And Just Like That

WHAM! It’s summer. And it’s been a busy start, during which I’ve learned quite a bit about myself and my dogs. More accurately, I was reminded of certain traits I have that occasionally interfere with the progress I think I’m making with my dogs.

  • Though I do foundation/dry work, I tend to rush through it without ensuring my dog is rock solid on what I’m asking before moving on.
  • Seeing success while training prompts me to believe my dog knows what I’m asking and I move along.
  • When I think my dog should know something, I can be quite obtuse when they don’t exhibit that knowledge.
  • I tend to go into a session at close to Level 10 energy/emotion and then wonder why my dog is being so damn twitchy.

What can I say? It was a long winter and I train alone far too often. Thankfully, Steve paid his yearly visit earlier than normal and was able to whip me into shape. Hopefully. At least I have a list of things to pay attention to now, meaning my handling and, you know, #s 1-4 above. And, of course, due to the above, there are things I need to go back and fix.

Two big take-aways from the recent clinic were that Dillon truly does not know his verbal flanks. (Which I could have swore he did, yet never bothered to proof even though a couple friends also asked me the same question. And I wonder why my dog is confused.) And the biggie, I need to bring my energy level waaaaayyyyyy down, especially when working Finn. So, it’s back to shoring up foundation work for Dillon and probably meditation classes for me…

Overall, despite me, Finn did well at the clinic. We worked on getting him comfortable walking into pressure as well as cleaning out corners in a tight area, holding pressure, and covering if anything broke.


Thanks, Tija, for manning my camera.


We also had a discussion regarding his inability to just lay and watch other dogs work. Well, Steve had a discussion with me, after which I had one with Finn and low and behold…look who decided being good proved far more fruitful than being antsy.


The bad part about participating in a clinic the weekend before the first trial of the year, is you realize how utterly and completely unprepared you actually are. I will admit, Dillon and I completely crapped out at the SEMASA trial over Memorial Weekend. He was only entered in Advanced Sheep one run a day, looking for a leg to finish that title. We failed, and though I can usually find a blue ribbon moment in every run, try as I might I couldn’t come up with one in the two runs we had. I called them both because Dillon had reverted to stopping and staring at me as though I were speaking Greek and had sprouted horns. During the second run he even threw in a bit of frustrated barking. That kind of stuff really turns my crank so I pulled him from Monday’s trial because I’m not a fan of beating my head against the wall and there is obviously something broken beyond not knowing his verbal flanks.

Finn was entered in started cattle and did pretty dang good on some really tough livestock. Each day he gained more and more confidence and we ended up with several High Started scores as well as his STDc (Started Trial Dog – Cattle for those who don’t know.) He surprised me by offering to go into the take pen each day (something we’ve struggled with in the past) but the true highlight came when he backed a steer up the chute on H course — nose-to-nose, just kept walking in on him, backing that steer until they were clear of the chute and it turned and moved off. That, alone, made the weekend worthwhile.
And for those wondering… no, I won’t be giving up on Dillon. He’s always been a challenge and I’ve always been stubborn. We’ll work through it as we have everything else because (as the following video shows) he makes me smile when he’s goofy, he’s always ready and willing to work, and he’s turning into a steady, reliable hand around the farm.


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