The training stick

Correctly used, the training stick gives better control and reduces training time.

Subtitles: French*, Spanish* or English, click CC on viewer (*translation errors).

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Photo of the simple training stick

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Video Highlights

The tools trainers use to aid control when training sheepdogs.
We all know dogs are wary of sticks.
The stick can improve the dog’s obedience.
A ‘whoosh’ or ‘whack’, for maximum effect!
Using the training stick correctly.
The material we use for a training ‘stick’.
Ways to use the training stick.
A ‘training stick’ demonstration.
Watch the demo in slow motion.

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For better control and easier training

By far the most important tool we use for training sheepdogs is the lightweight plastic pipe. We call it the Training Stick – and we wouldn’t like to have to train dogs without one! This tutorial describes how invaluable the training stick can be in the early stages of training, for controlling the dog’s direction, its pace, and the distance it works from the sheep or cattle.

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Comments

15 responses to “The training stick”

  1. isabel beasley avatar
    isabel beasley

    Hi Andy,

    I have just started watching your training videos and they are really fantastic. Thank you!

    With regards to the training stick, are there any positives/negatives to having a brightly coloured swimming pool noodle around the lower half of the stick? …

    1. Thanks for the kind comment about our videos, Isabel.
      I’m not sure why you want to attach something bright to your training stick, but I can’t see that it would do any harm.

      1. isabel beasley avatar
        isabel beasley

        Hi Andy,

        Thanks very much for your quick response.

        I am slowly working my way through your fantastic tutorials, but was wondering if you have a tutorial that explains what hand the training stick should be in at what time in the training ring? I am a terrible multi-tasker, and I find that I am getting very confused about what point I should change the training stick over to the other hand?

        Thanks for any advice you have.

  2. James Fougere avatar
    James Fougere

    Hey Andy,

    I’ve had great success training my dog Clockwise and Anti-Clockwise flanking before beginning to use the training stick, and I’ve noticed that she doesn’t pay much attention to the words I’m using. She focuses mostly on my body movements which direction I’m sending her.

    With the introduction of the training stick I’ve noticed she only views it as an extension of my arm. It has been great so far, because now I can easily use it to have her flank much wider than she used to with only my arms to direct her. The problem I’m having is that when I use the stick to block her going the wrong way, she’s convinced I’m pointing her to go that way!

    My question to you is should I give up using the stick to block her and focus just on where I want her to be? I can have her stop going the wrong way with a quick “tss” sound easily enough, but I wasn’t sure how important you think it is that she respond to the stick as a block.

    Any suggestions are greatly appreciated, thanks!

    1. It sounds as though you’ve spent too long concentrating purely on widening the dog out, and now when you try to block her, she thinks you simply want it to go wider!
      I don’t recommend you stop using the stick. Teach the dog what you want it to do!
      Use your voice as well as the stick, and mix blocking her to stop her, with widening her out. She’ll soon get the idea!

  3. michelle callan-bergin avatar
    michelle callan-bergin

    Hi, sorry for the very basic questions, I’m completely new to this! At what point do you introduce the voice commands come by and away? It seems from this video, if I’m correct, that the directional control is down to the training stick and not voice commands, do you just start introducing these slowly as you go along?

    1. I introduce the flank and stop commands right from the moment the dog first goes around the sheep, Michelle. Of course, it’s heavily backed up with the training stick at first, but the voice is there all the time – and I also praise the dog with a gentle voice when it does good work.
      If you haven’t already seen this, watch the “Starting a Strong Dog” tutorial or “Starting a Young Puppy“. I hope you find these useful.

  4. Linda Stoddard avatar
    Linda Stoddard

    In the states we have 2 types of pic pipe. We build agility jumps out of the schedule 40, which holds up being outdoors. As you said overflow pipe I am assuming that you mean indoor or non schedule 40, correct.

    Thanks

    1. Sorry Linda, I know nothing of US plumbing specifications but the pipe we use is approximately 25mm (1 inch) in diameter with a wall thickness of about 1.3mm if that’s of any help to you.

      1. Linda Stoddard avatar
        Linda Stoddard

        Andy,
        Thanks for your reply. I DON’T do metric so I’m not sure about the 1.3mm. I went to Home Depot yesterday & I realized the difference in the weight of the household pvc & the heavier schedule 40 pipe. It seems our elbows, etc., for plumbing only comes in schedule 40 which is fine, as you don’t need them for stock sticks.
        Thanks again for you reply,
        Linda

  5. Amie Brodie avatar
    Amie Brodie

    How long should the stick be? Feet or inches, please, I’m an American. Thanks!

    1. I find the best length for the training stick is 1 metre, Amie – that’s about 40 inches.

      1. Amie Brodie avatar
        Amie Brodie

        Thanks!

  6. Felicity Singleton avatar
    Felicity Singleton

    Very interesting. It looks like the stick is used in a similar way to the whip when lunging a horse. Sending it away from the stick and not using it to indicate the direction that you want the dog to move in, as you might if it was a gun dog.

    1. Very similar to lunging a horse I think, Felicity. In fact, I think pointing to show ANY dog which way you want it to go is a mistake – because (depending where you’re standing) the way dog’s interpret this, means you’re blocking its path.

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