Friday, July 8, 2011

Dog breaking lambs

The other thing we're doing this week is dog breaking lambs, or getting them used to being worked without their moms.    They have been worked with the ewes pretty much since they were born, but when you get them on their own they don't have anyone to follow and tend to act more unpredictably, a bit like popcorn- one pops off here, another pops off trying to get back to the main flock.   The dog has to really cover them, and most dogs learn quickly a different kind of pressure is needed for them.   The lambs don't orient to me at all.    I use a down a lot to relax the lambs near me when the dog has them turned toward me.   If you just let the dog keep going and going and never stop the lambs don't settle.    So far this week Ben had the first day, then Hank, then Dodge, then Sprite today.    Except for Ben's turn, I have kept one ewe in the lamb group just to settle them down a bit, but still, every lamb who doesn't belong to that one ewe is looking to get back with her or his mom. 

Pepper is working the heavier sheep in the 1 acre field, and right now I'm concentrating on off balance flanks with a little driving, and of course always a few fetches thrown in.   I need her to come around from the balance point on a flank to my side and start a drive that way, which she does pretty easily.     I'm also working with her on holding pressure and releasing pressure on the sheep in a corner.  We cram a lot of stuff into each little session. 

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