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Bicoastal

A year later- The More Work, the More Amped?

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Update!

 

I took my dog to a new-to-me trainer. I laid out our history, the problems as I saw them, my concern for the sheep, and my unwillingness to permit pain be inflicted to attempt to change behavior. I handed him my fee and said it's ok if you see what you need to see in five minutes and need to tell me this isn't for us.

 

He had me get my dog out and observed us for maybe 45 seconds before taking the lead. Somehow, he managed to not get into a battle from parking lot to pen (I do), while still requiring -and getting, through lots of patience- a loose leash and responsiveness to the handler. We spent maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of our lesson walking toward and away from the paddock very casually and patiently like we had all of the time in the world. My dog was excited and intense but did not seem like a pressure cooker building steam.

 

Then we entered the paddock and meandered around on lead following the sheep for the rest of our lesson. I kept thinking he's gonna blow up, but he never truly did. When the sheep popped out of corners, he would leap after them and the trainer would wait until he was calm before moving again.

He said many of the same exact things the first trainer said about teaching patience and listening, so I'm very cautious. I thought we had been teaching that; it was definitely a goal. Maybe the new environment and new handler threw my dog off a little (for the better) and once he's had more history there, we'll have all of the same arousal problems. Or maybe this trainer has a different energy and approach that will work better for this particular dog.

 

He said there's not a darn thing wrong with this dog, he's just young and practiced bad behavior. We are welcome back any time, so we scheduled another visit. I told him I want to go as slow as this dog needs. I suspect the first trainer feels obligated to put dogs on sheep because clients drive aways and pay him for herding lessons. I hope this trainer believes me that I'm in no rush to see my dog turned loose on stock. Actually, now I'm a little scared to see that. The trainer seemed very confident the dog is capable and this is achievable. He gave me some homework that is helping in our day-to-day routine. That is the best thing to come out of my "herding lesson!"

 

I'm not sure how I can phrase this next part tactfully, so I'll just conclude by saying: keep in mind that the objective of training a dog is so that it can learn to move stock in a low-stress manner. Sure, trialing is a lot of fun, too. And a lot of us have progressed along a slippery slope we might never have originally imagined, progressing from enjoying training our dogs to owning our own stock. But we still have to be mindful that it might not be a lot of fun for the stock at times. We should respect them, and do what we can to ensure they're treated well.

 

Very tactfully said. For me and my dog, this is a hobby. This particular hobby involves other animals, so their safety and peace of mind is paramount. They didn't volunteer for this gig. That is exactly what I told the new trainer before taking my dog out.

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Update!

 

I took my dog to a new-to-me trainer. I laid out our history, the problems as I saw them, my concern for the sheep, and my unwillingness to permit pain be inflicted to attempt to change behavior. I handed him my fee and said it's ok if you see what you need to see in five minutes and need to tell me this isn't for us.

 

He had me get my dog out and observed us for maybe 45 seconds before taking the lead. Somehow, he managed to not get into a battle from parking lot to pen (I do), while still requiring -and getting, through lots of patience- a loose leash and responsiveness to the handler. We spent maybe 1/3 to 1/2 of our lesson walking toward and away from the paddock very casually and patiently like we had all of the time in the world. My dog was excited and intense but did not seem like a pressure cooker building steam.

 

Then we entered the paddock and meandered around on lead following the sheep for the rest of our lesson. I kept thinking he's gonna blow up, but he never truly did. When the sheep popped out of corners, he would leap after them and the trainer would wait until he was calm before moving again.

 

He said many of the same exact things the first trainer said about teaching patience and listening, so I'm very cautious. I thought we had been teaching that; it was definitely a goal. Maybe the new environment and new handler threw my dog off a little (for the better) and once he's had more history there, we'll have all of the same arousal problems. Or maybe this trainer has a different energy and approach that will work better for this particular dog.

 

He said there's not a darn thing wrong with this dog, he's just young and practiced bad behavior. We are welcome back any time, so we scheduled another visit. I told him I want to go as slow as this dog needs. I suspect the first trainer feels obligated to put dogs on sheep because clients drive aways and pay him for herding lessons. I hope this trainer believes me that I'm in no rush to see my dog turned loose on stock. Actually, now I'm a little scared to see that. The trainer seemed very confident the dog is capable and this is achievable. He gave me some homework that is helping in our day-to-day routine. That is the best thing to come out of my "herding lesson!"

 

 

Very tactfully said. For me and my dog, this is a hobby. This particular hobby involves other animals, so their safety and peace of mind is paramount. They didn't volunteer for this gig. That is exactly what I told the new trainer before taking my dog out.

Good for you, quite perceptive, and especially that last paragraph.

 

Best wishes!

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Bicoastal, totally awesome news!!! I wish you and your dog every success. And I commend you for going into this with totally the right attitude!

 

Hopefully I'll run into you at a trial at some point. (We'll be the ones hoping to complete the course with numbers rather than letters). They're fun to spectate at (and good training on chilling for your dog) even if you aren't yet competing.

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