Yesterday was a glorious day in terms of weather and training! The views of the land and water here in the Puget Sound region are remarkable. I took Z over to Whidbey Is to meet up with Jorgen and work some sheep. Jorgen drove all the way from Portland and was even there before me!
We discussed fitness of our dogs and the potential of oppressive humidity while we are in KY. I'm thinking about having Z's belly shaved, though I'm uncertain at the moment what to do. Aside from working, Jorgen and I are doing the same sorts of things to keep our dog's fitness up. This mainly is hiking off leash for a 2 1/2-3 miles a few time a week. I actually have access to a nice bike path where the dogs can run on the grass while I peddle and Tanya takes them running a bit. I was lamenting on the cost for swim time at doggie spas. I would swim Z in the lake, but I don't throw balls for him to retrieve. Swimming I believe is the biggest bang for your buck when trying to increase endurance, it is also awesome because it is low impact on the body.
To the touch, Z (and all the other dogs around here) are feeling very lean and fit. There isn't much soft and squishy about him except his personality. I have also been feeding him extra before this trip I want him to build up a little fat reserve. He didn't travel too well the last couple of times and even though he ate just fine he lost a bit more weight than I was comfortable with. As of now he is eating a pound of bone in raw meat, things like turkey necks, and chicken parts mainly with some sheep chunks, beef and pork necks for variety. On the 4 days that I go to work he gets 3/4-1 cup of kibble in a toy to keep him busy in his crate. Mick eats 3/4 pound of meat and Libby east about 1/2 pound or less of meat neither one eats much kibble. Z is the only dog I have the seems to so alright on good kibble for now any way. We get our meat from here: Better Meat Inc 305 Northwest 82nd Street, Seattle, WA 98117-4033. Occasionally we order our meat form here :http://www.darwinspet.com/ they deliver to door s in most places in the Puget Sound. They are constantly expending the service area. I believe in the power of raw food for all living things, I think it makes a huge difference, you can only get out what you out in so may as well be the best stuff you can get your hands on.
We also talked about puppies, because we are both on the look out for our next rockstar. Jorgen summed it up eloquently, "The more information I get, the less I know" I think I am in the same boat.
Finally we get around to training our dogs. Z was pushy right off the bat, but I was able to get a hold of him if I needed to, mostly. The first out run I sent him on(300yrds) was ok. His trajectory was good and he corrected is as needed. The sheep took off and got stuck on the fence. He pushed them down the fence line instead of scooping them off, things were moving very quickly at this point. I began trotting up the field and got things slowed down and got him to release the pressure and flank around to balance them to me. This was similar to the error he made at the lift/fetch on the last trial. He didn't get quite to balance so he didn't have firm charge of the sheep to get them turned quickly. Then his mind gets flustered and he follows/drives them for a bit until I can get him stopped and flanked. So I worked up close getting him to pull the sheep of the fence, I was sending him to their butts, which entices him to follow instead of turn the sheep. I worked on pushing him all the way around so he would get to their eye and turn them. He was getting pretty good with this after only a few tries in each direction. We then did a little driving and called it quits for a few minutes.
After a quick nap in the crate Z was ready to go again. This time Jorgen and I swapped out runs. The sheep were being fairly cooperative. I worked Z come-bye side, since this is his weaker side. I helped him a fair bit on the first couple of sends. Starting at about 900 I blew him out followed by quick snappy hurry up flank whistles. I was telling him get out but keep the gas on. He has a tendency to slow up too around 1000 then he starts drifting in to come just sort of balance and too close behind. By helping him out twice he got to the right place. The third time he went he was still a tad short of balance but deep enough behind that when he walked in he had room to make the correction on his own. Hurray, he's getting it. After that I sent him away -to-me and spot on the balance and really deep behind, I nearly cried it was so pretty. All I gave him was steady whistle when he turned in and a few as he came down the line. He rushed them down the line, but I'm ok with that. I sent him once more to the left and it was nice, I decided to just be quiet and see what he would do. It was pretty nice, I feel like the sides in practice are nearly equal. I feel like if in a trail come-bye was the only side that would make sense I could send him with fairly good results.
After a little rest we did some driving and he did a nice job. I feel much better about me and my training then last time. I really didn't yell. I used string tones for corrections and make sure the follow up cue was said in a nicer tone. I do know too that I will have to go back to letting him be a little pushier than I enjoy, though I haven't been grinding on him. I must watch too he quits wanting to push when he starts getting tired. Perfectly understandable. Well, we shall see what today's training brings.
Ruminating on Letting Go
1 week ago