Work with what you have
Not everyone has 100 acres and 1,000 sheep to train on. So what to do? Come up with ideas that will allow you to train “as naturally” as possible with what you have.
For example the way my pasture is set up … I have a fence that allows me to give a redirect or a pull in on the outrun — depending on which way I send. So, I use this as a tool to give the dog a REASON for why I’m giving a re-direct. This allows me to guide the dog and assist him for a REASON instead of just obedience training.
I have a dog I’m trying to teach how to push into his sheep (instead of “just following” them) … so I use all the sheep I have to teach him to push. I walk behind him telling him to walk up *with a strong whistle or voice command*. I put pressure on him making him push on his sheep. Then I will go back to just a few, light sheep and it all seems easier for him.
I’m teaching pace to another dog so I use the wildest “touchest” sheep I have and every time he pushes too hard he loses one of them. I just say Hey, what are you doing. Then I make HIM go clean up the mess. After numerous times of having to go retrieve and regroup his sheep … when I say “take time” and it works … he’s more willing to listen (and begins to understand the REASON behind the command).
Need to work on holding pressure? Take 1/2 of your sheep and work them around the other 1/2 trying to make sure they don’t get back together. You will find out if your flanks are to wide or to tight. Once your dog understand what you are trying to do … those wide/tight flanks make more sense to him.
When you are working dogs … switch things around. If you want a dog keen and ready to go … keep his mind open and wanting to learn more. If you do nothing but repeat the same excercise over and over he will become bored (wouldn’t you :@)