I have been back to training my dogs and it feels really good. We have a new farm to train at and are going twice a week. The dogs are making really good progress, thanks in large part to what I learned at the Kevin Evans clinic.
Mira in particular has made tremendous progress. I am working her in a round pen, which is controversial but I believe is very helpful in fixing the mistakes I made with her. As I’ve written, I did too much early training with her on very light sheep in a huge field. The sheep kept getting away and soon I had a dog who would do nothing but cover and refused to take any and all commands. Working in the round pen with some quiet weathers has allowed me to build Mira’s confidence and – most importantly – to get her to put me in the picture. A more talented handler could have done this in a large field I’m sure, but I’m not there yet.
After doing some work in the round pen, I work Mira in a larger field on different sheep. The difference in this dog is so amazing that I came off the field yesterday wondering who stole my crazy wee bitch and replaced her with this hard-working, stylish dog. I sure hope we can continue to make progress like this.
Kestrel is also doing well on sheep. I have only had her in the round pen as she’s a bit of a speed demon and still doesn’t have a natural lie down. I won’t force the issue at this point as I don’t want to crush her intense but soft spirit. She’s very kind to the sheep, and has no fear of going between them and the fence to peel them out and back to me. I think she’s going to be a lot of fun…
Hannah is also making progress and now listens MUCH better after several sessions of off-side and unexpected flanks, and breaking her routine up completely and giving her new things to do. She is now doing some real farm work, bringing in the flock, pushing sheep through gates and shoots to get them into the training areas, and shedding off groups for the other dogs to use. Overall, it’s a great set-up.
I also did some agility work with each dog this week, for the first time in ages. I have been given the name of a trainer near to my new location and am going to call her shortly to see if we can take some lessons and rent her arena. I think Kess in particular will benefit from some brain work. The other girls are doing remarkably well these days, possibly because of all the swimming they get to do, and the fact that they are outdoors much of the day now. I will try and post some photos tomorrow of our new swimming and hiking haunts.
Ross has been enjoying exploring his new home county but otherwise I haven’t done a whole lot with him. He’s been a little funny since we’ve moved here, going off and sleeping on his own, and refusing to go out in the yard with the other dogs. I’ve been trying to find a homeopathic remedy that might help him relax more, but also wonder if his health is bothering him. Last week he had a nasty bout of cystitis (which thankfully responded extremely well and quickly to homeopathic treatment) which suggests an underlying imbalance. Today he seems better than he has for a while so hopefully things are settling down.