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

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Sequim, Washington, United States

Friday, September 16, 2011


Quandary = Practical dilemma

This is what I wondered about when I was watching the open dogs run at Lacamas.....ranch work is different than trial work.  If there is an obstinate sheep or rogue, my dogs will notice almost immediately working on the ranch and nip it once to put it back into place.  They want it to know they mean business. It makes the rest of their work easier.  Why have a stand-off or non flocking sheep/goat when it might just take a bit of a nip to gain it's full respect? 

So now you're on the trial field, how do these trial dogs know NOT to bite?  One nip and they will get DQ'ed, unless they are attacked.  Then most judges will see just cause for a bite.  But, if you are moving  sheep on a hot day and they are moving like molasses, stopping to graze, is your dog supposed to use all it's energy wearing back and forth or wouldn't one quick nip get things moving along with less energy used?  I wake up thinking about these things.

This might be a good topic as I hear about so many dogs GRIPPING out at the Nationals.  How do you teach them it is okay to grip at home, but not on the trial field?

What do you think?


Karen said...

Basically as an outsider looking in, it would make more sense to have a trial that mimicked 'real life'.
Isn't that why sheep dog trials originated in the first place, to show which dog was best at getting the job done?
A dog that had to run miles over the hillsides wouldn't have the energy to spare running back and forth trying to get reluctant sheep to move, when a quick bite would do the job.

gvmama said...

Karen, in agreement, but, I think my BCs are smart enough to learn the difference. I just need to be quicker with my whistles. I worked on that this morning with the dogs.

Erin O said...

I have a really good lie down :) I whistle my old dog Mick on hard with a a energetic walk up whistle and he with "throw" himself forward with the intention of grip and I just blow him down the second before he touches. The intention sometimes is more important than the actual follow through.
I also try really hard to keep my dogs from picking fights with sheep. Some will say "well that sheep deserved it". I will say yes but your dog picked a fight with it, as nearly caused us issue on day 2 on our post turn at Lacamas. I have hardly seen a deserved grip in trialing, a lot of times it is do to a short fuse (dog/handler which ever) rather than a stubborn sheep. I also don't let my dogs single sheep out at home I make them work the whole group patiently. If they really struggle I go help and build confidence or reteach a skill. The more confidence a dog has the less likely he will lose his cool and grip. I don't let a grip with bad intent( as much as possible) happen at home and the can use it as a last resort.

gvmama said...

Erin "I just blow him down the second before he touches"
Most certainly working on this with Yoko. Though, I do think our judges are getting more lenient with grips. I think it's okay if warranted and they are consistent in judging with 'all' of the competitors. :0)

Anonymous said...

What Erin said.
I think some teams seems to get into fights almost all the time, and some teams consistently are able to finish without gripping. The team that does the work without grip should be rewarded for that, and I think that goes for farm work to. That is unless the work cannot be done without a grip, just my two cents.

DeltaBluez Tess said...

If a ewe taks a run at my dog, then if my dog grips, then good cause for defeding him or herself. A well placed grip, when appropriate is fine however a fly-by or cheap grip is not. I have a grip command and will tell them then hit them with a stop before they grip, usually works. The more you dogs weave behind the sheep, the harder to move and the sheep are less apt to move or believe your dog.

gvmama said...

Thanks for the comments. I hope you guys are listening to Amanda do the commentary today at the Nationals. I would hate to retire a dog because he was afraid to heel grazing sheep. I'd smile (maybe with some regret for being DQ'ed) for him moving them as he should.

gvmama said...

Plus, one has to think about the very "forward" dogs that can move sheep easier than an upright looser eyed dog such as Yoko. The "forward" dog shows more intent. Should we only look for "forward" dogs and not breed for the other? hmmmm...another discussion. Pete looks like a very upright dog that gets the job done?

Erin O said...

I have very little trouble moving even cows with my upright looser eyed dog, Z. I think it is really up to the handler to handle the dog. I have to handle him MUCH differently then I have to handle Mick, Libby or Cam they have more line and eye. He's really challenging me to grow as a handler as he is VERY(method wise) different than dogs I have had and worked in the past. I think you have to pick a dog to suit you or be willing to change your handling skills. At this point I think Hank is going to be a nice middle ground between Mick's way and Z's way. Which is what I was really hoping for. Hopefully I wont have to change much about me this time ;)