Ride Like It’s Trained
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. Also I should add; liking, commenting and sharing this post helps me out A LOT. So if you enjoy our stuff, don't be afraid to let us know. If you ever feel like chatting about dogs, messages and calls are free. 403 880 2287.
I'm not a horse man. That's not to say I'm against horses, I just never grew up around them. My grandpa on the other hand, he was a horseman. I never met him but he had a few pieces of wisdom that also apply to dogs. He used to say "sometimes you have to ride a horse like it's trained". Which happens to be excellent advice for dogs. Anyone who has been doing this for any amount of time will tell you that they have been stuck with a dog. Especially when they were new. I know this to be even more true when I see new people stop progressing and get frustrated. I'm my experience, the dog was still progressing but the handlers stopped doing so. I have wrote about this but people will get so caught up on being perfect. They will stop on a particular leg in their training and hammer it until they feel they have gotten it perfect. Yet perfection is impossible so their progress becomes impossible. When they do finally break the cycle, it normally sounds something like this:
"I want you to try this."
"But he'll split the sheep have a wreck!"
"That's what young dogs do, do it anyway. Oh and don't correct him hard when does screw it up."
Followed by the particular action and the coinciding mistakes. But when they do it again, the dog gets better. Then the dog starts to feel more comfortable and understand. After that, you can train them again. Now I've seen it enough times that I know it works. I'll even add to it (but also add a caviat to the rule). Dogs hate being treated like little kids. If you train on them like that, you become the parent that lectures the same thing over and over. You sound repetitive and silly. What you don't sound like, is someone who will be respected and listened to. They get bored and their love starts to go away, they start ignoring you and acting out. They stop trying to be better and stop trying to be good. You have to always be pushing them to the next level and accept that dogs learn the hard way and they need to make mistakes in order to learn. They are hard to keep engaged and progressing if you don't give them the freedom to do so. What is interesting is when you do treat them like they are trained, they almost train more quickly to meet your opinion of them. Now there is a caviat. You can't put them in a situation that is at step 7 when you are at step one. You have to challenge them but it has to be fair and it very much has to keep them from getting into some kind of wreck where they get hurt or they hurt the livestock. You have to be smart. The best way is to act like they've mastered step three while you're still on step two. (Using steps as an analogy, I don't have any steps but the point is that you push them without throwing them into the deep end too soon). In dogs you are often the maker of your own destiny. If you believe that you can't do that, you're right. If you believe you can do that, you MAY be wrong but you can often find yourself right. You won't know until you ride them like they're trained and you won't get to that next level until you do that as well.