I’m working with a young pup that tends to be a bit hard/soft. Meaning that if I get on her hard she tries to “shut down” but if I don’t get on her she “ends up” in the middle of her sheep.
This “type” can be tough to train sometimes so I will take it slow and easy. She started out by not wanting to go around the sheep and being totally one-sided. With all these “strikes” one could think Yikes! But all pups have issues – some are easier to deal with than others but “one way or another” you will have to “deal” with something. Always remember it’s not how they start out but how they finish that counts.
The first few times I took her to sheep all she wanted to do was stay close to me and follow them. She did it with very nice feel and pace – hitting balance and holding that pressure spot to just keep them moving. I would follow her at an angle – trying to put pressure on her shoulder to “kick her around” to the other side of the sheep. I couldn’t say anything or she would come back to me … so I just quietly followed her trying to put enough pressure to make her go but not so much she would look at me.
When I decided I wasn’t getting anywhere I switched “tactics” and brought a trained dog in with her. At first she chased the other dog BUT that got her to the other side of the sheep. Then she would look up see the sheep and start working … so we were getting somewhere. It was a bit “chasey” when she was on the other side — nothing as smooth and controlled as when she was on the same side I was. The chase didn’t bother me (since I knew all that “feel and balance” was still in there … just a matter of letting it develope). I made sure I kept my corrections very “low-key” because the first step was to make sure she wanted to work enough to take corrections.
Normally with dogs that dog don’t naturally “cast around” … I put enough pressure to push them around to the opposite side. However, she couldn’t take any “people” pressure (she took sheep pressure fine) so I needed to work within her parameters – not mine.
That’s one of the keys to training a lot of different types of dogs. You need to have the desire to “figure out” what works with each individual dog – not what worked with the last dog you trained. I’ve always found that the most enjoyable thing about training dogs – trying to come up with ideas that allow me to show a dog how to work sheep correctly. I’m always looking for something that will engage a young dogs mind and body and bring out their natural talent.
She had pace and feel when she was on the same side as me and it will re-appear once she allows me to guide her – all it will take is time and patience.