Right before I switched servers and lost all my old posts, I wrote one about Shaine and the issues we’ve been having. All basically my fault, and I’m determined to work through them. A large part of her issue is the slash-and-burn-technique and generally driftiness.
It’s pretty much comon knowledge that working dogs love to have a job. Many of them need to see that there’s a point to what they’re doing, or they find other things to do instead. To that end, I’ve given Shaine a job.
Which also meant a huge, and I mean HUMONGOUS, leap of faith on my part.
I promoted Shaine to pen/sorting dog — a job usually reserved for the more reliable, dependable, able to shut their prey drive off, dogs. The job entails bringing all the working sheep — which includes 15 of this year’s lambs — into the take pens and then helping me sort them into groups. Often this involves dumping some out into the arena while I shuffle combinations, and then going to retrieve them again and, occasionally, sorting from the arena, which means holding pressure and taking direction.
The first time I attempted any of this, I had Shaine on a line and Tija on the other end of it. I also armed myself with the boogey bottle (a.k.a. the Doomstick). My pens are 16’x16′ and all connected by gates. My sheep did not want to be in the same pen as Shaine, and I needed to back her off to the second pen down just to keep everyone from volunteering to go out the gate first. All things considered, it didn’t go badly.
After that, I was on my own. The first couple of times going solo I kept a line on Shaine. But she quickly picked up on the job and the line was the first aid to go. She showed wonderful pen manners, squeezing between the fence and the sheep to get around them instead of diving into the middle and creating havoc. She has a hard time holding her down but that’s because she is constantly wanting to cover as I’m sorting out. The biggest issue I’m dealing with is her unbridled enthusiasm and speed, and her inability to turn that prey drive down a notch which makes everyone a bit jumpy.
But that’s okay. I’d rather have to slow her down than pump her up. And not a one of the sheep will argue with her, even the known problem sheep tell her, “Yes, ma’am!” and move along. Now that she’s been the pen dog for a few weeks, she’s giving me steadier work during our actual training sessions. Which is what I was hoping for.