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  • Writer's picturekier scott

Let Them Cover

This blog is brought to you by Diamond T Cowhorses and The Bullpen Arena. Check out their full range of products on their Facebook page. They've been long time supporters of Herding East and I personally recommend them. Thanks again to Tom and Micaela Thorlakson for their excellent friendship and support.


This particular post is a result of a poll I put out on Facebook so thank you to everyone who voted. The vote itself was kind of interesting because it's probably my favourite topic but not what I thought people would be most interested in. It's one of those not super sexy but vital things that come up in training. Now I'll preface this particular post before I get to much further. I'm not the best trainer, if I was then you'd hear my name next to awards a lot more often. That's not me being hard on myself, it's just true. I write these blogs using my knowledge and experience but it is by no means the only philosophies or methods out there and they certainly aren't the best. Yes I believe in what I do but I don't preach that it is the only way of doing it. Ok ass covering done. Something I avoid doing is lying my dog down at the top end. I instead spend a lot of time guiding my dog into lifting correctly without any kind of specific command. See, I always think lying the dog down says you think the dog is to stupid to find balance and lift on their own. Then the dog relies on your direction later and when they can't hear you, it gets screwed up. This translates directly into the fetch. Before non trailer's tune out here, the fetch is one of the most vital parts of training for a ranch dog. Whether pulling a feedlot pen or gathering a pasture, the dog has to know how to bring you stock effectively. And just how I train a lift, I train the fetch. I try to give them as few commands as possible. Normally I'll only limit myself to a steady or slow down type command. What I really want to do is make the dog as responsible for the stock as possible. Giving them responsibility is the quickest way to sort their head out. It is one of the absolute best ways to get them thinking and to build their trust. They feel the trust you're giving them and the freedom that you are allowing. Then you can build obedience based on trust (to my mind, the only way to have a dog listen effectively at a distance) since the dog is more likely to give what it's gets. It also sets you up for the maximum success regardless of the stock. Our timing is terrible at a distance and our ability to read the stock is even worse. You don't even have to take my word for it. You can go back and watch the live streams of Meeker or The Nationals or any other trials that used range ewes. What you'll see is that the runs who were able to make the fetch panels were the ones who whistled at their dog the least. They spent the time teaching their dog at home and then trusted them to do their job at the show. It's what new people don't realize. Obedience means nothing if they aren't stockman first. Always show them their job then put commands to the job itself. We have these dogs to be our right hand, not to be our slave. Teach them how to be useful and then trust them to do what you taught them. Let them cover.

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