So far this year, winter is being kind. I’m sure that won’t last but I’m all for taking advantage of it while it does. That means I’ve been getting out there on the weekends and working dogs, which also means you get a rare, mid-winter training update. Lucky dogs all the way around. I’ve even managed to get some short video, though I will warn you, the quality leaves something to be desired. I’m terrible at filming and training at the same time, and if I go through the hassle of hauling out the tripod, it seems I just can’t find a suitable spot for it that catches what I want. Then there is the problem of my dogs realizing I’m up to something…
First up: Jig. One of my goals for 2019 is Post Advanced so I’ve been working Jig a lot in the pasture. It’s only a hair over 2 acres, but I can always put myself on the other side of the fence if I want more distance from her. Gotta say, I’m liking what she’s giving me right now. Yeah, it’s home turf; she knows the draws and the stock, but she’s pretty responsive and only a hair pushy. And, I don’t need to chase her down if she makes the wrong decision. If I start walking her way she checks up pretty quickly. We will definitely need to get off the farm in some big open spaces with different livestock to really proof her. And we need to go back to the small arena and do some exercises to firm up her ‘There’. It’s never been superb and right now it’s downright mushy.
Next up: Dillon. Making him the go-to dog to bring in the sheep and do the sorting was one of the best moves I made. It pissed off Jig, though. And, yeah, Dill and I had to work through some huge frustration but I started getting pretty good at recognizing it, stopping myself, counting to ten, and letting it go. I’m finally starting to reap the benefits. Dillon still watches me entirely too much but usually only if I’m using a lot of verbal commands. If I go to physical without the verbal, using my pressure to let him know if I don’t like what he’s doing or to push him where I need him, he stops watching me. Our biggest breakthrough? The take pen. Up until now I had to go in with him, or just open the gate wide enough for him to squeak through. This is his first, really nice, gate wide open, fairly relaxed take pen. And yes, we repeated the success several times.
Finally: Cian. I admit, I’m still a bit hypersensitive when I’m working him. Hells, I’m hypersensitive no matter what we’re doing. I over-analyze every stumble, every eye movement, every ear twitch… I don’t know that I’ll ever get over that. The good news is, Cian remains seizure free. I found one more test we’re going to do. It’s a more complete thyroid panel analyzed with breed and age taken into consideration. It may be grasping at straws, but I don’t care. In the meantime, he continues to get pushier every time we work. I’m going to have to start getting after him a bit more to get him to rate better. Right now, it’s go,go, go!