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

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Sequim, Washington, United States

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Serpentines and other lessons

Kilt working the sheep in and around whatever I can use for obstacles.

Yoko doing the same. This really sharpens up her directions and short flanks.

Yoko working two sheep. She needs to feel pressure (without getting run down)

Since I don't have courses or panels to practice with, I just practice out in an open field. Lately I have been setting up barrels or trash cans to weave the sheep in and out of and around. It's nice to do some silent gathers and allow the dog to do the thinking, but in trialing there are moments that you need some micromanagement. Serpenting the sheep around the barrels makes the dogs think quick. Whistle commands are coming quickly and they have to react quickly. The dogs are used to a whistle here and a whistle there. It's good to give a lot of quick whistles to keep them on their toes. Only for a few minutes or so. Then back to norm.

Another exercise I like to do is to let a group of lambs drift to the corner of the field. I know the dogs will want to take an away to me to pick up the lambs in the corner, because the come bye side runs along the fence line. The dog wants to get out wide and scoop them out of the corner counterclockwise. I can pretty much bet $$ to anyone with a novice/nursery dog by asking them to stand to the left of the center of the field and ask their dog for a come bye (knowing darn well their dog will try to cross over). Thus far, I haven't lost any money :0) I'm still working with Yoko on this. Even though she knows the best way to pick them up is counterclockwise, there are times I NEED her to take my direction whether she feels it's right or not. She isn't allowed to get her way.

The other exercise I need to do more of is to work two sheep in the field away from their buddies. Two sheep puts lots of pressure on the dog, because they want to get back to their friends. The dog really has to be on their toes and gets a real "feel" for the sheep. I let Kilt choose a couple of sheep for Yoko to work. That way I will know if they are suitable for two yr. old Yoko who doesn't have her mother's macho-ness (yet), because occasionally two sheep will get scared away from the flock and try to run your dog down. Yoko has had enough sheep jump on top of her, so I try to do the best by her that I can. :0)

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