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June 21, 2021 at 8:03 am #4397PatriciaKeymaster
I have an older dog (9 years) who seems to have lost confidence after having been confronted by sheep at two dog trials. Is there a way to rebuild that confidence so she will quite “pretending” the scary sheep isn’t there or running away. Or is there a link where I might find an exercise. Thanks so much.
Rebuilding confidence after your dogs confidence has been undermined, is a difficult one in terms of pointing you to a specific exercise as confidence is a result of the entire body of work you provide for your dog. It includes you dogs confidence prior to the “event” as well as their genetics, your handling and each individual situation. Some dogs getting attacked by a sheep can be very devastating and for other dogs not nearly so much .
Most important during the rebuilding is not putting her in difficult situations or those that she associates as similar , so sheep that look at her , sheep that are very heavy and don’t move off of her or obviously any aggressive sheep should not be used. She’s 9 so our approach here is different than it might be for a young dog.
Sometimes dogs in these types of situations will turn their head away, try to flank, try to bite or find another way to avoid the pressure. If she gives you avoidance techniques (like not seeing them) at this age she’s telling you you’re using the wrong sheep, not handling her in a way that is positive or putting her in a situation that’s too difficult.
I would do your best to try to be sure to set her up for success (make her feel 10 feet tall and bullet proof). Without seeing what happened and knowing what your dog was like before as well as what she’s like now I can’t know exactly what to advise but these videos and article below may be helpful in addition to ensuring sheep are good not confrontational or heavy or too wild and that the situation themselves aren’t too difficult (i.e. no lambing, trying to keep determined groups of sheep apart, don’t shed sheep that wrap around you, work with sever pressure, sheep breaking back over your dog etc)……
The Pressure Path – An Exercise for Teaching Your Dog to Push and Enjoy Applying Pressure to Sheep
I would not go the route of these last 2 videos below, and instead I would avoid any confrontation until you build her back up:
Developing Confidence: Shifting a reluctant ewe
Shifting Ewes and lambs-Encouraging Confidence
all the best,
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