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TRIALING AND TRAINING
DOG FIRST AID
MADE IN THE USA
SHEEPDOG HERDING LESSONS
Yesterday was dog day again. A friend Daun arrived from Colorado, just the night before. She usually comes out once a year to visit with her relatives and friends. It was good to see her as I arrived at Sandy's in the morning. I parked and pulled out the dogs on leash. She had never met Decker, nor did I email her about him. I introduced her and him, noting that he is human aggressive.
Decker being an Aussie, and Daun being an Aussie person and not being afraid of dogs, eventually reached her hand out for him to smell. He sniffed, and not sensing any fear from her, accepted a pat on the head. I feel that this is a break-through for him (at least I am hoping it is). We all stood and talked awhile, then went into the agility field.
I worked both of the border collies in agility, and during some of that excitement, Decker started barking. I can't really control his barking while being out in the field, as I am too far away. None-the-less, I made several attempts, and ran to discipline him and Tam for barking. Eventually, others started helping. Pat was there, which Decker now adores. She was able to get him to shut up, and for that matter make Tam shut up too. Bark collars will work, but I don't have any, and Sandy does not bring hers out for us to use any longer. So I am stuck for the time being, with verbal or physical corrections at a distance, which really don't work that well.
Later in the hour, while I was not available, Decker got his leash wrapped around his leg. I was not aware of that as I was dealing with sheep at the time. Sandy noticed it and mentioned the problem to Daun and others. Sandy was apprehensive about reaching down to Decker's leg to aid in the removal of the leash around his leash. When I heard about that I was taken back by that, as he has NEVER growled or made any move of fear aggression at her house what-so-ever! Daun stepped in and helped unwrap the leash from his leg. Sandy was able to come to Decker's head and feed him treats while Daun was rescuing his leg. This worked fine, but Daun and I both thought it might have been unnecessary as he is pretty calm at Sandy's house.
About a half hour later we were sheepdog herding in the sheep field and the round pen. This time I was going to see if Decker could hold it together out in the sheep field. Sheepdog herding with him is quite different than working the two border collies. I train naturally. I have encouraged my dogs to think for themselves, and to take action if necessary to correct the sheep. They don't always wait for me to command them on what to do, and that is the way I want it to be. This method is the method of Jack Knox. I study and follow to the best of my ability, his method. "Don't make the rights, just correct the wrongs".
Making the rights is mechanical. That is not the way that I have been taught. Though it works for many trainers, I have to be different!, and train my border collies naturally (as natural as possible). Sometimes, sheepdog herding this way may take longer for the dog to catch on to what you are asking for. But ultimately, when the dogs catch on, it is more deep-rooted into their brains. They are basically rewarded with working their sheep for good behavior, and called off for improper behavior.
Sheepdog herding with Aussies is totally different than the natural style that I train in. They have to be trained mechanically. So I have to adjust my natural training behavior to accommodate this breed. So Decker is sheepdog trained mechanically.
I started Decker out in the big field in a "closed-in" part of the field. This was to help stop the mad escape of the sheep running to the other end of the field. Since Aussies do not have natural outruns, and they have to be developed, this maneuver would help ensure success for Decker. It worked! Decker was able to keep all 25 sheep together. I was even able to get some fetches with him. He has never worked such a big flock of sheep, and he did real well. He even got complimented from Pat about how far he has come. He has only been working sheep for about 1.5 months, and I am getting a fetch on him. I figured that I have trained him in sheepdog herding about 10 to 12 times total. I am please with his progress.
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