Date: 2002-08-28 00:53:43 PST
For those who don't know what an "outrun" is, it is where the dog starts at the side of the handler then runs in a very wide arc that is supposed to end some distance behind the sheep. That way the dog can push the sheep toward the shepherd, hopefully without them bolting.
Tonight we started working on the specifics for the French Trial. One of the exercises involves approaching a set of panels, stopping the sheep, stepping beyond the panels as if checking for traffic, then proceeding through. To accomplish this we did what I called a "reverse outrun." Where the dog started from behind the sheep then came around in a wide arc and appeared at the panels in front of them.
I'm sure it must have a technical name somewhere but we didn't put a label on it. It isn't so unusual that I will ask Tsuki to circle the sheep starting from a position behind them e.g. when we are changing direction. But every time in the past I have always faced him. This time I simply slowed as we approached the panels, gave him a "come-by" command and was absolutely amazed and thrilled to note that he kept it wide entirely on his own and neatly appeared in front of the sheep and just exactly at the not too close distance. Too close would have turned them around. As it was they just stopped and contemplated him. yay!
I quit right there, with lots of praise and a very happy dog. He did it right, he knew it was right. End on a good note.
Another part of the test is to walk into a small pen with the dog ahead of you and walk around the pen with the dog parting the way. Both my instructor and I were puzzling over what Tsuki would do . Turns out it was a non-issue. He just did it. It was the first exercise we tried and it was such a non-issue I spent only a couple minutes in the pen. So fast my instructor missed it. So at the end of the evening she tried it. Same thing. I laughed to see how quickly she came out. There wasn't anything to practice.
We still have plenty to practice. Mostly getting him to stay far enough away. And a bit on taking it slow when we call him in closer. Still not bad for a one lesson a week dog.
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