Thursday, September 22, 2011
Heading, Heeling, and Learning
Yoko is 3 1/2 yrs. old now and a natural born heeler. Jet will take a face bite with encouragment and Kilt will head and heel. Yoko finds it easier to control her stock by grabbing a heel. That way she doesn't have to confront face to face. I don't know if it's an easier way out, but it works for her. Do not think for a moment that she can't move 20 goats off a flatbed with hay on it. She can. But, she does it her way. She knows goats HATE to have their heels bit. I give her credit for that.
When she was very young I used to take her in pens and encourage her to grip a nose. I can see I "stressed" her by encouraging her too much, too young. Now that she is 3 yrs. old, I need to teach her to only nip when needed. The first year of trialing she would heel on the lift. Thankfully, she has figured out they are going to move if she continues to walk into them. It's all about confidence.
Today I put her on leash. Why on leash? Because this little dog can zip behind her stock and grab a heel in a heartbeat. I put 3 goats in a 12' by 6' pen. When she went to grab a heel, I stopped her. If they would move off a flank...yea. If they wouldn't I asked (very low key) for a nose nip. All I said was shh shh very softly. After the 3rd nose bite, I put her up.
I will do about 5 min. every so often of this type of work with her. And, of course on sheep, too. I want her to know that grabbing a heel isn't her only option. I'd like it to be a last option other than if she is doing pen work or loading stock in trailers. First, I'd like a decent flank to take the pressure off. Secondly, I'd like her to walk into them. If that fails, I need some backup ammo instead of a heel bite that will send the sheep flying every which way. :0)
You know, taking a little dog like Yo that I wasn't too sure about on stock and getting this far with her is quite satisfying. She still needs a ton more of confidence. That will come with experience. But, can you imagine my thrill if we get to open?
"Life is not about winning or losing - it's about learning and growing. The more you learn and grow the better your chances to win. There is no failure if you learn from your experiences and focus on becoming a better you!"