Bond has everything on him he will need to be an open dog but it’s all in a VERY rough form. He’s outrunning, driving, shedding, and doing a lot of just plain everyday work. Although “it’s” there – it’s with very little finesse – but then, that’s how it should be at his age (around 1 1/2 years). If you try to put the finesse on before you have the “rough draft” you won’t have much of a dog left when you’re done.
Let’s use driving as an example … he drives hard and pushy and loves “getting hold” of his sheep and just going. If I had started him driving with total perfection and line … it would have made him hesitant and possibly taken too much out of him. So, when we started I just let him take sheep and GO. Then I started “throwing” in flanks … most of them were fast and quick (he flanks wide on his own so I didn’t have to worry about that as I would with some other dogs).
Now, that he has the “blueprint” of HOW to drive we will start working on how to drive with pace. “At the moment” the only way he knows how to push is by using his body (i.e. flanks). I will now start teaching him how he can use eye, line and pace and STILL push.
I did the same thing with shedding. I started with 40 or 50 sheep and made a huge hole and called him through. I didn’t start with 5 sheep and a “slice through the middle” shed … that would have been too stressful and way too much pressure for a young dog. But, now that we have a rough shed we can start refining it down to a more precise one. I will still take it very slowly to make sure he keeps his confidence in his abilities to come through and control his sheep.
*Footnote* on shedding. I start teaching the dog how to come straight to me before I ever start with shedding. I bring the sheep up to me and after they pass me – I flank the dog and stop him straight across from me … say lie down … that’ll do come and then go set up another outrun. The dog learns to relax and come straight past the sheep to me. “In other words” he’s at 3 – I’m at 9 and the sheep are walking toward 6 or 12. If he flanks off he will “run into the sheep” so it helps teach him to come straight instead of bending and then coming in (especially useful with flanky dogs :@).
I’ll update as things progress as “the kid” matures.