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.