Stock Dog Notes - Mental Slippage

With the busyness of lambing now subsided I am training the stock dogs regularly again. I’ve had several really good evenings with them. I’ve begun to use Gibson for some light chores and even BJ is coming along well and bouncing back. But tonight's session was a little frustrating and I’ve been pondering why. It was one of those training sessions where I was too focused on making something happen, which always makes the dogs feel worried. I came off the field feeling a little heavier tonight and I'm sure the dogs did too.

I’ve noticed that whenever I feed into, or get envious about the stock dog trialing escapades that others are enjoying, my mental game slips. I get into a mode of trying to make my dogs into trial dogs. I start trying to force pieces into place in an attempt to ‘get there’. I think this stems from a deep desire to do some trials but feeling controlled by a fear of doing so. Or perhaps it’s anger that I’m too busy raising sheep while everyone else is playing sheep. Whatever it is, it causes me to dismiss the rare working dog life I have going on here. The other thing that slips when I get into this rut is my gratitude and appreciation for the dogs and just how much they assist me with daily activities.

My dogs are great ranch dogs and I do wish to trial with them someday. But I want to show up with confident dogs, that are comfortable and relaxed being at my side, and focused on the work in front of them, not worried about what I’m asking for. I’ll get there, but forcing it to happen isn’t the way. It will simply take the time it takes because training dogs is a personal endeavor, not a how-to one.


  1. I hear you on this one. I love your comment "I’m too busy raising sheep while everyone else is playing sheep". I have done years of trialing, and I am now satisfied with just working my dogs on the ranch and appreciating them for all the work they do. However, their are moments when I too feel a twang of envy.. Good luck, you will get their, slow and steady does win the race..

  2. Oops, all the "theirs" should be "there"...

  3. Hi Louise, thanks for the words of encouragement. I think I need to trial to get it out of my system. Then I'll probably be over it.
    I hope all the rain and high water at your place is drying out some.


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