I have a book I bought years ago by Vergil Holland entitled Herding Dogs – Progressive Training. I know it’s pretty impossible to train herding dogs out of a book, but there is some really good information in this one.
I was browsing through it the other day and found a section describing types of herding dogs – the talented dog, the not-so-talented dog, the sensitive dog, the overly aggressive dog and especially the pressure-sensitive dog.
The section on the pressure-sensitive dog described Moss perfectly. This type of dog wants to work desperately, but over-reacts if the sheep move or even if the handler moves. If I even turned my head Moss would take off in a flash. It has taken months to get him past this.
He sometimes will not obey and fight the handler if he tries to force him.That is a big issue with Moss. I tried to work with the lie-down and he’d blow past me to get to the sheep. It got to the point that I was totally discouraged and wanted just to give up training him.
He works too close to the sheep and won’t stay off of them – another issue with Moss. He has slowed down enough that the sheep don’t panic when Moss gets too close. It’s fine for farm work with these sheep but may not work in other situations.
He may be the most difficult type of dog to train. I do feel somewhat vindicated that Moss is, in fact, a very difficult dog to train for herding. He is very smart and learns fast as he has demonstrated by learning tricks almost instantly, but when he gets near sheep he’s just too reactive. I have seen a real change in the past couple of weeks so I’m feeling encouraged.