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Red’s capable, but can’t really be bothered
I’m sorry if this isn’t what you Kelpie fans want to hear, but I’m being absolutely honest here.
Yep – he’s a great character.
Yep – he’s a joy to have around.
Yep – he’s (usually) very obedient.
Yep – he can be incredibly funny.
Yep – he (sometimes) shows great courage.
And Yep – he sometimes (briefly) works well.
But OH! Red’s SO FRUSTRATING!
He’s perfectly capable of doing a great job, but to be honest, he can’t really be bothered.
Gillian and I have watched kelpies working, both on farms and (in Gill’s case) at demostrations. The overall impression we (sadly) gained was that generally, kepies work OK but they give the impression it’s a bit of a ‘chore’.
Years ago, when I began training my first dog, I mentioned to a very well known sheepdog trialler that it was rewarding to see the dog make a little progress nearly every time I took it to sheep. He looked very surprised and replied that expecting progress every time was unrealistic and I should be satisfied with a tiny bit of progress occasionally.
Since then, my training methods have improved considerably and these days, I’m actually a little disappointed if I don’t see some kind of progress each time I take one of my dogs to sheep. Occasionally, I’m astonished by the progress a collie can make during a training session.
Who knows how good Red will be when he’s trained (I’m sure he won’t be with me). I’m not actually complaining about his rate of learning (after all he is very young) but it’s his lack of dedication and his inconsistency that I dislike. His attitude to work.
When I train a collie, of course we have our ups and downs but it’s generally not difficult to see a gradual progression and at the least, a constant determination to work. Not Red. He’ll go at the sheep, barking his head off, and when I gently encourage him to go around the sheep, he’ll go to the opposite side of them and then bring them to me. (Wonderful)!
Then for no reason apparent to me, he’ll literally wander off and occupy his mind elswhere for a few moments before darting back at the sheep with all guns blazing again.
Red’s very young indeed, but (in my experience) a collie pup’s determination to work increases gradually and consistently unless something specific happens to dampen it.
I’m told that kelpies like to train themselves . . . Perhaps this is the problem. I train dogs for a living, so I need them to move on. Otherwise we don’t eat. Farmers, on the other hand can allow a kelpie to wander around and learn by themselves at their own pace while the other dogs on the farm do the work.
The interest in this blog has amazed me and I’m convinced a kelpie trainer in the UK could do really well. So I’m disappointed by my findings.
This Kelpie is certainly not in the same league as an average collie, as far as I can tell. Maybe I don’t understand Red, but just at the moment, I wouldn’t have another Kelpie if you gave it to me.