- Make sure Craig understands that he's been successful sometimes. This is really important to him; he needs to know he's doing what I want, correctly, every now and then.
- Don't require that he must be 100% precise in every single thing he does. That's a lot of pressure for him (for me, too!). That's not to say I shouldn't expect him to listen to me when I give him a command, but I don't need to command his every move. For instance, he can fetch the sheep to me in a less than perfectly straight line at exactly the correct pace once in a while.
- Ask. Insist. Demand. In that order, every time. Try really hard not to make every command a correction. This is hard for me, as I tend to "punish the dog for past sins," in the words of Kathy Knox. Give him a chance to succeed before treating him as though he will fail. It would be best to get solid on whistles asap.
- Take breaks to do fun, easy, or freewheeling stuff (i.e., short little outruns, driving without a precise destination, just walking around). The more difficult the session (for whatever reason, either the tasks are complicated, or we've been out there a long time, or the sheep are particularly stroppy, or he's having to listen to two people at once ;-), the more little breaks he should get.
- Wouldn't kill me to crack a smile out there once in a while :-)))
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