Yep...hard to do, but some of our Border Collies need just that....slow and consistent training while they are "growing" up. Not all bitches are ready to 'rock and roll' at 8 mos. and not all males at 14 mos. It's hard to be patient. Working sheep is just so much fun. We can't wait to get those pups out on sheep!
Yoko is 3 yrs. old now. I never have had a pup come on to it's stock nicely. First time on sheep was pretty much crash and burn. Possibly, because they were put on their stock too early. See how smart I am getting after doing this for almost a decade. Whether that is true or not, I most certainly know that the dog growing up continues to change physically and mentally all of the time.
Every few months, my husband says, "Yoko is changing characteristically." What does he mean by that? He means he sees different behaviors from her around the house, around the other dogs, and around her stock. It's like she is "morphing." I hope I'm the one helping her to morph into a good dog. :0) I have never taken a lesson from anyone with Yoko. It's just been me and her working through stuff.
Likes and dislikes about Yoko......
This little dog tries her heart out for you. She is a good spotter of sheep in the distance. She has a soft, kind lift. If they ain't lifting, she will be making them lift in anyway she can. I have to say "nothing." She was born with a natural open dog outrun. It required nothing from me except to be patient and let her find where she needed to be. She wants to be my partner.
Things that need to be worked on:
A little more eye would have been helpful for pace I think. It's harder to drive a looser eyed dog (to me). I work lots of two(s) and singles to help her develop eye. She needs a bit more confidence to walk nose to nose. She has about (an 18" freeze point) nose to nose. If they aren't moving, she will blast them. She's a bit slow coming in on a shed. She can wade through a group which is good, but if one cuts off she isn't quick to pick it up. She still has some difficulty giving me a flank on the fetch.
Notice I didn't mention her "avoidance" behavior that I have mentioned in the past. I have tried to treat her "sniffing" and "looking the other way" with 'kid gloves.' I realized it is some sort of "hunting" dog behavior. May be related a tad to stress, but I'm not completely sold on that. When coming on to new sheep Yoko sometimes (lesser and lesser these days) has had the tendancy to turn her head and sniff a bit while she is walking up on them. I have even seen her do it on a drive. I ignore it or give a "hey, hey"...get a move on little doggie :0) But, I do NOT punish her for this. This is ovbiously something she feels she needs to do with that particular stock at that time. I'm sure she is a hell of alot more savvy than I am when it comes to livestock. I believe it is some sort of predator/prey characteristic.
I spayed Yoko early because I felt she wasn't the type of stockdog I wanted. Then I decided that this might be the little dog I needed to learn on. If we could partner and I could develop her into a trial dog, it would make me a better trainer. So, she is 3 yrs. old now; she has been pretty consistent in pro-novice receiving quite a few 70 something scores. One 80 something score. She is starting to figure out the arena "pressures" in order to do well in arena trials.
We are working on our shedding and driving. We continue to work close up and personal in big groups, so she feels more comfortable. I'm having quite a bit of fun with her.
Wayne...you LOST your agility dog. :0)