a blog about Kilt and her kids plus Trouble our JRT mascot.

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Sequim, Washington, United States

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Two by two...sheep that is...

I'm always looking for new exercises for my stockdogs. I have a local ranch (10 acres) 15 min. away where I work my dogs a good deal of the time. Lucky for me there are lots of pens, arenas, and a field. And, of course, lots of stock, sheep and goats. About the only time I use an arena for my experienced dogs is while working on penning. For the rest of our work, I try to use open spaces. I don't mind working around RV's, haystacks, trailers, etc. All make good learning experiences.
This week I have been shedding/sorting two sheep at a time into a field. One sheep is usually pretty berserk by itself, but I have found that two sheep work great keeping my dogs on their toes! The two sheep aren't sure why they have been chosen to be separated from their flock, so it puts lots of pressure on the dog. Also, on occasion, at least one of the two will challenge the dog trying to protect itself from being isolated from the flock. But, with two you usually don't get an idiot sheep running full speed into a fence. That's not to say they don't run. But, the dog learns to flank wider to catch the lead sheep's eye.

This morning I would sort two sheep into the field and work both Jet and Kilt. (Yoko still has stitches from being spayed...due to come out Friday). Sad Yoko...no sheep for her for awhile. It is so interesting to watch how each dog maneuvers the two sheep. Just when I think Jet doesn't have the balls to stand up and move them, he surprises me and does a much better job of it than Kilt. This morning he did a grand job of holding his ground and walking nose to nose with a confronting ewe. Kilt always holds her ground, but sometimes the ground shakes and moves when she leaps into their faces.

Great exercises, fun for the dogs, new for the sheep, and good for me to observe as their handler.

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