What Is Pace?
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There are several nuances of stock dog handling that are tricky to explain. Pace seems to be one of them. I've been asked before to explain it and I flounder more often than not. I normally say it's when your dog walks onto its stock steadily. Which is normally followed by someone pointing at a dog that's working and saying "so that dog has nice pace?" And I as often as not say no. Leaving the person obviously confused and irritated. To me, pace is closely linked with holding lines. For me, I like to see a dog move the stock in a straight line when I ask and that's impossible if they're moving too slow and especially impossible if they're moving to fast. I like to spend a lot of time with my dogs insisting that it holds the stock on the line that I pointed them. Pace is a vital aspect to that task. However, there's another part to pace. Flanks also require correct pace depending on the situation. A outrun should be at full speed where as a little flank to move the stock back over on line should be largely slower. Now there are many ways to train pace and you should try most of them until you find what works for you. As for myself, I don't have any kind of specific method that I use but I do have a philosophy. Whenever I work stock, it always comes back to how I want my stock handled. I've said this before, I have no interest in training behaviours in my dogs for the sake of the behaviour. I always teach my dog how to be good stockmen and then leave them room enough to do so. Normally that means building correct pace along the way. And the bonus to making the dogs focus on stockmanship, is that they start to do things without having to be asked. I don't like micromanaging dogs while they're working; which certainly includes proper pace. But if they understand stock handling correctly then pace will start to be inherent. So teach stockmanship first, good stockmanship is having good pace and having good pace is having good stockmanship. Never have patience for a trained dog being a bad stockman.