|Tam chillin' with his homies|
My sheep are light, the Suffolks were not, especially that many, so he had to think his way through applying pressure to sheep that were quite happy to leave their heads down. It widened his outwork naturally, which was good to see, and a reminder not to widen my puppies until I've seen enough to decide what I have to work with. I've said it before, and heard it many times; much easier to widen one out, than to bring them back in. Better to err on the tight side.
Once home, we've gone back to a 3 day per week schedule that dove-tails with my work schedule. I'm teaching Saturday and Sunday any way, so it's easy to throw Tam into the mix on those days, and Monday, it's just he and I, which is great.
The exuberance of youth remains strong in this one, but he prefers to flank over walking up, or driving. To counter this, I make sure and work him along the fence every session. With my back to the fence, I flank him around, between the sheep and the fence, then back up to it, forcing him more or less to walk straight on. He's improving, but the pressure makes him dive in at some point. He's clearly not comfortable applying pressure straight on, or being in close proximity to the sheep. The latter may serve him well around the course, but he's got to learn to relax.
Another counter measure is to walk and let him wear sheep to me. As he tires, he covers less ground, and becomes more direct, walking up straight from behind, as opposed to wearing from side to side. 1 year old this month, I'm not applying much training pressure to him.
Remnants of the reason I quit him before remain, but I'm going to soldier through in spite of it. He is still turning his head away from sheep when I walk towards him after I've stopped him. To repair this damage, I surprise him half the time by flanking him after he's turned his head instead of calling him off, which is how the behavior began. I corrected him when he took off on a flank instead of calling off when I wanted him to. It's yet another example of how easily a mess can be made from a talented youngster when we're too liberal with correction. Be careful out there.