training blog

For discussion of the training and use of sheepdogs on the farm or ranch. Please try to avoid discussion of training for trials or other competition; there are plenty of other groups for that purpose.
Tomas
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Re: training blog

Postby Tomas » Thu Sep 15, 2016 11:49 am

I agree, Linda. I learn more from my Josie, than I think she learns from me. It's a collaboration. I know that for the most part she wants to do as I wish, so I sometimes experiment with various ways to communicate, whether by posture, demeanor, and verbal and/or gesture signals. I will always be working on timing. Those have helped. Of course, as you say, letting the dog follow instincts according to what he/she has learned about stock is the ideal. We will never match the DNA they have accumulated over the centuries.

I have heard good things about all the names you mentioned. Have recently been learning a good deal from Curt Pate videos. While his videos (the ones I have viewed) are of stockmanship from horseback, afoot and from ORVs, all without dogs, they have expanded my thinking regarding dog handling, as well as my own management techniques. The more a person knows about how stock think/behave, the more efficient management becomes (with or without dogs), and less stress to all parties concerned.

Enjoyed the Bud Williams story. That's master level stockmanship.

denice
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Re: training blog

Postby denice » Thu Sep 15, 2016 2:52 pm

The more years I work dogs the more amazing they are to me. I started as most do asking for and wanting what I deemed correct. then correcting the dog when it did not do as I saw fit. Took me a lot longer than it should have to understand to shut up, get out of the way and let the dog work.
To watch different dogs and even related dogs work brings a new appreciation to the thought process they must actually go through to figure out how to tackle a problem. To push 50 sheep through a gate from behind the last sheep is kinda silly. You have to get the first one to go First. If you think about it makes perfect sense. Just shows we have to think more like our dogs :lol:

as far as pace goes - it is very genetic. I find if there is something the dog needs help with I tend to do as little as possible to let them know what the are doing is not what I want. Usually with an Ah then let them figure out Why/ What exactly I am correcting instead of telling them again.( with an experienced dog, younger I help faster) So if a dog leaves sheep behind an AH what are you doing? stops them, they look and go get the sheep themselves. If a dog is to fast an AH or name and ah gets there attention so they begin to give you a different option. Sort of like asking is this what you want? If you have been working on pace for a bit and have a word - walk up - you just have to consistent in what that means. EVERY time it is a run up or she does not slow up herself or is not feeling the sheep right and keeps pushing if you let her know that is not right she will fix it. When dogs fix it themselves it is long term if they learn to wait for us to correct then fix it we will have to fix it every time. You should be able to adjust her speed - slow her up or speed her up with voice or whistles or sounds. Work on varying her speed on fetches then on drives. Give her time to think, feel and fix it herself before you ask. When she is doing it right let her know. Put them in and out a gate or places she should / almost has to slow up so she learns to do it herself. If she is feeling sheep right she should adjust slower or faster without being told. So I would pay attention to feel and flanks and how she is giving or not. Maybe her pushing is a symptom of her not feeling the sheep.
Another thing make sure your tone and words match the action. like saying LIE DOWN fast and high pitched does not sound like a quiet be still but if you say it deeper and slower it does. Same with walk up - it has to feel like a walk not a rush. I use Time for asking them go slower. Bit I have seen Jack be able to take a dog that was not his and place every foot fall with AH and dogs name. The dog walked in slow motion it was cool to see what you can do when the dog understands what you are asking for. Now he may not do that with that dog ever again - I would not 'practice' that exact skill or train that. It was simply to get the dog out of a habit and get him thinking
Some dogs take some time to mature before they slow a bit and are consistently thoughtful. Scott will be 6 in Feb. This summer I can him thinking a ton more than years past. He brought the lambs over 1/4 mile at a walk driving them with me still in the pasture working on something else. They went in the eat, he stayed outside the paddock gate watching the lambs waiting on me. Talk about cool!

Tomas
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Joined: Sun May 19, 2013 4:04 am

Re: training blog

Postby Tomas » Thu Sep 15, 2016 4:27 pm

Thanks Denice. Your suggestions sound good. Will give them a try. I like the idea of using more reminders or corrections, rather than always repeating a slow-down or stop command, over and over again. I agree that a quiet/firm "Josie" or "ahht" will allow her to think about what I want, or what she is doing wrong, and let her offer something else. As you said, that is how a person or animal internalizes a new behavior. She most often already knows what that something else is, and there is not much guesswork. But continuing like a broken record repeating "lie down" or "steady" is not getting us there. She takes the cue, and within a few moments needs another command. Make the dog think about what he/she is doing, rather than simply letting her wait for another command after she is wrong.

I had a coach/mentor who did not like reminders/corrections, and steered me away from them. He wanted to hear the command, rather than corrections I had sometimes been using. I can quietly say "no" or "ahht" to Josie, and she has learned to pause and look at me with a, "Well, what do you want", look on her face when she really does not understand what I expect, or more frequently self-correct herself on the spot. She knows that a correction coming from me is not any kind of reprimand. It merely means that what you are doing is not what I am looking for; think about what is correct, and do it on your own. Actually, in the field I used to incorporate some form of "ahht" (like you suggested) to get her thinking. I have got to get back to that. Thanks again.

"Good job" to Scott. Nice beginning for your blog. I will keep an eye on it.


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