The Training Ring (Parts 1 & 2)

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A training ring makes training your dog a lot easier

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: The Training Ring parts one and two

A two-part tutorial. One of the most useful assets that help us to train a sheepdog is the sheepdog training ring. It's very much more versatile than you might think. A properly constructed training ring will make the early stages of training your dog so much easier.

Trainee sheepdogs tend to chase the sheep, who (very wisely) run away. Both dog and sheep can run much faster than sheepdog trainers, so this means the 'action' is happening too far away for us to keep the situation under control.

A correctly sized training ring is simple to make, and will transform the early stages of sheepdog training. It can also be an extremely useful aid when it comes to teaching the dog more difficult tasks later on.

In this video, we find out what the optimum size is for the ring, and how to adapt it for more advanced training.

The Training Area

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Chapter four from the DVD set First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training

Title banner for our Sheepdog Training Tutorial, The Training Area, with trainee sheepdog Kay watching Andy the trainer close a farm gate

The Training Area tutorial shows you how to get the most out of the field, paddock or yard you train your dog in. The size, shape and nature of the training area can make a huge difference to your training experience.

With a few small changes to the original "First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training" DVD footage to make matters even clearer, this tutorial will give you great insight into the type of ground you should train in and some great ideas for improving it quite dramatically.

Starting a reluctant dog

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Help boost your dog's confidence to start working sheep

Close up photo of Maisie, the dog used in this herding sheepdog training tutorial

Most dogs are over-excited when they first encounter sheep and it's up to the trainer to do their best to protect the stock. Occasionally though the dog takes no interest in the stock at all.

In this tutorial, Maisie shows no interest in sheep at first, but once the hunting instinct kicks-in, despite being a sensitive dog, she's aggressive with them.

Our video demonstrates how to limit the pressure applied by your control measures, while at the same time encouraging the dog to work.

It also shows a good example of how to get a dog to flank both ways around the sheep when the dog prefers to flank in one direction only.

Get (the sheep) off the fence!

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How to get sheep or cattle away from a fence or hedge.

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Get off the Fence

Getting stubborn sheep away from a fence or hedge during the early stages of training can be very frustrating unless you know the "tricks of the trade". This tutorial shows you not only how to prise the sheep away from the fence, but also how to turn the dog's determination to circle the sheep into a useful tool for moving the sheep in the open field.

Once your dog masters this, it'll very soon be able to keep the sheep out in the open.

Eve at the Pen

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A complete training session, teaching the dog good pen manners.

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Eve at the Pen

Getting sheep into a tight spot, and then getting them out again, needs confidence and control. In this tutorial we see Eve, a keen young dog who's basic training is in place, but Eve still shows some tyro weaknesses - she favours "Away" to "Come Bye", for instance, and her stop isn't 100% reliable (yet).

However, a lesson in and around the pen doesn't only teach penning, it gives us the opportunity to work on Eve's stop and flanks, to introduce the "Look Back" (when she fails to bring all her sheep cleanly to the pen) and to help build her confidence to get between the sheep and the fence.

Educating Gloria!

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Watch a complete training session, full of valuable lessons!

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Educating Gloria

This tutorial shows nine-month old Gloria, a bright, enthusiastic young dog, and her fourth training session with some well-dogged sheep. As well as showing a typical dog in training, warts and all, the tutorial demonstrates some of the techniques that we've talked about in other tutorials, such as making use of the training ring; effective use of the training stick; reinforcing the stop, and flank commands; widening the flanks; taking the sheep out of the ring (whoops - the wrong way!) and dealing with gripping.

Starting a Strong Dog

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Is your dog hard to control around sheep?

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Starting a Strong Dog

In part one of the 'Starting a Young Puppy' tutorials, we saw that with care, it's possible to begin a puppy's training at a very early age, but if you didn't have the luxury of well-dogged docile sheep for your puppy to learn with, then you've had to wait before you can start training - and you may find you have a tougher dog than you bargained for when it comes to training it on sheep.

Rather like Tess in this tutorial, there's a good chance your young dog will have its own ideas about how to go about tackling sheep!

The Outrun (Parts 1-3)

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

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

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.

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).

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.

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 go out much wider.