COMMANDS VS. DOG'S RESPONSIBILITY
By Claudia Frank

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I'm constantly trying to make comparisons or guidelines so stockdog enthusiasts may benefit. It is often difficult to tell between when the dog should be given a "command" to make a change in the sheep's direction and when the dog should be "corrected" for the direction the sheep are going or not going.

This may help....

IF the sheep are on the line you have indicated (either fetch or drive) and YOU want to change the direction give the dog commands to change the direction of your line. Think of the "line" as the path the sheep take and extend the line through them way ahead of their current position to see where they will end up if they continue to walk on that line.

If you have a nice straight line (either fetch or drive) and the sheep start to move in another direction that is the time to correct the dog for not holding the line.

You should start the delineation between the two from the start so when you growl, scold or stamp at your dog in correction for allowing the sheep to slip off line he will understand it is his job to hold that line. If you don't correct them for their lack of responsibility soon it will be YOUR total responsibility for where the sheep travel and most of us do not have good enough eye sight or stock reading abilties to determine what is going on at a distance. The handler needs to set the line they need and it is the dog's responsibility to keep the sheep on line. Of course the level of correction is determined by the amount of time the dog has been working sheep and the degree the dog lets the sheep move off line.

Many times all the dog needs is some firmness on the handler part to steady up the dog and slow it down. Then the sheep are more willing to hold a straight line.

GOOD LUCK!
Claudia

Page Updated 10/19/2010

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