Okay then...4th pup I have started. I really don't have any mentors, but I'm about to have one :0)
I just finished watching Patrick's DVD "Off to a Good Start" again. I have put Champ (skinny dog, we call him) on sheep/goats some 5 times now. He is 10 mos. this week. I'm very careful, because I have great respect for the stock I am working.
On a long line, I think he relocated or dislocated a few of my thoracic/cervical discs. So glad I had the sense to let go of the line. He became a different dog as soon as I did. I don't have that much experience and I usually do all of my training on my own. So, as Patrick says, I learn by trial and error. If it doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.
I took a little flack for putting Champ through several obedience classes. I am so glad I did. He was a bit nippy with people and dogs as most of my pups are living on the mountain. But, after taking him everywhere with me, he now thinks he is Don Juan with all dogs and loves people almost as much as his mother, Kilt. He's not stupid by any means. When Trouble, out JRT, gives him the look he backs off quickly. A friend's ACD bit him on the nose for no good reason and now he is weary of that particular breed. That's okay Champ. I'm right there with you. The only dogs we have ever been bit by, both Wayne and myself, were ACDs.
All I can say is that Champ appears to have much more confidence than my other dogs at his age. Waiting until he was 10 mos. to start, I think was a wise decision. He already knows stand and down from obedience. Sure, it flew out the window the first 4 times on stock, but he's got it together now. The other really cool thing is that he does an almost adult mini outrun. He really isn't interested in running straight into the stock. He circles either way with ease and keeps a lovely bubble and distance at the top. He already does a perfect arena outrun to pick up his sheep either way with me standing at the top of the arena. Hey...what's up with that? LOL Plus, a sheep stood him off and he walked right up and bit her on the nose. No jumping in at her, just a calm walk and bing badda bing. Damn, you gotta love that. If he gets a little close circling them in the alley way, you can hear his teeth clack. That puts a big grin on my face. As my friends know, I'm not fond of weak dogs.
Suzy Applegate is going to do the finesse training with Champ. She has already written me a few words of advise. "I don't think I'd be doing that with him Suzanne and try not to let him do that either," etc. LOL She ought to know since she has seen Kilt work and owns the sire. She has my respect.
But, damn it's FUN, isn't it? I am having a blast starting him.