“Way wide”

I’m working a dog that flanks too wide on one side. It’s not his outruns only his flank and only on one side. So, I’m trying to teach him the difference between a wide flank and a tighter one. Until he understands there is more than one way to flank … I won’t be able to communicate which one I want.

I start the session (when he’s fresh) with the sheep close by (not an outrun). I give him a short crisp flank sound (either whistle or voice) …  and send him “away” making sure I don’t drag out the sound.  Then while he’s flanking I wait until the minute he’s starting to break wide … and I say stand, and then walk up – walk up. After he’s walked up (and gotten closer to his sheep) I will repeat the flank (the same way as before … short, crisp word or whistle, stop and walk up). If he “beats me” and gets too wide flank … I stop him and flank him back the way he came (so since we are working on a away side … it would be a come-bye) and then a walk up.

You need sheep that will walk away … running sheep will only make him want to break wider. So, something easy and quiet that will allow you to help him understand what you are working on.

After doing the above for a few minutes I then give a long wide flank make him flank ALL the way around to teach him the difference between the two. Then back to the “tighter” flanks and walk ups.

Another method I use is when he starts to break wide … I will turn the flank into a shed (which he loves) and say in “here-here” and he comes flying in. I don’t want to do that to often since I really didn’t set him up for a shed and don’t want him “pre-meditating” that maneuver :@) However, doing it every once in a while makes him not want to run as wide and keeps him in contact with his sheep.

With a few hard dogs I’ve had to use a long line in a round pen. I don’t use this with soft or sensitive dogs. You need one with a “bit” of drive about them but it will help. You have a long line and give the flank … when he starts to break wide … correct (hey, here, or whatever) and give a tug. Make sure your angle is correct or you will pull him back toward you and not the sheep. You want him to stay the same distance from the sheep he was … not go wider. You don’t keep pressure on the line … just give a little “tug” to keep him from going wider.

I remember before I had ever trained a wide running one … people telling me that was harder issue to fix than one that was too tight. I had my doubts … I had spent so many hours pushing mine out – I just wanted to try that for a change :@) Well, “watch what you wish for” … you know what … they were right :@) If the “wide” part is programmed in … it’s hard to override.

However, it’s only one side and a flank with this dog so I’m not “overly” worried about it. On really wide running ones it’s usually both sides and often flanks and outruns (BUT not always … go figure :@)

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Kat Cason says:

    I am so happy to discover this blog. I’ve read many of your articles … recommended by my trainer but this is even better.

    I am 55 and have my first border collie. We entered our first sheep dog trial this past weekend. For pros watching us, it did not turn out too well. But I knew going in that we (my dog Moose and I) were not ready. Yet we finished the course and no one got hurt : )

    I’ve been reading and reading here and can’t wait for my next lesson.

    And you are right. This is almost a drug. I’m looking at getting sheep in the fall and have my eye on some farms …

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and knowledge.

    1. I always figure “what a way to go” … and besides it’s much better for you than drugs :@)

      Glad you are enjoying it. I still, even after 30 years, just stop and watch these dogs work. It’s still amazing.

  2. Kat Cason says:

    NO Kidding!! I have been keeping a blog of this experience and had the chance to work one of my trainer’s dogs. I described it as “better than sex.” I hope I have enough time to train my own dog to that level. Wish I had discovered this earlier in life. At any rate, it is an amazing experience.

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