Sarge has had a big couple of days! He was introduced to his shock collar yesterday and took to it nicely. We spent the better half of the day making sure he understood the Come command and that the corrections came from me and not from and invisible biting insect. To be honest it went better than I expected. I took it slowly because I was afraid it would startle him but he accepted it fairly easily. But he certainly responds to the stimulation and does not test things when he has his collar on.
Today he was almost completely off leash. We took a radius walk around the property and let him play in the fields, hunting his preferred prey- grasshoppers. A radius walk means he was not in a strict command. He was allowed to sniff, explore, run around and lag behind if he wanted to but he had to stay around me (hence the "radius"). Being a well bred Shepherd it is his instincts to stay around people he has bonded with and so this took very little effort on my part. He got one correction for stepping a foot into the horses area and he didn't try that again. I would page him if he got too far away or lagged behind too much and he would gallop back to us and most of the time would sit down in front of me. On the way back I asked him to Heel back to the training room and he did a pretty good job and only had to have one reminder that he wasn't hunting grasshoppers anymore.
His workouts are still fast paced and fun for him but today I also tortured him a little bit by taking things VERY slowly. He struggled with Heeling at such a slow pace and ended up prancing in place (but staying in a Heel position so I didn't bust him for it) until I sped things up again.
He isn't exactly graceful yet but he is sharp and enjoys the work. He also appreciates an opportunity to flop down on his Placemat for a few hours (we did 3 hours today!) and napping blissfully.
I would not be in this line of work if I did not enjoy working with most dogs but there is a reason so many trainers choose a Shepherd-type dog for their personal pet. Sarge has been a joy and a challenge to train and as we have reached the halfway point in his stay with us I know we will have a fun week ahead of us.