This weekend I audited Patrick Shannahan's clinic, which was great, of course. Some things in short that I've taken out of this,
"Your dog is appeasing, not pleasing you…"
It seems like many of us tend to accept any slight improvement in our dog as being good, because it's better, instead of expecting and demanding that our dog do his/her best.
In trying to communicate and work together as a team, like most relationships, many subtle factors contribute to what is actually communicated, plus, we and our dog are each trying to spin the communication to our own advantage. . The command, our physical position, and the tone in which we issue the command are all part of the message.
An example Patrick gave was that he once saw a handler friend of his issue a command, a soft ''Way' to flank his dog, as it sounds, just a small flank easy on the away side. His dog ignored it and the handler issued the command again. Ignored. The third time the handler raised his voice and said "AWAY!" harder and faster and the dog took it, because that is the command the dog wanted.
In this case the dog was never issued a correction, just the repetition increasingly louder and faster, and so he just waited for the communication that he wanted to hear. AWAY!
Susan summed it up at one point by saying, "We all underestimate our dog's intelligence, except Patrick…."
These subtle truths fascinate me. It's what I like best about the whole stockdog thing. I often wish I could just buy a spray though. Two scents: Come Bye and Away. Plus an outrun fogger. Maybe the sheep could wear those little car rearview mirror air freshener trees in LIE DOWN. I think LIE DOWN would smell like lavender…but I'll bet I'm wrong. I'll bet its cow shit or dead elk.