I’ve been struggling in my mind about how to slow down my dog. A common complaint with young dogs regardless of breed who have inexperienced handlers. The dog moves so fast that a handler that cannot anticipate the dogs moves ends up doing more harm than good when calling out commands late. It seems that experience with stock helps the dog become more comfortable and in that comfort comes the slower more fluid movements.
For Molly, I have started doing walk-about style fetch drills and after about 10 minutes she really started to slow down. Not completely out of exhaustion, but with every new little fetch she was finding balance more consistently. It seemed that after a few random Downs and allowing her to find balance instead of circling she really started to slow down, and work smarter not harder. Chris was ecstatic with her progress!
In our practice sessions there was another dog working in the next field. My first instinct was to not set her up to fail and wait until the field next to us was empty. However the draw from the other sheep was also making the practice session more challenging. I decided to work through it and test how well i could help my dog. When she started to pitch out wider to pick up the sheep in the other field, i tested my Leave It & flank commands to help redirect her back to the sheep i wanted her to keep to. She did great! Though the first time she went to gather the other sheep she bounced off the fence before i realized what was going on. Yet another “nice dog, pity about the handler” moments, but i didn’t make the same mistake twice!
The next evening we had a few friends and their dogs out to visit. Though Molly was a little tired and sore, she and Simon were great hosts to the new dogs. While we people sat and drank and laughed Molly and Si kept the new dogs running in zoomie fashion through the yard and around the house. After the zoomies were over Simon and new girl-friend CeCe quietly played SlapPaw on the deck until Molly had just about enough of the new girl playing with her dog and broke up their fun.