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TRIALING AND TRAINING
DOG FIRST AID
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SHEEPDOG HERDING LESSONS
Christian is starting to look like a teenager. Her legs are long and leggy, while her body is still on the smaller side. Her head is still somewhat larger for her current body size, so I think she will grow more. I mentioned her head size to my husband, and he just said that it is larger because it is packed with brains. I say its packed with a skull full of mush. Mush that needs to be developed into a free thinking brain.
A teenager on the outside, might mean that she is a teenager on the inside. Her energy level has dramatically increased. She usually only takes one nap a day now, along with the other two Border collies. She plays with Tam, the three year old, more often and for longer sessions. Care with her physical body still needs to be taken as her bones and growth plates are still that of a young dog. I guess what I am trying to say, is that even though she is looking more and more like a dog and not a puppy, she still is a puppy until about a year old. That is one reason why most handlers will not start their dogs on sheep until about one year old. Their skeleton is not fully developed, and damage can occur. Their brains can be sensitive too, so sensitive that they cannot handle correction well, while on sheep.
That said, I have "played" with Chris on sheep, but only for about 2 minutes at most. She wants to work, and its very hard to not let her "play" once in a while. However, I am super picky with the sheep that I pick out for her when I do let her "play". I do not want her slammed or butted by a sheep, that can turn her off of sheep permanently. Also, irreversible damage can occur to her growth plates if she would get hit just right. She, more likely than not, might not be able to emotionally handle any correction that I might give to her. So I need to keep corrections in check, and constantly monitor her emotional state, while she is "playing".
When working a very young dog, many prominent trainers have said that the dog will not really get a head start on sheep when working that young. I keep that tucked away in the back of my brain, to help me let her be the puppy that she is, and not to push her.
She can get hurt terribly in the "outside" world, while not even not on sheep. Tam's littermate did just that. When she was about 4 months old, one day when she was released from her kennel in the morning, she came around a corner, and stepped in a hole. That hole did major damage to the young puppy. Rest didn't help, so x-rays were taken, and she had torn her knee tendons and an ACL operation was needed. Her potential trialing days were now over. The worst part about all of this was she would have to be kept quiet for over 8 months, as her surgery could not take place until she had finished growing.
Fortunately for her, she was rehomed with a veterinarian, and lives a full and relatively active life.
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