Yoko is missing that come forward that we all like to see and have in our stockdogs. So, I try to get her to "feel" her sheep more by putting her in "pressure" situations. This actually helps her with her balance. Does that make sense?
Yesterday I took her to a new place to work fairly fresh lambs. If she got a group of lambs without a leader, she had to stay on her toes. She couldn't just follow along like ol Shep. Also, trying to load the lambs in a stock trailer put lots of pressure on her. This was a good exercise in teaching her "not" to bite. She needed to take those few baby steps closer to the lambs, but be ready for them to make a break for it. Plus, I was waiting for this moment to ask her for flanks when she was under pressure. I insisted she flank for me. She needs to understand and comply with my requests no matter how stupid they seem to her. There are times she has to be able to release the pressure. She did okay...maybe, even better than her mother who still likes to give a little jump at the sheep to get forward movement in a pressure situation. Unfortunately, that usually scatters the sheep. This was a good exercise for me, too. It showed me how the lambs reacted to "my" pressure...forget the dog.
Today it was cool outside and I slept in and lazily went over to Task farms to work my dogs. I went out in the field with five sheep. I had each dog shed off two sheep leaving them in groups of two and three. Then I had each dog when it was their turn work the 3 sheep through a course and then the 2 sheep through a course without ever letting them get back together. Can you say pressure? LOL What a fab exercise this was. Yoko was resistant to the pressure on her first go, but the 2nd time out she impressed me. When the sheep faced her, she carefully and thoughtfully moved into them until they moved off of her. This is what I want. All 3 dogs did well, with Jet being the master of "feel."
I was chatting with a friend the other day about "bite." I think we both agreed, "A good dog may never have to use bite." These dogs have presence and feel on their sheep. I think this is very true. One needs to create a "thinking" dog. When confronted, a "thinking" dog probably will move in closer and do what is needed. That's a good dog to me. I don't want any non-thinking side biter, wool hanger on-er, etc. I want forward presence with thoughtfulness and the power to back it up. I'm not asking too much, am I?