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.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Anatomy of a Shed

My friend, Jan Elliott came out yesterday, and photgraphed my nursery dog, Star, and I practicing his shedding. Great job, Jan. Thank you so much!

She caught a tremendous series of shots illustrating the steps I use when teaching a youngster how to love the shed. Star is 20 months old, and I began teaching him the skill about a month ago. At that time, I put the sheep between he and I with my back to the fence, using it as an aid to make things easier for him initially.

Reluctant to separate sheep that he always works so hard to keep together, there was at first a lot of cajoling, encouragement, and begging to get him to come in between 2 groups of sheep. Deciding that more sheep is better for the excercise, I borrowed 8 head from my friend Wilda, things got easier for Star and it wasn't long before we were away from the fence with Star keened up measurably.

In this photo, Star and I are working together to create a gap between any 2 groups of sheep. At this point, I don't care how many we shed off, whether he comes in on the heads or the tails, or which ones. I just want him to be happy and excited about the exercise.

Star will give me a 1 or 2 step flank, and walk up softly to help create the gap. Here he is coming through easily while getting lots of encouragement from me to make things snappy and fun.

With practice, Star learned that the direction of my body tells him which group I want him to hold. Here is looking and turning on to the right bunch. To do otherwise can cause wasted effort on the job, or a missed attempt, and lost points on the trial field.

While Star has the job well in hand, I begin to cross in front of him to get in front of the sheep, and turn the shed into a fetch. In the beginning, that process makes it easy for Star to hold the shed, keeps it really fun for him, and creates a confident dog that simply craves the exercise.

I move to the sheep's heads as quickly as possible to create the fetch. The quicker I am, the quicker Star is, and the more he likes it. Once he is confident with this part of the exercise, I will stay put, let Star come through and drive sheep away. But for now, it is creating the fetch after the shed that engenders speed and confidence, and will eventually allow Star to shed the toughest sheep like a Skil saw through pine.

After receiving some much deserved praise for his success and willingness, Star is keen to re-gather his sheep and repeat the exercise. What a dog!

1 comment:

  1. Star is easy to photograph doing good things because he's such a good boy!