Question: . . . . was playing with our pup last night, we have three goats to let him mess with, he really wants to go get them and bring them to us but gets over excited and I am sure that we are doing something wrong. He pushes them our way but then wants to cut in front of them and circle them. Unless he is up close to us, if he is close we can push him and he stays 12 o’clock of us, and seems to do what is right. He seems to get to close to the goats and pushes them harder and harder. We know this is hard explaining, but nine times out of ten when you and Bud tell us something a light bulb goes on and we can figure out what we are doing wrong.
Answer: There are times to play with the pup and times to work they must be separate. With the working dog they have a job to do that is difficult. They must be serious and realize it isn’t playing. With a young dog I would have never let them “mess” with 3 goats. If for some reason I was going to use 3 goats I would be sure the dog was serious and knew it was work.
Everything you say about what the pup is doing is about what the pup should do. What isn’t being said is what you are doing. Our job is to move around so that what the dog is doing is right with very little correction (use position not commands) from the person. Our job is to create the situation where the pup can and will succeed not just expect the pup to do what we want just because we want it. All the pup needs is to know what is right and what isn’t right. This can be done if the person moves to stop what isn’t right and allows what is right. At first what isn’t right doesn’t have to be completely stopped the pup just must know that it isn’t right until it learns not to do the wrong thing. A young dog that will be any good will probably over-work and push stock too fast, That’s why I tell people to be where they can walk and push the dog around the stock until the dog learns to slow down. This is more difficult to do with 3 animals. What you do or don’t do and how you act will usually be what causes the dog to over-work.
Learning how to have a good working dog is difficult, learning how to give commands is easy but that doesn’t mean there will be a good working dog just one that knows commands.