Balance

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Balance is a term used by sheep dog handlers, but I find myself thinking of its value in so many other contexts related to dogs. In sheep herding, "balance" refers to a dog's ability to place itself exactly where he or she needs to be to take control of the sheep without frightening them. It refers to two things really. One is the distance between the dog and the sheep. Too far away? -- no control, no pressure. Too close? -- forces the sheep to run away in a panic, or to turn and fight. Just right? Exactly at the point at which the sheep will turn and move away from the dog without panicking. The other aspect of balance is side to side, left to right. For example, does the dog stop at exactly the right place on an outrun to move the sheep directly toward you once he begins to walk Read More

“Dog Training” versus “Real Work”

So I'm working Will, my young Border Collie, last night, asking him to push the lambs into a corner so that I could catch and treat a sick one. (Lambs get diarrhea just like people and dogs do, I suspect it feels just as bad for them as it does for the rest of us. Poor little guy looked miserable.) Willie is doing really well at this kind of task, even though he can be the kind of dog who is "sticky" and won't push the sheep forward when it's needed sometimes. But he seems to love real work, when the sheep really have to get into the truck, or the lambs have to be pushed into a corner so that we can catch and treat one. How do I know? Well, I don't for sure, but his eyes seem brighter, he looks especially animated when we are done and most importantly, he is much braver when we have "real Read More