Teaching People Dog Training Clinics
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Decades ago I went to a few dog training days and every man and his dog turned up; it was a great day out, usually ending with a barbeque and a few drinks.
My clinics are different. Firstly, numbers are limited to 35 people - it is important that everyone is able to hear and see clearly and I find by having a smaller group, people are more inclined to ask questions.
There are several reasons attendees don’t bring dogs: I don’t think it is fair that a lot of strange dogs enter onto a farmer’s property, possibly bringing infections etc. Barking whinging dogs are distracting for everyone. And most importantly, there isn’t time to do anything with them – the day is full to the brim as it is. Also what needs considering, young dogs are usually overwhelmed in strange surroundings with heaps of people and dogs who they don’t know … we can’t expect them to concentrate and perform in that intimidating environment.
Covered yards are a must, enabling us to go ahead regardless of the weather. Start is 9 am sharp, with a short break at lunchtime, and going through until about 4 pm. The whole time is taken up with demonstrations, with everything explained in full – it is important you understand why you need to do something – if you don’t understand why and how fully, you will do it wrong, and you won’t be able to fathom a problem that you and your dog are having, let alone solve it. Everyone remarks how much there is to take in and how exhausted they are from trying.
And that is why I wrote the booklet - it is not detailed, it’s only a reminder of the important points that we have covered and everyone gets a free copy - this enables people to relax and learn, not having to worry about taking notes or forgetting.
We go through everything that I do to train a dog to have an all-round ability for day to day stock work. I had good mustering dogs but I was not a top dog triallist, if that is your aim, I’d recommend tuition from someone who is, however that is not to say you won’t pick up a few little gems from the day.
What do I cover? Everything from the basic ‘must have, can’t live without’ commands like a recall, stop, and right and left mob sides – that is, when working close to stock going in either a clock or anti-clockwise direction around them.
Then I’ll cover other dog skills that I have found invaluable, like teaching a dog to calmly walk up to within an inch of an animal’s nose; this gives dogs the confidence to get close and not be afraid, as well as not rushing in and biting at every opportunity. Stock respect confident controlled dogs.
‘Careful’ is a command I use to go from a gallop to a trot, from trot to walk, to a very slow walk - saving the stop command for stopping only. Most people over-use a dog’s stop and use it to slow a dog down, then when they want the dog to actually stop still, what do they say or do? Scream the command several times usually. So use a stop command for stopping only, and a careful command to slow down.
Have you wondered how to teach your dog ‘running sides’ – that is, kicking further out to the right or left when he is running in a direct line to stock that are some distance away, or used when you want to redirect him from the stock he is on, to others further away.
I’ll show you how I teach a dog to ‘run’ a fence-line - this is really handy in both small and large paddocks and especially for blind corners where stock may get left behind. Running a fence is invaluable for teaching a dog ‘distance’ (I know many of you have trouble with this) it is also a confidence booster for teaching a dog to run ‘blind’ when he can’t see any stock.
I’ll show you how to teach both your Huntaway’s and Heading dogs to have natural balance on stock, how to get them to head stock and bring them to you, how to get them to hunt stock away from you, how to drive stock – both of you working as a team guiding animals anywhere.
We will discuss why dogs do certain things – often unwanted - yet won’t do something we expect or require … virtually all problems can be solved and fixed if caught early and dealt with appropriately. So many young dogs start out as idiots and with the correct guidance and training can turn into valuable mainstays – but ‘you’ need to know what you are doing, if you don’t know, how can you possibly train a dog?
And yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks ...
You may decide to follow my method to the T, you may only use parts of it, but if you come, I guarantee you will go away exhausted, happy, inspired and with a few new dog training tricks, as well as a greater understanding of your dogs.