Last Saturday working Chesney was a major break through. For the first time working this little dog of mine, I saw him with stock sense. Stock sense in the way that if found the flight bubble of the sheep. Amazing to see after so long of having to tell him where it is. Until I saw that he could find it, I just assumed helping him was the way it was going to be.
We started off the say with moving the big group with a few new lambs around. His pace was very nice, although he hadn't found the bubble just yet. The main thing I noticed right off the bat was when I asked him to walk on, he walked! No popping up, no power walk, just a nice easy paced walk. I also noticed that for the first time he wasn't over worried about keeping a very close eye on the lambs! Usually he gets locked in on them and ends up following them right up the side of the group. I didn't have to remind him to leave them be. (He is very gentle and doesn't harass them, he's just fascinated by them.)
On to watch some other dogs work for a little. When they were finished penning man Chesney put the group away and took out a second group, which was another thing to be noted. He was super sensible going in to a tight area that most wouldn't send a dog in to get sheep out. In and around he went, out came the sheep! Our man goal at this point, since Chesney was showing lots of good promises today, was to see if I could get him to stop walking without me saying something to him while he was fetch, if I stopped. This is tough for him since he was never really taught from the get go that it was ok to stop moving if he was balanced to me and the sheep weren't going anywhere. So I pulled the group out, just walking about the arena with Chesney balancing the group to me, and at first I slowed way down, correcting him if he got too close to push the sheep past me and corrected him if he started flanking. About five minutes of trying this to no avail I opted to backing to a fence as an aid. This worked like a charm! I think since he realized they weren't going to get away in front of me he was comfortable enough to think about his actions. He stopped! As soon as I got a second or two of a stand walking we went. I tried this for about five more minutes with it being very successful and using less and less corrections.
On to moving sheep around for students after Chesney's little lesson. We had to sort the ram out of the group and move him to the rest of the flock that wasn't being used. Chesney worked him beautifully, putting enough pressure on him to move, casting off when he tried to break away, downing when asked, standing when asked. Truly an amazing thing to watch! We working him as a single back to the flock and put everyone back up out of the way. This was another good working session to add to the list of so many other things that were going well.
Back to the arena again, this time with a flighty group of lambs. This would be a good test of what Chesney gathered from our first work earlier. It took him a few times of pushing them past and receiving a correction to get a feel for these guys. After about ten minutes of using the fence and slowing moving the distance from the fence where I stopped moving, I was able to stop in the middle of the arena with no fences helping and Chesney would stop on balance! Success!
That was our day, that's all I worked on with him, and as basic and little as it was, he made mile long strides! What a day!