Wednesday, June 15, 2011

True Confessions

I have sheepdogs but no sheep. And I have a young sheepdog - I've not put him on sheep yet. I'm waiting and biding my time, as I don't see a lot of purpose in turning him on before he is mature enough to take training. I find it unlikely I could add a lot to him right now at his young age, so we are working on other things for now.

We are working on foundation skills, like "lie down." I am teaching him to move away from me when I ask, as well as how to move closer. We are proofing the recall. He is learning to go to and stay on his mat in a variety of environments and to be my demo dog for obedience without losing his head.

Rye is also learning to be a road warrior for long road trips (5 hours each way last weekend, 5.5 hours each way this weekend), go to trials and settle at my feet to watch rather than acting wild, and how to meet a variety of people.

I don't think those things are very different from what most people do with their pups. However, I am doing something a little different with my pup. Some people might think I'm nuts, others might just think I'm onto something.

I teach stick/flag skills dry - ie not on sheep. I've introduced Rye to the white stockstick and the flag during play, and have been training him to change directions if the stick is presented in front of him, and to bend away if the stick is at his eye/ear level. While I don't think this will transition directly onto stock, I do think that if he has an understanding of how to change directions when cued visually like that, and how to get back in response to a visual pressure cue, it can't hurt and just might help.

It will be interesting to see what happens here.

In other news, Rye is now 35lbs and looking handsome if a little gangly. He is listening fairly well and is generally a pleasure around the house except his conviction that countersurfing is a great idea. His retrieving and tugging are both fantastic, and I finally have a dog who likes to play with the giant ball (volleyball).

He continues to be unique in learning new skills, but if I show him something and then put him away, the next time I show him he has the skill very nicely in hand. He is a thinker, and I do like thoughtful dogs. It continues to be an interesting journey!