Thursday, March 31, 2011

Battle of Wills

We worked on driving distance and straightness today and I got into a battle with Soda but I won. :) I was trying to get to push the sheep through posts (as a goal for me) and she would. not. go. straight on the walk-up. It went something like this:

1.) Walk up!
*goes away*
2.) LIE DOWN! GO BY! (back to where she was so she can push the sheep through the posts)
*tries not to take the inside flank and tries to come ALL the way back around me
*Takes the inside flank.
4.) Walk up!
*goes away
5.) NO! LIE DOWN! GO BY! (Back to where she was)
*may or may not take the flank... wherein I may have to repeat step 3, depending
6.) Walk up!
*goes away
7.) NO! LIE DOWN! GO BY! (back to where she was)
*may or may not take the flank....

anyway, no joke, I must have done this whole thing like 15 times and each time she wanted to bend to the pressure and then finally... magically, she figured out I wasn't going to give up and walked up straight into the sheep and pushed them through the G.D. posts! Then I called her off and got her some water as it was hot as balls today.

Then we started (seriously) adding whistles and she was very sulky about it! I don't really understand why, but she was all bent out of shape about it. In an attempt to get her moving a little bit I rustled a sheep up a bit and then she flew in to bite (I can't do this like I used to be able to. She's not afraid to nail a sheep anymore!) and bit the holy hell out of her own tongue! It bled kind of a lot and I was a bit worried, but there were no chunks missing and I was reassured that it will be okay. Yay!

It was a good lesson, if for no other reason that Soda learned a hard lesson that I'm no longer letting her get away with stupid shit just because she finds it a little uncomfortable or because it's not what she wants to do. This was a battle of wills and I'm proud to say that I won! w00t!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Worse than I thought.

We worked on looking for sheep today and it is way worse than I thought. My trainer had a student take some sheep up a hill outside her property and I was to have Soda watch her take them, while encouraging her to get excited about the sheep and right then, I knew it was going to be a challenge. Every time I said "watch 'em!" or "LOOK!" she would start looking at the ground for critters. I don't know where this came from as I've never encouraged her to do it before.

The sheep were put in position and I sent Soda out and she obviously didn't know where she was going. I redirected her several times and she took them all really really well and finally I landed her right behind the sheep and she flanked around them and even moved them and then.... just kept running. She didn't stop to pick up the sheep! I lost her and it took a minute to find her and when I did, we realized that she had just kept running in a giant arc and it didn't occur to her that since she found the sheep, that she needed to lift them! Flabbergasted. (Let me add, that if she was looking for the sheep, she could see them from where I sent her. This isn't a blind outrun but she isn't looking for them)

So, she ended up on the other side of the sheep and I flanked her back towards the sheep (again, had to redirect her a few times to get to the sheep) and then laid her down behind them and then walked her up and let her lift/fetch them to me, which she was happy and keen to do.

So obviously she did not understand the exercise. We knew that we would have to direct her several times to pick up the sheep but the thought was that if we did this in several places, a bunch of times, she would figure out that she needs to be looking for sheep, but apparently, if you're Soda, just because you find them doesn't mean you need to get them.

So, we simplified the exercise a bit next time and had two sets of sheep, on at the top of the field and one we put in a freestanding pen. I would have her drive the free sheep up the field a bit, call her off, then turn 180 degrees around (myself) and stare directly at the other sheep, then tell her to LOOK! and send her over to the pen where we would then pull them out. After a few minutes she got the game, but I don't think she got the concept behind the game.

I think we need to do more looking for your sheep exercises where she is sent out to strange places and asked to fetch them back. I can handle her pretty readily and she takes redirects pretty well as long as they don't come off as angry (another reason to get the g.d. whistle going!)

I still can't get over her coming right behind the sheep and she just kept going like ... I don't even know... it wasn't her job to pick them up. Why the hell else would have told her "Go by"? Go By = Sheep (or other sort of animals to move). I've never used on a ball, or on dogs or some other nonsense. Always just sheep (and occasionally chickens).

I really wasn't expecting that reaction (or lack of) from her!