Faulty Foundation

Faulty foundation..

Foundation is everything. Unfortunately, you don’t appreciate a good foundation until you don’t have it. Think about that. If you’ve got a well-built house, you don’t give its foundation a second thought. But if you’re living in a house with a faulty foundation, you’re forced to think about it every day. Why are the floors uneven? Why are there cracks in the walls? Why is the roof leaking? It all goes back to the foundation.

The same is true of dogs. If you have a dog that was started correctly and has a great foundation of respect in place, you find it easy to get along with him. Nothing you do is ever a big concern. The few times that he does react or hesitate, you’re able to get him on the right track with little problems thanks to his foundation. On the other hand, if you’re working with a dog that has no foundation in place, it’s evident every day that you are around him. Any time you try to correct a bad behavior, 10 more show up.


  • Expanding the outrun, without proper flanks 

  • Expecting a drive when you have no independent flanks 

  • Expecting pace when you have no stop

Just a few examples of where lack of foundation can fail you .. 

Why the rush? I understand going from the small work to big work is exciting..

Don’t let your roof fall in.. make sure there is mortar between every brick!

Dumbing it down

“Your dog will not have the same enthusiasm if you do not have the desire, or give the dog your best effort in your mutual effort at herding”

Arthur Allen

We’ve got to stop dumbing them down. When buying horses you buy to your level, old lame slow, engine but safe, 16 or older been there done that.. you just hope you don’t get thrown. Even the best horse, grandma broke, will throw you off. When you buy a horse you step up your game. You see a horse can size you up quick, if you’re nervous they are too. If you’re lazy they are too.. we try and buy what suits our level, only because we don’t want to get killed. 

When we buy a dog we have none of those worries.. dogs are adaptable they aren’t prey animals. We figure we can mold them into our need.. until you buy a border collie.

I think some will fall into your needs, easy, adaptable, friendly, pliable.. then there’s the good one. The one’s pushing back say …

“Step Up your ability and we can be a team; otherwise while you get your shit together, I’ll do this”

We constantly expect our animals to dumb down to our level.. why not step up to theirs?

While the dog is doing that, you as a handler are floundering.. a great example is when Ron has run my dogs..”they don’t stop very good” .. well I don’t need them to stop “that good” I just run them. 

He needed the stop and think, which is fine until it just becomes an excuse. The excuse is you as a handler didn’t evolve with the dog, the dog is trained now and you’re still stuck in first gear. 

Step it up, learn to ride, you can’t get killed working your dog.. like you can a horse.. 

The equine can teach ya some stuff about your game, but so can your dog! Go forward.. evolve! Quit expecting the best working dog on the universe to get dumb! 

Designated driver..

Driving is a complex exercise. You put the dog behind the sheep and push them away from you right??

Sort of .. kinda like that..

Dogs taught to drive properly are few and far between, it’s easier to stear than teach balance to the sheep. You see up to this point the dog has balanced the sheep to you (ie: the fetch) the fetch of course being the pre programmed element of the border collie, unlike the drive it’s typically a trained element. (Before everyone jumps in and says oh you’re wrong, my dog drove natural; well good for you, most of us are training it) save that argument!

Dogs don’t always feel comfortable pushing the sheep away. In fact the first instinct is to swing around and fetch the sheep back (oh shit the sheep are getting away from you, I had better bring them back!! 

I start the drive walking along side, if the dog slips to the wrong spot, I stop them.. not hard. I let the sheep drift along and the dog drift along behind. I let the dog follow for a while, (not drive) I let the dog get comfortable on the back side of the sheep balancing to the sheep ... NOT BALANCING THE SHEEP..... TO ME 

So where is this going.. ???

I like to see the dog driving, walking, jogging behind the sheep (don’t confuse this with method of the dog) 

When a dog is balancing to the sheep; on the drive, you see subtle shifts by the dog when the sheep’s heads become unaligned with the line.. not a flank, just a shift. BINGO.

If you’re sheep aren’t bolting why aren’t you walking? Why are you flanking? 

If you teach your dog a methodical way of driving, slow, steady, and study, let your dog study the sheep as they drive along. Don’t settle for steering the drive, teach the dog correct and the dog will help you achieve a nice driveline, with minimal flanks. If you flank and block down the driveline, you can guarantee your judge is noticing, you will not stand up to the dog that owns and guided his line.

In the beginning don’t do too much steering…. just because you can steer doesn’t mean ya should!

What’s an outrun??

It’s a lot more than a big half circle.

It’s feel, it’s scope, it’s a compass, ...but most of all it’s understanding 

Great example is I have a not so natural..(god help me, I hate that trait) I want a natural outrunner..  my girl has finally got it.. or does she?

She knows where she needs to be to keep out of trouble... finally; but if the sheep are closer she may run the same trouble free route. She’s big, deep and wide, traits we all long for.. until we don’t. 

You see a good outrunner will gauge where the sheep are and adjust accordingly.. the bad outrunner doesn’t, they just run the trouble free zone. This is a training opportunity.. time to now bring the outrun in where before it was get the outrun out. 

When we throw too much info at the training we confuse, but when they show us the training has worked, we then can train more!! 

Let the opportunity knock, don’t worry about the beginnings, it will come, it’s the midway communication that says hey I can now train this element on the outrun! 

The perfect outrunner never learns direction, the mediocre one has handle!! Pros and cons of the natural!! 


I often get asked about pace…when to install it and when to leave it alone. I always hear “I don’t want to take his push away”. Well you might not want to take his push away but you certainly need to take his chase away.

Often times you need to ask yourself, does the dog have a natural tendency to be slow? Or is the dog only slow on the elements he lacks confidence on and naturally fast on the things he likes?? An example is does the dog speed down the fetch line then drive off like a snail? Or does the dog race down the fetch line and turn and speed into the sunset on the drive? Does the dog have eye? Does the dog lack eye (making him more forward?) These are all things to take into consideration when deciding when to throw pace into the training bag. I believe all dogs need a transmission. You should have gears, Fast, medium, slow..but 9/10 of the times you need pace at the trial, if you don’t have it you’ll be stopping all around the course as the sheep won’t tolerate your chase. Just because you ask the dog to slow down, doesn’t mean you’re taking their “push” away.. usually the chase is coming from lack of confidence actually pushing. Often times people confuse the two issues, chase and push. You only know if the dog can push if you slow it down.. Will I slow down a naturally apprehensive dog?? Why yes, I will, because I have a gear shift.. I still have a trot and a lope..but when I ask for a walk, I want it. The chaser takes far more effort to slow down…miles of walking, reminding, “I WANT YOU TO GO SLOW”..You cannot achieve this goal from 200 yards away, Get off your ass and walk with this dog. Make sure the dog knows what the command means.. reinforce it if need be. Take their feet away if they get to fast. Work on sheep that allow the dog to feel and pace…Once the dog has a solid understanding of what the command means… Ramp it up ask for the trot, let them go fast, then ask for your pace…slow things down.. Start developing that transmission. Don’t be scared to get the pace..don’t fall into the trap of I AM AFRAID TO TAKE IT ALL AWAY. Know the dog you’re working, ask accordingly for the right speed for that dog. STRONG EYE.. you’ll need second gear…remember pace is the speed you want, it’s not necessarily the speed of a snail. Pace is a consistent speed, could be a jog, it all depends on the dog. A loose eyed dog’s pace will differ that a strong eyed one. My running pace is different than your running pace. Teaching pace is not different. PACE DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN SLOW…it means go the speed I am asking you for and hold it.