A Bit of Training Without Training

We are moving the flock daily right now (see last post), so I take advantage of the situation to involve the dogs. Here is an example of how a morning plays out and results in some training without training for young Gibb.

I take Cajun and Gibb with me. It is another opportunity for Gibb to ride on the Ranger, something I need my dogs to be comfortable with (and they usually are by the second trip out to sheep).

Gibb is left tied on the Ranger while Cajun and I move ewes and lambs. Gibb learns about being tied while other work is taking place. He learns not to panic or carry on barking when he is left on his own.

After moving sheep to the next paddock Cajun and I return to the Ranger and I let Gibb off. The flock is in sight but a short distance away. I begin taking down electrantting, letting the two dogs run about as they will. I keep my eye on Gibb and don’t let him run off to the sheep (the first few minutes off the Ranger are when the most attempts are made). It helps that Cajun is hanging around and showing little interest in the flock. Gibb figures this out and busies himself with sniffing, cooling off in the nearby slough and following Cajun. I’m not asking them to come, sit or lie down and wait. Just hang out nearby doing what you wish, and don’t take off to work sheep.

The electranet down I head up to the water bus and prepare to move it. We’re now closer to the flock and again I keep my eye on Gibb. He tries once to go to the flock. I call him back.  I load the water trough and mineral, and start the bus. The dogs hop in and we drive over to the flock. Gibb learns to ride in a different vehicle - it also takes him to sheep.

I drive the bus to a choice hilltop and park it. We are now in the midst of the flock. Ewes and lambs are milling nearby while I unload the tub trough, hookup the float and set mineral tubs down. The dogs wait in the bus. The window is fully open so they could jump out if they felt inclined. Cajun is patient, he knows the routine. Gibb learns to wait again.

I have to leave the water bus where it is, so now me and the dogs have to walk out of the flock. Being in the midst of sheep, this would be too much self control to ask of Gibb at his young age, so I slip a leash on him. I did not do this control work three years ago when Cajun was a young dog and even though I implemented it later on, he still has an inclination to bolt forward in anticipation of work every time I release him off the leash or a vehicle.

For Gibb this is a first lesson about being in the midst of a lot of sheep but not working them. He seems excited but contained, maybe a little nervous too. We walk through the sheep and out of the paddock. On the way we pass close to a ewe with her lamb at foot. She stands strong and does not move off, and Gibb pops forward and woofs at her, his tail flipping high, showing his insecurity with this new situation and specific encounter. The ewes jumps back but doesn’t go far. I cant help but chuckle at Gibb. I talk softly to him and we keep making our way along.

With the flock move complete the dogs are loaded back on the Ranger and I drive to the next area to set up a paddock. The dogs are let off to explore as they will while I set up netting. Gibb learns to avoid electranet or jump over it. Neither dog has forgotten sheep as the flock can be seen and heard. But neither one shows any obsessive desire to run off and work them like Jayde would certainly be trying to do. Some fencing complete, we load back up and go home for lunch.

This is the type of training without training that makes the most miles.  A morning like this is almost as valuable to a future chore dog as one spent working a few training sheep. But of course without livestock it is hard to implement a similar situation. When doing this with a young dog the first few times it can be very disrupting to getting work done. One has to be willing to drop what you’re doing to look after the dog or get him back etc. I take the dogs with me more often when Allen is not here so that I can work with the dogs without concern about Allens patience wearing thin as I do so.