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TRIALING AND TRAINING
DOG FIRST AID
MADE IN THE USA
SHEEPDOG HERDING LESSONS
Today, my friend, Roland came over to start his pup, Jessy, on sheep. She has done a little with sheep, but he wanted to do a regular longer workout with her. A few days ago, he told me that she was about ready to start her. I know that he has been real anxious to start her, but has tried to be patient and let her grow up some.
Kate and I sorted out some sheep for Roland and his dog, ensuring that I picked the docile ones. I am very choosy with my sheep, when I pick them out for somebody else to work, or for me to train with someone else's dog. Sometimes sheep can make or break a dog.
Some sheep can turn aggressive, and charge a dog. When a young dog is starting on sheep, they need to be successful. The sheep need to move away from the dog when the dog comes near. But at the same time, they should not be too flighty. That is the other end of the spectrum. I don't want a young dog to either face fighting a sheep or having them run far away from the dog so he can't catch them. So that is why I am choosy when picking sheep.
I have worked sheep that fought. I had one fight the dogs, two weeks ago when I did the demonstration for the Humane Society. If that sheep was fighting my dog at home and the dog was seasoned and not just starting out, I would let the dog work the sheep for a while. There is a point at which I will call off the dog if progress is not being made. Seasoned dogs are allowed to "lose" but not all of the time, and not if no progress is being made. If progress is being made, and the sheep is starting to submit to the dog, then by all means, I will let the dog work until the sheep has been retrained. Unfortunately, when sheep get nasty and fight the dog often, they usually have to leave the flock. While working sheep like that on occasion is good for the dog, all of the time is not.
I watched Roland and his young dog for a while. He has worked very hard on socializing her and exercising her, and laying the foundation for a nice pet and trial dog. Today, I saw some of his previous work with her pay off. Most dogs when they first come to sheep, don't have a mind. It leaves the head the instant they walk into the round pen or sheep field. For many dogs, it can take weeks for the dog to find his brain again, and start thinking about what he is doing and not just reacting to his instinct.
Jessy had a brain the whole time she was in with the sheep. I think that as long as Roland gets good consistent instruction in herding, while training her, she will be a nice dog for him. She is not crazy like one of his past dogs; she listens to him and is responsive and respectful.
When it was Decker's turn in the field, Roland told me that he really wanted to see him work. Occasionally, during his lesson, he did the Aussie thing, breaking them up a few times. But I am starting to work him in the whole field and not just in a large corner. He is fetching quite well now and I have started to use whistles with him. He still doesn't know his flanks, which I need to drill him on a bit.
I would like to start driving with him, but I feel that he is not quite ready. Roland told me today, that if I still had him by this coming spring, I should have no trouble selling him. He also said that I might get more money for him also. Yeah, I should get more; he will have had quite a bit more months of training under his belt. Usually trainers will get 4-600 dollars a month for training a dog. And he is also talented on top of that! I am sure he will be fine in an active working home.
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