Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Working Brynn - Videos

For a while now I have been talking about how my demeanor on the field changes when I work Brynn.

As much as I yammer on about it you would think I would have 'gotten' it by now.

Thoughts, intentions & goals that get into my head and rattle around are notoriously slow in affecting change.  Change is a difficult thing.  Not unlike losing weight - easy to visualize & dream about - but when it comes to making the big step and changing your lifestyle by embracing a new pattern of living - it is a whole different ball of wax to go from thinking to doing.

My focus the last few weeks has been to figure out what my stress points are when working Brynn.  What causes me to get anxious & then telegraph that anxiety through my voice?    How am I  making her nervous, thus causing her to doubt me?

So I asked John to video two of our work sessions.   I have been hanging on to these videos the past few days because I am embarrassed to show them.  As much as I have harped on my goals and keeping the anger/anxiety out of my commands you would think I would be further along than I am. 

What a reality check these videos were for me.  I made annotations in the video - some of them may appear quickly and then disappear, stop the video to catch them if you are not able to read that fast.

Sorry for the poor quality - John was having a hard time holding the camera still.

At the beginning of this video I was happy with Brynn's lift, the fetch was offline & too fast, her driving was strange because for some reason she suddenly thinks 'lie down' means 'sit'.  But I am not going to argue with her about that nuance right now - because she is moving - her tendency is to get stuck driving & I am glad she is not doing that here.  That said, I should have ran up the field and corrected a few things - it is important to make sure she is working correctly.  However the goal of this video was to listen to ME and how I relay my anxiety and frustration through my voice. 

The video quality in this next one is even lower (blurry and very shaky) but you can get the gist.

Brynn starts out with a tight outrun an okay lift, fetch is offline and entirely too fast and then I make a major boo boo at the post and turn to watch her as she circles me - which only puts pressure on her.  We do a little bit of driving then work on putting the sheep into the pen (door open) all with inside flanks.  I was very happy with how she listened to me even though I was raising the tension level with my voice.  At the end she put the sheep in the pen and we celebrated.

She is a very good dog. 

And her handler is finally learning something.  Perhaps one day I will be the handler my dog deserves.


The Musketeers said...

Way to go Brynn! You're such a good girl :)

Ann said...

That is a pretty darn nice dog you have there, lady!

jorbar said...

Brynn is doing good work and try hard, treat her fair and the two of you will kick ass.

It is what it is, it is neither good or bad, it just is.

BCxFour said...

Thanks guys, she is a good dog. I am very lucky to have her.

julie said...

I may be absolutely wrong here, 'cause I don't know your dog and these videos are only fragments of course, so please correct me if I am!

Don't you think the reason for her sitting, or not lying down at all, is her lack of pressure? At least Brynn doesn't seem to have a lot of pressure on the sheep, at all. My youngest dog has a bit more pressure than Brynn, but still not that much, and she has always had difficulties lying down with the sheep, unless they are extremely flighty (is that a word, flighty?). She does have good sheep sense (as Brynn seems to, as well), and she feels and knows that she will have even less pressure being that close to the ground. Imho, in sitting, Brynn is actually trying to be a very good dog: I thinks she knows what you asked and is willing to obey, but she knows she'll lose pressure, so instead she lowers only her behind. ;)

Don't know if I'm being very clear, and I'm curious at your thoughts about this!

Otherwise she definitely shows nice things! And you'll get there, you and her. The fact that you know the mistakes you make, is already one huge step. :)

BCxFour said...

Julie, thank you so much for your comment and input. I tend to agree with you about Brynn's lack of pressure - to a degree. She has plenty of presence - but lacks confidence in many situation, that will come over time because she is still a 'baby' dog. Like you, I believe the sitting is in response to the 'pressure' the sheep are putting on her and she is afraid she will lose them - so her sitting is a compromise. There are a couple of very heavy draws in this field which she has to deal with when we drive in the directions I had her moving the sheep.

Laura L. said...

I've only watched the first video so far, but here's what I jotted down.

Your husband does just fine with the video-give him a pat on the back for it. : ) But ask him not to focus so closely on Brynn, then we could see the lines better too.

I love the captions.

Don't worry too much about the sit instead of lying down at least she stopped.

Correct her when she's not listening. But don't use a command as a correction-I know it's really hard not to-maybe an aaahht or knock it off.

Smile when you're giving commands, it helps make your voice more pleasing to listen to.

Put your hands in your pockets and try to relax.

When you correct Brynn in the last couple of minutes, she responds nicely to you.

It's obvious that she's a nice dog and wants to please you. Keep working on it, it will all come together. Now you've got the videos you know what you need to work on and with later videos you can compare and see how far you've come.

Sorry for the long response. And thank you so much for sharing with us. Really, I mean that. You're an inspiration.

The Sprollies 'n' Border Collies said...

That video started so good... then the shouting! My gosh - the SHOUTING!!! You really have to calm down a bit... somehow... uh... have a nap beforehand, perhaps? Or some relaxing music? I dunno.

Brynn is excellent! :)

PS. Don't worry about the sit and lie down thing - Kim does that too!

Monique said...

I'll 3rd or 4th the sit vs. down for a stop. I would ignore it personally. It will sort out.

I suggest a chelada before working ;)

You will get there. You have improved very much just in the few times I have seen you work. Just focus on being fair and consistent. If you ask something, make sure it gets done. You'll be wrong from time to time, but so will she - and it will turn out in the end ok either way as long as she learns to trust that you will mean what you say and say what you mean.

If you're not sure what should be asked, check the sheep. They will let you know :)

Donna said...

Thank you for sharing your work. We've all shouted when we wish we hadn't. I'm working, training, and learning from an Aussie, my first working dog. It seems to be the predominate style in my area to shout and chase dogs. I wanted to be a differnt type of handler. I've been working on being a quiet handler. I was fortunate enough to see the ASCA Stockdog Finals last year. The handlers I most admired were the ones who could go to the center pen, rest an elbow on it, and quietly let their dogs work. Not surprisingly, those were the dogs that worked the best, too.

Yes, different breed and differnt style of working and handling perhaps, but my point is, being a quiet handler is possible. But, those quiet Finals teams had also spent a lot of time together, and the handlers had loads of experience. Not so easy for the beginners.

I'm a long way from being the handler my dog deserves. But, I do notice that when I'm quiet, my dog works better. I don't think that's a coincidence. I'm also finding that the more I trust my dog, the calmer/quieter I am. Finally, I think the quieter I am, the more my dog actually listens to/for my commands.

You might reconsider the post about Brynn's sit as her way of releasing pressure. You know your dog, and I don't except through your blog, but it makes sense to me that she's trying to release pressure from her stock without completely letting them go.

Thanks again for your blog that is so honest. You aren't alone in the struggle. Just don't be too hard on yourself--or your dog.

And, this might sound really "zen" but maybe the way to control Brynn is to let go of trying to control her. Trust her more to work. I didn't see any sign that she was going to harm the stock, that's reason enough to trust her more.

Donna said...

One more thought. Sorry : )
Another thing I've started doing to try to help me be a quieter handler is to use visualization. I believe animals communicate with us to some extent through images. So, I've been trying to visualize what I want my dog (and the stock) to do. That helps in several ways. First, it forces me to go to the pen to train with a goal, not just to work willy nilly and invite trouble. Second, visualizing gives my mind something to do other than look for and worry about mistakes my dog might make. Third, if it is true that animals communicate with humans in part through images, then, the visualization helps my dog AND the stock to understand what I want.

That's not to say I zone out when my dog works. I certainly have to be aware of what is going on with him, but the times I do use visualization, things seem to go better. Coincidence? Who knows?

BCxFour said...

Thank you so much everyone for your time to give me input. I have been reviewing the videos and see them with different eyes now and understand what you are all seeing about Brynn 'sitting' vs lying down. I am not going to come down on her about that - as long as her next step is correct - I will let it go for now.

Ruth, I am assuming you are being a wee bit sarcastic? You silly girl.