Starting a non starter (Parts 1 & 2)

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If your dog doesn't want to work, we can help you to change its mind!

Photo of a border collie clambering through a fence to get away from the sheep in the background

It's very disappointing to find that your dog doesn't seem to want to work sheep or cattle, but it doesn't necessarily mean you won't be able to change its mind. 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.

In these two tutorials, we look closely at why some dogs want to work and others don't. Then we look at several proven ways of triggering the dog's work instinct.

Use a reward to get training on board

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Odo was returned to us because he wouldn't get in the car!

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Use a reward to get training on board

Poor Odo went to a sheep farm, but his new owner brought him back to us because 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!

Working dogs have a huge capacity for learning, but in order to learn things that we want them to do, there must be some reward in it for them. Fortunately, one of the greatest rewards you can give a sheep or cattle dog is to allow it to work the stock.

This is obviously a great help when we train a dog to work livestock, but in this tutorial Andy uses the reward of working sheep to get Odo, who is terrified of going in a vehicle, to jump in and go for a ride!

Eliminate the Toilet Break

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Discourage your dog from taking a toilet break while it's working.

Not only is it not professional, but dog which has stopped to relieve itself can easily lose control of its sheep because it's no longer concentrating on them. If this happens in a sheepdog trial, you will lose a lot of points. Learn how easy it is to teach your dog to toilet on command, so that you can make sure it's fully comfortable before it begins work.

How Often (to Train) and How Long For?

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Regular training is excellent, but don't overdo it

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: How Often and for How Long?

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 important to observe your dog's behaviour and make sure you stop each session before the dog becomes too physically or mentally, tired.

In this tutorial, Andy gives some valuable guidelines to help you recognise when your dog's had enough!

Calm but Firm

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It's so important to appear calm, even when you're not

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Calm But Firm

A dog which is aggressive with the sheep, but runs away as soon as the trainer attempts to correct it, is among the most difficult dogs to train. Audrey not only fits this description perfectly, but just for good measure, refuses to go "Away" around the sheep too. The Calm but Firm tutorial will show you how to cope with these difficult dogs. Featuring footage from actual training sessions.

Driving (Parts 1-3)

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THREE TUTORIALS to help you teach your dog to drive

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

PART 1. Some sheepdog trainers dread teaching their dog to drive and it's understandable, because when we ask a dog to take the sheep or cattle away, it's contrary to the dog's instinct. If you understand what's going on though, it becomes much simpler, and more enjoyable for dog and trainer. In this tutorial you'll discover how to ease the dog into driving and reduce the stress involved when we ask the dog to take the stock away.

PART 2.
Following on from the first sheepdog driving tutorial, in this video, you will learn how to use your body position to maintain some control over the dog while it learns to drive. Just as when controlling the direction that the dog flanks around the sheep in the early stages of training, body position and point of balance are also crucial for controlling direction when teaching the drive. In this tutorial, Andy shows that putting himself in the right place at the right time, can make a huge difference to the behaviour of the dog.

PART 3.
Unashamed deception! Calling the dog back onto line when it's determined to hook the sheep back to you can be difficult and frustrating. As it drives the sheep away from the handler, the trainee dog is often so keen to get ahead of them and bring them back that it will ignore conventional flanking commands. In this tutorial, Andy uses what might be deemed an inappropriate command to call the dog back onto line and keep the sheep moving in the right direction.