A:Outrun problems

One of the problems that “came up” during the clinic was outruns … so I will try and explain some of the issues you can have and a few suggestions as to what you can do to correct this difficulty.

First question you ask yourself is … why? Why is the dog outrunning poorly … what is causing the problem? Getting to the *cause* will help you find a solution.

“Most” outrun problems are caused by either eye or tension … and the training techniques used are different for each. However, coming to the conclusion you are dealing with “eye” and not “tension” doesn’t simplify the puzzle. There are different kinds of eye that will alter the way a dog outruns and again you need different methods to help adjust it.

The first “problem outrunning” dog I was working with was the type that loves “confrontation” and  it “comes into play” on his outrun. The minute he looks at sheep he wants to come in. Not because he’s “sticky” eyed … he’s not at all.

This particular dog perceives looking away from a sheep as a sign of weakness … so the minute he glances in (sheep facing him) he percieves this as a “challenge”. If we understand this dogs dilemma then we can help him recognize that he will still have his “contact and control” (which is what he was looking for) but not until we say “when”.
This why I always say try to “get into a dogs” head when you are training.

So, first on the menu – was work up close on flanks. I had her put the sheep in the middle of the field, with her “rear” facing the sheep’s “rear”. Then start him flanking and the minute he looked in we gave an *out* command … making sure he turned his head away from the sheep.

She was walking, turning and pushing the sheep to keep him going. If he “out flanked her” …  she stopped him and shifted her position to push the sheep away from his “gaze” and then re-flanked him … again, the minute he looked in… she was to repeat the out command. If he took it and went past the point where he felt the need to confront the sheep … then we would say there and let him fetch. The object of this exercise is NOT to make the dog run around in a circle but to teach him to keep “pressure” off the sheep until he’s told to walk on.

Another issue we “uncovered” was when she downed him he would turn and take steps toward the sheep … exactly the opposite of what we needed. So, she ended up working on a stand making him stay facing the same direction he was running (so, no turning in on the circle he was going). This happens a lot during training … you are working on “one scenario” and end up realizing that your have another issue buried beneath the layer you are working on.

I will report on his progress and what the next step might be in another “post”.

I’ll end this with *Turn the page* (meaning don’t just work on one thing … mix it up to keep the dog thinking and happy).


2 Comments Add yours

  1. "Student A" says:

    I am the owner of the dog described in this blog “outrun” topic. I am having an issue that I would love some input on while practicing the described exercise. First, a little background. I am a novice handler. My dog just turned 3, and I have only owned him for 2 months, so we are still “getting to know each other”. The problem: The sheep were in the middle of the field, my “rear” was to the sheep, my dog was out far enough, and I flanked him “come by”. Instead of running like he usually does, he started to walk SLOWLY. His head did not turn in, yet he continued to “walk the flank” until I stopped him and sent him on the “away”. He did run on this flank. I tried the ‘come by” flank again, and again he slowly walked it. I immediately stopped and did some driving- which he loves and is his “forte”. Help! What’s going on here? Trying to “get into his head”, it seems to me that he’s completely bored- and I live in fear (like all novices) that I am going to “ruin” my lovely dog. Any and all advice and/or thoughts appreciated!

  2. Actually you did try and get into his head … and made the right decision going back to something he loves to do … he was telling you he had enough. Somehow he’s “feeling” that nothing he does is right.

    I’m thinking maybe you were so enthused that you finally got it right … you over did :@)

    So, now you need to back off and just work him BUT if he does the pull in/slice in … you walk out and do ONE out to “clean up” his flank – then let him fetch them back to you.

    Also you might have not been using your sheep correctly. Most dogs want to get to the heads so it’s possible you weren’t pushing your sheep’s heads away from him … so he thought “what’s the point”?

    Another thing you can try is to “sssssh” him on (which will usually pull them back in – so be careful) … you say out and when his head turns … you ssssh to speed him up. Accept a little tighter flank but don’t allow him to walk up until he is past “pull in”. You might have to stop him … but if you do … don’t let him walk up (that will reward what you are trying to avoid).

    It’s like my comment “turn the page” … you just stayed on the same page to long.

    We will work on it more this weekend … keep me posted :@)

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