The dog’s confidence

Confidence is important for a good sheepdog or cattle dog.

Subtitles: French*, Spanish* or English, click CC on viewer (*translation errors).



Close-up photo of Border Collie Sheepdog Kay controlling a group of sheep

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Don’t mistake aggression for confidence – they’re different.
Calm and power are signs of a confident dog.
Dogs which lack confidence work erratically.
Sheep and cattle respect a confident dog.
Improve your dog’s confidence while you train it.
Brief summary.

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Confidence is of vital importance

Understanding factors which affect the dog’s work is extremely important for a successful sheep or cattle dog trainer. Of those factors, the dog’s confidence is probably the most underestimated. Confidence is of vital importance if a sheepdog is to work efficiently, especially at long distances from the handler, between the stock and a fence, or when faced by stubborn animals.

Learn Your Commands | (top ⇧)


17 responses to “The dog’s confidence”

  1. Hi Andy. You have been highly recommended. For me to check your videos out. I have
    Two-year-old Border Collie in training She knows all her commands well Just can’t seem to get her tail down. Seems like she’s not really working just playing But happy to take direction how do I get to work in for me? thanks,

    1. Wow! How long’s a piece of string?
      I can’t really help you without some details to work with, Barney. How long has the dog been working? What’s she doing (right)? When does the tail come up? When you say she knows her commands, do you mean she’ll go round the stock in either direction?
      If she’s only bouncing around with her tail up, and not really committed to working the sheep (I assume you’re working sheep with her) you probably need to give her more time working on them, and hopefully she’ll begin to take it more seriously.
      You don’t appear to be signed-up to watch the tutorials but I think they would help you a lot. If you decide to join us, watch the videos in the order they appear on the Welcome page, where you’re taken to when you sign-up. The early videos will give you a much better idea of how it all works, and what to expect once the dog takes an interest in actually working (rather than playing as you describe).
      There’s an example of a dog playing, rather than working, in Starting a Non-Starter part 2.

  2. Martin otoole avatar
    Martin otoole

    Hi Andy my sheepdog works well on she is doing OK most of the time with cattle but if I put two much pressure on him with a cow that is hard to move he will leave the field and head how any suggestions to solve this kind regards Martin otoole

    1. You’re trying to progress too quickly. Watch “Sometimes Nice is Not Enough” to learn how to build the dog’s confidence. Instead of putting too much pressure on the dog, get in there alongside him and help him to shift the cow, then once he’s more confident, GRADUALLY let him take more responsibility, but still be close enough to help him if he needs it.

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