Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I had a long talk with Elaine last night, and it seems there was a bit of a misunderstanding about what she meant. She doesn't think I am ruining Craig—hooray! That's a huge relief! But she did have some sage advice for me. This is mostly for Craig, but it's helpful for Taz, too. These are important things to remember as I struggle to develop into the handler I want to be.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Wouldn't kill me to crack a smile out there once in a while :-)))
Taz and Craig are waiting for me to get my act together!