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

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Sequim, Washington, United States

Friday, October 28, 2011

Craig Watson Clinic

Who is Craig Watson?  A gentleman from Washington state that likes to work cattle and sheep.  He appears to be THE MAN for Australian Cattle Dogs (ACDs) as Lani from Canada told me.  I replied, "Yep, he speaks their language."

In this particular clinic there were 8 ACD's, 2 BC's and 1 Aussie.  All but one came to work cattle.  I came to socialize and audit.  Even though ACD's work on the ranch where I work my dogs, their working behavior is still a bit of a mystery to me.  I'm well acquainted with Aussies and BC's.  And, even though I raised Black Angus as a 4-H'er, I still have lots to learn about cattle behavior.

Some of the cows

This gave me a chance to talk to ACD owners and ask lots of questions.  The nice aspect of this clinic was Craig's POSITIVE way with the dogs.  Craig allows the dog to THINK.  He has the handler say little to nothing.  He actually shows the handler in this manner how TALENTED their dog is without them trying to micro-manage the dog messing everything up. :0)  Also, Craig encouraged the handlers to think outside of the box. He asked them to set their sights higher. Start working their dogs out in the open fields. Attend field trials. Get out of the arena.

Lunch time.  It was fairly warm for the end of October, so the 3 awnings made it nice.  Terry is now looking at a microphone system for future clinics :0)

 I was very happy to audit a clinician (such as Craig Watson) who gives the dogs an opportunity to feel their stock and think about what they are doing.  Most of the commands were just positioning of the handler's body.  Lots of  dogs were given the opportunity to just get comfortable with the cattle.  The cattle were bunched in a corner and the dog allowed to walk up to the heads to turn them.  There was no "Get in there" and "Take a hit" type of talk.  Nothing was said.  Most, if not all, of the dogs figured out what they needed to do to move the cows.  It was interesting watching them think it through.

Beth handling MaryJean on the cattle...figuring out the pressure points.

Many of the ACD's would look back at their owner waiting for them to say something.  They said nothing.  They just positioned themselves and allowed the dog to think it through.  Very COOL.  Craig NEVER raised his voice and he never got excited when a dog would out of the blue bust through the cows creating a bit of a rodeo.  They just would go back to square one.  One needs to allow their dog a chance to think.  It's hard for the dog to that when the handler is trying to micro-manage it's every move. We need to RESPECT that the dog is trying their hardest to do right by the handler. 

A nosey onlooker :0)

After auditing, I thanked Craig and I apologized to my Yoko.  Yoko tries so hard. I have been a bit hard on her.  She is more worried about what I am thinking than about using her own talent on stock.  I'm backing off and allowing her to THINK about it.  I will praise her for what she does correctly.  I will try to be more consistent with her and a better partner. :0)   GOOD clinic!

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