We decided to give the show ring a miss this weekend. Instead Fleur and I tried our hand at herding. This was a first for both of us.
We travelled down to 'The Pines' herding complex just outside Oatlands to work with Canine Performance Association Herding trainer Tull Luttrell. This was also a first for Tull, as this was the first time she had worked with Finnish Lapphunds.
Fleur did really well. We started her on ducks, as we have ducks at home and she has had a go with them. It was here that we worked with her to stay on the outside of the flock and to not run through the middle. She developed this skill nicely. But after a while she got a little bored with the ducks and was more interested in the horse in the paddock next door.
So then we moved her down to some sheep. This is where she shon. She was super confident, showing absolutely no fear of the sheep. She also started to change direction and keep the flock together rather than just chasing. She has a couple of bad habits (such as biting the sheep on the but!), however Tull noted that it is very important with spitz breeds to focus on what they do correctly rather than what they do wrong. Spitz breeds are prone to shutting down and just refusing to engage if they get told they cannot do something. With Finnish Lapphunds, in particular, you must reinforce the positives and not dwell on the negatives.
Overall, Tull said Fleur has a lovely natural instinct and is full of enthusiasm. Fleur and I both have some homework. Using the ducks here at home we will continue to work on teaching her to stay on the outside of the flock and I need to work on developing commands I wish to use and I also need to learn where to be. I can't wait for our next go.