Despite having little training to date, Molly's reached basic Sheepdog Status!
Sheepdog training sessions have been somewhat few and far between here recently, because we've been busy updating the sheepdog training tutorials as well as working on the website. So after a really good session with Scylla today, I thought it was high time Molly had a session.
We were seriously impressed with Molly early in July, but in her next lesson, she seemed to have lost interest a little, so we gave her another break from working.
When I brought her out into the field today, the sheep were a good eighty metres away, but I didn't want to put any pressure on her at all, so rather than walk down the field to get closer and give Molly a better chance of success (as I normally would) I decided on this occasion to simply send her off, and see what happened.
At first, Molly seemed a little confused, as though she wasn't sure whether I wanted her to approach the sheep, or whether we were going to do something else, but making a “shushing” sound soon showed her what I wanted, and she went off towards the sheep on a lovely outrun, widening out as she approached them. She gathered the sheep together as though she'd been doing it all her life, before bringing them to me at a steady pace. I was astonished!
I gave Molly a good session consisting of flanking both ways, short outruns and bringing the sheep up behind me, and although she's clearly not what you'd call highly trained, I can honestly say that if our sheep had escaped into a neighbour's field and Molly was our only dog, I wouldn't hesitate to take her with me to help get the sheep back. This is my benchmark for a sheepdog, so as far as we're concerned, Molly qualifies as a basic sheepdog!
Clearly she needs a lot more training before she can be described as skilled, but when a dog is as easy to train as Molly, training's a real pleasure. I'm a little concerned about her lack of interest in her previous session of course, but if she enjoyed today's session as much as I did, she'll be fully focussed in future!