OK so almost two months in and we’re finally seeing progress. Probably made a lot of progress much earlier on in comparison but I only really felt like we had this last week or so.
Some people scoffed when they saw me with this bundle of fluff I wasn’t going to use a whistle or clicker with for obedience and basic groundwork because “You’ll have your hands full there love… give it time but I think you might be punching above your weight”
I get what they meant but have always thought the idea of having to rely on whistles and clickers just to get your dog to come back to you a bit bizarre. What if you don’t have the whistle and it’s sprinting off in the opposite direction towards certain death? *Same applies with horses but I was a a practically feral council house kid and learned to ride on barely broken knacker horses with a pitiful looking head collar and a couple of frayed ropes. If you’ve never had it you don’t miss it.
Anyway my only aid for Puddi was an extension lead which I’d let her go with until she started stopping on command before maxing the lead out. Took a bit and was exhausting and frustrating but when she was stopping the second I said “Wait” or whistled, I figured she was good to come off altogether (quiet country lanes and private roads / fields) and see how it went.
Letting her off the lead actually seemed to improve things and she’d not only come straight back when called but would routinely stop and wait for me to catch up without being told.
Now and again she’s tried her luck and started heading off away from me when called but I deliberately walk off in the opposite direction and when she’s realised, has gone all “Shit!! Hey hang on – wait I’m coming!!” and legged it straight back.
Knew I was doing something right when in the space of this last week, I had two – TWO farmers – remark on how well trained Puddi was and how surprised they were to hear she isn’t going to be a working dog. One was sat parked up in his Land Rover and had seen us from a distance with Puddi trotting along and stopping intermittently to wait until told she could go on again. I didn’t realise he was there until he popped his head out and asked if I was training her for work.
“Aye?? A family dog?? Tell you what love, you’re doing a bloody good job for someone that’s not had collies before like.. aye y’are that. Cracking little dog it is”
A farmer saying that is a win of the century.
Did wonder what on Earth he saw that I didn’t because as he said this, Puddi was jumping and bouncing all over his trailer trying to eat the remains of sheep shit but he seemed to see something in her and told me to bring her to his farm and put her in with the sheep.
She barks at the horses and cows but to be fair, they must seem enormous to a small puppy. As we’re now in lambing season, I’ve deliberately kept her away from the sheep because don’t want them being stressed out when they’re due to lamb any day. With brilliant white fluffy things dotted around the fields, the farmer assured me now was the best time to introduce her to sheep and hopefully, curb any unwanted or aggressive tendencies.
It was as though someone had flicked a switch and one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen. I know she’s a collie and will have that natural instinct but seeing it kick in was something else.
Down into super sneaky stealth mode straight away and round the outside she started creeping making the sheep move over and huddle together. Then she went round the other side and did the same. When they were in a bottleneck formation and started to get skittish and run off, she was quick on their heels and right behind them but not in an aggressive way at all.
Really wish I could have recorded her doing it but was too busy watching to make sure she didn’t set off and start trying to eat little fluffy lambs but it was like she’d been doing this since 1942.
Then a leaf blew past her and she chased that round for at least four minutes but that’s besides the point… ignore that.
She’d just rounded up sheep at the tender age of four months.
She’s still quite clumsy and moves awkwardly at times / can’t seem to judge distances or jump from low heights without making a real cock-arse job of it but that could be because she’s still a puppy. Could be that she’s just not one that’s made for speed and agility either – doesn’t matter either way.
In other news she barks at polystyrene and “For Sale” signs a lot at the minute. Rogue plastic carrier bags are another cause of panic and barking but we’re working on it.
First thing in the morning, she’s docile, placid and loves to be mard-arsed and cuddled until mental mode kicks in again.
She sleeps on her back with legs stuck up in the air and all over the place. When she wakes, she does a proper full-on person type morning stretch and gains a good 2ft in length right there.
She’s not at all keen on getting wet and muddy and doesn’t like brooks, streams, rivers or puddles. That means we cross a lot of brooks, streams, rivers and puddles.
More bulletins as events warrant…
PS. The psychology of border collies is something I need to learn more about and read up on. It fascinates me how and why she does some of the things she does but I cannot suss what’s going on upstairs. All being well, the nice people at Amazon will have a couple of books for me next week but if anyone has a specific book they recommend – feel free to let me know.
It’s important that people know she actually climbed inside the cage herself and sat quietly waiting for someone to come in and admire her work.