Herding and obedience - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-01-2013, 02:55 PM Thread Starter
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Question Herding and obedience

We've been training in herding... If it wasn't so hot while we're working I would really, really love it heh but my dog loves it so I will suffer for him and be so thankful when winter finally comes!

Anyways, his instincts are great... If a sheep gets separated from the flock he will bring it right back into the group all on his own, he is very soft and responsive to the stick which makes working with him all the better BUT we are having some issues with obedience.

He just turned 10 months old and he has recently started to test me, this was very apparent when we were herding last Saturday. He was ignoring and blowing off commands he knows and making me feel all kinds of sheepish(ha) in front of my instructor.

So I was thinking of taking some time off of herding just to focus on getting through this stage and work more on distraction training. I want to trial eventually, my instructor said we'd be ready by the next trial to do the beginning test trial but he is only 10 months so I'm not in a huge rush to start. So do you think this would be beneficial or any thoughts on how I should handle my teenager?

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-01-2013, 03:51 PM
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Good idea to keep him off the herding game in hot weather, because he may lose his appetite for that. I gave up tracking myself in this heat for the sake of my dog's heart, un fact, overheating the body is very dangerous for your dog. You say:
Quote:
he has recently started to test me
I think, he is thursty to have something different. Teach him new commands in different environments, not necessarily distractive ones, simply by using the opportunity of being in different situations. Regarding health and sports - swimming for several sticks thrown at once into cold water, chasing frisbees in the shady park, practicing "Heel" by the way of patrolling your local streets at nights when it's very cool and very nice.

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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-01-2013, 07:29 PM Thread Starter
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That was also a consideration in taking a break, we were herding at about 9:30am and it was already almost 90... any later in the day and I don't think 'I' could physically do it. I was having a really hard time concentrating on what the instructor was saying, plus when you're newly training there is a lot of running involved. We did take breaks every 10 mins and he'd sit in a horse trough filled with water for awhile.

I've gotten a lot more strict with his NILIF as well, I was slacking a bit for awhile there. We're going to start doing some more classes here soon too and we are doing more OB sessions at home now.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-01-2013, 07:59 PM
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good luck. you're going to be fine.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-01-2013, 10:35 PM
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I did Tanner's first trial when he was 11 months old. The first day he was a rock star and the second day he fell apart. In retrospect, he would have been better served if I had just entered the first day and then waited a few weeks to enter another trial. He was so strong on sheep, despite his age, it was too easy to forget that he was still a fairly green dog.

If you do decide to focus on something other than herding for the next little while, make sure that you won't have to spend time undoing anything once you go back to herding. The kind of obedience you need for herding isn't the same kind you need in other sports. A dog who is spending all their time staring at you and needing "quality eye contact" might need to wean off that attribute in herding. I learned that the hard way when I made the switch from obedience training to herding when Tanner was about 7-8 months old.

I backed Tanner off working sheep for several weeks after his crash and burn that second trial day. During that time I had him out on a long line, doing a lot of long distance downs and working on his ability to listen when I told him to "wait". That was very helpful. And I also just had fun with him, without having some specific training goal in mind. We took a lot of "stop and smell the flowers" walks then. Well, we still do a lot of that now! Okay, that is mostly what we do now!
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-01-2013, 10:50 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you!

Well right now I don't really have to worry about him needing eye contact with me LOL, focus has been a real battle for us because I struggled for a long time finding something he'd want to work for. I finally found a toy he goes crazy for so training has been a bit easier...

I have been focusing more on long distance commands like down and stay. So that's a good idea I will keep doing that and start working on it in public parks. I also use his flirt pole to work on long distance waits, very helpful tool! I wish I could train around sheep, he only sees them on training day so it's like everything he knows just goes out the window because his herding drive is so strong and it's so much more exciting then listening to me.

This last herding session too he was getting a bit more into drive and for the first time actually latched onto a sheep which he never did before. I guess it's good that rather then frustrating me it just makes me want to get out there more and work... If it wasn't so hot and expensive I'd love to be out there everyday! Though it is having a negative effect of me considering a BC as my next dog, it's just such a fun and unique sport.

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-01-2013, 10:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sit,stay View Post
If you do decide to focus on something other than herding for the next little while, make sure that you won't have to spend time undoing anything once you go back to herding. The kind of obedience you need for herding isn't the same kind you need in other sports. A dog who is spending all their time staring at you and needing "quality eye contact" might need to wean off that attribute in herding.
Yep, this would be my only concern.

I don't do herding and don't really know anything about it, but I do know that a lot of people who do actively herd with their dogs are reluctant to cross-train in competition obedience or Rally, because the skillsets can be incompatible. Those sports tend to emphasize the dog staying close to the handler and paying close attention to the handler for all cues, which can reduce a dog's willingness to go far afield and work independently like you'd want in herding.

Working to improve the dog's ability to focus in the face of distractions shouldn't hurt anything, and of course foundational obedience is great for ANY dog, but if you want to stick with herding as a primary sport, I'd be a little cautious about training too intensively in competition OB.

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-01-2013, 11:05 PM Thread Starter
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Oops sorry, I guess I should have given this thread a better title! I don't currently have any plans to do competitive obedience but it is helpful to know that too much of that style of OB can have a negative effect on herding, that's something that I hadn't considered. So thank you for brining that up.

I guess I'm just asking if it would be helpful to take some time off to work more on the skills he needs or just keep plugging away teaching him during herding training. He knows down, sit, stay and how to do them from a distance but doing it when there are sheep 10 feet away from him... well... We'll get there I'm sure!

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 07-02-2013, 12:10 AM
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I would trust you instructors.

Also, at least for Leyna and Levi, obedience with the sheep around was way different than any other distractions I could throw at them.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-09-2013, 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carriesue View Post
Oops sorry, I guess I should have given this thread a better title! I don't currently have any plans to do competitive obedience but it is helpful to know that too much of that style of OB can have a negative effect on herding, that's something that I hadn't considered. So thank you for brining that up.
My trainer prefers dogs with NO obedience training. The skillsets are definitely very different. The obedience dog is a robot. A herding dog has to THINK. German Shepherds are definitely capable of performing well at different disciplines, but it's not going to be easy.

My trainer would just back off and make it fun again. Lots of wearing (or whatever your dog tends to like best) for a couple weeks then get back to business as usual. Taking long breaks could cause more problems.

My biggest problem is my girl doesn't settle in right away. Have to work her a bit before she'll settle in and do the job, which isn't possible on trial days. Hopefully it's just a maturity thing (she's 18 months now). We have gotten our HTAD1s and the first leg of AKC started, but the AKC run was a train wreck (to me). The judge loved her. LOL For the AHBA run, we were able to train first then run the course since it's not a trial setting.

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