Inside flanks are “touchy” and hard to get correct for many beginners.
You want them just wide enough they don’t push sheep forward but not so wide they are out of contact.
This exercise is ALL about angles and it’s difficult to do (and almost impossible to put “on paper”).
Think of a circle – you at 6 – sheep the center – dog an 12 … then cut that circle in 1/2 (draw a line across 9 and 3) … anything above that line is a “push out” flank and anything below is a “inside/pull in” flank. The reason being is once the dog passes that line he’s starting to come TOWARD you (so “inside/between” you and the sheep).
It’s harder to have an impact on a dog that is facing the sheep (and can’t see you) compared to one that’s on the opposite side of the sheep (where your body tends to push him away from the sheep). When he’s on the same side as you the pressure he feels from you … is pushing him forward. So, you need to make very sure you are in the correct spot not to shove him into his sheep.
So, we will start flanking the dog at 12 and keep him going to 3 (at which time if he walked up he would be cross driving). Then we will go from 3 to 4 by stepping between the dog and the sheep (so he thinks he will be flanking around you). Then when he hits 4 … stop him … then you back up away from the sheep (so when you give him the inside flank there is a LOT of room between you and the sheep). The either call his name or say here – here … the MOMENT he looks at you give the flank (which would be a come-bye if he’s at 3).
What you are looking for is the circumference around the sheep to remain the same. So, if you were above looking down – the distance from the sheep would remain the same all the way around the circle ( “in other words” … NOT an egg looking circle).
Now, what happens next depends on the dog. A free/wide flanker … might just take it and go. BUT that’s usually NOT what happens :@) (can’t make this to easy or we would all get bored :@). Most dogs either go the other way, stop stare at you, or go straight at the sheep.
If he goes the other way just treat it as you would any flank he took incorrectly. Stop him, correct and make him go back to 4 and start over.
If he stares … say NOTHING (you don’t want to reward that behavior) until he looks back at the sheep. Then try repeating the flank.
If he goes straight … stop him FAST. Call his name (or say here) and repeat the flank ONCE. If he goes straight at them again … stop him. Then walk out (get on the right side of him) and push him out … thereby, making it a “normal” flank for him. So, although it started out an inside flank … you turned it back into a “normal” one. This helps some dogs get comfortable with a “semi-concept”.
You need to remember that we have spent a LOT of time keeping him out (with our body/voice) now we are asking him to come into “no-dog” land between us and the sheep. So take this slow and easy.
I usually let my young dogs go back to balance and fetch the sheep to me. I find it helps reward them if I allow them to get back into their “comfort zone” after stepping out of it.
At another time, I will hit on an exercise I do before this one that helps “set up” inside flanks. We were working inside flanks so thought I would post it.