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An amazing little dog
At just over five months of age, Red’s really taken us by surprise. This picture shows him circling his sheep a couple of days ago. (Click the image for a larger version).
We’ve taken him to sheep a few times and to be honest, the last session was quite a disappointment because he barked a lot, was easily distracted and quickly became bored.
Previously, he’s shown great courage but little working sense – he just ran at the sheep aggressively and barked. That’s hardly surprising, considering his tender age. I wouldn’t expect a collie of twenty or so weeks to be doing anything workmanlike, but in his latest session, Red was transformed.
Upon his release (with no ‘setting-up’ of any kind) the little kelpie simply ran out wide, got behind the sheep, then brought them to me – at some speed.
What’s more, he repeated the proceedure several times, just to prove it was no ‘fluke’. I was even able to stop him on the other side of the sheep while I walked backwards away from them, and he brought them up to me steadily. Of course, I kept this part of the session very short because it can confuse a young dog but probably most significant of all is that this was the longest session Red’s had to date and he remained focused on his sheep nearly all the time – and there was NO BARKING!
Yes, I’m surprised how good this little dog is. The advice I’ve had about Australian kelpies working things out for themselves seems to be true – at least, in Red’s case it does.
Mossie just gets better
How can you conduct a training comparison if both dogs appear to be exceptional?
For the amount of training Mossie has had she’s making meteoric progress. She has more power than some of our older dogs, does short outruns pretty well and is definitely getting to know her commands.
She’s too tight when flanking but that’s to be expected from a high drive dog. At the stage Mossie is at now, I like to teach the dog that it’s OK to nip a sheep on command (and only on command). That way, they retain their confidence if they meet an aggressive sheep. Mossie’s definitely got the idea, and only occasionally takes the law into her own paws.
Mossie’s great at getting sheep away from a fence or hedge (another sign of confidence) and will stay back and give the sheep some space when she’s walking them up behind you (well, only just, but she will stay back if you make enough fuss about it).
If I was pressed to find fault with her, it would be that she’s happier going anti clockwise around the sheep and she’s a little ‘sticky’ when given the Come Bye command but this is purely a lack of experience. Once she’s confident about flanking in both directions, that will disappear.
Despite her tender age, Mossie shows every sign of making a first class sheepdog. She’s 100% focused on her sheep but also listening to her commands. She’ll nearly walk away from the sheep with me too.