Monday, September 15, 2008

Herding Lesson

Herding two weekends in a row! We thought it would be good for Iris and Bug to have a few lessons close together (Bug had a great lesson too). I think a couple of things are really starting to come together in Iris' mind, so I'm really glad we were able to get two lessons so close together.

When we got there, Colleen was finishing up another lesson, so Iris had to wait in the car. Oh god there was a tractor! Someone thought it would be even more fun to chase tractors than sheep. Looney dog.

We started out by walking (on leash) around the pen with me asking Iris to down periodically. When we do this exercise, Iris gets excited and lunges when we get close to the sheep. Whenever she starts to lunge, I switch directions. We turn back toward the sheep once she settles. During the last lesson, I could really see Iris working it out in her head. "When I act like a crazy dog, mom turns and walks away from the sheep. When I calm down, we get to go back to the sheep!" I really like the turning-around method. There's no fuss. It's just "Fine, you can act like a crazy dog if you want, but if you do that, you don't get any sheep." By then end, I could see her thinking about lunging but then checking herself. Cool!

After that, we continued working on "walk up" and "out." I know Iris hasn't made any connection between the words and the motion yet. At this point, I think it's probably more important for her to get used to what it feels like to put pressure on the sheep and then take pressure off.

Iris says weird faces are one of the best ways to intimidate sheep.

After that, Iris worked on "get around." It's her favorite part. Julie too some really cool video of Iris working.

During the first couple of lessons, Iris would sort of "buzz by" the sheep, and then she'd check out to go sniff grass. She was definitely a little intimidated by them. She'd dart in with a lot of flourish and then back right out before the sheep had a chance to get her. If you watch her close, you can still see that she sort of darts in and out, but she was staying engaged for a much longer time. I think she's starting to figure out just how much control she can have over the sheep.

At then end, Iris was trying to act like she was too tired to work any longer. Then she saw her opening, darted in and scattered the sheep. Brat dog. Too tired to do it right but not too tired to cause trouble?

See that? That's the butt puff of a trouble maker. She may look like she's relaxing, but don't be fooled.

After the lesson, we helped Colleen put in some fence posts and then let the dogs run around the field. Both Iris and Bug ran right over to the pen where the sheep had been. Iris came bounding back, "Mom! Where did they go???" Instead, she found some really stinky sheep poop and had a great time rolling all over it. Lovely. Poor smelly Aussie got a bath when we got home. All that work rolling around went right down the drain. She was not impressed. I mentioned to Colleen that I've only had Iris for about a year now, and she said that explains a lot about our relationship. She's settled in so much at home, I forget that we're still building a relationship!

My poor girl started limping on Sat night. All that running around, I think she pulled something. She was a lot better on Sun and better today too.


Jules said...

You could definitely see her brain working. She is starting to *get* it, for sure!

ann-and-partner said...

Poor Iris, with her sore leg.
She might have been fine if you'd left the sheep poop on her. I bet it was that nasty bath that caused the problem!

The video's were great! I was sad when they ended. She looks so cool.