Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bill report - corner work and heading

So we're sitting here waiting on the latest thunder storms to roll in. It's been an awfully stormy last week. That's great for the pasture but sure hard on the dogs that are afraid of thunder.

Bart's in his crate feeling very contrite. He just got in big bad trouble for eating my back steps. Little snot, it's not like he's teething any more. I have a feeling he'll stop now though, he doesn't like getting in trouble.

Since i was feeling all inspired after writing about Billy today, i thought i'd give him a spin tonight on a larger group of sheep to see how his session on the fresh lambs last night had stuck with him. Last night i was sending him on short gathers where the sheep would try to take off sideways on him, trying to get him to put on the speed to get around and cover, and really have to work to get to the heads. He did quite well with it and was working hard to catch one lamb that was very determined to split off towards some sheep that were penned up. He has a tendency to work the sheep at the 10-11 o'clock position and i'd like to make sure that doesn't get to be too much of a habit. I'd prefer he read the sheep in front of him rather than just fall into that spot. It's a very, very common tendency in dogs - i'd guess more dogs do have a preferred spot like this than don't. Zac definitely did, Moss did, Jet did. Anyway, i thought Billy handled this exercise on the fresh lambs really well. Tonight i worked him on about 35 sheep that were pretty heavy and he was doing a much better job of watching all of the sheep on short gathers. I tried making a nice big gap in the sheep and calling him through so i could play around with 2 groups with him. I find a lot of dogs really enjoy this but right now Billy isn't one of them. He's too concerned with "losing" part of the sheep. That's okay, it's one of those "good dog" problems and we'll try it again later on when he's more ready for it. Since he didn't want to play with that set up, i took the large group to a corner and had him smush them right up in it, then i'd send him around between them and the fence. That was a lot of fun for him since the sheep would try to squirt off as he went around, and he got to race out and head them. He was very cool squeezing himself around the sheep on the fence, using his teeth to hit heels and very committed to getting outside of all the sheep. I liked that. It was a pretty good night for Billy, he got to do some natural stuff that should help him with really getting to the heads and he had fun doing it. I'm hoping to do a lot of this kind of training with him as i don't feel he's mature enough for any kind of mechanical training at this age. It's an enjoyable way to train anyway, for myself and the dog.

9 comments:

Rebecca and Molly the Border Collie said...

Sounds like Bill is really turning into a great dog. It will be interesting reading to continue hearing about his progress.

Robin French said...

Thanks. He's a good little man. :-)

Becca Shouse said...

Reading entries like this one make me realize how much about training I have to learn. At least now though I feel like learning is an attainable thing! Thanks for sharing these moments. I wish I'd done more sheep smushing when Ted was younger but then again, not sure whether he had the tools then. Billy (heck, he'll always be Billy to me!) has always been such a level headed guy!

Robin French said...

I'm glad you're enjoying the posts. It helps keep me on track and thinking about things too!

carson-crazies said...

I loves me some Bill(y). By the way - that is a really cool shot of bill & the woolie. Has a neato feel to it. I'm really looking forward to watching how he comes along.

Robin French said...

That picture was from this past winter at Christine's - Billy was probably about 5 months old. I thought it was pretty cool too!

Anonymous said...

That's not a real sheep! You put Billy out there with a stuffed sheep! :-)

Joan

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Robin French said...

It does look like that. What's even more funny is that if it was a larger picture, you could see that the sheep appears to be winking because the wool fell over the one eye a bit. It sort of ruined the effect of the big tough sheepdog puppy - i think Bill was about 5 months old in that shot.

I gotta get some more recent pictures. :-)