Top tips for easier training

Valuable advice for sheep and cattle dog trainers.

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Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Top tips for easier training

Nobody would claim that training a dog to work sheep or other livestock is an easy matter. But by understanding what is going on and why, and by paying attention to just a few basic details, we can make the process so much easier for both dog and handler.

In this video Andy shows how to correct the points which will be most beneficial when you train a herding dog, but are so often missed by novice trainers.

Training Max – the Gripper (Parts 1-3)

A dog which attacks livestock must be brought under control as quickly.

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Part 1 - A compulsive gripper can be a big problem to train
Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Training Max the Gripper - part one

Not for the faint-hearted, this tutorial deals with one of the most difficult aspects of sheepdog training, how to cope with a very strong-willed dog which persists in violently attacking the sheep. In the first part of the video, you'll see Max at his worst despite his trainer being vigilant. Later on, Max's training becomes easier and far more rewarding. Watch the video to find out how it's done.

Part 2 - Max is making progress
Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Training Max the Gripper - part two

After a quick recap of Max's colourful start to his training, this tutorial shows him making good progress in the training ring and even starting to bring the sheep up to the handler but he's difficult to stop. Andy's careful to start the training session correctly to give Max the best chance of going around the sheep rather than gripping or splitting them - but can Max keep up the good work?

Part 3 - Max is almost trustworthy now!
Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Training Max the Gripper - part three

The third and final part of our "Training Max the Gripper" tutorials sees Max working well in the training ring but then Andy decides to move the action out into the open field. Find out how Max copes with taking the sheep out of the training ring, and whether or not he manages to get them back into it before the session ends.

Max had no training of any kind, at any time in between the lessons shown above.

Bronwen and Scylla (Parts 1-8)

Eight tutorial videos comparing the training of two very different sisters.

Select the chapter you'd like to watch (1-8) from the playlist below this video.
Watch the Bronwen and Scylla tutorials with ENGLISH SUBTITLES.

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Part 1: Comparing the training of very different sisters

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Bronwen and Scylla part one

We're going to follow the progress of two litter sisters - Bronwen and Scylla - as they learn to become sheepdogs. They might have the same parents, but their temperaments are very different and the same goes for their attitude to working sheep.
In this first part we learn about the two young dogs. We see one of them working nicely in the field, while the other's approach seems to be "the best form of defence is attack"!

Part 2: Scylla's turn now - she's not so nice!

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Bronwen and Scylla part two

In part one we saw how good Bronwen's sheep control can be, and we caught a glimpse of Scylla's antics too. In this tutorial, we find out just how difficult Scylla can be when she encounters sheep. When Scylla gets into the training ring she's very trying at first, but soon, with a little help from Kay, the youngster begins to show her natural talent. There's still a long way to go, but Scylla's definitely got what it takes!

Part 3: Bronwen gets the sheep in, but Scylla's still horrible

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Stopping the Dog part one

The third tutorial in our Bronwen and Scylla series sees Bronwen struggle to get the sheep into the ring. Once the sheep are in, we watch both Bronwen and Scylla's individual training sessions in the ring on the same day. Bronwen is keen and confident, but she's often over-keen and misguided, while Scylla's tail (and her attitude to the sheep) demonstrate just how nervous she really is.

Part 4: Bronwen's no angel, but Scylla's improving slowly

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Bronwen and Scylla part four

In tutorial number four, Bronwen proves she's by no means perfect, but she continues to be a long way ahead of Scylla in terms of her reliability and sheep control. Scylla's working much too close to the sheep. Her tail is still flying like a flag and she's far too aggressive with them. Tiresome though she can be at times, there are signs of improvement, and even one brief moment that shows great promise!

Part 5: Scylla's still pretty awful - Bronwen's erratic

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Bronwen and Scylla part five

Scylla takes an almighty charge, and scatters the sheep in all directions. Four of the sheep leave the ring but, once under control, Scylla was impressive at times - particularly at keeping the sheep off the hurdles. Unfortunately Scylla's lesson was brought to an early end when a sheep collapsed with stress exhaustion. Once left in peace, the sheep was soon up and about again.
Bronwen's performance was erratic - largely because she was distracted by the close proximity of some inquisitive cattle.

Part 6: Is Scylla ready to work outside the ring?

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Bronwen and Scylla (Part 6)

Part six of our series comparing the training of litter sisters, Bronwen and Scylla, sees Scylla continuing to make slow progress in the ring. Andy's hoping to get her out into the field, but she's not ready so he concentrates on getting her to flank smoothly and keep back off the sheep.
Bronwen begins by diving into the sheep and gripping, but she quickly settles down so Andy works on her flank commands. They take the sheep out of the ring, but the dog rushes at the sheep and they run away.
Bronwen isn't flanking properly; she's just chasing the sheep. The sheep have run far across the field before Andy can get close enough to the action to get Bronwen under control again.

Part 7: Bronwen's flanking far too wide

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Bronwen and Scylla Part seven

In part seven, of our Bronwen and Scylla comparison, we focus entirely on Bronwen. Although she's far more advanced and reliable than her sister, Scylla, she's developed the all-too common problem of running much too wide when she goes round the stock.
When a dog works too far back from sheep or cattle the stock quickly learn that the dog's not in a position to control them, and they're likely to run away.
The video shows that being firm, but patient, with the errant dog, and using practical work to show the dog that it needs to be in control, will help to stop the dog casting out too wide.

Part 8: Scylla makes good progress!

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Bronwen and Scylla part eight

When a dog's proving slow to train, it's particularly important to be able to recognise the areas where progress is being made, and to communicate approval and encouragement to the dog when it's work is improved, even if it's not fully up to the standard you aspire to.
It's through such guidance that the dog learns more quickly what pleases the handler and what doesn't.
Part eight of the Bronwen and Scylla training comparison focuses on Scylla and points out the areas of her work which deserve praise and encouragement, as well as those which are still a long way below par.

Tess in the Open Field

A complete training session, packed with lessons.

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Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Stopping the Dog part one

As well as learning specific sheepdog training topics, we like to show you complete training sessions. This helps keep the topics in context and gives the viewer a better understanding of the dog's skill level when it undertakes various tasks.

In this session, Tess (who features in the popular tutorial 'Starting a Strong Dog') has graduated to working outside the training ring. In this video, she's learning to widen her flanks not cross over on her outrun or split the sheep up, to work more calmly around the sheep and come away from them more reliably. She also gets an introduction to driving.

No Excuses Please!

Take a realistic look at your dog's performance...

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Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: No Excuses Please!

It's very easy to fall into the trap of thinking your dog's work is better than it really is. Novice trainers are often eager to move our dog's training on, and can overlook shortcuts and bad habits which the dog will sometimes adopt in the interest of getting the job done quickly. Find out how and why you should accurately and reasonably assess the dog's skill level.

Sheepdog Trials – Getting Started (Parts 1 & 2)

Information for would-be sheepdog trials competitors.

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Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Getting Started in Sheepdog Trials

Two-part tutorial for those people who hope to take part in sheepdog trials.
Preparing your dog and yourself for your first sheepdog trial is not a simple task. There are so many things to remember. Where do you go when you arrive at the field? What happens during the competition? What should I avoid? Who can I ask for help?

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial part two

These two tutorials delve quite deeply into competitive sheep herding in the UK and many other parts of the world. They'll give you a great understanding of how a sheepdog trial is run, how to prepare for your first trial, what to do, and what to avoid.

Learn Your Commands

Confusing your commands is very bad practice.

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Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Learn Your Commands

Attempting to train a sheep or cattle dog when you're not fully conversant with the commands can cause serious problems. It's completely 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. This tutorial will give you some tips to make learning your commands easier.

My Dog’s No Good

The dog's not 'no good', it just needs training.

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Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: My Dog's No Good

If someone tells you your dog's no good, don't believe them.
As long as your dog has the herding instinct, the will to work for its handler, and is physically fit, it's capable of learning how to work stock. All too often, farmers, shepherds and handlers assume that a dog's useless because it happens to be working badly, when in fact it's their fault for not showing the dog how they want it to work.