Flock Work

Is your dog ready to work a flock of sheep?

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Thumbnail image for our Flock Work tutorial.

Once your dog can control a small number of sheep reasonably well in the training field, it's natural to start thinking about working a flock of sheep. After all, that's what the dog's for, isn't it!

To us humans, flock work seems like a natural activity for the dog, so we don't see the change from training ground to farm as being a problem, but in reality it can be a huge step for a trainee dog. Almost as big a step as when the dog first went to sheep.

This tutorial will give you a lot of advice on making sure your dog is ready to work a flock of sheep, on ground it's not familiar with.

Why Your Dog Should Flank Both Ways

The importance of teaching your dog to go both ways round the stock

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Just as most humans are left or right-handed, the majority of herding dogs favour working in one direction over another. It's simply a habit that can fairly easily be trained out of the dog.

Unfortunately, some sheep and cattle dog handlers are not bothered if their dog will only go in one direction to gather the stock - as long as it brings them successfully. This video demonstrates the importance of training your dog to work fluently in whichever direction you choose to send it.

Sometimes Nice is Not Enough

Does your dog have difficulty moving stubborn sheep or other livestock?

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sheepdog training video about improving the dogs confidence with stubborn stock

It's all very well training your dog to keep back from the sheep and not upset them, but what can you do if the sheep refuse to go where the dog's trying to put them? For the welfare of the sheep, they simply must be handled, treated for any ailments and managed, so we need to teach the dog to get tough when the time arises.

Find out how Carew's confidence grew immensely once she learned to be more assertive. As well as difficult sheep, Carew can now handle stubborn cattle with relative ease.

Whistle (Parts 1 & 2)

How to blow a sheepdog whistle - and work your dog on whistle commands.

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Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: The Sheepdog Whistle

Part 1 - If you're finding your sheepdog whistle difficult to blow, you're not alone. Many people find it difficult to master at first, but don't worry. Unless your dog is in the advanced stages of training, there's really no need to hurry.

The Montana Lite Whistle as demonstrated in this video is available from the International Sheep Dog Society Shop.

A sheepdog whistle is very useful if you work your dog on livestock at a distance, in bad weather or under noisy conditions. That's because the sound of the whistle carries much further than the human voice. Using a whistle enables the dog to hear our commands from farther away or when other sounds may drown the sound of our voice out.

If you're in the early stages of training your dog though, there's rarely any need to start working your dog on whistle commands. In fact we recommend that you use your voice when your dog's learning to herd sheep, because you can use the tone of your voice to tell the dog whether it's working correctly or not.

A gentle voice tells the dog you're pleased with it, and a harsh voice tells it you're not!

In this tutorial, Andy describes his favourite whistles and those he avoids, before going on to clearly demonstrate how to get sound from the sheepdog whistle. He also gives examples of typical whistle commands.

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: The Sheepdog Whistle - part two

Part 2 - Once you can blow a sheepdog whistle consistently, it's relatively easy to teach your dog to work off whistle commands.
This totally remade and revised tutorial takes you through the process of familiarising your dog with whistle commands.

Bronwen's quite good with voice commands and now Andy wants to teach her to work on whistle commands. It doesn't take long before the young dog gets the idea!