Last night I woke up at 1 o'clock with too many thoughts in my head. The main one was "If you want your dog to work differently YOU have to CHANGE what YOU are doing." That seems so simple, but actually, it sometimes is a very difficult task. No one likes change.
I was thinking about that because I have been trying to make some changes in the way I have been working Yoko and I will be changing some of my whistles if not all of my whistles, for Champ. I am tone deaf, so this is not easy for me to do. I'll tell you exactly how tone deaf I am. When my son was a baby I could not remember how Rock- A-bye baby went to be able to sing it to him. My husband would have to start it for me. LOL Even so, I love to sing and am a HUGE music fan of all kinds of music.
If first you don't succeed, try, try again. Lucky for me I have friends that blow the whistles I want to use quite successfully. And, when I get to Suzy Applegate's to pick up Champ, I will record her whistles so I can listen to them over and over again. Her stop whistle has really helped me with Yoko. She says it will really help me with Champ.
I'm working much quieter with Yoko. I have found when I whistle too loudly or too quickly, she becomes rattled and can't think well. It's just like a mother yelling at their kid. I have been watching and listening to other people's whistles and I am studying how their dogs respond to them. Some good, some bad.
I have been working with Yoko on her outruns and course work to stay on contact more with the sheep. Yoko has a tendency to work wide and gets off contact. I have probably let her do this for several years, so it's not an overnight fix. Plus, if I get loud, she gets wider. But, the neat thing is she is trying to work with me. She is really "thinking" about it. Her outrun, even though in a small field at Terry's at the AHBA trial this weekend was perfection. She was deep and covered with a pretty lift. She had been pulling up short and Suzy showed me why with ONE lesson.
Her outrun in the big arena on HTD geese was just as lovely. She has little eye so pace is not one of her virtues, but an occasional 'hey' works fine for her. Her geese work was outstanding. Plus, now that she is five I have been getting on her case for 'sniffing' and for 'biting.' If she runs in for a bite which she is known to do (a heel bite), I stop her and tell her NO. I haven't really been hard on her for fear I might accentuate the things I don't like about her work. But, now she has turned 5 years old, I am getting on her case about it. I only work my dogs once or twice a week, so we move at a slower pace than someone who works 4 or 5 times a week :0)
Suzy gave me some insight to shedding with my last lesson. I have to report that both of Yoko's sheds, geese and sheep, were lovely. I'm not sure if I moved forward, but I must be doing something DIFFERENTLY, because she is getting it. The judge said, "I forgot to call the shed because the shed was so nice to watch, I just got caught up in watching." This is a good thing. This is what we are striving for. Yoko has been difficult for me to teach to shed. I have been in her way and she is very sensitive to any type of pressure. She has been coming in painfully slow and without confidence. She is now teaming up with me because I have CHANGED my ways. Even if it means I have changed in some very subtle ways. When I see changes in how my dog is working, for the better, I'm most likely changing for the better. At least, I hope so. :0)