Increasing the sheepdog pup’s early experience
|Overview: Once our pup is broken in to stay on the far side of the sheep (as explained in “Starting the pup on sheep (Part 1 & 2)”), we can begin to widen the pup’s experience.
We can do this by allowing the pup to bring sheep along behind us, or to hold them to us, out in larger paddocks, or with larger numbers of sheep. We can vary these conditions, perhaps by using more flighty sheep, or walking through timbered or rocky areas, or having the dog bring the sheep behind us across a river bed or eroded gully. With a pup with good natural ability we can do this fairly safely.
However, if your pup lacks this type of natural ability, and is likely to split the sheep or make any other common mistakes (as many pups will), then getting out in larger areas too early can allow the pup to quickly develop bad habits. If you have a pup of that type, then you would be wise to leave gaining experience until the pup is much further along in its training. Even with a good quality pup, it is a good idea to stay fairly close to the sheep and the pup, so as to prevent anything going astray.
In these two short videos, I take Rust and Annie (the two pups shown in the video “Introducing the directional commands”) and give them some experience outside the training yard. Here they get to work a few more sheep, and sheep that are more runny and flighty. In these training sessions, Rust and Annie have been started as demonstrated in “Starting the pup on sheep”, and have had a basic “Introduction to the directional commands”, but have had no more training than that. At this stage they have they not been taught to “sit down”.
You might also notice that they tend to work a bit wider off their sheep in this situation, than they did in the training yard with quiet training sheep (in “Introducing the directional commands”). This is due to their reading of the more timid sheep and the bigger area.