Candy Kennedy – Trials and Errors

Hey Days.

 

Cam3

Although It’s really to hot to work dogs this time of year – when you have a *bunch* of puppies – you just have to “take them out for a spin”.  They are way to young to *train on* but it’s fun to put them on sheep and get a peek as “what might be under the hood”.  I don’t believe in putting 8 week old pups on sheep (one unintentional “slam” can turn a pup off forever) … but once they are capable of getting to the head – I can’t resist giving them a try.

I’ve always said it isn’t how they start that counts but how they finish. That said – after all these years I can usually tell if I’m going to “connect” with a dog once I get an idea of how they interact with sheep. It gives me an insight to how much eye, push, feel they might have and I know what I *click* with. If I’m going to spend the hours training one up then it just makes sense to keep the ones I personally get along with. I have trained all “types” so I don’t feel the need to train just for the learning experience. It doesn’t mean the others aren’t going to be good dogs. I often hear … “well, if they are selling then there must be something wrong with the dog” and I totally disagree. Through the years I’ve seen – just because one person doesn’t suit a dog … doesn’t mean they won’t be good dogs in someone else’s hands.

Back to the reason I titled this “Hey – day” is because that is the extent of my “training” when I go out with young pups. I don’t have a down, a call off or any thing useful :@) I just try to encourage them to get on the other side of the sheep. When they are wrong … out comes my “Hey” … letting them know that’s not what I want – try it a different way. The rest of the time I’m giving them the freedom to learn THEY are the ones influencing the sheep’s behavior.

Let’s compare working sheep to driving a car. If as a teenager you were put in a car and told “drive” … more than likely”, you would be able to “get it done”. Why? Because through life experiences you had developed your eye/hand coordination  (driving toy cars, riding bikes, etc.), But, let’s say – as a child, you had been restricted and never allowed to develop the skills needed to perform tasks that taught you “motor control”. Then, you are suddenly thrown in a car and told to drive …. the difficulty would become obvious – because you wouldn’t know how to coordinate your eyes, hands, and feet so wouldn’t have the ability to control the steering wheel and brakes.

Same with dogs – if they never learn (would that be eye/paw coordination) how their movements work in relationship to the sheep – they can’t learn how to control them. So, at this young age all I’m trying to do is say “Hey” (NO … don’t grip, run through the middle, etc.) and then let them work when they are correct. hopefully soon – you see them start thinking – OH, I did that! At “this stage” that’s all I want. I’m trying to get that thought process going “all the while” relating to me as well as the sheep. I can always put the obedience on later on … but I want to let the natural come out as much as possible to start with. So, in “other words” I’m really not training – I’m letting them work. I control the “situation” by controlling the sheep not them.

That doesn’t mean I just let them chase sheep – that’s not working. In “essence” I’m using the sheep to get the reaction I want out of the pup. When the pup tries to cut in … I move the sheep sideways making the pup flank out to head them. When the pup pushes to hard I push the sheep back making the pup “rock back” because the sheep aren’t going forward. All this without commands – other than Hey, sssssh, and good.

Border Collies have an uncanny ability to read and control sheep – I can’t imagine training without “keeping that in mind”. Why would I try to put my “instincts” in place of theirs … why waste the best thing about them?

 

6 responses

  1. Sharon Gillis

    Sorry I probably hit enter before I finished. I absolutely Love the Border Collie and it’s ability to work Sheep. Their innate ability to know what to do is beyond compare. Thank goodness for farm work to teach them the best lessons they will ever learn. I think trials without the farm work really affects the dogs natural ability because the natural ability has to be over ridden to accomplish a trial situations. Some dogs have such a desire to keep the sheep from getting away, as long as the sheep are moving their desire is so strong that it is hard for them to lie down as long as the sheep are moving. This is not the best for a trial situation. So you have to try to override the dog’s natural inclination. What do you think?????

    Thanks

    August 29, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    • I think if trained correctly you can run in trials (some not all) without ever stopping the dog until the shed/pen (where they do have to stop). I’ve seen some really good runs where the dog and sheep just flow the entire course. Not all sheep allow it though.

      I do think “work” is needed for a dog to develop fully — no doubt about it. If you allow young dogs to figure out how to work sheep without being told every step of the way … I think you end up with a thinking not just obeying dog :@)

      August 29, 2014 at 5:10 pm

  2. That first time around stock is so exciting, one of my favorites!

    Mindy

    August 30, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    • Welcome … these dogs are amazing aren’t they!

      August 30, 2014 at 9:37 pm

  3. Paulo Roberto Motta

    I loved the text, congratulations !!!!
    Paulo.

    September 7, 2014 at 7:00 pm

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