Say what you mean AND mean what you say … or don’t say it.
If you’re not going to back up a command then don’t bother to say it. If you make the decision to tell your dog to “get out” and he doesn’t obey and keeps on the same path … you might as well have saved your breath. Even if you were wrong and he didn’t need to “get out” you don’t need to “double down” the wrongs.
I understand novices worrying a lot about not making the right decision and ruining their dog BUT you can also ruin your dog by teaching him to ignore commands.
Let’s use an example of a flanking dog that is not “endowed” with a lot of power. She protects her “weakness” by moving sheep with her body (flanking hard and fast from side to side). Now, the dilemma occurs because if you line her out too much there ARE times she won’t be able to move her stock. So her handler worries about “when” – when to make her line her out, when to lie her down or slow her down. Knowing that this will take her power away and she needs all that she has. So, the handler decides to tell her to slow down but then NOT follow through with the command because the dog “might not” be able to move the sheep.
The solution is YOU and YOUR decision … “back her off” or “power her up”.
Using sheep that will move easily, do an outrun and make her down at the top. Then get her up, tell her THERE – take time, and if she tries to flank – lie her down. Make her lie there … don’t just let her get right back up (with this “type” it makes a “jack in the box” down) BUT also don’t wait until the sheep run off before you REPEAT the above. If you teach her how to line out … by making her use her eye and balance to move her stock … you will help build the confidence that she CAN move stock with something other than a flank.
After you have worked on the “lining” … switch her back to pushing on with fast flanks BUT the difference now its YOUR decision. You are giving her the command to “push on” … NOT letting her decide without your input. Make sure you give completely different commands for each exercise allowing her differentiate between the 2 actions.
Going “back and forth” with you at the “helm” will teach her the difference between the two exercises and let her (and you) realize there is more than one way to work her sheep.