The Sheepdog Handler


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Picture of a sheepdog handler, with the title of our sheepdog training video The Sheepdog Handler

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

We look at some of the qualities required in a sheepdog handler (or trainer) and how to make improvements.

Topics covered include the importance of moving around to encourage the dog to go in the direction you want it to, and a brief look at some of the traditional commands in common use.

There's also an in-depth look at some of the tools we can use to make training much easier.

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Starting a reluctant dog


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

Help boost your dog's confidence to start working sheep

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.

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Training Max – the Gripper (Part 1)


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A compulsive gripper can be a big problem to train

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.

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

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Sending the Dog the Wrong Way!


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A useful technique to widen your dog out from the sheep

One of the best ways to get a dog to give the sheep space when it's flanking is to use a technique we call "sending the dog the wrong way".

Once you can achieve this, you and your dog are well on the way to producing quality work - but it's not easy.

As with so many other aspects of sheepdog training, once you understand why the dog is reluctant to go "the wrong way" it becomes much easier to train it to do just that, and the dog's flanks will widen out.

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Educating Gloria!


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Watch a complete training session, full of valuable lessons!

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.

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Backwards is the way forward


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Our most useful exercise once you have control of the dog

It's boring - and it might appear pointless to the novice, but walking backwards with the dog bringing the sheep up to you is the single most important exercise you can do once your dog has basic control of the sheep.

It improves pace, working distance, the stop, sheep control, and much more.

As well as clearly demonstrating how to get a strong dog to bring the sheep up quietly - this tutorial provides a valuable tip on how to read your sheep.

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Starting a Strong Dog


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Is your dog hard to control around sheep?

In part one of Starting a Young Puppy, 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!

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Outrun (Part 1)


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

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.

The Outrun 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).

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