Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Herding Lesson

Sunday Bug and I had a herding lesson and John came to watch!! Very cool.

We started out in the control pen and we did a small bit of fetching and then an exercise I am not quite sure what to call - it is a balance exercise. We are fetching, I walk through the sheep, have Bug get around in the other direction, I pivot and walk backwards - where my dogs was. Rinse and repeat.

We also worked on Bug's "That'll do" which had been decent and now sucks. Every time I say "That'll do" Bug is diving for the sheep. So, Diane had me toss my rake between Bug and the sheep. I explained that I am a TERRIBLE thrower and she suggested practicing. She also helped me out by tossing a rake for me. A couple of times I was able to step on the line and Bug corrected himself quickly. We'll have to keep working on this!

Diane noticed that Bug was getting bored so off we went to the big field. First we moved the sheep that were hanging out there into their pen. Then we moved the three sheep we were working into the big field. We started with a nice outrun and did some fetching. For the first time, I did not walk backwards while fetching! And Bug did not push the sheep past me. good boy!!

Then Diane had us do a ASCA Started course. Wow! Through 2 panels (no more than 10' apart) around another panel turn around go past the single panel and through the 2 panels. Throw in a down or stop. Bug did a great job.

We did this again and then Diane had me pen the one heavy sheep in our group of three so that Bug could work with the lighter sheep. She thought that would be more fun for him (and boy, was she right!). Penning the heavy sheep of three sheep was tough for us. In part because Bug wasn't holding his stay when I went to unhook the gate. He was, however, much better than our last lesson. It makes sense to me that a stay with sheep is tougher for him - the rules are so ambiguous. Sometimes it is okay if he breaks his stay - sometimes it isn't. It all depends and where I am, where the sheep are, how he's moving when he breaks.

We worked some more on outruns and fetching. It became very clear that Bug favors "Go by" (clockwise) and really doesn't like to go Away (counter-clockwise). To date we have been practicing them fairly equally. We need to start practicing Away MUCH more so that Bug becomes more comfortable and doesn't resist it as much.

It was an excellent lesson. The only downer is that Bug was stiff in the evening. I think in part that is because he worked for a SOLID uninterrupted hour. We usually work in 15 - 20 minute intervals. Wow! And he never quit. What a great boy.

The reason the stiffness is a downer - other than the obvious - is I have noticed that he appears stiff in the front after herding lately. It typically appears within 6 - 10 hours of herding and he looks stiff getting up from laying down and has some difficulty jumping up on the bed. I massage and give him Traumeel. The next day he is fine.

As you all know from reading my blog, I am paranoid about my dogs' health and my chiropractor Cheryl recommended a rehab vet that quite a few other corgi people I know have used.

So I went on Columbus Day with the Bug.

Basically Bug's bicipital tendons (bilaterally) are tender (left more than right). Dr. M said at this point there is no scar tissue - it is just tender. They gave me a slew of exercises and massage techniques to do 3 x a week to prevent it from getting any worse and becoming bicipital tendonitis. She said given the starting and stopping a dog does in herding it could be a fairly typical injury.

We have been doing our exercises religiously and have seen NO stiffness after trialing in agility or running off leash on hikes. However, I knew the real test would be herding.

Yesterday's stiffness was, I truly feel, in large part due to the amount of time Bug worked. However, to be on the safe side I have scheduled an appointment with the physical therapist to make sure I am doing the massage techniques correctly. I am supposed to do something called "friction massage" ON the tendon. I am afraid perhaps I am missing the right spot. So on Thursday I will do Bug's stretching and massage in real-time and the therapist will critique my technique.

Cathy, the physical therapist, said she is not surprised he was stiff after working an hour. She said a soft-tissue injury can take months to heal. She suggested that I make sure we only work in 15 - 20 minute intervals next week. She said she was sure I would see a major difference working in intervals. I asked if I should stop herding and she said absolutely not. I am relieved because Bug ADORES herding. It is amazing to me how much more strenuous herding is on the dog's body. The rehab vet commented on what a "hard body" Bug is. She said he had tremendous muscles! That is all due to herding.

There you have it, that is the herding update. I have a herding fool, without a doubt!


manymuddypaws said...

SUPER COOL! I am so impressed that you and bug have come so far in herding. Wowsers!

That sucks about him being sore. Wicca is the same way after a trial, or a longer training session. It is so hard because they love it so much.

But all the preventative stuff you do will go a long way to making sure he is in the best possible shape to get to play.

Jules said...

Thanks! I am so excited that things are coming together and that he loves it so much. If a dog could light up about something, Bug lights up about sheep.

It's also good to hear that other people's dog's experience some soreness after a rigorous work-out. I didn't know if it was just Bug and have been so worried about it. The rehab place is super, and I'm playing by their rules. Hopefully the massage and stretching will help!

Jules said...

re our dog's loving something. I have never had a dog love agility as much as I do - but now with Bug and herding I understand exactly what you mean. It would hurt me emotionally if he wasn't able to herd because he loves it so much.

Diana said...

I can see agility being easier than herding in some aspects. You run a course and it last 30 seconds. A herding course last at least 10min ( I think). 30 min. vs. 10 of working. Huge difference. Miley has been sore after one trial with lots of stairs to get to the courses. Diana

Lola said...

"She suggested practicing," HAAAA! I love it, and I can picture her saying that.

My boys love agility way more than herding, so we only dabble in the herding come spring clinic time. Rebel enjoys it for sure, but I find it to be way harder than agility.

If I'm not getting twisted up in the rope or tripping over the rake or knocked over by sheep, I consider that to be a success. I don't care where the sheep end up ;)

Jules said...

Right now Bug loves herding more. I hope someday he'll feel the same way about agility! I hear you on the more challenging part - there's so much to think about.