We will butt head later I am sure, but not now. There will be a time when what I ask for is not up for debate or interpretation, but not yet. Right now Jo’s head is too consumed by the sheep for me to communicate with her without being too harsh. Right now I can only guide, not much more.
Fuzzy? You try to walk backwards with 25 knee knockers, whistling your open dog and working a Mint puppy while taking photos with an iPhone in low light and see how good your photos turn out.
The first time you start a puppy everything is typically overwhelming, everything is moving and the information to process is abundant and diffuse. It is not easily explained or something you can study in a book or a video, but once you get your head around it it is one of the most natural things you will ever do with your dog. I think you have to feel where to go, know what is right, not process and think about your next step. This is where it is easy to ask for pace, downs and stops, not because that is what your pup needs but because you want to feel order and control. This time around I will go with shaping the chaos, embrace the speed and encourage forward.
Jo and I have been in the round pen twice now, I don’t like the round pen, no space for the dog to feel, no place for the sheep to go. I love the first time in the bigger field with more sheep. The first time we did it with a short lead and using Merckx as a backup dog (I love my Merckx). Second time just me, Jo and the sheep, this is the most natural my puppy will ever be, not tainted or shaped by my training.
"Big Bro got lil sis back"
I don’t teach my dog unnecessary things, I want the page to be blank when we start on sheep and write the knowledge in the right context. What we work on at home is building a relationship, some people might call that lazy, the thing is that there is a lot of things that goes into that part and it is much more critical to me than obedience or games. First I did not understand what all the big hats where talking about when they explained this to me, I think I just start to realize that part.
My first lay downs are asked for when we are on sheep, just using placement and light pressure, no treats or clicks, no high pitch “good dog” Just a step to the right, removal of pressure, indicating a side and back to work.
Me left, Jo Left. Me Right Jo Rig,,,,, nope guess we are doing a slice, “Heeey nooow” me backing up, giving space and then left, Jo left, putting it back together, always forward, always moving.
This is the fumbling start of our team, Jo and I. And I think this is the beginning on a long and beautiful friendship.
“The road may bend out of sight at times, but I know what lies ahead: the faraway horses.”
― Buck Brannaman