I love training young dogs. I especially like that year to two year old range. They grow up so much in that time frame. I start using my young dogs for real work as soon as I have a reliable stop and recall on them. Then we train as we go. I still take them out for official "training sessions" from time to time but a lot of what they learn is on the job.
I have two young dogs right now. Rock just turned 2 the middle of February and Bet will turn 2 on March 15th. It has been fun to watch them come along and mature. They are both quite different and it's always fun for me to adjust my training and handling to different dogs.
Rock reminds me a lot of most of the males from my lines. He's pushy, confident on stock but has a little tension. He also has a lot of his mother in him (Jamie's Reece). No quit, great balance and about the most fun dog to just hang out with ever!
Bet is off of Tim Naasz's Ryn (Nell x Spot) who is a littermate to Jag. Her sire is Don Helsley's Cap. I'm not as familiar with Cap's lines obviously but she has been a bit slow to mature. Most of the female's I've worked actually get pushier with age and sometimes I'm not sure if they're going to be "enough dog" for me when they are a year old but most times they catch up with the males before their two.
Bet has been this way. She had all the natural ability in the world just wasn't sure she wanted to take the training early on. Driving was tough for her and because of that she just got to the point she wouldn't push at all. The winter has been a "bit long" in our area and because of that she got a couple of weeks off from all work. That must have done the trick because she has come back better than ever. She's full of confidence in herself as well as our partnership. She is driving with gusto now and it won't be long before I have to tap the brakes a little more with her. Right now I'm letting her be a bit pushy.
This past week has brought quite a bit of snow to our area again. The wind picked up and we were in the middle of a blizzard again yesterday. So, we needed to move the sheep to a better place. There wasn't any way to get around other than the tractor's so I took one and Mike took the other. I grabbed Bet as she's the smallest dog I have and loaded her in the tractor with me. She thought it was great by the way!
We couldn't see very far at all and the sheep didn't want to move through the snow very well. Bet handled the whole situation with a ton of maturity. She never got silly or dirty but pushed hard enough to get them going and keep them moving. I took off ahead in the tractor and she brought them behind me down the road. Several missed the gate coming out and tried to go up the fence line as the other sheep were in the ditch. I saw her cover them and move them back to the gate and through. So, I knew they were all there and then we were off down the road. They tried the same thing at the gate I turned into but she handled it just as well there. I LOVE a thinking dog.
So, I think my young'uns are officially growing up and making the transition to adulthood smoothly. I'm hopeful for their future's and quite proud of how far they've come!