The Sheepdog Handler



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 non starter (Parts 1 and 2)



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

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

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.

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Starting a reluctant dog



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.

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.

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Use a reward to get training on board



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

Odo doesn't want to get in the car!

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!

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Training Max – the Gripper (Parts 1-3)



Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Training Max the Gripper - part one

Part 1 - 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.

Part 2 - Max is making progress

After a quick recap of Max's colourful start to his training, this tutorial shows him making good progress in the training ring and even starting to bring the sheep up to the handler but he's difficult to stop.

Andy's careful to start the training session correctly to give Max the best chance of going around the sheep rather than gripping or splitting them - but can Max keep up the good work?

Part 3 - Max is almost trustworthy now!

The third and final part of our "Training Max the Gripper" tutorials sees Max working well in the training ring but then Andy decides to move the action out into the open field.

Find out how Max copes with taking the sheep out of the training ring, and whether or not he manages to get them back into it before the session ends.

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

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Sheepdog Selection and Preparation



Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Sheepdog Selection and Preparation

Chapters 1 & 2 from the DVD set First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training

For a long time now we've wanted to update our "First Steps" DVD set because our training techniques and understanding of sheepdogs have improved immensely since the DVD's release.

This video presents chapters one (the introduction) and two from the DVD set. It's fairly heavily modified and now nearly 30 minutes long! We're sure those of you who've seen the old version won't be disappointed.

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Balance – What’s the Point?



Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Balance - What's the Point

The point of balance isn't always where you'd expect it

Sheep and cattle dog trainers often refer to the importance of "the point of balance" but what exactly is it, and where can we find one?

In this short tutorial, we discover what exactly the "point of balance" means to the working sheep or cattle dog handler, and just how much it affects the sheepdog's work.

We also learn why the point of balance is not always to be found quite where we might expect it to be!

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Get (the sheep) off the fence!



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

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

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.

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