Sunday, December 28, 2008


Today Bug and I had a herding lesson and Bug got to work ducks!

The control pen was still icy, so we opted to work ducks in the barn. It was pretty cool. Diane had three ducks (I believe they are Indian Runner Ducks) in the barn, separated from the rest of the flock.

We started by Diane letting me know that the ducks will NOT go to the human. Unlike the sheep, the ducks find the handler as frightening as the dog. We let Bug get worked up over the ducks and he was pretty interested.

I am now very glad that we did not switch to ducks when Bug didn't warm up to sheep immediately. Would you like to know why? He was a bit stressed out by the ducks! Even though they are smaller than him. Considering he lets DJ, one of my 'tiels boss him, I wasn't that surprised. He did get braver as the lesson went on and we ended with him bringing me the three ducks a few times.

We worked quite a bit on me exerting pressure with the rake correctly, not moving, keeping my eyes on the stock - not my dog, and keeping my mouth shut! Diane gave all the verbal encouragement today for two reasons - she knows what she wants to see again and Bug tends to return to me when I verbally praise him.

We worked on moving the ducks together out of the corner. To do this I had Bug on a tab leash. I used my hand right near his nose to push the ducks out. The ultimate goal is to get the dog to use his nose to boss the ducks around.

It was interesting to watch Bug try to figure out how to get the ducks to move. He was definitely pretty confident with them but couldn't make the mental leap to moving them with his nose. Considering he does use his nose to move things I don't think it will take him that long to figure it out.

Bug was much less sensitive about the rake which is great. I showed Diane how I have been practicing him moving away from the rake and I have been doing it all wrong. Oi! She said to make sure I always do it on lead so that I can control his head movement. If he moves sideways when I am attempting to have him back away I am to return him to the same location and try again.

It was a good lesson. We both had a lot to take in.


Holly said...

Good boy Bug! I am glad you have a means to train when the weather is not cooperating. We won't be seeing sheep again until April.

Blue said...

It sounds like Bug had a great time with the ducks once he decided they weren't monsters :) That's awesome that he's getting more relaxed about the rake too.

Jules said...

He's coming a long!! I feel like he worked harder yesterday than he usually does with the sheep. I'll have to think about why. I could see his little brain was fried (so was mine)!

Diana said...

Sounds like a great lesson. Maybe he had to work harder because the ducks dont react like sheep. Ducks dont turn like sheep and they arent fast. So it was an all new concept even though you use the same commands. Sounds like fun. Diana

Katrin said...

busy weekend for you! glad it went so well