A few days ago, an individual posted to the Sheepdog list telling of his success in using a muzzle to train a grippy dog. Lots of people jumped on the band wagon and I’m sure many of them ran out to buy a muzzle for their dogs. Finally, some of the “big hats” (expert stock dog trainers) spoke up today saying that using a muzzle to train a stock dog was not necessary and could be downright dangerous. If an individual is trying to train a dog that has the tendency to grip inappropriately, that individual should seek expert help.
It is my opinion, and that of many other trainers, that a dog that is excessively grippy is fearful or weak. A dog with the proper amount of power and presence should be able to move stock without resorting to his teeth.
Use of a muzzle to try to train a dog is nothing more than a crutch. If you can get to the bottom of the problem, you can work through the issue using proper timing and handler pressure. If you can keep your dog in the right place, at the right time, he won’t feel the need to come in and grip.
I said two days ago that I was going to pull out my copy of Building Blocks for Performance and re-read it. I did so. The basic premise behind this book is that if you bring up a puppy in a proper manner, then once the dog is two, four, six, eight and so on years old, it will respect you. If you ask for a down on the field, the dog respects you enough to give you that down, no matter what the circumstances.
A big part of a puppy’s upbringing is building a relationship built on trust and respect. Building this relationship is done on a daily basis, essentially every minute you are with the puppy. A dog that respects and trusts his handler is so much easier to train than one who does not have such a relationship.
I put a collar on Esme this morning for the first time. She was less than pleased, but it only took her about fifteen minutes to stop fighting it. I started a bit of clicker training with her yesterday. She’s still not quite old enough to readily take food from my fingers so put a ball of ground venison into my let her eat from my hand after the click.
For kicks, I joined the Real Time Canine maintained by Amelia Smith of Bordersmith Stockdogs. She’s helped me out in the past with training issues so I figured I’d see what she had to say about raising her new puppy, Star. It was only $10.00 for three months.
I bought a used book from Amazon earlier this week and received it yesterday. It’s called The Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese and so far, I’m very much enjoying it.
Soon, I have to take a shower and head out to do my Thanksgiving shopping. Then I need to haul my panels to where I’m doing the sheepdog demo this Saturday. Nothing like leaving things to the last minute.