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TRIALING AND TRAINING
DOG FIRST AID
MADE IN THE USA
SHEEPDOG HERDING LESSONS
Mia my new student and her dog came for her second lesson. This would be her dog's fourth lesson ever. I thought that he did real well last week, so I decided to give him a try in the field on his second turn. I worked him in the round pen first and he did reasonably well. Decker followed and did well also.
After the two girls out in the sheep field, it was time for Connor to give it a try. Many times Border collies don't do as well in small enclosed areas such as round pens. I thought this might be the case with him. He had a fairly good stop, and I was confident that he wouldn't crash the sheep into a fence or gate (always a concern when trying a dog in a field situation).
Connor started out fine, kicking out and giving lots of room for the sheep. Then he shut down. He wouldn't go to them. I tried everything I knew to get him back on them. I even had Mia come out in the field with us, but nothing worked. He would get close, but that is all.
I worked Decker out in the field for the second time, and he did fantastic! He only split up the sheep once. I was able to get some short fetches on him and move away from the fences. By the end of his lesson, I was impressed with him, as he did great.
I brought Connor back into the round pen to help regain his focus on the sheep. He really was shut down. Time for the next step, I grabbed a sheep by the leg to get him excited. That move will usually get a dog going real well. Nope! Eventually, I brought Mia back into the round pen and still he was off the sheep.
Its kind of weird that he was still off of sheep. Mia and I were noticing that he was shying to the vineyard cannons going off. They can sound like gunshots. He must not like loud noises. I knew that dark would soon fall, and with that, the cannons would stop too. But I was hoping to be able to desensitize him to the cannons.
Connor's next try in the round pen was finally successful. Though the cannons were still sounding, I brought Kate in the round pen to help him. I have done this a couple of times in the past to help dogs.
Kate is extremely focused and loves to do ANYTHING with sheep, even if it is round pen work. By adding her in with Connor, the "pack mentality" can kick in, and Connor can get his confidence back, borrowing some from Kate. It worked! And Connor was back in the grove and able to work sheep again. This time, I made sure, that he was still wanting to work the sheep, before I quit him. Now he may be set up right for next week.
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