I don’t like the term “dog breaking” because I really don’t want to break anything. The heifers are too cute to be rough on, I feel bad that they are missing their mothers and I know the gentler that Gel and I are on them, the better they’ll work on the long run. That doesn’t mean that Gel can’t bite them if they will not move off him. They need to learn that if they don’t move when the dog asks them to, the dog will bite. Now, if only Gel would heel. I understand heeling is more genetic than taught so I don’t know if he ever will.
In the last ASCA trial that we ran, I told the story of a red cow who went nose to nose with Gel and how Gel stood his ground until the cow moved off. One of the heifers (the trouble-maker of the bunch) did the same thing to him. Gel showed his teeth, but of course that did no good. When the heifer all but put her nose in Gel’s mouth, he bit her and stood his ground. She turned off and the other two followed. Good boy!
The next time I work the heifers, I’m putting Gel on a long line. I hate to do it because if he pulls too hard, it will hurt my already injured shoulder, but he’s desperate to get to the heads of the cattle and I need him to stay where I put him. He needs to stop the flipping off pressure that he’s been doing. I think the longer he works cattle and the more confidence he builds, the flipping will stop, but it’s extremely counter-productive and needs to stop now.
All in all though, our session last night went well. When he is driving the cattle, he’s about six inches off their heels, which is a good place for him to be. If one of the cows kicks, the kick is apt to push him out of the way rather than cause injury. If he gets kicked a few feet back, he will get the full force of the kick. When he’s driving, I see his eyes are going back and forth, watching the rear end action of the cattle for a kick. He’s learning and he’s getting more confident.
Tonight I am fixing those panels. I’ve said I was going to do it and it needs to be done. The game plan is to stop at Lowe’s to get the lumber, then load it, my drill and other tools into the wagon that I can pull behind the ATV and go into the back pasture with the dogs and sheep (and likely cats) and fix those panels. Then I’ll haul them back up to where the cattle are and make some obstacles to work with the next time we work cattle, which won’t be today. Gel won’t be happy about this, but we are not working cattle every day.
I worked on shedding this morning. Shedding really pumps him up. He gets the shed, what is lacking now is his understanding that he needs to stay with the one group, not zoom around at 100 mph gathering up the sheep.