Saturday, November 29, 2008

I give up....Ranger is sticking to Agility

The subject line says it all.

Ranger more than likely will not be a sheep dog.

Maybe it isn't Ranger, perhaps it is the handler? *sigh*

(this video is from August - I was close to giving up then - but we kept on trying)

Today was not pretty. When he is engaged - he barrels toward the sheep like a bowling ball. Splitting them up and scattering them everywhere then playing a rousing game of chase. When I put any pressure on him to get him to start flanking/circling vs cutting right in he just quits - wanders over to the side of the arena, spreads a little pee, sniffs alot and snacks on sheep dung. When I can finally get him engaged again (after much ado) we repeat the same exercise over again. We have tried him on puppy sheep, spicy sheep & yearlings. Today we put him on 6 yearlings who normally keep him engaged because they move faster. We tried to move them through the gates - he will do that. Then gets bored and wanders off. John even tried to work with him and had the same results.

(this video is from several weeks ago - trust me, it hasn't improved over the weeks)

Today he completely forgot what "LIE DOWN" meant. Turned up his nose and walked away - or just flew past me and grabbed a little bit of wool.

Chris thinks that he has something in him...she said there were worse dogs than Ranger who are now accomplished sheep dogs. I think she saw how discouraged I was. I believe that Ranger can do it...but it will take more time and work than I think I have to give him. I think I need to pick one thing with him and do it well. He loves Agility and he is VERY good at it. Why muddy the water with herding?

So, there we have isn't Ranger? It is me.

I am getting so confused. In agility I am learning how to direct Ranger over obstacles etc by pointing and leading him (front cross, rear cross, push etc). In herding - it is the opposite - you dont point, you use the training aid/flag to fill in the space where you dont want your dog to go. No pointing allowed.

Who can blame Ranger for being confused - heck I am not sure if I am coming or going out there. Then I get frustrated and almost wind up in tears. No wonder Ranger is more interested in chowing down on sheep poop than listening to me...

So...for now I think I am going to discontinue the Ranger herding sessions (he is going to stick to agility). I am going to keep going to herding classes with Chris and work with her established dog Rosie so I can learn what the heck I am doing out there.

When Bonnie is ready - I can start her without completely screwing her up and if Karen Child will take her for a while and get a good firm foundation on her - when she comes back I will have some idea of what I am doing. Because right now I suck... *bigger sigh*

We also tried Oliver on sheep again - it was a disaster. Oliver should NEVER be near sheep again unless he is with an experienced handler that can handle a very strong dog. It was prey drive in overdrive He even scared Chris a little...


Laura Carson said...

Try not to be too hard on yourself - this stock thing is hard, particularly with a green handler and a green dog. I know all too well how frustrating it is to work with a less than enthusiastic dog - and it may serve you well to get some miles on you first. Some day you might decide to come back and work Ranger after you have more experience yourself. You don't suck, you are just beginning.

He sure is cute though. ;)

BCxFour said...

Thank you so much for your kind words. You are right this stock thing is very hard! I grew handling horses & cattle - sheep are different, much different. The only herding I learned how to do was on horseback. Learning it with dogs from the bottom up like is NOT easy! Like my husband told me - "It is alot easier being a armchair herder than being out there getting chased by a bunch of sheep". Yep..he is right!

Laura Carson said...

lol Your husband does have a point. And you're welcome. Good luck - it'll be a good thing to spend some time with your trainer's dog. I did some horse time too - and the biggest difference is that with this you have so many different things to concentrate on - you, the dog, the stock, the field... everything. However, you already have a leg up and just don't know it yet. Your controlling stock from horseback will eventually help you. ;)