Smooth coated, but no smooth operator, Max will be the focus of our next tutorial.
In 2011 we bought a dog who's since become famous (or infamous) in our household. We expected Max to be a problem, that was why we chose him, but he tested our resolve on more than one occasion!
We know, from our training days as well as from the emails and telephone calls we receive, that sheepdogs who grip are a big worry to their handlers, especially to a novice handler who can find it difficult to cope on their own.
We also know that a gripping dog is often interpreted as a strong dog, but in our experience a dog who grips is often quite worried about working sheep, and is taking a "get in first" approach that is neither strong nor confident.
Max confirmed our hunch, but we didn't expect how much happier, in all areas of his life, Max became as his behaviour and training progressed. He became a quieter, more confident worker too, with no loss of power over the sheep.
Here (I think) we have the photographic proof that a confident dog, who understands and enjoys his work, is a happy dog. Max was always a delight away from sheep and, to me, was already beautiful, but I hope you can recognise the difference in these Before and After portraits, taken 6 months apart.
Look out for Max's "gripping" tutorial in the next day or two.