24 August, 2010

Gems from the Scott Glen Clinic

(photos by C. Harwell at a separate event, photos were not taken at the clinic)

The 4 day open handlers clinic at Fido's Farm with Scott Glen was a great experience. I really enjoyed having a chance to get feedback about me and my dog and to watch the other teams make such great progress over the 4 days.

I know that I am my dog's biggest liability. Anyone who reads this blog is familiar with that. As my dog's biggest liability, I took the time to take about 13 pages of notes during the clinic. While I don't intend to get into deep detail here (if you want that, sign up for a clinic!!), I figured I'd pass along some of the gems from the weekend. Scott has a lot of helpful one-liners and brief quips that we can all learn from, if we just remember them. Some of them are, of course, things well all know but forget!

Many thanks to Scott for permission to post these, and to Fido's Farm for hosting this great clinic.

Lucy penning sheep who have never been in the pen before

Gems from Scott

"You don't have to stop your dog, you just have to be ABLE to stop your dog." (We've all heard that one, I bet)

"If a whistle will keep points, then use it. If it wont, be quiet."

"If you're going to talk to your dog, then you'd better talk sense."

"We (handlers/trainers) have the responsibility to make a dog better, and the ability to make him worse."

"Make sure you are able to be helpful to your dog."

"The opposite of mechanical is zero commands."

"When walking the course, look for lines, draws, blind spots and geographical landmarks. Devise a strategy for each."

"A young dog should have to be controlled so they don't learn too much caution."

"You'll have 3 stops: the normal/quiet stop, a medium stop and a hard, emergency stop. Use them accordingly."

"The best runs are when the dog is off the sheep as much as possible while remaining in contact, not the runs where the dog is as close as possible without splitting the sheep."

"Flow must come before line. You can't make a line out of something that's not moving."

"At the end of the fetch, pay attention to where you put your dog to plan a good turn well in advance."

"Don't bother to keep blowing walk-ups the dog isn't taking."

"Don't bother to keep blowing stops the dog isn't taking."

"You can't fix a broken stop on the drive, fix it on the fetch."

"Constant whistling should reserved for times you need it to keep points or keep the sheep happy."

"Balance is where the dog is most comfortable. The closer they are to it, the more attractive it becomes."

"Stay calm when you can, be loud when you need to ... soft whistles leave room for louder ones if needed."

"A dog unwinding a flank has too much freedom to be wrong."

"If you have the opportunity to keep the dog out of trouble with a command, then do so, before he gets into trouble on his own."

"Stop and take time to observe the effects of every whistle."

"Don't let inside flanks sound angry."

"Sheep who are spread out and knocking into one another is always a symptom of too much pressure."

"Work less keen dogs at dusk, it can keen them up."

"Look back means let go of the sheep you have, not go to the sheep you don't."

"A lively set of sheep will not fix itself."

"The handler stopping the dog allows development of a more powerful dog. The sheep stopping the dog weakens it."

"Remember, the pulls on course can change at any time. Pay attention!"

And, again, the one that bears repeating over and over...
"If you're going to talk to your dog, then you'd better talk sense."

I always learn so much from Scott. Sometimes it is confirmation of what I already know but can't express so succinctly. Other times it's completely new information. Either way, lessons and clinics with Scott always end with me a better handler than I was at the start.

Enjoy your journey: no one else can take your journey for you.


Janet said...

Thanks for sharing Monique! These are great.

Welsh shepherdess said...

LOVE IT! Scott is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!

Welsh shepherdess said...

...Oh, I have one of my own...'Never send a dog to a place you don't want to run to.'

Jeanne said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to post the "Scott-isms". He is a gifted instructor. Amazing experience to get to work with him over a 4 day period, and on lambs, too boot.

Monique said...

LOL Angie... I LOVE THAT!!!

livin life said...

How about "don't run the dog you don't have today". That one hit a cord with me :) Thanks for sharing...I missed the one about keening up a dog by running it at dusk! Vedy vedy interesting!

Monique said...

Of course I can count on LL to point out the one that stings the most ;)

Erin O said...

Thanks for the Scott-isms. The clinic was oh so useful.

Sometimes I think I get close the the top of the mountain on this journey only to find out it is just one more resting spot on the way there!