No matter how much I may bitch and complain, I really am thankful for all that Cedar has taught, and IS teaching me so far. I get frustrated sometimes because I feel like I should know more than I should about this... even though we've only been doing it four months. I am not used to feeling like a bumbling novice training a dog :D. It's something I am sloooooooooooowly coming to terms with and I think I've been more successful at getting over myself as of late.
We're starting to step things up to the next level.
When we first started, I was just excited to see her go around the sheep! Little did I know how much more complicated things would get! I went back and watched my videos from earlier lessons, and WOW... we are in a completely different, new, scarier, and COOLER place than we were even a month ago. It's like we're a completely new handler/dog team than when we started.
I am feeling a lot more competent and like I know what I need to expect from her so I can give her the right corrections. I know I must sound like a broken record by now... I am pretty sure I've said this a billion times before, but by putting more trust in her, she has more trust in herself. She had many opportunities to be really bad both Friday and today, but chose not to.
We are starting to move towards doing real "work." We did our longest outruns ever today, and for the most part she did great, stayed pretty wide, moved off my body pressure, didn't freak out on the sheep. She had a great call-off as well. Her lie down was not at it's best today, it was better on Friday. But her outrun is really coming along. She only split the sheep once today, and it was my fault. She listened better to me and didn't panic, and just gathered them up and brought them back to me. So, we're learning!
(Today didn't start off being great.... Joe came out with the camera and I was more concerned about where he was instead of the sheep... the sheep kept wandering off and Diane had to have Riley go get them a couple times. Dianne got mad at me :D. But we got it together. I felt like a first-class idiot, though... sorry Dianne! I really wasn't think about getting good video... I was concerned that Joe would be in the way!)
Dianne brought Mae out today, wow she is getting SO big!
Why can I never remember people names? Harley's people (haha) were out today and worked her. Apparently this is only her fifth lesson and she did extremely well. I guess I was jealous because the second time I worked Cedar I expected a lot more of her. To my surprise, she took the challenge in stride and responded to what I was asking much better. Instead of asking her to walk up straight, I DEMANDED that she do so. Instead of hoping she would go wide on her outrun, I made sure that she stayed off her sheep and got after her for coming on too fast. I guess I need to stop being so passive-aggressive with her. She has been so pressure sensitive that I have been worried about her quitting on me, but she showed me today that she's made of a little more than I thought. I have been trying really hard to stop worrying about what other people think of me and just focus on training my dog. Like kids, all dogs are different and learn at different speeds. That doesn't necessarily make one dog "better" than another. I just need to keep repeating that to myself...
though it does get hard sometimes, especially watching dogs like Zeus and Harley work that are just so natural.
But I'll get over it. :D
Cedar and I will probably never get to Open but I don't really care. She is special in my eyes no matter what she does. She is making me into a better trainer, and a better dog owner... and also making me more appreciative of "easy" dogs like Annie! I'm looking forward to getting smarter about dogs, sheep, handling, etc. as we progress further.
I read an article today by Robin French, about starting young dogs. Here's a quote from her article, I think it carries a lot of resonance:
"Training a herding dog isn’t so much about teaching him anything. It’s all there in the dog already. You’ve just got to figure out how to ask for it in a way he can understand and listen to him when he’s trying to tell you something. It’s all about teaching you and opening that two-way communication between you and your dog."
Hopefully by the time my Riggs pup is ready to start (he hasn't even been born yet, hehe) I will be a HECK of a lot smarter in general and can do him some justice! :D
I should have video up soon, will post as soon as it's on youtube.
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