Sheepdog Training Video Library

75 sheepdog training video tutorials about how to train a dog to work farm livestock

EnglishSpanish and French subtitles available on all tutorials. (Some translation errors).

Additions & Revisions:

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: The Dog's Confidence

THE DOG’S CONFIDENCENEW EXTENDED VERSION! – A good level of confidence enables the dog to work well, while low confidence, means the dog won’t work well. It’s that simple! Find out why confidence is so important to a working sheepdog, and learn several ways to improve it – 13.5 min.

For best results watch videos in the order they appear below.

Top tips to make sure training your dog goes as smoothly as possible

TOP TIPS FOR EASIER SHEEPDOG TRAINING. The most popular tutorial in our sheepdog training video library. With nine important training tips to make teaching your sheep dog to herd livestock easier. Nobody would claim that training a dog to work sheep or other livestock is easy. But understanding what’s going on and why, and paying attention to a few details, can make the lessons easier. We ask new members to watch this video first.

Cover thumbnail image for The Golden Rule of Sheepdog Training

THE GOLDEN RULE OF SHEEPDOG TRAINING. There are important rules that you should keep in mind when you train or instruct a dog to work cattle, sheep or other farm livestock. After all, whether we’re beginners, novices or experts, nobody wants to make a complete mess of it, do they? Andy takes a look at some essential guidelines to help establish and maintain order and makes recommendations for broadening the farm dog’s skill level.

Cover photo of the Sheepdog Selection tutorial

SHEEPDOG SELECTION AND PREPARATION. This is a very important tutorial!   It’s also packed with essential information to help you to understand, and look after your farm dog or ranch dog, during the course of its working life. The video includes housing, choice of breed, choice of dog or puppy – and also what dogs to avoid. In addition, there’s a wealth of information on how to prepare your pup or young dog for herding sheep, cattle and other livestock.

Photo of a group of sheep grazing by a green hedge

SHEEP – ESSENTIAL FACTS FOR TRAINERS. People think sheep are irrational, and they certainly can be at times. In some ways, though, they can be very clever, as well as determined. When you start training your first sheepdog, it’s easy to overlook the importance of learning about the sheep themselves, and their behaviour. Accordingly, the more you know about sheep and undestand their funny ways, the easier it will be to train your sheep or stock dog.

Photo of Andy holding puppy Ezra

STARTING A YOUNG PUPPY (Part 1 of 2). The commonly accepted age for starting a young dog on sheep or other farm livestock is between six and twelve months. If you have the right sort of sheep, and also know what you’re doing though, you can train a young farm dog to work at a much younger age. Young Ezra goes to sheep in this video at 11 weeks old! Starting lessons early can make training easier but there are risks. It must be done with care.

Photo of a sheep dog having lessons

STARTING A STRONG DOG. An important video showing how to begin training with a dog which is difficult to get under control around sheep. Your young dog may have its own ideas about how to go about tackling sheep! Additionally, if the dog’s as tough as Tess, you’ll need to be both assertive and patient at the same time. We watch Tess’s training session at half-speed with an in-depth description of the action, before watching again at the normal speed.

Close-up photo of a group of Border Collie sheepdogs close together

AN INSIGHT INTO PACK BEHAVIOUR. This is an unusual sheepdog training video tutorial to help you get a better understanding of your dog and how it works. We’re taking a close look at the dog’s natural instincts, rather than simply how to train a farm dog to work. ‘An Insight into Pack Behaviour’ was originally a chapter on our “Still Off Duty” DVD. It’s 33 minutes of our observations when we’re out and about with our dogs. It might surprise you!

Learn how to make your training area suitable for classes

THE TRAINING AREA. Without doubt, the size, shape and nature of the training area can make a massive difference to your training experience. Sheep quickly learn to use vegetation, corners and the slightest irregularity in a training area, to frustrate the attentions of the dog. This tutorial gives an insight into the type of ground you should train on. It also suggests ideas for making simple changes which will improve your training ground dramatically.

How to get sheep into a pen or training ring without a trained sheepdog

GETTING THE SHEEP INTO THE RING! OK! You’ve built yourself a training ring of the recommended size, and now you need to get the sheep into it and begin teaching your dog to work sheep. But if you don’t have access to a trained sheepdog, that might appear to be a difficult task! But don’t despair! In this twenty minute video lesson, you’ll soon learn ways to easily get some sheep into the training ring without the use of a trained dog.

Gill, wondering what to do next with Roy

WHAT SHALL I DO NEXT? When you start training a sheepdog, many issues need attention. You can’t address them all at once. There’s no simple rule for the order of training, but we suggest a logical syllabus that we follow. We also explain the reasons why. Don’t stick too rigidly to any pattern though. Once the dog’s making good progress and controlling its sheep, events, locations and (if possible) sheep, should be varied to keep the dogs interest.

Andy with Border Collie puppy Mo

PUPPY TRAINING ESSENTIALS. Tempting though it may be to try your puppy with stock at a very early age, you should beware. Unless you can be absolutely certain you’re in a position to protect the youngster from attack or even the threat of it, there’s a very real danger that sheep or cattle will frighten the young dog and damage its confidence – possibly permanently. By all means walk the dog around sheep, but we suggest you take care to do it this way!

Photo of the simple training stick

THE TRAINING STICK. One of the most important videos in our sheepdog training video library. It’s about a most useful tool for training sheepdogs. A simple lightweight plastic pipe we call the ‘Training Stick’. We wouldn’t like to have to train farm dogs without one! Learn how we use the training stick for guiding and directing the dog in the early stages of training, particularly for controlling direction, pace, and the distance it works from stock.

Close-up photo of Border Collie Sheepdog Kay controlling a group of sheep

THE DOG’S CONFIDENCE – REVISED! (May 2024). Understanding factors which affect the dog’s work is important for a successful sheep or cattle dog trainer. Of those factors, the dog’s confidence is the most underestimated. It’s essential if a sheepdog is to work efficiently, at long distances from the handler, or when faced by stubborn animals. It’s also important when the farm or ranch dog works in confined spaces, such as between the stock and a fence.

Photo of a man training a sheepdog in a training ring

LEARN YOUR COMMANDS. If you want to train a farm dog to work, learn your commands before you begin. Attempting to train a sheep or cattle dog when you’re not fully conversant with the commands can cause serious problems. It’s unfair on the dog because you’ll be blaming it for going the wrong way when in fact it was doing exactly what you asked. Training a dog to work stock can be confusing enough, without you adding to the chaos by talking rubbish.

Sheepdog Trainer talking about how to be a good handler

THE SHEEPDOG HANDLER. It’s all very well learning about the dog, the sheep, and the training area, but it’s also important to understand some of the qualities required in a sheepdog handler and how to make improvements. Topics covered in this video include the importance of moving around to encourage the dog to go in the direction you want it to, as well as a brief look at some traditional commands and meanings, as well as training aids.

Teaching a sheepdog to stop on command

STOPPING THE DOG (Part 1 of 3). To control your dog properly, you must be able to stop it. This is the first of three sheepdog training video tutorials in our series about teaching your dog to stop on command, without damaging its confidence. Part one reminds trainers of the need to get control of their dog during the course of its training, to protect the sheep. It also strongly recommends containing the action inside a training ring. (Part 2 | Part 3).

Cover photo for. the tutorial "How can I slow the dog down"

HOW CAN I SLOW THE DOG DOWN? An excited dog racing around sheep or cattle, is going to stress them, as well as frighten them. Upset or scared animals, not only become less productive and move erratically. This further excites the dog, which in turn runs faster. Training a dog to work livestock shouldn’t be like this any longer than can be helped. Learn how to get your dog working steadily around stock, and your training lessons will improve quickly.

A sheepdog being trained to work sheep

HOW OFTEN, AND FOR HOW LONG? Make sure you stop each teaching session before the dog becomes too physically or mentally tired. One of the questions we are most frequently asked is about the frequency and duration of sheepdog training sessions. There are no hard and fast rules, but it’s not just a matter of working the dog until it’s exhausted. That can be counter-productive. Learn how your dog’s behaviour can give an indication of when to stop a lesson.

LOOK BACK! – NEW! (May 2024) – How to train your dog to look back for sheep that are behind it. These could be sheep that have become separated from the rest, or we might want the dog to bring sheep from another location. Once the dog has learned the “look back” you can use the command as soon as you see there are sheep left behind. The dog will quickly learn to keep its sheep together.

Two Border Collies play-fighting

BRONWEN AND SCYLLA (Part 1 of 9). Nine valuable tutorial videos comparing the training of two very different sisters. Follow the progress of Bronwen and Scylla as they learn to become sheepdogs. Despite having the same parents, their temperaments are very different. Unsurprisingly, the differing personalities are reflected in the quality of their work when they’re introduced to sheep. (Part 2  |  Part 3  |  Part 4  |  Part 5  |  Part 6  |  Part 7  |  Part 8  |  Part 9).

Cover photo of Balance tutorial - how to train a dog to work farm livestock

BALANCE, WHAT’S THE POINT? Sheep and cattle dog trainers often refer to the importance of “the point of balance” but what exactly is it, and how can it help us teach our dog to work sheep or cattle? In this short sheepdog training video tutorial, we discover what exactly the “point of balance” means and how it affects sheepdog training. Surprisingly, the point of balance is not always found on the other side of the sheep!

Using a training ring to keep sheep together makes sheepdog training far easier

THE TRAINING RING (Part 1 of 2). You can’t train a dog to work sheep if it constantly chases them away! A simple training ring of the correct size, makes teaching your dog a lot easier. It’s one of the most useful assets that help us to train a farm or ranch dog as a sheepdog. The closer you are to your dog, the more control you have over it. As well as basic training, the training ring helps with more advanced work such as driving and shedding. (Part 2).

Close-up photo showing what a dog sees when it tries to get sheep away from a fence

GET (THE SHEEP) OFF THE FENCE! To avoid the attentions of a trainee dog, sheep will cluster tightly against a fence or hedge if they can. Inexperienced dogs find it very difficult to get them away from there, but this video will show you how to overcome the dog’s fear of going between sheep and a fence, and remove them from it. You will also learn a simple way to turn the dog’s ability to circle the sheep into a tool for moving them into the open field.

Photo of a sheepdog and handler taking sheep out of a training ring, into the open field

MOVING OUT – INTO THE OPEN FIELD. Getting your trainee dog to bring the sheep out of the training ring without crisis can be a tricky affair. The sheep usually grasp the slightest opportunity to bolt, and this can result in an ugly chase. In this tutorial you’ll learn how to train a dog to work farm livestock using a routine to get sheep out of a training ring and into the open. A method which also greatly increases the chance of a smooth transition.

Teaching a sheepdog to do outruns, and gather sheep

THE OUTRUN (Part 1 of 3). If your dog’s going to gather sheep, it must do an outrun. A good outrun is the cornerstone of a good sheep dog. They’re not difficult to train, in fact dogs love doing them! Learning to do outruns also improve other aspects of the dog’s work, such as flanking, correct working distance, and the stop. Because dogs enjoy doing outruns we use them as an stress-relieving treat when teaching more difficult work. (Part 2 | Part 3).

Photo of a pond In autumn

GIVE THE SHEEP SOME SPACE! One of the most common reasons for sheep herding work not going well, is the dog being too close to the sheep, and upsetting them. To work sheep or cattle properly, the dog must give them plenty of room. Of course there are times when the dog needs to be close and assertive, but usually, the less the dog pressurises stock the better. If you instruct your dog to give the sheep space in early training, it will pay you dividends.

How to get your dog interested in working sheep

STARTING A NON-STARTER (Part 1 of 2) To discover that your dog doesn’t want to work, can be very disappointing. It may not mean you can’t change the dog’s mind though. As with most aspects of training dogs to work stock, if you understand what’s happening and why, there’s a much better chance of putting things right. Learn ways that you could spark your dog’s natural instinct for working in this two-part online sheepdog training video. (Part 2).

Photo of a dog being trained in an open field

CALM, BUT FIRM. A dog which is aggressive with the sheep, but runs away as soon as the trainer attempts to correct it, can be among the most difficult dogs to train. When schooling a farm dog to work stock, it’s important to appear calm, even if you’re not! It’s not easy! Audrey not only fits this description perfectly, she refuses to go “Away” around the sheep too. When training with patience but firm control Audrey shows good progress.

Andy walking backwards with a dog.

BACKWARDS IS THE WAY FORWARD! The single most important exercise you can do once your dog has basic control of the sheep. It’s boring, and may appear pointless to the novice. Done properly though, it improves the dog’s pace, working distance, stop, sheep control, and much more. The technique involves walking backwards with the dog bringing the sheep up to you, at the pace you walk back. This is one of the most important tutorials in the sheepdog training video library!

Back to forwards is a great lesson to improve control of your dog

BACK TO FORWARDS! Once you and your dog have mastered “Backwards is the Way Forward“, this is the next step! When you can rely on your dog to bring the sheep up to you nicely as you walk backwards, turn around and walk forwards! It shouldn’t take much more training before the dog responds by bringing the sheep up along behind you nicely, even when you’re not watching it! Teaching your dog will become far easier, and progress also becomes quicker!

A photo of a border collie sheepdog being trained to work sheep

STICKY DOGS! “That dog’s got too much eye!”  You’ll sometimes hear this when a sheepdog, (invariably a Border collie) appears mesmerised by the sheep, and reluctant to move. We don’t like the term ‘too much eye’ because it suggests there’s something physically wrong with the dog. There isn’t though. What people refer to as ‘too much eye’ is simply the dog’s lack of confidence. It’s also not difficult to correct if you understand what’s happening.

How to train an aggressive sheepdog

TRAINING MAX – THE GRIPPER! (Part 1 of 3). Not for the faint-hearted! This tutorial deals with one of the most difficult aspects of teaching a sheepdog. How to cope with a very strong-willed dog which persists in violently attacking the sheep. In part one of the video, you’ll see Max at his worst, despite his trainer being vigilant, but with care and the use of a rope-chain, the lessons pay off and the bad boy soon begins to make progress. (Part 2 | Part 3).

How to train a dog which isn't keen to work sheep

STARTING A RELUCTANT DOG. How to boost your dog’s confidence and help it to start taking an interest in working sheep or other farm stock. Most dogs are over-excited when they first encounter sheep or cattle, and it’s up to the trainer to do their best to protect the stock. Occasionally though, despite the trainer’s best efforts, the sheep dog takes no interest in the stock at all. Watch how Maisie’s dormant instinct comes alive in the training ring!

Photo of Andy against a background of a sheepdog at work

CLOSE WORK (Part 1 of 2). A dog bringing sheep to you in the open field is great, but your farm dog’s capable of doing much more to help you. Efficiently moving sheep around at close quarters as well as taking them to fresh pasture, putting them in and out of yards, pens buildings and races, are all essential tasks for the farm dog. In part one we teach Carew and Tess to take the sheep through a gateway into a field – and back again! (Part 2).

Sheepdog Training in a large field

SENDING THE DOG THE WRONG WAY! No, not a mistake! The technique we call ‘sending the dog the wrong way’ will widen your farm dog out as it goes round the stock. It’s not easy to describe in print, but it’s easily understood when you see the video. Sending the dog the ‘wrong way’ is a great training technique to get a dog to give the sheep space when it’s flanking. Once you can achieve this, your dog’s well on the way to becoming a fine working farm dog.

A flock of sheep being moved through a gateway.

FLOCK WORK. To us humans, working a flock of sheep seems like a perfectly natural activity for the dog. We don’t see the transition from training ground to farm work, as being a problem. In reality though, it can be a huge step for a trainee dog. Almost as big a step as when the dog was first introduced to sheep. The flock work sheepdog training video tutorial has some great ideas which will make your dog’s introduction to flock work a lot smoother.

Close-up photo of a typical sheepdog whistle

THE SHEEPDOG WHISTLE (Part 1 of 2). How to blow the notorious shepherd’s whistle! If you find your sheepdog whistle difficult to blow, you’re not alone. Many people find it tricky to master at first, but don’t worry. This video will teach you how to blow a sheepdog whistle and part two shows how you can easily get your dog working on whistle commands. Unless your dog is in the advanced stages of training though, there’s really no need to hurry.

Photo of a sheep chasing a dog away

SOMETIMES NICE IS NOT ENOUGH. Does your dog need more “GRRRRR”? It’s fine training your sheepdog or cattle dog to keep well back from the stock, so as to not upset them. What can you do if the sheep refuse to go where the dog’s trying to put them though? For their own welfare, sheep, cattle or other farm stock must be handled, treated for any ailments and managed. So that means we need to teach the dog to get tough sometimes. Give your dog’s confidence a boost!

Tess in the open field cover picture

TESS IN THE OPEN FIELD. Highly recommended. The ‘Tess in the open field’ sheepdog training video is a complete training session, packed with important training examples. In this video, Tess is learning to widen her flanks and not cross over on her outrun, or split the sheep up. We also encourage her to work more calmly around the sheep, and come away from them more reliably. In addition, she gets an introduction to driving. Plenty for Tess to learn!

Photo of Andy filming the video: why your dog must run both ways around sheep

WHY YOUR DOG SHOULD FLANK BOTH WAYS. This video emphasises the importance of teaching your dog to go both ways round the stock. Just as most humans are left or right-handed, the majority of herding dogs favour working in one direction over another. But it’s simply a habit that can fairly easily be trained out of the dog. Watch the video to find how. To train a dog to work farm livestock properly involves the dog going both ways around the livestock.

Photo of a dog chasing sheep in a ring

MY DOG’S NO GOOD Don’t believe it! As long as your dog is a herding breed with an active hunting instinct, is willing to work for its handler, and is physically fit, it’s also capable of working livestock to a reasonable standard. Farmers, shepherds and handlers often assume a dog’s useless because it’s working badly, when it’s more than likely their own fault, for not properly instructing or showing the dog how they want it to work.

Photo of a sheepdog driving sheep

DRIVING (Part 1 of 3). Some sheepdog trainers dread teaching their dog to drive. It’s understandable, because driving the sheep away from the handler, is the opposite of what the dog’s been taught in its basic training. Taking the sheep or cattle away, is also contrary to the dog’s instinct. If you understand what’s going on though, it becomes much simpler, and more enjoyable for dog, and also the trainer as it learns to drive sheep. (Part 2 | Part 3)

Photo of a sheepdog learning Inside flanks or circling on command.

INSIDE FLANKS – CIRCLE ON COMMAND (Part 1 of 2). Once you can get your dog to take a few sheep fifty metres or so (50 yds) away from you, and then flank the dog 360° around them both ways fluently, you could say you have a highly trained dog! Inside flanks are essential if you’re teaching a sheepdog trials dog. It takes patiencee and determination to teach, but once the dog can do it, its confidence and control of livestock will improve considerably. (Part 2).

Photo of a lot of sheep jumping a fence together

WOOLLY JUMPERS! It’s amusing to watch, but sheep which jump out of the training area, don’t just disrupt the training lesson. The sheep can injure themselves and also damage fencing and hurdles into the bargain. Sheep learn very quickly from each other, so if you do nothing about it, before long, you’ll have a whole flock of jumping sheep! Learn how to minimise the likelihood of your sheep learning to jump out of the training area during classes.

How to use a reward to get your dog to ride in a vehicle!

USE A REWARD TO GET TRAINING ON BOARD! Does your dog refuse to get in the car, truck, quad or tractor? Poor Odo went to a sheep farm, but his new owner brought him back to us a few days later. He couldn’t get the dog into his car to go to work! That was a pity because Odo was working really well, and getting a dog into a vehicle is a very simple matter – if you know what to do! Learn how easy it can be to get your dog into a vehicle in a few minutes!

Teaching the dog to toilet on command

ELIMINATE THE TOILET BREAK. A farm dog which has stopped to relieve itself can easily lose control of its sheep or even cattle, because it’s no longer concentrating on them. If this happens in a sheepdog trial, you will lose a lot of points. You might even be disqualified. There’s no need for it though. Learn how easy it is to teach your dog to toilet on command. Teach it before the dog works, and soon the dog will take care of the matter itself.

Photo of a dog biting some sheep as they go into a pen

NO EXCUSES PLEASE! It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking your dog’s work is better than it really is. (It happened with me and my first dog, Dot many years ago)! Novice trainers are often over-eager to move-on with their dog’s training. Some will even overlook shortcuts and bad habits which the dog sometimes adopts to get the job done quickly. Find out how to train a farm dog to work better, and accurately assess the dog’s skill level.

Photo of a trainee dog sheep in pens and yards

EVE AT THE PEN. A complete training session. This is another important tutorial in our sheepdog training video library. Watch Eve learning good pen manners, getting sheep into a tight spot and back out again, and boosting her confidence and control. Eve’s basic training is in place, but she still shows some typical weaknesses for a sheepdog learning to herd sheep. Her stop’s not 100% reliable (yet) and her flanks are one-sided.

Photo of a sheepdog shedding sheep

SHEDDING. Shedding contradicts the rules we’ve taught the dog so far! That’s because in early training we (quite rightly) insist the dog keeps the sheep together. To shed sheep however, the dog must part them again. Some dogs take readily to shedding, but understandably a large number of young dog’s are confused and even worried by it. As with so many things we teach a trainee sheepdog, the secret is to make the task as easy as possible when we start.

Cover image for Educating Gloria

EDUCATING GLORIA! This is Gloria’s fourth training session, with some well-dogged sheep. The tutorial shows how to train a dog to work farm livestock using techniques seen in other tutorials, for instance the training ring; training stick; reinforcing the stop, and flank commands; widening the flanks; taking the sheep out of the ring (whoops – the wrong way!) and dealing with gripping. Gloria’s no angel, but we think you’ll be impressed with her!

Photo of a dog working sheep at a sheepdog trial

SHEEPDOG TRIALS – GETTING STARTED (Part 1 of 2). Two tutorial videos, delving quite deeply into competitive sheep herding trials in the UK and many other parts of the world. They’ll give you a great understanding of how a sheepdog trial is run, as well as how to prepare your trials dog for your first event. There’s also a clear description of how a sheepdog trials course is set out. What to do and what to avoid at sheep dog trials, is also covered. (Part 2).

Close-up photo of three sheepdogs very close together

SHEEPDOGS TIME-OUT! Following on from the very popular “An Insight Into Pack Behaviour“, we thought we’d give you a real treat by adding this fun video to our sheepdog training video library. “Sheepdogs Time Out” comprises of no less than four great chapters from our second DVD; Border Collie Sheepdogs & Friends – Still Off Duty! It’s a shade under 17 minutes of Border Collie fun, as well as a few little training lessons with our “Super Sheepdog” Kay.

EnglishSpanish and French subtitles available on all tutorials. (Some translation errors).