Here are some issues that come up during class with our dog that loves to “contact” his sheep.
He’s a good line driver and just takes them and goes … he will pace when reminded “firmly” :@) so those are two are things we won’t have to worry about as much. However, flanking the dog back around once he’s in driving mode will be the problem. Remember when this dog catches the sheep’s eye he goes into in FULL contact mode.
So, “for now” when we flank him we will flank towards the sheep’s butts … this will limit his eye contact and will give a freer, cleaner flank. Let’s say you have him driving straight away – before you flank him pay attention which side the sheep have drifted (in regards to you). So, it starts out everyone is “in line” and 20 yards away he has shifted to his (and your right) the sheep will be drifting to “everyone’s” left. So, when you flank him … send him on an away. If you made him take a come-bye “at this stage” you would send him straight into his sheep. Hope this makes sense as it’s hard to “put on paper”
After you get him flanking cleanly toward the sheep’s rear. You can start working getting the same clean flank toward the head. Training starts with “baby steps” and working up to the difficult. If, “in the beginning” we get him in the habit of flanking cleanly it will become more natural to him.
When we progress to flanking into the heads … what will happen is the dog won’t want to take a flank or will take 2 steps straight INTO his sheep (where he now he’s really confronting them). So give the flank once – maybe twice ( but if you give it a second time make sure to growl it) then stop the dog walk out and MAKE him BREAK eye contact … go all the way around and back to where he was. Then start the drive over again. Make sure to put a correction in not just repeat the command (Listen to me or … whatever) you need to let him know that he was wrong.
When you walk out to make him flank … position yourself to push him out (we will work on “pull in” later in his training … remember baby steps :@). If you were trying to make him come bye and he didn’t take it … go out and stand on his right side so you can push him at the shoulder to make him go “cleaner”.
After the complete flank (clean one) then go right back to driving then try to give it again (with you standing close) to see if he understood the correction.
After you get what you want … let him to take them and drive. He likes control and he likes line so take advantage of that to get him working happy and with purpose. Then slowly “insert” what you need/want into what he wants. We have to be firm as he’s a strong dog but we don’t want to just use “force” and make him. People don’t like stepping out of their comfort zone and neither do dogs. So we want him to understand that if he will do what we ask … he can go back to what he’s comfortable with. Then slowly we will start stretching him out farther.
Now this will not work with dogs that LOVE to flank so we will address that issue “down the line” with a different type of dog.