Posted January 22nd, 2010 — Filed in Stockdogs
Question: I’m working with a 17 mo old dog .She pays close attention to my position and balances well. I try to say as little as possible or nothing at all. She has a lot of push to the point of nipping heels after she has gathered and has them coming. ( she is a border collie) I’ve started to let her know I’m not happy with nipping and she catches on quick but I want her to learn to pace on her own. I’ve been letting her push them ( 10 yearling heifers) past me and then make her bring them back but the heifers seem to ware out before the dog so I’ve been doing this a little more through gates so she doesn’t get the continual thrill of just getting to blast on past every time. So two questions. Pacing and nipping.
Answer: You want to be careful about making the dog quit nipping because if you make her quit she may not nip when it is necessary. What you want to do is let the dog learn when to nip and when not to.
You wrote “I’ve been letting her push them past me and then make her bring them back.” When trying to get the dog to slow down and start thinking, don’t let the dog push the animals past and then make the dog go get them. This will wear out the cattle and not slow the dog down as this keeps the dog excited to keep working fast.
When the dog is bringing the animals walk toward the back and this will push the dog to the front. As soon as the dog gets the animals turned and coming walk to the back again and this will push the dog to the front again. If you do it this way the animals will not get tired and the dog can learn to slow down and start thinking.
Don’t let the dog get the thrill of blasting on past you, that’s why the advice on working a dog is to “push” the dog not to work in such a way that you are actually encouraging it to blast on by you.
When you read what is written try to do close to what is written, otherwise the result may not be even close to what you want. Remember “push” the dog to get some things not just “send” them for everything.