If your sheepdog stares at the sheep and won’t move you may be told it’s got ‘too much eye’. The dog simply lacks confidence.
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‘Too much eye’ is not a term we like to use, because stickiness in trainee sheepdogs is simply an easily-cured confidence problem.
If the sheepdog is staring at sheep and won’t move, we should do our best to keep it moving. Moving dogs don’t get stuck!
ANIMATION: Showing a dog on the point of balance. The handler then moves, and the point of balance changes.
With the stick in the correct hand, walk round the sheep towards the dog.
If the dog moves, try to keep it going around the sheep.
With hindsight, the whoosh of the stick wasn’t a good idea!
When the dog stops, try to get it moving before it settles.
Sometimes walking towards the dog isn’t enough to move it.
Balance the severity of corrections with the sensitivity of the dog.
Embarrassing though it might be, dogs react really well to silly talk.
The dog doesn’t understand the words, but it will understand the tone of our voice.
Only apply enough pressure to keep the ‘sticky’ dog moving.
If your dog loses interest or becomes distracted, reduce the pressure immediately.
Attempting to get sheep away from the hurdles.
Keeping the dog moving around the sheep.
Stop the dog and send it off again
Trying to catch the dog.
How to tell when the dog has submitted and you can catch it.
Attempting to get sheep off the fence again.
Watch the same dog getting sheep off the fence a couple of sessions later.
Stopping the dog between the sheep and the hurdles.
The same dog is now getting up, to follow the sheep.
Walk away from a sticky dog (and sheep) when the dog stops, it’s a good way to get the dog to move.
Making the dog go the way you send it.
Watch the dog get up and follow the sheep, and then she flanks better too.
As the dog’s confidence improves, you can be more pro-active with the training stick.
Watch how ‘shushing’ makes the dog go wider, and see what happens when the dog stops.
Walking away with the sheep, rarely fails.
What happens if you stop working the dog?
Watch Mab working in the sheep handling pens.
Watch the previously ‘sticky’ Mab training in the open field.
‘Too much eye’ is not a term we like to use
“That dog’s got too much eye!” You’ll sometimes hear this when a sheepdog, invariably a Border collie, appears mesmerised by the sheep, and reluctant to move. Dogs which show intense concentration are also known as ‘strong-eyed’ or ‘eye’ dogs. It’s not a permanent problem though.
‘Strong eyed’ is a better description
The “Sticky Dogs!” tutorial demonstrates that you don’t have to live with this start-stop style. What’s mistakenly referred to as too much eye is simply a confidence problem. Andy works with Mab in an assertive, but kind, and encouraging way, with the emphasis always on keeping the dog moving as much as possible.