Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sheep Herding Part Two

Our sheep for the day

Walker, meet the herd!

Walker knows the reward, once off the leash

Note the dog is going to the rear of the sheep

Perfect herding

Walker is moving the sheep as they follow the leader

Moving the sheep where the trainer wants

Wait for it......

Walker is not rushing, being patient

Walker, waiting for the break to end
Today was our second lesson in sheep herding. I was in the pen with Gracie, then Sarge, so unable to take photos of my own dogs. But I also got to watch this year old Border Collie named Walker. He never barked (unlike my little girl), but has to be reminded, once or twice, to wait, slow down.  Overall he does a fantastic job.

The trainer is Leah, and the woman in the above photos is Leah's mom. It helps immensely to watch someone who knows what they are doing before you enter. I was better this week, and Gracie was really into it. She still gets overly excited, but that is to be expected. We don't exactly encounter sheep anywhere in Avon, IN. But boy, her instincts are right on and she is going to be very, very good at this.

A few high points: while I was in the pen with Gracie and Leah, the sheep body slammed me into the fence. You don't want to fall down, so I automatically reached out with my left hand to grab the fence and sliced open a finger. No big deal, but I was bleeding pretty good for a minute or two. Note to self: pack a first aid kit for the car.

We put Gracie back in the car to rest, and brought out Sarge. Now my first thoughts were that Sarge would be afraid of the sheep due to his anxiety about everything else that exists. Not so. He looked at the sheep, looked at me with an expression that clearly said, "I want to knit a sweater." We did get him to move the sheep a bit. And I think this is going to be good for building some self confidence in him. It's just going to take some time. We then switched dogs again. Oh, boy.

Gracie was ready. She got the idea that she is to follow the herd, and her cutting back and forth was right on point. When one sheep in particular decided to take off on it's own, Gracie brought her right back. She never nipped at them, just chased, and listened when Leah told her to stop. The dog's reward is to herd the sheep, so first they must listen to the commands. Gracie takes a bit longer than she should, but this is all very new. It is obvious that she loves being out there with the sheep. You can see the joy on her face. Running and chasing something, and it's okay? Wow, good idea!

We had a great morning. Enjoy your day.

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