The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Please Recycle

Every once in a while as I'm watching a dog trial, I see a team that's never, ever going to get along. A few times I've really liked the dog in spite of the fact that he was running over top of the handler. Twice I tried to buy the dog and, this time, I was successful a couple years after I first saw Don. I first spotted him at a dog trial and what I saw was a very stylish and powerful dog who had absolutely no respect for his handler and absolutely no idea how to temper his massive presence. He was running on the edge of control and crossing over in between screams from the handler. Handler would scream, dog would throttle back. Handler would give a command, dog would cross the control line. Handler would scream.....well you get the idea. I liked his fearlessness and I wanted him. The next time I saw him was at a little punkin' rolllin' dog trial where I was trying to get a 2 year nursery dog qualified the first time around. There was no throttling this time. Handler was screaming and dog was running way across the line of control. I offered to buy the dog if he was ever for sale. I could see this was never going to work. Don was having way too much fun and handler was not. I really never expected to see him again. I saw another dog a few years back that ended up a sport dog when the owner finally became frustrated and just wanted to find him a home. I had tried to buy him as well, but offered less than his owner had paid. She said no. I believe she ended up giving him away when she finally gave up on him. 1 of 2 things usually happens. Owners think that because trainers say their dog is a good one, they don't want to part with it even though they can't run one side of it. Or, owners think that because they can't run them, no one can, so they dispose of the dog to another venue. That's what almost happened to Don. It was decided that Don should be a cow dog and he had his hip dislocated when a man who was trying him put him on cattle. Don went back to his owner who paid the medical bills and cared for him while he recovered. She said the sale would still go through once he healed up and I asked why she would want the sale to go through. It didn't seem the safest place for this nice, young dog. Eventually Don was offered to me and I took him. I asked his owner to work him for me so I could see what he was up to. I saw the same stylish, powerful dog with less respect than ever, slicing his flanks, running through the stop and harrassing sheep. She worked her other 2 dogs as well and got along beautifully with them both. They worked well for her. When I started working Don, he tried the same things with me. I spoke to him and put him and his sheep up against the fence and showed him a square flank. His owner had said that Don's original whistles were changed by one of his previous trainers, but she'd gone back to her own when she got him back. I left his whistles alone and concentrated on making him responsive to them. I could see right off that he wanted to do what I asked. In the beginning Don would either hit his belly or turn tail on his sheep if I spoke to him harshly. Sometimes when a handler can't control a powerful dog, they try to get control by chasing him off his sheep when it won't listen to them. They still can't work him successfully, but at least he's not eating sheep. It can't work because you're not teaching him the quiet control of livestock and are creating really weird behaviors that aren't efficient anywhere. I need a confident dog that has tremendous balance on his feet and will bring me sheep no matter what. I want a dog that wants to work for me. Scaring them into submission creates dogs that either reluctantly do as their told, grip off or shut down out of fear. I see them at every trial I go to.

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