We all did sheepdog herding today.  The girls and I are getting ready for a sheepdog trial this weekend, so we have to be sharp.  I worked both of the girls and then Decker on sheep.  I had him do more driving and he is really starting to pick that up.  

Since I have been using a male wrap in the house with Decker, I have been teaching him the stand command.  I wasn't sure that he would be able to transfer the word from the entry way of the house and getting his wrap on, to the sheep field.  But I guess that is my problem.  I have never really given him the benefit of the doubt, and assumed that he wasn't the sharpest stick in the woods.  I know that he picked up shaking hands super fast, but I underestimate his intelligence in other areas.  I don't know why I do this; it may be because I got him when he was a year and a half old, and just made assumptions about his intelligence.  Now, I wonder how great he actually would have been with early education.  That kills me!

 Today was the first day that I used the stand more than once with him.  He actually stood!  And he looked at me like he understood what I wanted.  Throughout his sheepdog herding today, I used the stand command often, and the lay down command only a few times.  He also must learn that the stand means to stay also.  

Aussie people don't like to lay their dogs down when sheepdog herding with them.  I don't know the philosophy behind it.  It might be to being easier on the dog's body not to be up, then down, then up again...  I know with many older and better-trained Border Collies, they prefer to stand and stop to a down command.  

With young dogs just starting in sheepdog herding, I prefer to get a good down on them.  I know the down can be used as a crutch for many novice handlers, but it can also stop a huge wreak.  And young dogs notoriously not wanting to stop working their sheep.   

Getting a down that is too solid can also be a concern.  Dogs with a lot of eye, can tend to get sticky.  And a sticky dog just lays down, not moving, and works the sheep with his eyes.  This sticky dog can really be hard to get over this.  It can take quite a lot of encouragement to get that dog up and moving again.   And some handlers try to keep those types of dogs moving, and not stop them too much.

Keeping a dog moving is fine if the movement is slow and under control.  But if there is craziness out there, no one is learning anything.  So like everything to do with dogs, there is no hard and fast rule.  Training may have to be creative, or may be traditional; it depends on the situation and the dog.

Yesterday we went to the vet to weigh Decker.  He is done with loosing his poundage and is weighing in at a slim 64.0 lbs.  Since the latter part of August, he has lost a whopping 20.9 lbs.  Now he is totally keeping up with Tam, the young 2 1/2 year old Border collie.  Even though he can't run as fast as her, he sure enjoys trying.



Sheepherding with Decker

Decker, Steph and Sheep

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