Champ has been hell on paws for me to get to the handler's post quietly. You would like them with their thinking cap on and surveying the field for sheep. But, he would get so riled up he would wear behind me. If on leash he would pull me. If off leash he would lunge ahead of me. I found the secret at this trial. I take him off leash some 50 feet before the handler's post. I keep my hand slightly outstretched on the side I want him on. As soon as he starts any of that rocket man crap in front of me or wearing side to side behind me, I get in his face. I make him go back away from me 10 steps. Tell him to stay and then I pat my leg gently and ask him up. If he gets too stealthy and too keen, I do the same thing to him. It has really helped calm him going to the post. It also has calmed me not having to fight him about it.
We have been working on giving him more freedom and me being quieter with him. This has been the first trial that he has taken almost all of my whistles. You could see him trying so hard. Hopefully I will be able to get even softer with my whistles. The 2nd class at Fire Ridge I let a few panels get away from us....on purpose. He had a nice line and I didn't want to overhandle him.
I have been tring to make his first step on his lift and his drive a quiet, thoughtful step in order to help him get a better feel for his sheep. This has helped him to stop pushing so hard and fast. The sheep like him better for it and it helps me to be able to concentrate easier.
We still have a long way to go. He still is not a confident driving dog. His parents are, so I'm sure I have confused him along the way. But, now that we have turned a new page, maybe he will become more confident! I have always trusted him. He's a beautiful outrunner. I think I will become a better handler now that I am seeing results from changes in MY training.
I have a few more lessons coming up. I'm really looking forward to them. There is always something new to learn :0)
Late entry…I just heard Champ took 2nd on day 3 in PN out of 45 or more dogs.
Someone asked me about experimenting with him going to the post. What I can tell you is to use "all" of your time wisely. Champ is difficult for me to control off of the field because his interest is strictly the ladies..ALL hormones. But, when he was next up, after a 15 minutes wait, while they took the exhaust sheep back to the set out, is where I found some invaluable tricks with him. I used my time wisely. As I would walk to the post, he was all keen and ready to take himself to the post without me. I gently and quietly turned and got in his face making him take 10 steps backwards. We kept at this while they were getting the sheep ready. It was the perfect training opportunity. Make good use of times like that :0)
On day two, we had already missed several panels. I kind of let them go as I was concentrating on first steps and flow, that is until Miss independent thinker started getting testy with Champ. He tried the take the two to the one thing, but after the cross drive she decided to heck with it and turned on him. He was very quiet with her. His mother would have killed her. LOL He looked at me and I gave him a walk-up whistle. That only made her walk backwards. Downing him had no effect. So I let him nip her nose. It got us DQ'ed, but it was a "good" disqualification. It put a huge grin on my face.