Herding Adventures

The sheep down south are on to Haku, and have figured out that he’s a total pushover and refuse to move – makes it hard to do much. They only have six sheep down there, so we’re kind of out of luck for working with them. This week we went and worked with Dave Viklund out in Molalla, which works out well as I’m out there hiking on Fridays anyway.

I had worked with Dave many years ago when London was young up at Brigands. He’s a really nice guy and obviously very experienced. I struggled back then to get a clear idea of what we should work on, and I thought I might do better nowadays … but no. I really appreciate how clear Gabe has been on what exactly we need to work on, I do much better with clarity!

Still, the sheep were SO much nicer than the ones down south or our practice sheep. Haku and I could actually drive them around! And these were supposedly his heavy sheep. Ha! Haku did great, I did much better with my inside flanks when I wasn’t having to fight the sheep at the same time and Haku very patiently waited while we talked quite a bit.

As expected, Haku’s issues all come back to being such a super nice, super polite dog.  It makes him very easy for me to work with, but not so much actually getting things done. The big takeaway I had for this week was that ‘walk up’ is a relative term, if I tell Haku to walk up when he’s already in motion he should speed up and hold the line. Did not know that! A lot of his issues were me taking responsibility for Haku not doing his job, apparently. Which was kind of amusing as it was the opposite with Navarre. I give Haku the benefit of the doubt, I just assume Navarre is being a dork.

Haku’s outruns were total crap as we’ve been working on driving so fetching is just not on his mind, apparently. And, once again, I gave him the benefit of the doubt while Dave was like, “You didn’t tell him to drive, he should have fetched – it was his mistake.” I’m sure with practice we’ll get them back. We’re also going to practice working on him pushing on his sheep more on the drive, stop being polite and learning that additional walk-ups mean to get in there and stop being polite. And when I’m working on driving stop using the fence as a crutch. I love my polite little herding dog.

And then there was Navarre. Oh, Navarre, it’s just this ARGUMENT with him. With these lighter sheep his brain kind of exploded. I quickly handed him over to Dave and they argued, with much flag slapping and Navarre, once again, right up the sheep butts. And I’m like, ‘He just has no sheep sense.’ And, once again, much like Gabe, Dave liked Navarre better than Haku. Ha! Dave says he’s got plenty of sheep sense and is doing a good job of controlling the sheep – and he say that Navarre says the same thing about me that I say about him, that I obviously don’t have any sheep sense. So apparently Navarre is just trying to work through the handler and just doesn’t know how to control the sheep effectively yet. Heh, well, certainly no issues with Navarre being too polite.

So, yeah, same homework with Navarre that we have been doing – he was particularly bad with the new sheep so I think Dave was left with the impression that he really hasn’t ever been asked to stay behind the sheep. But, oh yes, he most certainly has. And Dave seemed think Navarre was perfectly appropriate for being right on the sheep butts. I don’t get that at all. Herding is a mysterious world.

Today we headed over to Poodletopia to practice – good lord our old ladies have it out to kill the people. They seriously head butt you, step all over you and try to take you down – I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. Our sheep are very passive aggressive. Or maybe not so passively aggressive. Thankfully, Haku and I got to work on driving them away from me – which isn’t easy, they WANT to take me out, pushing them away from me is hard! At least in the beginning the sheep did listen to Haku though, at least to an extent.

We attempted to work on Haku continuing to walk up faster and into the sheep more when I ask – which didn’t go overly well. We had some success with driving them away, but those sheep just want to come back and take me out! Our other homework, holding Haku accountable for doing what I ask rather than what he THINKS I meant wasn’t super fun either. I don’t like arguing with Haku and making him feel sad, but it was pretty apparent when I was actually holding him responsible that he regularly ignores me and does what he thinks is ‘best’. I ended up working him twice, and while the second time was smoother, at that point the sheep were done moving and started just ignoring him. Poor Haku, he tries so hard! We have a ways to go, but we’ll continue to keep moving forward.

Now, working Navarre is doubly hard with the sheep trying to take me out. But Navarre was actually doing a bit better. I had very little expectations of him to do anything but stay behind the sheep and he didn’t do too badly. And he can steady up … in a fashion. He stops his frantic wearing but then walks up RIGHT on the sheep butts. Which Dave seemed to think was okay, so, hey.

So the boys had fun, it’s a lot of mental work and next week we’ll have more herding and can at least say we practiced. Always fun to play with new things, even if I never quite feel like I have any idea of what I’m actually supposed to be doing.

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3 Replies to “Herding Adventures”

  1. LOL about assuming your dog is being a dork. My dog is a total derp, she’s never not being a derp, I call her a Baderpadordercollie and she is just so freakin’ cute it kills me. XD I love it. 💙💚💛

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  2. I am finally getting caught up on your blog. 🙂 The heavier the sheep are, the closer your dog is going to have to be to them to move them. On lighter sheep, your dog will have to stay off of them. You really need to get new sheep… good sheep are essential to good sheepdog training.

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