Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Herding and tracking day- much dog stuff accomplished


Sally and Pepper at Iverson Park

We took Sally and Pepper with us to Iverson Park Sunday for a picnic which was really nice.   It was crowded at the park as the weather was beautiful and everyone else must have had the same idea.  

Yesterday it rained and although I had Kip take the sheep out for some grazing I didn't get any dog training done. 

So today was my big training day.  Dane got called into work unexpectedly so I filled up the day with dog stuff.   My plan was to work all the dogs on sheep, and then do tracking with three of them:  Hank, Pepper, and Tessa.   Well, I never quite do as much as planned, so I ended up sorting sheep with Ben, training Dodge, Sprite and Pepper on sheep, then doing some tracking with Tessa here.   

Dodge was doing well until I asked him to drive and then he didn't want to walk up.  I hadn't brought a line so that didn't go really well.   Then he cut in too close and managed to lose the sheep back to the pen with their buddies so we had to start over.   I had him working 3 light sheep.   His fetching is really nice and calm though, so at our upcoming trial that is the plan- just fetch.  He's in started.

Sprite was much more encouraging.  She also got 3 light sheep, different ones than Dodge, and she was just right on everything I asked her to do- fetch, drive, put them through the chute.   She's such a sweetie!

Pepper did well too.  I gave her a larger and thus heavier group and like the other two we worked out in the big field.   The smaller pens are pretty muddy.  I kept her drives very short and close to me so she didn't get away and run to head them off.  She drove on the fence and off the fence, and she put them through the chute also. 

Then I took Hank, Pepper and Tessa to a park area to do some longer tracks in new places with Hank and Pepper.  Tessa was just along for the ride, and I took her for a little walk after tracking.   She was the funniest thing- first she followed the whole track I had laid for Hank, although I had picked up all the articles she was right on it.   She over shot one turn but then came running back to look for it and found it.   It's always amazing to me how natural tracking is for a dog- the hard part comes with the handler reading the dog, the articles and having to stick close enough to the track that the judge doesn't blow a whistle on them for being too far off it.   But the actual finding of scent is so easy for them.   She only figured out following my track this morning, and here she was doing the same one Hank did.    I had her on a long line and all the way back to the car she kept running back to pounce on the fuzzy end of it, then she started catching up the whole line coil by coil until she was carrying most of it.   What a silly pup!

Pepper had no trouble with tracking in a new area- she wanted to keep going when we got to the end so I think she could have done a much longer track.  I put two 90 degree turns in her track, but as recommended by our instructor, I put an article just 5-10 feet after each turn, so she'd get a reward for finding turns.  She did get a bit distracted by some wild animal poop off to the side at one point but she kept going when I told her to leave it. 

Spring is really here, the birds are busy and noisy!
  The kids and I  were down by the pond and almost got hit by a woodcock that burst out from under our feet.   Also we spotted a yellow warbler, rose breasted grosbeaks and yellow rumped warblers.   No Orioles here that I've seen, although other people around here have.     Eastern Kingbirds and Bluebirds have been pretty common.

Ben learns a new trick

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