Power, push, presence, courage

Let’s “throw in” heart also.

The never-ending discussion. What is power … is it different from courage? Push? What is presence? Does it take courage to have presence.

I wrote an article 20 some years ago about power but I still can’t answer the question. I do know – I’ve had one dog (out of hundreds and hundreds) that had all the above. One, out of all those dogs (of my own and in for training), that I could say “without a doubt” had power, push, presence and courage (along with a ton of heart). I’ve had some that had power and push but no heart. I had one that was all heart with a ton of courage but not enough push. They all taught me something about training because I was willing to “listen” and learn instead of judge and condemn (if I thought they were hopeless – I sent them home).

One of the most important things I have learned through the years is to look at the whole package. We tend to make comments when dog is running but the true JUDGE of a dog will be the sheep. If sheep like a dog then does our opinion really matter? We can say we like certain things in a dog that we train/buy/run but the sheep will have the final say. When I watch a dog run I endeavor to appreciate what they have to offer – even if it’s not my kind of dog.

One qualification I find essential is courage … I do not like dogs that run away from sheep (makes it difficult to get a job done when the dog is going in the wrong direction). However, I’ve seen sheep (some not all) melt off a weak dog and fight a strong one. So, it’s more than courage or power the sheep are reacting to. Maybe the strong dog has to much eye … so the sheep never feel comfortable enough to move? Sometimes a weak dog isn’t a threat and that’s what those sheep need to move. So, again it all adds up to “the whole package”.

I also like push which “usually” means looser eyed – but then just to contradict myself I also like a dog with feel. Finding that perfect balance of push with feel keeps me busy. Some sheep like feel more than push and “my type” of dog won’t suit them. However, I find it more comfortable (for me) to handle the push “out of a dog” than to put it in when needed.

Some people like to use the “stop and drift” method of working dogs – others “stop and go” and others “flank and go” – I prefer “flow and go”. It doesn’t matter which method you like as long as you, the dog and the sheep are all “on the same page”. I think issues occur when people buy dogs that don’t fit their “methods” and then get upset with the dog.

I find trialing an exceedingly complicated sport. I also find it astonishing at the number of people who seem think it’s only a matter of making a dog go “left/right/lie down/get up”. In my opinion that’s a bit like saying professional dancing is all about picking your feet up :@).

So, my advice to novices wanting to get into this sport — watch handlers and their dogs. Find the one that you think will suit you and ask about their dogs. If you just buy what’s the “hot” breeding at the moment – it might not suit you. Ask yourself questions: Are you capable and/or do you like giving a lot of commands fast? Or would you prefer slow and methodical? Do you like having a lot of control? Or do you like a dog that will take care of you. Watch runs/dogs/handlers and then decide which method will suit you personally. It will help you find a dog (or trainer) that will suit you and your handling style.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Andrea says:

    Funny. I was just about to start soliciting input for an article on this very thing for our local newsletter. Might still do it. May I quote you?

    1. Sure, no problem :@)

  2. paulo motta says:


    Enviado via iPhone

    1. You’re welcome :@)

  3. Candy, I have been following your blog for a while now, and I just want to say thank you. Thank you for taking the time to write, thank you for your great perspective on training, and thank you for always giving me something to work on!! I’m new to training and trialing – just ending up my second year of trialing, so I am very novice, but so many of your points I already do, so your training style fits me!

    Thanks again,

    Doniene Fullagar

    1. Always good to hear that the articles help someone. I think that’s what most writers are hoping to accomplish when they put training words on paper. It’s always difficult when you can’t visually see the training. Good luck and enjoy!

  4. jamiedogs says:

    Nice read.

    I think personally every dog is different but it helps to let a dog grow and thats what people dont do often. To keen to put commands on to early never letting dog feel sheep and also giving you the time to see a little more about what you have. I have weak a dogs labeled to soon as weak or lacking power but thats because they simple havent been shown how to to have confidence.
    What I’m saying is the dog that we all need and want (power push ect )is present in far more dogs the only reason they reach their potential is bad handling. If you teach a dog to believe itself it amazing what can be done with what other would consider a waist of time.


    1. Totally agree … I often wonder why the hurry.

      1. jamiedogs says:

        Thanks for the reply Candy, reading back my dyslexic comment made me laugh lol!. Please you understood what I was trying to say. I have only just found this site nice to be a part of it.

  5. You are more than welcome here … hope you enjoy it !

    It made total sense to me :@)

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