Welcome to week 4 of Starting the Young Dog with Scott Glen!

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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Q–Scott said that he wouldn’t get on Bliss too much on her flank and outrun unless things were just terrible. On the flanking, what kind of behavior would have counted for him as “terrible.” In other words, when training a young dog, what kinds of things should a handler pay attention to with respect to being “terrible”?
I want them to go out somewhat, out and around and bend a little bit, like we did with that first lesson.  And the second lesson, I believe, a little bit. But, they’ve got to bend out a little bit, if as soon as they bend they crash into them, that is terrible.  A little bit tight, that is not terrible, as least for me; all these questions I answer are in my opinion, so forgive me if they sound absolute.  If it is a little bit tight, I am not going to worry about that right away with a fairly young dog.  Even like Bliss, it turned out she wasn’t.  If they look like they are looking for any opportunity to dive in towards the sheep or be wrong, break their line if you set them on a nice line on an outrun, if they just turn in really quickly to go right at the sheep, I don’t want that. With Bliss, when I called her in to just keep in touch with her and make sure I can call her in later, just keeping her head and keeping me in her head, that is different.  But when you start on a line, if there is no reason to do it, I would like to keep them on that same line, so they still try to keep some depth on the sheep.  If they look like they are wanting to be nasty, a gripping son-of-a- gun, and of course if they are doing it at a little bit of a distance, I probably just won’t put them out that far until they have a habit of how to go around.  So then they know what to do different; it’s a habit so they know what to go to.

Q– When you are working Bliss at hand on her flanks near the beginning (around 4 min) for the most part you are fairly close to the sheep for much of the time. Are you staying near the sheep on purpose or is it just the sheep wanting to stay closer to you? Is it better if you can have sheep that might not be so willing to stay with the handler?
The second part of that question, it is always nice to have sheep that aren’t wanting to stay with you for sure.  But, on the other hand, you don’t want them wanting to bolt someplace either, with a young dog. Because then you are really encouraging if a young dog sees those sheep getting away, you are really encouraging that dog to start into a chase.  And of course if they are running away, unless you can run faster than the sheep to keep up with them, the dog is on its own more and more. They are farther and farther from you without you being able to help them.

To the first question, those sheep do not mind staying with me but they are not real knee knockers.  I’m just trying to get her to have a better outrun but it is not about “just sending them” distance wise,  it is about making sure they are doing the correct stuff at the top: trying to get a little room.  Obviously, if the sheep are close to me, I don’t expect her to be as deep as if the sheep are quite a ways away.    They are not hard to keep off of you.  I’m just making sure I can keep contact with her, and let her be wrong up close so I can push her off.  Those sheep will certainly go sideways, they won’t see the dog and start bolting.  They have spent enough time with me that time of year they don’t mind coming to me but it is not the first thing that they do is to see a dog and then  look to see where I am.

Q– At around that same time you say with the sheep going back and forth, passing yourself, she is going to overdo it which is fine for right then. Why do you say it is okay for right then, and when would you not let her overdo it?
For now, she is fairly green and basically when she overdoes it, she is covering that one sheep.  There is a sheep that bolts by me, I do believe, and the head of that sheep is going to help her go way off of balance; way off of 12:00.  I don’t want to get on her too much because I will be wanting those off-balance flanks later.  So even though she doesn’t know she is doing it, she is doing it. And then as she gets older, the thing is, what she did right there, if I wanted those sheep to stay right with me, when she gets older and she is backed off a little bit more, can stop a little bit better and a little bit longer without being that ambitious on her sheep, when she starts basically knowing her job better, that won’t happen quite so much. But regardless, if I have one bolting, myself, I certainly like them getting going and going to cover.  I don’t want to have them wait , I’d rather have them wait to be told not to cover, or me telling them not to cover, rather than waiting to ask them to cover.  As long as it is not over their head or the situation, whatever it might be, gets them so excited they just can’t do it right.  I don’t want that either.

Q– On extending the outrun when do you start sending her from your side rather than going partway to the sheep?
At about the 16 minute mark of the video, I sent Bliss about five yards from me.  That is getting fairly close already.  That might not be right from my feet, but it is getting close enough. It’s five yards from my feet, so I can help her start right and that is pretty close to right from my feet.  It might or might not be in the same training session, not if they are not ready.  If they are doing it well, when I am going up there part way, or half way even, I am standing away from the sheep, away from that center line.  So I am being unobtrusive as possible to help her stay out.  So when I am looking at the sheep, and Bliss is to the back of me, if Bliss sees me walk to my right and I send her to the left, after I get quite a ways off that center line, it is not me holding her out.  It is her having to hold herself out.  But I am still in a position to push her out.  And until she gets that, I wouldn’t send her from me feet at all.  But she was doing it pretty well, and  we will probably cover that a little more, not too much right from the feet but certainly extending the outrun in the next session.  Going from my feet is a natural progression once my knees quite knocking that she is going to do the outrun well. Then I will start sending her from my feet.  And she has went around well enough that she knows how to stay out and it feels better so if she does something different  she will look to what feels familiar. 

Q– When you are lying her down on a fetch you say you want her to be pushy but not stupid about it. Understanding that you don’t want to take too much forward push away from a young dog, why is a lie down different from a “steady” or other means of holding her back a little bit? At what stage do you start asking for a dog to be more responsible on their own for a pace based on the sheep some of the time?
The age old question!  If the sheep are coming in at a decent clip, if you say steady (for me, like I said this is my opinion) if you slow them down too much by the time they get to be four or five, then you’ve got a dog that is afraid to make contact with them.  Or thinking it is something they are doing wrong when the sheep run, and certainly sheep run sometimes and I want a dog that is not afraid to keep up.  If I stop them, I know they have done it for sure.  If I steady them, certainly I know if they just walk but, all I am trying to do is let a dog know it can come on fairly quickly so if the sheep are real light, I can stop her right now.  I am not requiring her to be ultra careful. Until she gets older and realizes, through miles, she starts understanding her sheep better.  If they are light, she will get a little careful; if they are heavy, they have not been taught to slow down so much that they think they are doing something wrong so even if they do come up hard, it is a guilty conscious.  If you work on it long enough, they are afraid to come up hard.  I know if they lie down or not.  And in that video she is not laying down as well as she is going to have to.  I don’t want it to be a fight either, I don’t want her to think she is in trouble.  I want that lie down with some perseverance and some miles, when I give that lie down, with that whistles especially, that I don’t have to blow it out the back of my head.  There is not pressure in that as well, unless she is doing something wrong, with just the lie down.  I can make that distance myself, mechanically if you will, with a stop. And with some distance, if she gets up on her own right, in a good manner, then I will let her.  As they get more experience, Bliss not so much there but with time she knows she has to stop a little bit longer and only because you practice that if the sheep are nice and calm, they are not going to get away.  With day to day work, that you stop and just sit and watch; you don’t always have to be moving. But you can move it you feel the need to and the sheep tell you that you have to. You cannot replace experience; simple as that. And all I am trying to do with the stop is help her get some good experience.  Now if it is a sticky dog…it is a different story.

Q–Have you worried at all about tight flanks close up so far? I don’t remember seeing that specifically addressed, besides saying you don’t want the flank to look like a walk up (very obviously wrong), but I haven’t seen a correction for a dog who just leans in on the flank a bit or slices. Does that come later in the dog’s training to start fixing that, or did I just miss seeing it in the videos? I did see how you help the dog be more square at the start of the flank by a bit of pressure as the dog goes, but what about slicing as the dog gets around between 9 and 11 o’clock?
That is a good questions but I think if she goes back to Lass, in the homework where she is giving off that bag, I think she will see that it works nicely for that.  The question about cutting in at 9 or 11…at about the 10 minute mark of the video when I was working up close, but not being in her way so I wasn’t pushing her off just arbitrarily, I was letting her to see if she cuts in. So if she cuts in I can push her and that was pretty much at 9 and 11. Now it was close but there again, just trying to make sure…the tortoise wins the race sometimes and not the dog that does the 400 yard outrun in a month.   Just so it knows it job.  I’ve done both over the years, had dogs going out very, very far in a short time but if they don’t know their job they are just relying on instinct for sure.  But you’ve got no way of helping them.  If the sheep just come running in, well that’s fair enough but you’ve really got no control if the sheep dictate too much of what the dog does.  If it slows down because they are heavy, it’s probably you’ve got too heavy of sheep for that dog.  If they’re fighting, you’ve got no way of helping that dog . If they get too close to that dog and they are going to turn and fight you have no way of keeping them out of trouble. If they are fast sheep, and the dog just wants to run in, going faster and faster, you’ve got no way to help them.  Or being able to push them out, you’ve got no way to do that at a distance. Certainly you can but if they don’t know it close up, there is not much sense trying it far way, for me.  You can make them do it just out of pressure but you can develop that habit close up at first.

Q– It is hard to tell from a video – about what distances are these outruns?
Oh, several hundred yards.  No seriously, it was probably, I would think maximum we had one about fifty yards.  Actually Bliss moved up after that so we decreased it to forty.  It was not terribly long.  To me, if they know they are right, the right moves and what you are wanting them to do with a certain command for pushing them out.  If you are pushing them out and they know what you mean by being fairly close, it is fairly short order before you can extend them.  Myself, with dogs I have, I really don’t have any interest in getting them to go 400 yards.  200 yards is plenty because they are learning a lot more things than just the outrun.  If it wasn’t for trying to get a few more outruns, on that session and trying to fit in that close up work, reminding the dog what we wanted.  I probably would have been able to stretch her out maybe 100 yards and if it went bad, we would either fix it straight away, walk up towards the sheep, or not go as far. It was probably 30-50 yards.

Q–What if the dog tries to go straight at the sheep (as often seen with
young dogs) or their outrun is too tight? Will these typical issues
be covered in other sessions?
I think they were probably covered in the round pen somewhat, but yes, for extending it, it will most certainly be covered.  But the dogs don’t really go straight at the sheep because we make sure they are moving off that pressure straight away.  Like Rye and Lass, although they are certainly not masters at it but they know to give some ground. They are naturally pretty good out runners, because obviously they don’t have a lot of time on them, but they do know to give a little ground when I am trying to make them give some ground.

Q–Scott notes that this dog has a naturally good wide outrun. When a young dog runs straight at the sheep instead, what is going wrong? Is
it a lack of instinct or a desire to head the sheep?
I suppose it certainly could be both. But I guess as far as lack of instinct, that is self explanatory and without seeing it…that is hard to say.  If it is not wanting to get to the heads of the sheep when it is running straight at the sheep, is it ending up at the head of the sheep brining them back to you and just missing the outrun?  Or is it just taking them hither thither?  If it is taking them hither thither, and its wanting to work those sheep, probably quite often it’s a dog that doesn’t really respect the handler.  So bending them off like we did in the first three sessions very much helps that.  And experience and knowing that we are going to be fair, that we are going to be consistent but we are still allowing them to work.

Q–What would you have done with a young dog who tended towards too tight or who cut in at the top?
A—Don’t send them so far and I would push them out.  I would push them out right when it needs pushed out.  If she would have wanted to be tight there, I was up close when the 9 and 11 question came up, I could have pushed her out, and pushed her out and pushed her out.  It was no outrun right there at all, I was just her up to make sure she didn’t cut those corners.  There was not outrun at all when I was doing that but you can see, she did a good outrun.  Sheep that come running in, you have to watch it more. Sheep that come running in right from the start produce bad out runners.  Either too wide, trying to sneak around them to get control of them, or just chopping the corner because the sheep are coming in. When the sheep are coming in they quite often don’t cut the corners, but if you were to make a mark and those sheep didn’t move, there again you get in the habit of the dog seeing those sheep run, cutting in here, and all of the sudden the sheep didn’t move and there are the sheep!  So then they are too tight, they are doing the exact same thing as they did but the sheep didn’t move that time.

Sometimes, I will put hay and sprinkle grain on it simply so they have to look for the grain.  And not too much hay, I certainly don’t want the sheep not being able to see the dog.  That is certainly not going to do much for confidence if the sheep really don’t see the dog. Same if you put it in a trough, if they really can’t see the dog, how’s the dog going to move them?  If it can’t make contact it is going to bother the dog, or they are just going to wade into them. Either one is going to be hard to get on them too much, if they keep walking up and they don’t move so they wade into them and bite them.  So I will put a little bit of hay and a sprinkling on top of the hay so as they start nibbling on it, it falls down but there is not so much hay that it covers their eyes.  It is a real good idea as long as the sheep don’t refuse to move off of it.   (editor’s note: check out the third penning session where Scott uses hay to practice penning off of)

Q–How do you correct it when you see it happening and do you have suggestions for how you’d set it up (how far out you walk, position, etc) to help the dog be more correct or prevent the problem from happening.
If they are fairly young and without much experience, I will always go out there to help them stay right without having to put too much pressure on them.  But first of all, try to establish a habit.  I like to establish a habit, as many people do, of doing things right, and then to have something to go to, when they get in trouble for altering that.

Q– Would you always want to just prevent it or do you sometimes let the dog make the mistake so you can correct it?
Oh most certainly, I don’t mind, basically I correct the attitude more than the shape.  I want them going out, but as I have said in the previous sessions, I don’t want them afraid to make a mistake.  But I don’t want them looking to try to make it either.

Q–Would you handle it differently for a dog who was wide at the sides but sliced the top vs being tight the whole way?
I go to the sheep.  If they are afraid they will get tight at the top, I would go to the sheep. Going to the sheep, if it is too wide might tighten it up a little. And you are also able to push it out where it needs to be, so you will start to eliminate the upside down pear.

Q–Or a dog who was tight up the sides but still deep at the top, would you just leave that alone for now?
If it is a young dog, I would most certainly leave it alone


Week 4 Homework

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