HGH training...progress, videos, from the start - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-02-2011, 05:13 PM Thread Starter
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HGH training...progress, videos, from the start

I am currently training my girl Kessy towards an HGH title. We have been training for about a year and a half now, and I plan to title in October of this year. Kessy was about 3.5 years old when we started. With HGH training, things are done a bit differently than in other types of herding. Here are a few links about it...
German Shepherd Herding
Herding Style is Not a Fashion Statement
STARTING GERMAN SHEPHERD DOGS IN HERDING

I thought I'd share some of the videos of her progress from the start. I know a lot of this will be very boring to many But hopefully it will be interesting to at least a few people!

First video: Instinct Test!


Basically - all the instinct test shows is that the dog has a sustained interest in the sheep, and that the dog has a solid temperament. A very spooky or aggressive or clingy dog will not be able to do this type of training.
The sheep are in a pen, and the dog is brought up and down the border to see how it will react to the sheep. Kessy was a little hampered by one thing...
She grew up doing Schh training, tracking in particular. She learned for most of her life that a long line and tall grass means...we're tracking! So she wasn't sure whether to be in tracking mode or not when we did the instinct test. I was told not to talk to her, but towards the end I was allowed to tell her she was good when she paid attention to the sheep, and as soon as she heard that it clicked and she showed a lot of interest. So, she passed her instinct test. But it doesn't mean she's guaranteed to be trainable...it was impossible to say whether her interest in the sheep was purely prey drive or if there was some herding drive in there. Obviously since we are still training it did turn out to be herding drive as well as prey, but at the start you just don't know, at least most of the time.
This instinct test is very different from tests where there are just a few sheep and the dog is brought in to see if it will "herd" them around the pen. I think a lot of dogs could herd small flocks, but it takes a pretty specific type of temperament to do HGH-style herding, and that temperament can't be seen right away.

Second video:


In this video, she's been training for about a month. She is able to work off leash now, and the back and forth movement along the fenceline has been established. She is not trying to get through the fence at the sheep, except for moments when she gets overstimulated. She is not yet able to maintain a border on her own, and that was the most difficult part of training. She learned this between the video above and the next video I'm posting.
There are usually 2 methods for HGH trainers to teach the dog a border. One method is to create a gap in the fence, and have the dog run past it and then you gradually open up the gap so the dog is staying on the border. That did not work for Kessy - the fence got her more and more excited and it just wouldn't click. So we had to try the second method, which is where we walk up and down the border with her on a long line. She gets corrected when she tries to go into the graze. At first it didn't click with her and we didn't make much progress...but then it finally started sinking in and she progressed pretty well from there.

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post #2 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-02-2011, 05:36 PM Thread Starter
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Next video...

This was taken about 3 months after we started training. I got a new video camera for Christmas So I had to test it out! This video was the first time Kessy was allowed to work a cross border - up until this day, she had to remain on one border only. Once the dog is solid on two borders, you can add the third and fourth. Some dogs will just run and run once they are allowed to work the full graze and those dogs will have to be limited - but Kessy was never like that, she's always worked where she should which was really nice and unexpected - I was told from the start that just due to the fact that she's not from herding lines, she may not have a feel for the flock and I would always have to show her where the work was. But she blew that idea out of the water and she works really nicely in the graze.

The next videos were taken in May...


This was Kessy's first time with the brand new lambs. They got her a bit overstimulated. She is really amped up and doesn't listen as well as she normally does. But that is pretty common when they see lambs for the first time. We work through it and she does fine.

The next video was from last July.

She is working the graze but is still a bit excited. She does settle down though and at this point she still doesn't completely understand her job. If the sheep are close to the border she bounces at them and scares them off. She should only be reacting if the sheep are on or trying to cross the border. But this is normal - it is something that takes a long time to develop!
At about 3 minutes in, you can see the full size of the graze...this one is very large.
My favorite part of this video: at about 9:10 she is running and she cuts the corner. The next time around (at 11:03 ), she almost starts to cut it again but then catches herself mid-stride and corrects...that made me smile! LOL

Next video

This was taken in September. In this video you can see that Kessy finally understands her job. She patrols well, and when she sees the sheep trying to cross, her body language changes and she will charge after them. This was when she really started to get that her job is to not allow the sheep to cross. It was a really good feeling getting to that point!

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post #3 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-02-2011, 05:53 PM Thread Starter
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This video was taken this past week...

It is nothing terribly exciting, just Kessy working the narrow graze. The sheep really aren't pushing or trying to leave the graze so there's not a real challenge here. At about 3:34 if you listen carefully you can hear our trainer cluck to her - we just have to cluck and point to send her in a specific direction. Otherwise in the video she was working on her own. Due to the snow/ice all winter, we didn't get to herd from January through half of March. I really missed herding and am so glad to get back to work!

Here is today's video:

First was the exit from the pen. It was only her 2nd time doing this, so it is NOT perfect. Ideally I could send her to jump into the pen from the opening, but I showed her where to jump this time. She is supposed to hop in and stand, and then I start walking out with the sheep. Once the first few sheep have passed, she is called to the gate into another stand. Here, I give her mixed messages. My crook is still up as I call her forward - the crook is usually used as a block, so she was confused since I was calling her and blocking her at the same time. That was my fault. But she makes it into a stand. The sheep try to head off in the wrong direction but when I call her out, she brings them back. She circles behind the flock which is not what we want. But she doesn't do that very often. Ideally, she should go around the front of flock to the rear, then turn around and come back around the front and do it on the other side. With a large flock she may have to go down one side more than once, but with a flock this size (only 80) that would be too much and would push them in the wrong direction.
Sorry that I didn't get much video of the move. I had a 2nd camera sitting on a fence post, to pick up where the first cut off. But...the batteries died not long after I started it recording, and I didn't get anything
The wide graze is another big one, and she works pretty nicely. Today she worked for 3 full hours. Here and there I went up to the border to stand with her and put her in a platz to rest for a few minutes. The first time I did this, I noticed 2 sheep crossing the opposite border. I didn't think anything of it - I figured they wouldn't really go anywhere and I could send the dog in a few minutes. Well the next thing I know I here a few "baa's," a few sheep start to move, and then the whole flock is taking off for the opposite border. I had to send Kessy to stop them, which she did and then everything was fine. But it caught me off guard! They tried it again when I let her rest a while later but I was ready that time. I didn't get it on video, I wish I had! It's kinda scary seeing the whole flock run for the hills but I know that Kessy will fly down there to get them when I send her so I didn't panic.

That's all for now...I will post again whenever I get more video.

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post #4 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-02-2011, 07:20 PM
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Thank you for sharing those videos!

Now, jealousy is not a very becoming emotion so I have to move on!

I know it is work but it is also a lot of fun to partner with a German Shepherd on sheepies!!
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post #5 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-02-2011, 10:34 PM
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Thanks you so much for these videos! I'll watch them many times. On Monday and Thurs, Stosh is going to be off lead with the sheep in the pen and him on the outside so we're up to your video #2 I guess. Maybe I should have him watch with me so he knows what he's in for! It's really nice of you to do this- these videos are the first I've seen as the training progresses. You could sell them!
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post #6 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-25-2011, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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I have some more video of our herding lesson today. In the last few weeks, we've made a lot of progress.

Two weeks ago we did a very long move, past 2 pastures that the trainer is leaving to grow...they were tall and green and lush. The sheep really wanted to go in as we went by and Kessy had to work to keep them in line. She did a really nice job though. We also did the "traffic" part for the first time...where the sheep are on the road and a vehicle drives by. She's had a vehicle drive down the border when she's been working with the graze here and there, but this was the first time we did it while moving. She did a great job though.

Kessy has also learned to walk in a loose heel at the front of the flock with me. This has its uses and was important to teach. The farm has some narrow areas that we have to go through, and the dog isn't able to work the sides without the risk of splitting the flock or turning them away. So that is one case we'd use this...in the video, we have to go through a narrow gate and I call her up front to walk with me. Also if the sheep are really pushing you (like if you're going down a steep hill, they can run you over), having the dog up front will keep them from doing that.

This was a bit tricky to teach...originally we tried to call her up front and then block her with the crook to keep her from going down the sides. But it didn't work out, she just kept trying to go around. But then I tried telling her to "fuss" (heel) since she knows that very well, and she got the idea right away.

Right now she is almost ready for the HGH. The trial is not til October though. But she does great in the graze and is pretty solid at moving the sheep...now we will just be fine tuning, and working on the exit from the pen and repen which we haven't practiced a whole lot yet. But it is tricky for him to set those situations up and we have plenty of time to work on those.

The video is taken from 2 perspectives...we had a camera on a tripod and then my hubby was taking video, so if it goes back and forth a bit that's why. But I thought it'd be better to show both.

Here is the video...again I would open it up in YouTube to see it bigger...

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post #7 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-25-2011, 09:40 PM
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Awesome videos! I can't believe I missed these the first time!

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post #8 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-26-2011, 09:57 AM
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Very nice!

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post #9 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-26-2011, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phgsd View Post
I know a lot of this will be very boring to many But hopefully it will be interesting to at least a few people!
Not boring at all! How often do you get to work with her? (and the sheep)
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post #10 of 51 (permalink) Old 04-26-2011, 11:17 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you!
We almost always go once a week, the only exception was through the winter this year when we had to stop completely due to all the snow and ice. We go twice a week at least one or two weeks each month.

I also forgot to mention...if anyone has any questions I will do my best to answer them. I am not an expert but have learned a lot since we started and if I don't know the answer, I can ask.

We had another lesson today, and when I went to gather the sheep one ewe did not want to come. She had lambed right there as we were talking, and it is the CUTEST lamb ever! The ram is the one with the black head, and the lamb is mostly black but has a little white "mohawk" on its head, white socks, and a white patch on one (or both? not sure) side. As cute as the all white lambs are...I can't wait to see the markings on the ones this year!

Djenga von Castra Regina RL2 BH HIC TT

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