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JaderBug12285 karma

A correction is anything that conveys the dog is wrong- a lot of the time it's a "hey!" or an "aaght!" noise, blocking their access to sheep, something that stops them and makes them think "oh this isn't right." The key is to make the wrong thing difficult, and the right thing easy. I basically tell them, "no, that's not right. Find a different answer." It's an approach my mentor has been having me use and I am amazed at the difference it makes. You want to make your corrections as soft as possible, but as firm as necessary.

I've seen people try to do "positive only" stock dog training and I think it gives you really false results, the dogs are never really engaged like they should be. The stock should be the reward- the dog should want to work stock more than receiving praise or treats or clicks or anything. My dogs won't even accept pets from me if they're wanting to work, they just want access to the sheep.

JaderBug12257 karma

Away from stock, I don't do much other than teach them respect, teach them manners, and teach them how to handle pressure/corrections because those are really important once sheep training starts. I used to do quite a bit of obedience training with my older dogs before I had sheep at home, my youngest dogs just kind of learn things as we go.

Stock training doesn't start until they are both physically and mentally mature enough to handle training- they have to be physically able to outrun a sheep and mentally mature enough to deal with the pressure put on them for training. Typically they start some training somewhere around 9-12 months old. The first thing we work on is finding balance, which means the dog finding the point on the sheep's "bubble" to where the sheep will come back to the handler and not go right or left. This short clip shows my young dog Polly going on a short outrun (going out around to get the sheep), finding balance (which is where she stops flanking around and walks in) and bringing them back to me.

JaderBug12187 karma

As long as their mental and physical needs are being met (emphasis on the mental), I have absolutely no problem with Border Collies being kept as pets. They need a job but they do not need to be herding dogs- that job can be dog sports, hiking, running, brain games, etc. My first BC as an adult lived with me in an apartment in town. But you have to understand what it takes to maintain a high drive dog.

JaderBug12144 karma

Could you train a random shelter mutt (pitbull + chow + lab for example) to do the same job with similar results?

Absolutely not. You might luck out occasionally but generally it's going to be 100x harder, take more time and effort with less satisfactory results than it will be to start with a talented, purpose-bred dog. You're absolutely right with your sentiments about responsible, purpose breeding. I've had this argument countless times with people who think you can achieve the same things with a shelter/rescue dog of unknown background.

I am absolutely not detracting from shelter or rescue dogs, every dog deserves to be loved. But your odds of finding the talent I work with in a shelter are next to zero.

JaderBug12134 karma

Depends on the behavior. If it's willful disobedience, and they absolutely know what was asked, they're in big trouble with me. If a dog blows off my recall, I will run their ass down and bring them back by the collar. Usually doesn't take much of that before they learn they can't blow off a recall. I do my best to be fair with corrections, being fair is the only way corrections work. Chasing cars however is one thing though where any means justifies the ends to stop the behavior is fine with me, it's too dangerous to mess with. I haven't had a dog that chases cars before thankfully but I have suggested using a long line to jerk them back when they take off after a car.

I don't have any experience with vibrating collars but I have seen the aftermath of using e-collars on working Border Collies many times. IMO e-collars are lazy training for these dogs, they can be great tools for many breeds like gun dogs but they're just bad for herding breeds. They're just too sensitive and almost no one has timing good enough to use on stock training. The dogs don't understand why they're being zapped, often the right moment is a nanosecond and if you're wrong it's completely counterproductive. It really hits their confidence too.

I'm not sure I know the Carmichaels, whereabouts are they?