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.

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.

The Outrun (Parts 1-3)

A good outrun is essential if a sheepdog is to work efficiently.

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Fortunately, it's not difficult to train a dog to do an outrun, and the training process itself improves other aspects of the dog's work, such as flanking and the stop, so we use short outruns very early in training to improve the dog's all-round performance.

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

Part 1 features Jed, a large, headstrong male collie with far more enthusiasm than skill. We filmed an actual training session, warts and all, to show how to start teaching the outrun, and how to make the best of it when things go wrong (as things, inevitably, will).

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

Part 2. Andy demonstrates how positioning yourself, your dog and the sheep, in relation to each other, is the key to success when you're working on lengthening or widening your dog's outrun. To prove the method works we see Carew at an early stage in her career - when she'd "cross over" at the prospect of even quite a short outrun - and, just a few months later, tackling a 500 metre outrun for the first time.

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: The Outrun part three

Part 3 shows how we use a simple technique we call "The Slingshot", to make the dog go out much wider on its outrun or when flanking the sheep. "The Slingshot" is one of the most important and highly effective techniques we know of for quickly improving the dog's outrun.
If you can get your dog's cooperation, it will absolutely love doing "Slingshot" outruns - and it'll go out much wider, too!