Friday, September 12, 2008


Iris had her second herding lesson last weekend. It gets it's own post so it's easier for me to look up later. Iris was great! Colleen said she was really "hot." Yeah, she was definitely pulling to get to the sheepies. I asked her to down outside of the pen.

Even in the photo she looks intense. I think our focus right now is getting Iris used to taking pressure on and off the sheep. Initially, I just walked Iris around the pen and had her down periodically. We still need to work on "down" in various locations. The distraction of the farm and the sheep was too much for her. I had Iris on a leash, and whenever she started to run toward the sheep, I switched directions. Iris needs to learn that too much pressure means back off a little, not run around like a crazy dog. But I think she really likes being a crazy dog.

We also started working on "walk up" and "out." Julie brought up a really interesting point that those commands, especially "out"are used in agility but mean different things. I use "walk it" in agility for the contact obstacles, and "walk up" in herding is move in a straight line toward the sheep. I don't really foresee that as being much of an issue for Iris because sheep don't really look much like a dog walk. I think "out" could be a little more tricky. In agility, "out" means increase lateral distance between yourself (the dog) and me. In herding, it means turn and walk away from the sheep in a straight line, which takes pressure off the sheep. Colleen does agility, and she said her Tervs don't usually have a problem with out. She had more trouble with "come" and "come bye" (circle the sheep, I forget whether is clockwise or counter clockwise), so she uses "go bye" instead. Just something interesting to think about.

For "walk up," we moved toward the sheep until they started to fidget and then I asked Iris to down. She was so focused on the sheep! After a few seconds of pressure, we walked back to fence. It was a good chance for Iris to feel what it's like to put pressure on the sheep without causing them to run.

After that, we had Iris drag the lead, and worked on "get around." Iris was doing "fly-bys" where where she'd run around the sheep real fast and then go sniff. Colleen said Iris still isn't quite sure about the sheep, so she sort of rushes in and makes a big show about it but then backs off right away.

Iris looks like she was totally zoning out in that photo. Actually, I think she's about to go sulk because I toughed her with the rake. Right now, Iris does herding very much so on her own terms. That seems to be how my crazy red dog does just about everything! Is it a girl thing? I'm hoping the more I work with her in herding, agility, and whatever else we're doing, she'll get the idea that working together isn't such a bad thing.

By the end of the lesson, Iris was exhausted. I started walking her around the pen again and having her down periodically. The brat dog had perfect down in the shade and did not feel like downing in the sun. See what I mean about "on her own terms?" Silly dog.

After Iris' lesson, it was Julie and Bug's turn. Bug completely turned on to sheep! It was so cool to see. Everyone had a great lesson and we're going again tomorrow. I think it will be really good for both Iris and Bug to have two lessons so close together.


ann-and-partner said...

Oh, she looks wonderful!!

Jules said...

I forgot about the agility commands conversation. One of the good things about carpooling to lessons!