Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tenley Dexter Herding Clinic

I attended a herding clinic February 11 & 12 put on by Tenley Dexter up near Indianapolis. The dogs stayed home due to the bitter temperatures (it was in an unheated barn).

This is the first time I've been to one of her clinics, though a lot of the ideas were familiar. Both of our herding instructors were there.

I think the 2 most important things I took away from the clinic were:

1. Adjust your training to fit your dog, don't try to make your dog fit into your training.

2. And herding training makes you a better person. Sounds a little dumb when said just like that, but I have to admit that I've noticed a big difference in myself since I started this sheep experience.
I’ve learned a lot more patience. I’ve learned respect - not just to respect the dog or the sheep, but to demand respect for myself. If you let your dog take an inch, he’ll take a mile. It’s the exact same thing with people  :)

I’ve learned sometimes you have to abandon the big picture to focus on the details. If you get all the details correct, the big picture falls into place. But at the same time, sometimes you have to ignore all the little mistakes to catch a glimpse of the final product. You can’t tell someone they’re wrong, they’re wrong, they’re wrong, without telling them occasionally that there was one little piece that was right. That’s what makes dogs (and people) give up & quit. You can nitpick the small stuff, but don’t forget what the end result actually should be.

I’ve learned to control my emotions. A command is just a command. Correct then move on. Don’t dwell on the correction, it was just a mistake you pointed out & now you’re on to the next thing. Anger has no place on the field & no place in my daily interactions. Sure, there’s a time & place for it, but “acting out of anger” accomplishes nothing.

Can I even say “identify the lead sheep & apply your actions toward it, the rest will follow” also applies to dealing with people?  :) I don’t care what “everyone” thinks, I care what a few people I respect think. The others only think what that person thinks anyway… Or they will think for themselves in time… Or they will think whatever someone else tells them to think…  :)  I only have to sway that one person and the rest will follow along with the herd.

Slow, deliberate actions accomplish more than rushing & circling. When in doubt, stop, take a breath, and re-evaluate the situation. Let everyone settle down for a minute :)  Stop & let the sheep, I mean people, think for a second & they’ll usually make the right decision (if the dog, I mean you, are correct). It’s always easier if the “sheep” think it was their idea to begin with! Some “sheep” you just can’t force.

Is that enough of the sheep/people metaphors? Because trust me, I can go on  :)

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