Sooner than I hoped this year we did a few-days-session sheepdog training with Synve. Jet did not forget anything from the last time (which was in Sept), but thanks for our “empty training” (I gave this name to those trainings when we practice for sheepdog training without sheep) she even improved to some extent.
Her outruns are still great, at the moment she actually does more than she should. The beginning of her outrun is too wide she runs side-way from me in 90 degrees too much so I will have to help her to make the “pear-shape” instead. Actually it is my fault that she runs very wide as I thaught her to do that when we practiced directionals without sheep. The training succeeded, she knows directions very well we just have to shave off from the line of the outrun a little bit 😉
We also practiced the stand with no sheep which again, worked very well in practice. My experience is that the practice we do away from the flock really pays off. I don’t have any behaviour issue with Jet, when we actually do sheepdog training we can focus entirely on the tasks that has to be done with sheep and nothing else. I think this is one key to have efficient trainigs as we do have 🙂
This time we focused on practicing driving and short flanks and also we worked on building Jet’s “sheep-confidence” I would say. We had a session when the sheep were very stubborn and did not want to move , they turned back against the dog who become very unsure about herself and did not know what to do in that situation. Luckily grandma Julie was in hand she helped my young little Jet to go on and pull herself together 🙂 I guess we will need some more time and practice to gain strength and be able to handle stubborn sheep by ourselves.
Apart from this though situtation the training went really well, Jet’s driving has definitelly improved as did the flanks too. Sometimes I had problems about giving the right directional command to Jet – I had to decide quickly and I was confused about the sides. Probably I would need some “empty-training” in this topic too 🙂
An other interesting experience was to practice in the winter weather conditions. The snowy, icy ground with the sheep walking/running on it does not help me at all to reach Jet with my voice. As now she can work in a nice big distance I really had to shout my commands, and still there were occasions when she did not seem to hear them so she did not work like I planned. At one point I became very frustrated about this when Synve warned me and told about how the snow makes the dog’s job harder. It was a very good lesson to me, I think I learned for my whole life that there are other determinative factors in sheepdog work besides the dog, the flock and me that I must always consider. Generally , being frustrated is a very stupid thing – instead one has to think through the situation and find solution. The quicker you find solution the better handler you are. It is that easy 🙂
But to make sure that next time Jet will hear my voice in under any circumstances , Synve gave me a sheepdog whistle to learn to use it. Since then I drive the habitants of Heiligenblut mad I think, because I whistle on my way whenever I have the chance. Sorry folks, I need to practice 😉
Synve recorded an outrun-lift-fetch during the training, the video is available to watch here.