Welcome to week 3 of The Started Dog with Scott Glen – The No Stop Zone!

Here’s how the class works:

Each session in the class is presented in a 7 day presentation that you will experience in this format:

  • Monday: Watch the video instruction for the week.
  • Monday thru Wednesday (Noon PST): Submit your questions for Scott Glen by emailing them to questions@sheepdogtrainingcourses.com. Please keep your questions to the dog(s) and training method as it applies to the dog(s) in the segment. In order to allow Scott enough time to develop his answers while traveling to trials and clinics, please submit questions by Wednesday, Noon PST.
  • Thursday afternoon: Answers to submitted questions will be available to listen to. Question and Answer sessions will also be available in writing to make finding specific answers easy.
  • Friday: Check back here for final thoughts from the week and the homework assignment developed by Scott Glen.
  • Saturday/Sunday: Review what has been present in this week’s class.

This page will contain all of the information as it becomes available throughout the week. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at questions@sheepdogtrainingcourses.com.

This Week’s Video

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Questions & Answers

Click the play button below to listen to the MP3 version of the Q&A. It may take a few seconds before it buffers enough to play.

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The Started Dog: No Stop Zone Question and Answer session transcribed

Q – Why would stopping the dog inside the no stop zone lead to a dog spinning and looking back? Is the object to over emphasize the inside flank maneuver, or something else?
A – The objective is so you can use the name to help on an off balance flank toward you. Instead of finishing an outrun, say if you could stop them at 8 o’clock, the easiest flank to be, everything being equal, will be a left hand flank; the shortest route to 12 o’clock.  So an off balance flank, just to help it take that off balance flank by saying her name a little bit. And if we stop them directly in front of us, no doubt it is driving and it is good driving but on this we are trying to help with the flanks.  We can’t help her if she is right directly in front of me, until she knows her flanks a little bit better.  And she (Tic) is just about there.  But for the sake of the video, we are trying to make it easy to help that dog understand what to do; which way to go.   {L: for some dogs that are not as keen as Tic, when you speak to them they do have a tendency to look at you, right?}  Certainly and with any training you want to evaluate your dog.  If your dog is not that keen on looking at the sheep or it is too easy to come off of the sheep on the fetch, then certainly we don’t want to be calling them and persuading them to look at us even more.  Until they know that the answer is their sheep and that they don’t come off their sheep to easy.  They have to know that they are not being told to not work the sheep. Instead they are being told how to, in this case, go around the sheep.

Q – Why was Scott using “time” (if that was the word he was using) in the last 60 to 120 seconds of Tick’s workout?
A – I wasn’t using “time” I was just giving her a correction.  {L- what was the correction for?} She took the wrong flank. I’m trying to go where she has to use her own head a little bit more to pay attention to the word, the name of the flank instead of just her name to come towards me and then put the flank on it.  I was just trying to get her to use her head more on what direction means which instead of: if they don’t hear the name go around that way, and when they hear the name they come towards me.

Q – When doing the inside flanks in either direction repeatedly,  does this ever set up a pattern in a dog that would encourage excessive wearing?
A – If you let them go too far, certainly.  Ironically, a dog that just likes to flank, I won’t flank very much.  I will try to get it directly onto its sheep first.  Also if it follows behind its sheep on the fetch or if you decide to drive with an actual long line so they can’t just flip around or scatter the sheep or run in and make a mess of things.  Give the direct approach to the sheep first and then work on the flanks. That is what I do anyway.  I certainly want to know that they can come out of the flank as much as take that flank and so first of all they don’t get to just flank back and forth.  That is a very good question.  Directness first and then teach them a flank that is not wear, that is taking a flank.  If it is slashed or a sliced flank all the time, then of course they get excited by just taking the flank instead of flanking well, so the sheep don’t get them excited while they take the flank. Directness first, then whether it be on the fetch, whether it be with a line behind the sheep driving straight away without worrying about the flank so they know they can drive straight away.  Some dogs, if you do it too quickly or if they are excitable or maybe we pushed things too hard, if they are straight in front of us they might just bust loose and scatter the sheep. That is certainly not a habit we want to encourage.  It is going to happen once in a while, especially with some dogs but I don’t like to encourage it anyway.  It is easier to teach them good habits than try to break the bad habits.

Q – Scott uses minimal training aids (such as flags, sticks) Is that the case for all dogs, or do some benefit from using training aids?
A – I will certainly use training aids to get them to move off of their sheep.  It is not the case with all dogs, with Tic I probably used a training aide quite a bit at first, but I am trying to get her to not look but listen.  The use of a flag is certainly a visual thing, or a rolled up sack or a stick, but there I am trying to get her to listen instead of look and she is taking a pretty good flank so I don’t have to force her out or anything.  She is not trying to slash the flank as a whole, so I’m just trying to get her to do it without a visual.  {L -If you do use visuals, don’t you usually use that with the younger dogs and as they mature you try to get away from those as quick as you can?}  Well, I try to get away from them, I usually do carry a stick, but you certainly want to make sure that you are not relying on it. There is quite often I give somebody a lesson and ask them how good their dog knows their flank?  And as soon as I ask them to hold their stick still, the dog doesn’t really know what to do.  I mean it won’t be far off from it because repetition on their sides, but they need to get weaned off showing them and giving the flank.  No different than me saying their name and giving their flank on an inside flank, they have to get weaned off of that eventually.

Q – I think I understand the no stop zone as an area where the dog might look at you if you used the dog’s name.  But when do you decide to put in the stop and direction change? Is this arbitrary as long as the dog is not in the no stop zone?
A – Yes, it is.  Again, it depends; I want that dog to know that the answer is onto those sheep.  The sheep are the steel and the dog knows being the magnet.  I want them knowing that when I stop that dog, that it comes back onto the sheep and so then if I want to give the inside flanks and her name or an outside flank, it depends on what I feel like doing at the time.   {L- in the video you also looked at the sheep} When the dog is feeling the pressure from those sheep I don’t want that dog to get in a habit of just flanking around either; flanking off of the pressure.  So that is the problem with that arena; it is nice and controlled but there is no room to just get going.  You will run into a fence fairly quickly.  We want that dog to be direct as possible as the dog will do it; if it is not direct, I certainly want to get it as direct as that dog can get at the time.  I don’t want to talk it out of being direct by making sure it flanks when the sheep are up against the fence.  Or more accurately, when that dog is holding the sheep against the fence far away.

Q – I am a little confused on why you can’t help her when she is in a position that is not an inside or off- balanced flank. Is it mainly so she doesn’t look back at you or are there other reasons as well?
A – No that is the only reason at that time: so she doesn’t look back at me.  If she is right straight in front of me, I want her to be able to do that fairly quickly, certainly. But right now, I can’t help her if she is right directly in front of me.  Unless the dog knows it side pretty well, or certainly the shape, if they know the shape and take the wrong flank you can maybe give it a stop and give it again to get the proper flank (the right direction) but I don’t want to confuse them too much there.  Like I said, the last thing I want is them to get in the habit of taking a wrong flank and hurting her confidence. And I certainly don’t want them, with me being behind, to say the heck with it and run right through the sheep and bringing them back.

Q – Also, how do you know when to progress and shrink the no stop zone? is this mainly when she is no longer looking back at you?
A – Right, well I don’t really want them looking back at me at all.  Even out of that no stop zone, I’ve explained the no stop zone as just a term I used for that area. But I don’t want to encourage her to have to look back at me.  So if she is out of that no stop zone I can always walk sideways and help her move the sheep a little bit.  That triangle we talked about before in the last lesson, I can help her move them, help her with an outside flank making sure it is good shaped, or I can get an off balance flank by saying her name.  But I will know to shrink that no stop zone when she is knowing her sides pretty well.  If she takes the wrong one, I can stop her and then she will take the right one, and that she is a lot more confident just walking into her sheep.  That is another real good question, some dogs are going to be looser, easier to get flanks.  Some to the point that all they want to do is flank. I guess ironically when all a dog wants to do is flank, then I better not let them flank too much until they get that directness.  Or try to limit is as much as possible.

Q – What’s the best way to work a walk up if a dog tends to drift to one side or another and then wants break to the head, how do you keep them going straight?
A – I just put them on a long line or up against a fence or maybe do both.  Sheep that aren’t too darn heavy.  If you get them too light they are going to panic and try to get to the head because they think they are going to get away or maybe just run through them.  If they are too heavy, it will be too difficult.  But if you put a line on them so they just can’t flank. All they have left is walking up. 

Q – At approx. 5:03 and again at 9:09 you ask for a Lie Down at roughly 6 o’clock in the no stop zone, what was the reason for this?
A – Well at 9:09 actually, the sheep made it.  I stopped her pretty close to the edge of the no stop zone and then the sheep moved and drifted over to make it look like it was the no stop zone.  It turned into it was, but I do believe it was about by 5 o’clock for sake of argument.  It was close to the no stop zone for sure, then the sheep moved so Tic was directly in between me and her.  And the same with 5:03, I stopped her there just so the sheep would not curl around back behind me.  The sheep were fairly close to me, if I wouldn’t have stopped her there, the sheep would have curled around me: if it would have happened it would have happened.  I could have flanked her to get her going again, but trying to make sure those sheep could not come back, especially dog broke sheep. You have to go with what is presented to you at the time. {L: if you are really worried about the no stop zone, you can move and change it, right?} Exactly, and I mean its not that it is absolutely a cardinal sin to stop a dog in the no stop zone, not at all.  If they are spinning around looking at you, that is a little bit different.  But as long as they are confident on their sheep, if you do stop them there, you can’t help them with their flank.  That is all.  If they are confident no their sheep and you have been working a little bit on driving and they know how to fetch them fairly directly as well, (direct on the sheep without flopping around) walk them up and get those sheep to move a little bit and get yourself a little bit more room between you and her and her and the sheep.  ( I use “her” because it was a girl that I was using that day).

Q – In this lesson, you happen to be working in a smaller area, which would be preferred for these exercises? An arena like you use here or an open field?
A – I like an open field, actually, but not until I have got some control. I don’t want the dog taking advantage of an open field by just making a mess; or the sheep as well.  If the sheep see an open field, sometimes if there is a pull, they know they can just bolt and go, and you are asking for problems.  In other words, desperate sheep = desperate dog.

Q – Several times you mention flanking her in the direction she wanted to go which I understand.  If you had a dog that didn’t want to go to the heads because it doesn’t like the pressure, would you actually choose that direction and have her walk in to help her gain confidence?
A – Yes, if she will do it.  But to flank them towards the heads, as long as they will stop at the heads or walk in at the heads, or hold that pressure and not just run by it.  I don’t want them just running by the heads either.  If that is the case, they have to be a little more confident and that might be just holding the sheep against the fence or something, on the fetch so they know that they are not afraid of that pressure.  Some dogs are going to be but try to make it be less and less without the dog causing a phobia.  In other words, if they are a little bit worried, don’t prove that there is a reason to, so don’t have a sheep that is going to scare them.  If they are scared of the heads they might take a little bit of a blast in once in a while, which there are worse things than that as long as it does not get carried away; if it leads to a braver dog.

Q- You did this a couple of times, but if a dog had a problem with it, would you do it more consistently to put it in that position more frequently or is that something for another day when it is more used to the concept?
A – You can never go wrong by making sure the dog is more confident in what they are being asked.

Q – If you had a dog that always wants to turn a flank into a fetch,  would you stop the dog even in the “no stop zone” to kind of break that pattern?
A – Yes I would not have a problem with that at all.  But of course, if you can’t stop them before they get right to the heads, there is probably a bit of an issue there in other places as well.  There is certainly nothing wrong with stopping the dog in the no stop zone.  If they don’t know their flanks real well, but if a dog like that questions, if it wants to run and flank onto the fetch, we might not be talking about a no stop zone; we might be talking about a won’t stop zone! I mean I am stopping Tic a lot in this lesson simple because there was no room; room to just get out and go.  {L: if you were in a bigger field, it might have looked a little different, with less stops?}  Yes, I would have tried to stop her less unless she was going to try to flank around to the head or was falling in behind, I would have tried to steady her and walk behind them.

Q – Scott was not moving much unless it was to change the line between him and the sheep.  If you were in a larger field, would you walk behind or out to the side to support the dog as she is driving the sheep?
A – Probably I would have ended up doing both as I go.  I can’t speak for everybody else, there are lots of people that have awfully good driving dogs and awfully well trained dogs that I am sure don’t do it anywhere close to the same as I do, and have very good success with it.  But for me, when I am driving, I just lose all track of time when I am driving with a dog.  And worse yet, distance!  It was windy as heck the other day and I discovered I was 500 yards down wind, I had to walk all that way back into the wind!!  It will be a little bit of both; where ever it goes.  If they flank off a little bit, if I do have them driving straight in front of me, and they flank off, I’ll try to give them a “time” or “there” walk up, or maybe a stop to take a flank.  All of the sudden we are driving a little bit diagonal.  I might try an inside flank and flank her around and drive the other direction a little bit.

Q – The no stop zone is supposed to help keep the dog from getting a habit of turning toward the handler when stopped, but the dog in the video as pretty locked onto the sheep.  Even when she went forward a ways and stopped, presumably because she did not really know how to proceed, she did not look back.  But what if your dog looks back (without you saying anything) when they get to a distance that they are not comfortable?
A – I would walk with them a little bit more. Just don’t get them into that “too far” until they know more, and they have more confidence.  {L- would you walk with them off a ways, or parallel like the triangle you were talking about last week?} Whatever is working, whatever is looking like it is gaining more confidence or they are gaining more confidence with; I don’t care.  {L- as they gain confidence, would you incrementally increase the distance?} Yes, and in that case, the dog is going to tell you, if you watch. The dog is going to tell you if they need a little bit of help or if this is too darn far.  Then if they are constantly looking back, I would probably be more apt to flank them around and bring the sheep back than call them off.  Or flank them around and cross drive from there…whatever you can do, but if they are already looking back, I probably would not be calling them off any more than I have to.  Knowing that sometimes you have no choice.  But I certainly don’t want a dog in the habit of “I don’t know what to do” and start heading back.

Thank you all for the fabulous questions for the No Stop Zone.


Week 3 Homework

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