If you want to learn how to train a “variety” of dogs then you need to learn to be flexible. If you choose only one methodology of training … you will limit your training abilities. Training goals remains the same but the method used to communicate with each dog will be diverse. A soft dog will not need nor understand the same depth of correction as a hard dog.
A wide flanking dog will not need the same “technique” to teach flanks as a dog that slices his flank. If you are rigid with your training and insist on using the same method on both dogs … it will either make a flanker too wide or encourage a tight dog to keep slicing.
Corrections should be used to communicate, connect and build trust with your dog. If you “overplay” or “underplay” your hand you won’t get the results you are looking for.
Corrections have to be given with – the right amount of pressure – at the RIGHT time – followed with the release – at the RIGHT time. If you release pressure when the dogs mind is in the wrong place … you reward him for being wrong. If you don’t release when his mind is connected to what you want … then you punish him for being right. “In other words” if you are early or late with either pressure or release … you’re not communicating – you’re just giving commands and building confusion.
So, let’s see how to be flexible with 2 dogs and both tending to be tight on their flanks.
Our first dog is soft that takes correction “very much to heart” and can be so backed off she can becomes hesitant and slow. The paradox is she’s usually running too rapidly while she’s slicing her flank. But, we need to communicate that’s she’s to close to her sheep NOT that’s she’s to fast (work on that later). With this “sort” sometimes just leaning in with an “ah-ah” (the moment she tightens on her sheep) and then quickly backing off. She only needs a little pressure to widen out … so we back off in order to NOT slow her down (which would have meant she was loosing confidence and we were starting to overwhelm her). Tell her she’s wrong but don’t intimate her so much that she slows because of confusion. “In other words”, work only on the tight flank in order to keep her self-confidence up. Later, when she understands the correction you can work on slowing her flanks.
That’s being flexible … allowing her to be to fast keeps the uncertainty down so you don’t get sulky, slow flanks. But since our goal was to get a clean flank – we got what we wanted without “beating her down”.
The other dog is a bit hard – but really it’s more that he’s “into his sheep” and forgets you are in the picture. With this one you might need you to actually get in-between him and the sheep to communicate “back off”. You can not let him have his sheep until he flanks correctly because he’s not the “hesitant sort” that will slow down or lose confidence when pressure is put on. So, we need to use a strong correction to make sure he always keeps us in the back of his mind while he’s working.
Getting into the “face” of the soft one would be way “overkill” and she would lose “confidence” which is precisely what we are trying to build. Just saying “ah-ah” and leaning with our “hard” one wouldn’t even have registered on him.
So, whereas you are correcting both dogs for being “tight” you were flexible and adjusted your correction for each dog. Some dogs need “ground down” and others need “built up” … it’s your job to decipher which dog needs what at which stage.