed to it.

 

Too much eye can be a deal breaker. They will spoil outruns by pulling up early. They are shortchanged in the free flanking department. They hesitate when asked to walk up, pretending to be considering options. They lock up at the pen, letting you down even if they just laid down a good one around the course. They will hesitate when they should be fluid, enlisting sheep confrontation as the sheep will always peer back at them, an ovine equivalent of WTF. They provoke questions for which there are no answers. They explode in a cheap grip when tension gets the better of them. Don't run it. Don't breed it.

 

I don't mind training through questionable power. Sometimes dogs, who are inspired can workout techniques to handle aggression from sheep. You as a trainer can be a confidence builder. However, be prepared for failure, as it doesn't always work out.

 

I saw a dog last weekend who was remarkable as a youngster for being a poor outrunner--crossing, confused. Many handlers I know, me included might have given up on him, but his handler took him back to basics of short successful outruns over the training year. It worked. His handler believed in him. He has become a proper dog, with big difficult outruns under his belt. Dogs, just like people, can develop in good ways in the presence of compassion and faith. your job as a trainer is to sideline liabilities and showcase assets.

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I can't get a rise out of anyone on this subject. Just because I don't like wide running dogs, doesn't mean they are unsuitable for another who wants time to make up their mind about what to do next. The wide runner will afford that--time to decide what to do next. It might be you who wants such a dog, although it may not suit me.

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Nope (no rise from me)

 

It's no different than other partnerships; there will be things that we can't stand in a partner that others are not bothered by. No dog is perfect and there are flaws one handler hates while others don't mind; shortcomings that will require training or handling one handler hates while others don't mind.

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I really appreciate what you have written, Amanda. It's great food for thought.

 

I tend to like a slower, more cautious dog because that gives me time to think, and I am notoriously slow thinking and responding. But my faster, throw caution to the winds dog makes me think and react faster, and so is a dog who will teach me what the first dog might not. Each dog has something to offer.

 

I love your story about the dog in the last paragraph, and I admire the owner for being understanding and working patiently to bring out the potential in that dog. That was inspiring.

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i agree with too wide. in my own work in the mountains i have found any dog who does not give thought on how the outrun should progress in unfenced and steep terrain is going to add alot of territory in the outrun, wasting energy, and possibly losing stock. a thoughtful outrun the dog will use the hill wisely saving himself or herself then widen out at the proper time and distance without startling stock.

 

thanks for your wise insight.

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No rise from me -- a beginning handler. I really appreciate your viewpoint because you back up the cause with the resulting effect.

 

Regarding a wide running dog: a national level handler told me a story about one of his first dogs who had an impressive (he thought) wide outrun as a youngster and did well in local/regional trials. He took the dog to the trial in South Dakota that has a huge outrun (can't think of the name). He confidently sent the dog, and then watched the dog disappear on his outrun. Not sure if the dog ever found the sheep. ;-)

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I can't get a rise out of anyone on this subject. Just because I don't like wide running dogs, doesn't mean they are unsuitable for another who wants time to make up their mind about what to do next. The wide runner will afford that--time to decide what to do next. It might be you who wants such a dog, although it may not suit me.

You might have gotten a rise out of Andy Nickless, but he isn't active on these boards anymore. I remember he wrote an article on his site where he said he didn't understand the trouble people had with (too) wide runners. His simple argument being "just call them in" (without getting into detail about how to go about that btw).

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What is getting a rise, please?

get a rise --- to elicit an angry or irritated reaction

 

Or in a more gentle take on the phrase --- to start a discussion

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Thank you for explaining :) .That's what I had thought, but this is "Ask and expert" forum so even if someone disagrees this is usually not the place to put in one's two cents' worth, and that's what threw me off the right track.

 

(I agree with everything, except that for me personally - I am too novice to judge a dog properly. I'd have no idea how much I was the one creating or exacerbating the faults in a dog.)

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lol, hard to call them in if you cannot see them!

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lol, hard to call them in if you cannot see them!

Sure. A dog running thát wide gets into trouble in the mountains. My main reason for being into bordercollies is the annual roundup, I know what kind of work you are talking about.

I personally have not actually seen or experienced dogs with this problem though.

 

I do have experience with dogs that run too tight and close, getting into (different) problems because of that. That is why, if you would have asked me out of the blue, would have said

I prefer wide running dogs that naturally cover a big area, and maintain a good pace/ working distance.

 

That is why I do not try to make to much out of such preferences, be it mine or others, they can be so coloured by personal experience with specific individual dogs that they are highly subjective.

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truth! i have experienced both tight and wide, one thing a certain scot told me is if you widen a dog that naturally would run wider you can screw him/her up. those dogs let the hills teach. you use the hills to teach the shape. it can also be used to open up a tight running dog. i have found this to be true.

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Amanda, I wanted to thank you so much for your detailed and great answer! I'm sorry this thanks from me comes so late, but hopefully you will at least see it so I can thank you. It meant a lot to me, and was very helpful. Sometimes I think with a dog it's easy to get discouraged, and I love the way you put it: faith and compassion. I've never heard it put quite that way, and I like it. :)

 

Very much appreciated!

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