Yesterday I worked Duke and Biz at DDs. She has better sheep for us. She has advice. My sheep are better suited for baiting coyotes. Or practicing your publicly decreed “GODDAMNIT”s. My own advice tends toward, “Let’s save our Goddamnits for the spring…”

Biz out of the box came with a nice wide outrun. It took very little from me to make her outrun longer and prettier. She likes to stay wide, often too wide; or she flies in and busts through the sheep. I’ve been lulled into a false sense of security because of her beautiful big outruns and that she is a fast learner…but now that I’m starting to try and put a drive on her, it is obvious that like me, she has no flanks. That’s our challenge now – putting flanks on her and helping her learn that she can work at the proper distance and be comfortable. I should say that, in my office at work, I am exactly the same way. I send email. I approach a meeting like Biz approaches her sheep. I don’t like subtle adjustments. I wish Biz and I shared an office. I’d make her go to all the meetings…

Duke – you can’t hurt his feelings, which is nice, BUT he also DOES CARE about what you think of him. So, he takes corrections, but he doesn’t lose heart. I love this. I have never had this (in a sane dog). Every time I work him he is better. He is so young, I figure it’s only a matter of some confidence and additional time before he is harder for me to train. I started out deeply afraid of him. I like sensitive dogs because I don’t tend to have much of a bubble and would prefer not to spend my training time ramping up corrections, or crying, or both, usually. Duke, not being an especially sensitive dog, worried me. Initially, though Lavon was able to get him to flank both sides, because of his timing and bubble – he was naturally mostly just a sheep chasing machine. It required timing to even insert oneself into his very rapid sphere of influence. As I’ve said, timing for me is more geologic.

Duke is not sensitive, but he does like approval. There is a moment at the end of his training, when you have to break his eye contact with the sheep and say, “DUKE! That’ll do!” …he doesn’t want to let go, but he does. And he is a good boy. He knows it. I love that moment.

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