Training success!

I hurried up getting ready for work so that I could get out and work Gel on sheep and put Fern back on ducks.

My first “goal” with the sheep was to make Gel understand that whenever I sent him for sheep on our property, that it wasn’t to put them up. Both Gel and the sheep have become patterned: the dog comes for us, we run into the pen. It was a good exercise for him to hold sheep against the draw of the pen.

Then I took them down into the back fields and worked on driving. I could see that he was finally getting the idea. The sheep were hungry so they moved off well, stopping to eat on the way, which is a huge improvement over how they usually move off: at a run. Gel’s tail was down the whole time he was out there which means that he’s starting to relax when I ask for a walk-up. Whenever he slowed down and lost contact with the sheep, I growled at him a bit, asking him what he was doing and then asking him to walk up. I feel confident that he now understands driving enough so that I can give him a mild correction for loosing contact with the sheep. Gel does not like to drive, outruns and fetches are much more pleasant (and comfortable) for him.

I can see that Fern is starting to show interest in the movement of the sheep. Earlier, she was only showing fear of them, now she’s watching them.

After I put the sheep up, I brought Fern in to go around the ducks. It took her a while to “see” them, but once she did, she was on! Using my body pressure, I was able to get her to change direction several times. Most importantly, I had to call her off them a couple of times before she came. She didn’t want to stop. It looks like she’s going to have some eye and style while working. I didn’t notice this the last time I had her on ducks, but her tail was down the whole time she was working which is an indication she was “working” rather than playing.

While in the house, I worked more on targeting to the Plexiglas, which she’s understanding, and letting her offer a lie down rather than a sit for a treat, which she’s now reliably doing.

I’m glad that we have decent light in the morning so I can get a bit of training in before leaving for work. When I get home, it’s too dark to do much of anything.