I have been driveling on about the importance of a “flank” to move sheep appropriately. However, the other element necessary, just as important, is the “stop”. It’s not for the reason one would surmise. Stopping the dog does NOT stop sheep, especially if they have a draw to go to. The stop serves TWO purposes: (1) placement of the dog and (2) keeping the dog from doing the WRONG thing.
Remember, the flank is for positioning the dog w/out moving the sheep. The stop allows the handler to observe the sheep and determine whether the “walk up” in order. When the dog stops, the sheep will indicate which direction they will go. This allows the handler to move the dog into another position (if the heads are not facing the direction h. wishes) or tell the dog to move them straight. One can NOT get a straight line out of sheep w/ a dog in constant motion. When sheep are being pushed around, they will make every attempt to FLEE. A good handler wants SETTLED sheep; maleable and compliant to the dog’s pressure. This absolutely will NOT be achieved w/ a dog in constant motion.
The second reason for the “stop” is to keep the dog from doing the WRONG thing. So, if h. gives the dog a “go by” command and the dog goes the wrong direction, he can be stopped INSTANTLY before the damage is done. It helps the dog learn FASTER if he is corrected the MOMENT he takes the incorrect command. It’s important when training flanks to stop the dog instantly when he goes the wrong way. DO NOT repeat the flanking command in an attempt to make him change. JUST STOP HIM.
The stop is necessary for teaching a drive. Universally, herding dogs want to bend around the sheep, instead of walking straight into them. How to get the straight “walk up” will be the topic of next blog.