Saturday, January 28, 2012

Working January 27, 2012

We waited while the sheep were brought down to the round pen and Blaze was immediately very responsive to me and the obedience commands I was giving while the sheep were still a good distance away.

Trainer suggested we work with the sheep in the round pen to really work on our commands/outrun without really worrying about what the sheep are doing. After the sheep had been placed in the round pen, we just did some balance exercises with me moving and Blaze keeping the balance on the other side of the pen to warm up. Get some steam out since not working for about 4 weeks.

Then I went inside the round pen, with Blaze still on the outside. What we did here was start working on his side commands without any help from me. After a few times he picked up on it pretty well. His 'lie down' and 'there' commands have drastically improved during this session, too. I could visibly see him gaining an understanding of these commands.

Next, I came out of the pen and called him off with a 'that'll do.' This was hard and took multiple tries before he came. Then I tied him up to the fence and walked off toward the sheep with trainer and his dog. I was so happy to have the opportunity to do this. In the past when I left him or he watched other dogs work he would bark, look away in distress, throw himself, etc. This time when I walked to the sheep and talked with trainer while he showed me what to work on next while working his dog on the sheep, Blaze did not make a peep. He sat down, watched, and was quiet the WHOLE time.

After this improvement, we worked on outruns. We started by putting him about 25/30ft away from the pen with sheep, with me in the middle. Then I cross over the 'imaginary' line straight down the middle of Blaze and sheep and give Blaze his side command. He did okay the first couple times. He'd get to balance point, I'd tell him there, and then go to him and call him off. He definitely did not want to come off (something we really have not practiced). So the first few times I would walk toward him on one side while trainer would walk toward him on the other around the pen.

Then we put him further back after a few times of repeating the above. I'd say about 50ft-75ft away from the sheep this time. We did the come bye side first. This side was hard and he did not go as far out as he needed. Let him continue on to balance point on the other side of the pen. Then went to him, while waiting for the right moment when to call him off when I got eye contact (thanks to a previous clinic/clinician for this trick!). Then we walked away again -off leash- the same distance and did an away to me outrun. His away to me side was almost perfect. Super, super nice. Got to balance point, lie downed, then went to him and called him off. Then we did a come bye outrun a few more times and it improved greatly from the first time. Ended with our good, away to me outrun and walked off the sheep with a that'll do with ease.

We got some good side command, there/lie down, and recalling off the sheep practice. Working the sheep while they are inside a pen is a good trick that I will remember for future use to work on helping proof commands in a young dog without the worry of sheep moving away.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Working December 16, 2011

Today we worked for a solid hour. We started out like normal with a group of five in the big field. It was a rough go. Blaze was very hyped up (not normal for him) and the sheep were edgy and moving fast. This wasn't working, so we stopped and did some obedience work with Blaze after the sheep were moved to a different field (roughly the same size) further away from the lure of going back to the big group.

He also wasn't staying off his sheep, so we went to a corner and did half flanks and lie downs. Each time he came in, I pushed him off. Work in progress still, but he got the idea I believe. This was a good exercise for him.

After a few minutes of doing this, we switched gears and worked on outruns. We added a good deal of distance on his outrun this session. Probably 50 or so feet. This was a good exercise, too. Now if I could just get my flank signals right, we'd be doing even better. hehe. I did a outrun a few times and then he had picked up on what I was doing, so we did flanks with me still standing at the sheep. After this, I would do an outrun, let him get to balance, lie him down, then walk off maybe 20 feet off with sheep. Then I would tell him to walk. So he would walk slowly behind the sheep (and he stayed off of them nicely) for a few feet. Then break off into a flank, lie down, repeat above again.

Overall, after doing some refresher on obedience (lie down means LIE DOWN) he did well. Progress was made, and that is all I could ask for. He's turning into a nice dog. Now, if only I could get sheep and the neighbors not notice. Hmm. ;)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Working November 19, 2011

Today when we arrived for our lesson we had to wait a few minutes so I took this time to work with Blaze on some obedience. Lie downs, that'll do, here, and there commands. I am very happy with how he was taking these commands with whistles, dogs, sheep, and people for distractions.

This time our trainer had a group of 150 ewes out in the big field so we started with them. He's never worked such a large group, and it was tough. He wasn't sure how to control such a large group and therefore was cutting in alot and not staying off them like he needed to in order to control them. We tried doing a few outruns but in the end it just wasn't working because he did not stay far enough off them. Therefore, we put those up and got a group of about 5 out. He did much better with the smaller group. We started with just balancing and flanks. Then we started working on outruns again. This time we got more distance on our outrun (30+ feet). We also worked on sending him when the sheep were starting to walk off. He handled this well. We also worked on pushing him out more on the outrun by following him just a bit while he's on his outrun. He's still a little tight, and the reason I was told is because he's not turning his head out when I give him a flank command. He's still turning his head in/looking at the stock and therefore he doesn't get out as far as he needs to. We'll work on that next time. His lie down was better, but not great yet. So we're going to try something new next time that will hopefully nix our sluggish lie downs.

He still likes to grip once in a while, which has been normal for him. But on our second time working after a break, he gripped once and it sent one ewe (which was later taken out of the group because she kept leaving and being a pain to work) running down the fence to the other side of the pasture. Blaze did take off after her, but he was running beside her the whole time so I didn't say anything. To see what would happen. He never gripped again and was trying very, very hard to get in front of her to bring her back around, but in the end he couldn't and I called him off. He came and lied down right when I told him. But I was very, very proud of him for TRYING and THINKING.

Then he did grip a couple mores times (not a needed grip) but I kept quiet and he brought them right back on his own to the group and me.

There were a few other dogs working in-between Blaze and I and he was off leash in a lie down for a few minutes while watching the other dogs work. Then he was tied up and was perfectly calm and QUIET the WHOLE time, even when another dog started to cry. This is a HUGE improvement for him! To lie down off leash and watch other dogs work and to not cry at all while tied up and with other dogs working.

I could really see the progress in this lesson. He's really matured nicely lately! At the end, the trainer said "once you get his lie down perfected, there's no telling how far you'll go with him." Can't wait to work this dog again.

Working November 11, 2011

After working on leash manners, lie downs, and that'll do's for 2 weeks at home, we went back for another lesson. Today we started out in the big field that has a round pen in the middle. At first we let him work the sheep through the round pen. Flanking, finding balance, and lying down on the outside of the pen. Then we went inside the pen and brought the sheep out to the big field (possibly 400yd by 300yd). Here we started working on outruns, balance, and lie downs. 

He made lots of progress. His outruns looked good. We were doing a '' outrun set up. Very little, probably 15ft between dog and sheep at most. His lie down was better than before, but no where near where it needs to be. We can have a perfect lie down at home, but something about being on sheep makes his lie down slow. We also worked on walking in a straight line without him blowing the sheep past me. Basically working on getting out. 

This was about all we worked on this session besides continuing to learn his side commands and getting on to him for gripping. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thursday, April 8, 2010