Welcome to week 4 of The Started Dog with Scott Glen – Lifting Off People!

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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Lifting Off People written transcription from audio Question and Answer session with Scott Glen:

Q – This is a general question that I noticed in the first session, and was even more evident in the No Stop Zone session and the final class when the dog is farther away from the handler.  His young dogs are working so calmly, even on an exercise where they were being flanked back and forth, and it could have increased their tension. Any tips on how to start a young dog off calmly when beginning a new exercise?
A – Don’t go so far away that you have to be loud or you can’t get what you want.  Of course to be able to get what you want, they have to know what you want, which might sound too Zen.  If they don’t know what you are after, they are going to try extra hard to please you do something.  And the more adamantly you try to get what they are not sure what you want, the harder they are going to try. Envision yourself at a job where you are not exactly sure what the boss is wanting.  If they start putting pressure on you, getting louder, and you are not quite sure; that is going to create the nervousness where not many good things happen.

Q – Since none of the dogs in the lesson seemed to have too much trouble taking off a person, was laying the dog down and letting the sheep drift off the answer?
A – If you can’t stop them out there, you can’t help them.  If they are a little bit worried about somebody up there, you want to lay them there, or stop there and realize it is not the boogie man out there, or in that case the boogie woman.  {L: so you weren’t laying the dog down to have the sheep drift, you were laying the dog down to have it think?} Exactly, if the sheep drift, so be it, it does not matter to me if they drift.  At this point, right at the first, just getting them to pick off right at the first, I want them to know that person is not to be worried about.  Now if they are already not paying attention to them, certainly I am not going to worry about stopping them other than to keep some control so they can’t make a mess of it just from the distance or different situation.

Q –  If you had a dog that wanted to take the sheep to the set out person, how would you handle it?
A – Again, if you can’t stop them, you can’t help them do it right.  And if they are wanting to take them to the set out person, reduce the distance.  If you can’t help them bring them off a person when you are closer, they probably just aren’t trained enough or you possibly have sheep that just are so wanting to stick with whoever is closest that it is too difficult for that dog at that time. So different sheep or more training or maybe both.

Q –  In this video, it seemed your dogs didn’t even notice the other dog out there, other than the last one. Have you ever had a case where your dog was more worried about the other dog (as in that dog might get my sheep) rather than the person out there and they get a little too excited? Would you do anything different if that’s the case or handle it the same?
A – Pretty much the same but I might just let them trail a line a little bit to get that little bit of wait so we have a little bit more control.  Not send them as far and use a leash or long line just so when that other person is working those sheep to take them away to set them again just so I don’t have to raise my voice and they just can’t get away; they sit there and watch.  {L: when the set out person’s dog comes to get the sheep to reset them, then it is taking the sheep away so we need to work through that as well?}  Yes, exactly, and if that is the case what you want to find out, is it the dog taking them away or is it just the sheep going away?  And if it is the case of the dog taking them then it is just a little more experience.  If it is the case that those sheep are getting away, and they are just going no matter what to head them, then it’s a case of them just not being trained enough.

Q –   With Wynn, Scott decided to tune up the stop and tight flanks after the first outrun. When/How do you decide to tune up something that didn’t go well when you’re working on something else (for instance, Scott didn’t decide to do that with Tic)?
A – I assume they are talking about the top of that outrun, because Tic stopped every time that I asked her.  I gave her a bit of shout of a lie down when she was so dreadfully tight, on the one (I think it was her second outrun).  I just wanted to see if that would, with some experience, if she would go a little it deeper. She went deep fine anyway, she was stopping exactly when she was asked pretty much.  There were some steady whistles in there too, just to get that sorted out first. She did stop when she was told. Some of those were steady whistles just to keep her lined out behind those sheep.  And as far as tight flanks, Wynn, he was just being silly, tight and wanting to over run; just a little bit nervous about the person up there.  I just opened him up a little bit just so he would have a little bit more room to get to the top rather than just try to slash them away from the person, to get to the top to help him come on a little bit more directly instead of just over doing it, slashing by the sheep to get away form the person.  Get him a little bit deeper so I could either stop him at the top to see when he was deeper, or more room when he was deep, to come on and actually you could decide not to stop him. But just more perspective so he could see, you, the other dog, the sheep, the handler. {L: In comparison, Wynn was sort of being silly and not doing anything you asked, he wasn’t stopping, he was over-flanking, he was not really thinking; where Tic was trying?}  Exactly, Tick I thought when she slashed it, it was just a case of might have to open her up there on that top but she wasn’t just trying to avoid that person.  I think she thought about saying hi the first time but never did it again.

Q –  If you’re working on tuning the stop and get tight flanks (or vice versa), what’s the most efficient order to use to tune up?
A -If you can’t stop them, you can’t help the with their flanks.  It will depend a little bit about the dog too.  Is it a dog that is sticky?  A dog that is sticky, a little bit of tight flanks is not the worst thing in the world for a while, and certainly a dog that is sticky, stopping is not what you want to be doing all the time. Sticky and cautious are two separate things but if they like to stop too much, then probably you don’t want to rely on it too terrible much.  And tight flanks are tight flanks.  That is a question answered dog by dog, we just talked about that with Wynn and Tic.  The question is; are they doing it to just be stupid or are they doing it just because they don’t know any better?  Tic was just being tight, where Wynn was being tight and trying to run past where he ought to be.

Q –  At about 15:05, Scott sent Wynn on the outrun with two flank commands at the start. Why?
A – Good question!  I didn’t have to, I didn’t do it again.  It tightened him up a little bit; he glanced up at me a little bit. He was going off at a good speed, generally if I did it, it would be because they weren’t quiet sure but actually, she’s got me there! But it is like anything, if it is not working for you, quit doing it. If what you are doing isn’t working, quit doing it. 

Q – I noticed the set out person is wearing sunglasses, do you care if the set out person makes eye contact with your dog as it comes around to lift the sheep??
A – That is actually a real good question.  That was not the reason she was wearing sunglasses, it was just sunny.  But I certainly don’t want the set out person just staring at my dog.  Obviously I don’t expect them to keep their eyes shut and just turn their back to them all the time. But I don’t want them just staring at the dog either, just do their job just like it was any other day and let the handler at the post worry about staring at their dog. I thought that was a good question. The sunglasses had nothing to do with it, it was just sunny but I don’t want somebody just staring at my dog.

Q – Do you care if the set out person talks to the handler’s dog as it comes around to lift the sheep?  Especially if the sheep are heavy or challenging to the dog, should the set out person give encouragement or praise?
A- I don’t mind, once they get the sheep off of them. But to talk them right at the first, I mean extreme cases; it might help settle them down. But if they are worried that the sheep are too hard coming off that person, I just as soon them not to say it trying to encourage that dog to come to them even more.  Now once the dog has them on the fetch, and worried about a person behind them, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to talk to them a little bit gently there.  Don’t get too crazy about it, you don’t want that dog turning around and seeing who is talking to them.  But I had one dog in here, an extreme case, I had the set out person walk behind it quite a big distance and just talk nicely.  Not say their name, as I don’t want them spinning around.  Just so they realize there is nothing really to be afraid of {L: Did it work?} It did work but the dog always had a problem with the set out. It was just that temperament that really was a little bit, “Oh there’s a shiny thing”.  But then it is just a case of more experience, more experience. The more confident they are on the sheep and what they are being told, the less things worry them.

Q –  I noticed the set out person had their own dog to the far right, is this to hold the sheep that might want to run back to the handler??
A – When you say handler, I assume you mean “me”, no that is where the dog had to be to hold the sheep. But that is why we have a set out dog is to keep the sheep in a location where we want them.

Q – When you ask a person to set sheep for you, what do you ask of them before they go to hold the sheep?
A – I guess the first thing is if the person doesn’t have a dog trained enough to stay there, there is just no sense because you know it is going to be a problem.  Kind of reverse of that same question, as somebody said “worried about the dog when it picks up the sheep” is kind of the same, if you have a set out dog that will not let another dog take those sheep, then you are just asking for problems. So first of all, a dog that will stay there if there is a chance that somebody just can’t and you want them used to a dog, they can always have a leash on there.  They are not going to be, other than just an obstacle or something for our dog to see, but if they are not able to do the job, don’t take it out on either dog by trying to do something that is not going to happen. Be realistic.  And the other thing is, if they are setting and they are pretty sure their dog can do it, I just don’t want them screaming at their dog.  If you loose them, you loose them. If it is a mess, pick it up from there and see if it is worth trying again, or not.  You don’t want a set out person running after their dog, even if they are not screaming, if they are running and it looks like there is something to be afraid of up there or not.

Q – At what age should a dog be able to hold sheep for other folks wanting to practice lifting? What skills do dogs need to be able to perform this task?
A – The set out dog at a trial, I realize that has nothing to do with practice, but the set out dog should probably be one of the best trained dogs there; especially for open.  It might not necessarily be the best dog there but it has to be one of the best trained. It has to be knowing when to mind its own business and when not to, and to do as its told.  So it is certainly not a place for somebody bringing young dogs up just for some experience.  Set out should be an unselfish job; you are there to do a good job for each person that walks to that post.  Not to get your young dogs some experience, unless they can do the job already; that’s fine.  But it shouldn’t be a training exercise, it might be to make that dog even more aware and just better at what it does already because it is very able to do it.  Its not for training.  It is for each person that goes to the handler’s post.

Q – Scott had “Tic” drive the sheep to the set out person, I believe to increase her comfort level with the setup.  Would he have done this if Tic were not
that confident in driving yet?
A – No I would not have, because I would not have been able to get them up there.  I was struggling to get them out there as it was.  But I certainly might have walked with her a little bit more and to basically just put them up to the person, take them away from the person.  Taking them off with something short of an outrun.

Q – With “Wynn”, Scott seemed to put some pressure on him near the set out person on his second and subsequent attempts.  Is this a case of knowing the dog and what he can handle?  Would this have been the approach for a more sensitive dog?  In other words, for a more sensitive dog, would Scott have not asked for and then demanded the lie downs close to the set up person until the dog wasn’t displaying any signs of discomfort, such as looking back at the setout?
A – Sensitive or not, actually Wynn was pretty sensitive.  But I don’t want him to start thinking he could start thrashing around. Basically in a nut shell, he wasn’t stopping worth a darn and I don’t want: just because you are worried, you don’t have to be not stopping.  I just as soon not have to shout at him like I did, but he has to know that just because you are nervous doesn’t mean you just bore ahead.  Or basically I am nervous so I can ignore, because that will have far reaching effects and not just on the set out.  Stop, flank, walk up, steady; everything is to help our dog.  Like I said, I did not like having to shout that because he was a little nervous but I don’t want him to think just because he was a little bit worried he could do anything he wants.  If you are that sensitive is should be easy to have your lesson, not more so.  I probably pushed him a little bit too much, that was pretty early in his training and to be honest, we were showing a different dog that was just starting.  There is certainly not anything wrong with having that distance that we went or even more so.

Q – Does Scott go to the next step in training (i.e. one week video to the next) when the dog is doing the first step 95% consist or does he expect them to have it down pat before going to the next step.  It looks like in his videos that the dogs know what to do pretty well, I wondered how long it takes to go from the triangle step in week one to week three?
A – That is a good question but it will depend on how much your dog is excepting that training, how well does it know those sides, how well does it know to drive?  Some dogs will learn it as it was week to week, somewhat. Some it might not be the three weeks to get them doing it, it might be three months.  It depends a lot on how much you can put into it and how well the dog is accepting training.  Not all dogs accept training as well at different times.  Certainly anybody that has trained quite a few dogs at the same time will attest that one looks like it is really going great, and then all of the sudden the next one kind of over takes it and it just depends.  You can’t replace quality but you can’t replace the work either.

Q –He looks like he practices the inside flanks then allow them to fetch the sheep and kind of mixes up driving and fetching. I thought that would confuse the dog to do it all in once session?
A – That depends on the dog: if you get a dog that doesn’t like fetching, it might very well confuse them. But I would rather that than have the confusion of wondering, “why isn’t my dog bringing sheep?”  To further on that, that is a good questions because certainly we are trying to teach short flanks too, and driving and it knows that flank is just a drive. But to get a dog that just tours away; keeps going when they are young especially, its sure nice if they will do it.  Just as long as a person is consistent, that is a long flank, let them go all the way around and bring the sheep; that’s a short flank. That is probably best to discuss later if we continue on with the course.

Q –What should you do if the sheep won’t leave the set out person or turn and stomp at your dog?
A- Get different sheep.  Or just make sure it is not comfortable for the sheep, have a person with their dog right on a leash right with them so they might not be held that great but at least the sheep are not going to stay with that person.  That is the same with using grain, don’t put the bucket down. Put the bucket down so the sheep really want to stay there.  If the dog is too worried about the sheep, don’t keep them on the same type of sheep if they are getting worse.  If they are getting better, that is probably fair enough but don’t keep trying on the same situation ,whatever that may, be until that little worry turns into absolutely terrified. If they don’t get looking better they are getting worse.  Don’t be afraid to change it, if the sheep are wanting to stay right with you, they are not going to be very handy and of course they are probably not that handy by then, you will find that out by driving.

Q –What should you do if the sheep leave much sooner and faster than the sheep in the video?
A -That is what you have the set out dog for.  Have the dog hold them.  Use a little grain, I think we go over that in the homework.

Q –Scott explained that when the dog goes between the sheep and the setout person (close to the setout person), the sheep are likely to go sideways, etc.  How do you get a young dog to go around the setout person instead of trying to stay in front of them when working to get the sheep to move off?

A – All through the course we have said, “if it is six of one or half a dozen the other, I want that dog to go around me as I am training it.”  That is the same with the set out, if it is six of one or half a dozen the other, I want it to go around that person.  Until the dog gets real broke where they can make their own mind up, with the driving as well, not all around if the sheep say no, that they start knowing how to do it on sheep and I am not so much of a target.  Same with the set out person, if it is too much of a problem, there is some kind of a thing that the dog just refuses to not go around that person, just get that person to stay closer and send them around that way; gradually back it up. But you get really close to so you can push it out. {L: so you are putting the set out person closer to the sheep, so the distance between the set out person and the sheep is smaller, and you are also shortening your outrun?}  That is it exactly. I had a dog in for training that had been trained in an arena for several years and he had it in his head that you go around that person but it really did not matter how close after that. So you want to pay attention to after they go around that person, not just that it goes around the person and makes a beeline to the sheep. That was quite a difficult thing to fix.  It’s just like anything, to fix one bad thing; it is certainly easier to train several good things than to fix one bad thing that is let go.

Q-Do you ‘proof’ your dogs once they are more comfortable with someone who doesn’t hold as quietly as your set out person?
A – Well I think probably just experience, you don’t have to be quite as fussy but I really don’t want to have somebody make too much noise up there.  It will happen quick enough.  For example, teaching them to shed on impossible sheep to shed, I get that question a lot, how do you get better at it?  Just don’t practice on impossible to shed sheep.  Don’t let your dog know that there is a chance, in that case, fail and in this case be worried about the set out. But I suppose to answer that, you are going to proof them by sooner or later somebody is going to have to speak to their dog a little bit, just through experience they will be proofed. {L: I always think about the trial where here in the Pacific Northwest it rains a lot and you have somebody up there in a bright yellow rain jacket and huge hat and some of the dog wouldn’t lift off that. Would you go home and set up situations where the set out person looks different if you find your dog isn’t wanting to lift in those situations?}  Plant a stake or two in and put garbage bags over it, but certainly that is just part of experience isn’t it?  We see horses sometimes and the dog hasn’t seen a horse. Some will never even think about it and some will be terrified.  That is obviously just through experience, we can’t just think up every little instance but certainly, that’s part of us using our own heads too.  If this worries my dog, I’m going to go try that.  I guess in that instance yes you would be giving it as much experience as you can.

Q –  When the last dog didn’t stop on his first outrun did you choose to let it go rather than get on him too hard because of the set out person? Is it better to let the dog be a little naughty until they are confident or will you build bad behavior at the top?
A – No, I do not want to build bad behavior.  On his first outrun, he did not stop, that is why I said we are going to tune up the stop.  If you ask it, you better get it.  You don’t have to ask it, but like I have said, you don’t have to stop your dog at the top but you have to be able to stop your dog at the top. {L: and you got Wynn out after a little time off and he was stopping much better.} Yes, and I said, we will give him a half a day off and I said it was a half an hour when we came back…so the days are short around here.  {L: Is that Canadian time?} It’s metric.  He worked quite a bit better, obviously I could not give him the half a day simply because we wanted to show him again.  {L: I was really surprised after that short of time, that he came back and was so much better.  That is a good note to all of us training our own dogs, that sometimes putting them away and brining them back out, they learn} Not to tell stories but there were several times that you commented on that, that I said I would give the dog a break and I think you rolled your eyes and then realized how quick they did do better.  That is a case of knowing your dog as well.  If it doesn’t know it to start with, it is not going to get better by an half an hour break.

Note from Lora:  I want to thank first, Scott Glen for being willing to share a wealth of knowledge with all of us.  From the training sessions to the answer sessions and on to the homwork, I have learned so much from these on-line training courses.  I also want to thank you, the participants.  Your participation, questions,  and comments have helped to make a positive learning environment as the trail is blazed into on-line instruction.  So again, thank you very much for all the support! I’ve enjoyed working with all of you.  Until next time…….

Week 4 Homework

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