Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thinking about training and working dogs...
Most of what I have been doing with the dogs is chores and grazing sheep (tending/keeping them in certain places).
Chores are good as there is a daily routine. The challenge is not always using the go to dog, even though it is easier, as the others need to learn the routine and understand that working stock is not just fun and games.  Of course I have to be ready to step in and help the younger dogs do the job correctly.

Grazing is also good at many levels. It teaches patience. Just laying still, watching, waiting for the need to work, for a turn.
I often work dogs in pairs, so the dogs need to learn to honor each other. One dog works the other waits.  At times I need the two dogs to do different things.  This can be quite challenging, as my dogs all want to do what I ask.  Again, learning to take their command.  (I use name then command in such situations)

To make grazing easier for me, I need a dog to take off balance flanks, and to stop where ever I ask them to.  This is rudimentary driving. It teaches/enforces flexibility, and requires the dog listen to commands. With Tommy, I expect him to take verbal commands (same for Lin).  With the young dogs I help them with body and stick.  The dogs learn the task, keeping the sheep in a certain spot.  And will react to the sheep on their own, bringing them back to that spot.  They also seem to understand the point of containment, much more so than driving.
With puppies or very green dogs I do everything with a fetch, and initially a stop on balance.

When I have time, I enjoy sitting outside watching the sheep.  Its even more fun with friends and their dogs!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Great weekend at a stock trial (Working ASC of Georgia).  My favorite trials are at peoples farms and ranches.  Tony and Donna have a lovely place, with very workable stock.

We arrived early (Thursday afternoon) so that I would have a chance to work the stock, particularly cows.  I like to give my dogs every chance for success, and we do not see cattle very often. Both young dogs (Rio and Dari) need more exposure, and confidence.  Tony was nice enough to let Tommy and me help in the pens pushing cattle out.  More mileage and work experience. Unfortunately Tommy got himself in the wrong place and got run over.  Will have to work through that.

Trial was successful for many people.  Saw lots of good runs (or runs with good parts).  My dogs certainly had their share of successes.

The highlight of the weekend for me was helping Tony on Sunday morning.  As I was not trialling, Tommy could help.  He got to gather the cattle. It was quite picturesque first thing in the morning with the fog on the hill.  Each time we did that he was more understanding of the task.  From one pasture, and then the next group from another.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Since I last posted in 2010,  my young dogs Tommy and Lizzy have earned their WTCH's.  I am going to try and get enough finals points with Tommy to compete in finals in Colorado.  So we are continuing to work on driving, and finesse.  Ron, my 12 yo, earned his ASCA conformation championship in addition to his WTCH and ATCH2, making him a supreme Versatility CH.
I also have 2 18 month old pups out of Lin.  Both are very talented are fun to work and train.  I need to find time to work with them this winter.
And last I have 2 babies, Ron's daughter and Lizzy son.
Hopefully we can follow these 4 to their WTCH's and beyond!
so its been a long time.  And I thought I would include this facebook post. Maybe I can keep up and use this to describe training my various dogs!

Part of the "fun" of grazing sheep is the time to think. And sitting with my dogs, makes me think about them. I guess I feel fortunate to have so many dogs who I feel are both talented and special! Eowyn my Golden Retriever, my first purebred dog, my intro to showing, dog clubs, etc; then Gandalf, the most awesome Aussie! Temperament, good looks, drive and heart that are hard to beat. And of course Rowan, my first WTCH, ATCH and PCH, as well as HOF dam. She is my foundation and an amazing dog who taught me so much; her son SVCH Ron, who surpassed any expectations I had, PCH WTCH Lin who still amazes me, is my shadow, and the very talented younger generation, Tommy the clown, Lizzy (his opposite), baby Dari, Rio, and the pups, Junebug and Rango. There are others who have also shared in my life, and have a place in my heart, Tot the bc, Minnie, Sydney, Mötley.Each one an individual, each with something special to bring to my life, his or her own talents, strengths and weaknesses. Working with dogs truly is an amazing journey.