Friday, July 8, 2011

Working ducks

Yesterday Hank and I took the ducks over to the smaller working pen to try out Sally and Tessa again with them.  It has been a few months since I worked either of them on ducks and last time Tessa did pretty well, while Sally only wanted to dive in or have nothing to do with them.   I expected this was Sally's immaturity so I had resolved to put duck herding aside for her for a few months and it just happened not to work Tessa on ducks either since then without me intending it.  

Tessa remembered exactly what she was supposed to do and was very calm and controlled.   She likes to walk straight and slowly and hold everything together that way, which is very handy for walking ducks around, but I tried to do lots of turns so she also could get practice in flanking and stay flexible rather than lock into one path of taking the ducks in a straight line.   Her flanks were good once she had to commit to them, even in the corners.   We started in the very small pen and then moved out to the 40 x 60 area.  

Some pictures from our short session today:
Tessa walking up

Tessa going around, with Luke "helping" from the other side of the fence.

nice and steady, holding the ducks to me

a little fetching

holding the ducks still

Sally was a big surprise.  It's amazing what a little growing up can do about solving a problem.   She showed no tendency to dive in or to avoid working the ducks.   I walked her around the little pen on leash first, practicing stop, walk up and both directions.   Then she was going around well as I let out more line so I dropped it and she continued to do a nice job going around, getting them off the fence and staying out.   Next we need to work a little more on stop, and then take her out to a slightly bigger pen.   The one I worked her in yesterday is the dog kennel, so it's very small.    It teaches them to handle the pressure of tight quarters without exploding, stepping on or biting the ducks, so then when you get to any place that has corners or fences the dog can handle it with a cool head.   Working ducks is all about keeping a cool head.

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