This is a part of an email I sent to a friend who I believed was introducing formal training to a young pup too early in its development. It is important to allow a young dog from these bloodlines to learn from experience rather than from instruction.
If he was mine I would make sure he could balance that trainer mob to me without any commands. Just use the rake to protect your livestock if he is a bit too keen. ( He will only be too keen because he is too fresh so go for a longer walk. Sean and I have a new training rule which is working really well.
It’s called the 500 metre rule.
Your pup should be old enough to be able to work a small mob for about 10 mins. Do the balance thing for a few days with no commands, but concentrate on where you move your legs as this will signal to your pup where he has to go to balance the livestock to you. When you stop, the pup should stop forcing, when you lead off, facing away from your stock he will lift them and hold them to you.
If they run past you the pup will move ahead and BALANCE them to you. Then walk with them and your pup for 500 metres, again no commands, definitely no stop or down. If he leaves some behind just move back to them so he catches the moving stock and brings them back. You must encourage him by saying good dog, but do not call his name unless he has left the work place in which case he isn’t ready yet as his instinct is not out. After 500 metres rest the pup and give him a bogey (drink) If he is still going well go a bit further and you will notice that you no longer need any commands, for this exercise. After a couple or three goes at this, over a week or so, get the pup doing some normal everyday flock/mob work, with an older dog, if on cattle, so he learns to pace himself and cover well. After a couple of months start a bit of off balance work as you move your livestock through gateways.
These dogs have a very strong genetic disposition to be in the right place doing the right thing to assist you with your work so just trust him and it will happen.
Generally what age would you consider a pup able to work for ten minutes?
This question is a bit like the length of a piece of string, it depends on the individual pup and the type of “work” you are attempting. I like to see my pups succeeding with my light, but educated, weaners by about 6 to 7 months.
[…] of the mob/flock, and you, until it steadies and it achieves relief in its rightful place. Remember The 500 Metre Rule when your dog is young and […]