The two things Don had to repeat to all of us yesterday seemed to be:
1) "When you tell your dog to lie down, you need to make him LIE DOWN. Your goal is to only say it once."
Not, apparently, six or seven times with different modulations and often different commands strung together, "LIE DOWNWHATAREYOUDOING?GETOUTOFTHATLIEDOWN…ETC ETC"
I thought the ETC ETC captured my thoughts perfectly and Pat is a smart enough dog to figure out that I'm just running out of wind.
2) "You have to turn the sheep's heads. That is the key to everything."
Intellectually I know that my time is better spent watching the sheep and not the dog. Flanking until the heads have turned, not just to where the dog appears to be in the right spot. This falls apart when things are moving; and it really caves in when I'm being watched. I'm better when I'm working alone because I have one less thing to think about. When anyone else is watching, let alone several anyone elses, I'm very conscious of scrutiny, real or imagined. I go to that perfect Zen state of Nothingness. Where I get hungry and thirsty and feel sad for Darfur, maybe…but the dog? Huh? Oh, yeah, he is still moving…and too close! I need to get past that as much as I need to get timing.
Pat is sensitive and he knows what he is doing. If I can watch him more and get a good down on him, I'll learn from it and we'll work much better together. He doesn't need too much more from me, really. Don had me watch him bring the sheep to me on a fetch without saying a word. Pat adjusted his distance perfectly by watching the sheep and feeling the draw. He moved them in a relatively straight line with no input from me.
Not the first time a trainer has suggested I shut up more.
Today I will use my whistle and see if Don is not too big a man to cry.