Educating Gloria! A typical sheepdog training session

Watch a typical sheepdog training session, full of valuable lessons. It also shows the wrong way to take sheep out of the training ring, into the open field!

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



A typical sheepdog training session - Educating Gloria

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Video Highlights

A useful training session to learn from!

Educating Gloria is a typical sheepdog training session, and also full of valuable lessons.
Gloria is nine months old, very keen, and with a determined nature. This is her 4th sheepdog training session. First of all, we run the clip at half-speed so that we don’t miss any action. Later, we’ll watch the training session at full speed which will of course give a more realistic view.

There are examples of setting the dog up for a short outrun in the training ring, as well as using the training stick and ‘Out’ command to ‘push’ the dog out wider.
We’ll see examples of the dog flanking nicely around the sheep, how to use your body position to keep the dog out wider, and also change its direction.

Don’t do this with your farm dog at home!

When it’s time to take the sheep out of the training ring, as an illustration, we do it the wrong way!
Even so, as the sheep run out of the ring, the dog keeps them under control.
Next we see an example of why we train on 3 or 4 sheep at first. Sheep running into your legs can be a big probem, so take care.
It’s important to use a calm voice when training your dog. In fact, excited behaviour and commands, are probably the most common fault with new trainers.

How to keep the dog on the opposite side of the sheep from the handler is of great importance when training a farm dog to work sheep or cattle. “Backwards is the way forward” will show you exactly how important it is, and how to do it.
We also see examples of keeping the effect of the training stick to a minimum so the dog will eventually work without training aids.
Building the dog’s skill and confidence, using the tone of your voice is also shown, and by contrast, using the training stick, and tone of your voice, to enforce the stop command. Harsher commands increase the pressure on the dog.

This sheepdog’s smart!

While she’s getting the sheep back into the training ring, Gloria uses an unusual tactic, as she tries to keep the sheep out in the open field.
Gloria clearly preferred to keep the sheep outside in the open field. Once they were back in the ring, she vented her frustration by gripping. We see attempts to stop her.
Successfully calling the dog to you, close to the sheep will reinforce your authority over the dog.

A summary of this training lesson.

Setting the dog up for a short outrun in the training ring.
Dealing with a dog which doesn’t want to flank the way you want it to.
Controlling the dog with the training stick.
Signs which show when the dog’s not happy at the moment.
The importance of not alternating flank commands.
Making a sound to speed the dog up.
Keeping use of the stick to a minimum.
Calling the dog to you when close to sheep.
Now it’s time to watch the same training session, at normal speed.

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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 techniques we’ve talked about in other tutorials.

Making use of the training ring too keep the sheep and dog close to the handler improves control.
The training stick is a great help for directing the dog around the sheep as well as widening its flanks. You’ll also see Gloria taking the sheep out of the ring (whoops – the wrong way!) and dealing with gripping.

Sheepdog trials (parts 1 & 2)


20 responses to “Educating Gloria! A typical sheepdog training session”

  1. kent bradley avatar
    kent bradley

    Hi Andy
    Thanks once again for the insights and ideas, so well done and helpful as always!

    Question: with a young and or reluctant to stop / lie down dog like Gloria what are your thoughts on backing against the panel or fence and letting the dog (hopefully) settle at balance to keep it from circling while it learns what lie down means?

  2. Angela Gordon avatar
    Angela Gordon

    I’ve set up a ring, got myself a training stick, ready for action. However i can’t seem to get my collie to go round the sheep. I feel she’s picked up bad habits being two years of age and us, using her to round up sheep without the knowledge ourselves. She will just run behind the sheep – it doesn’t help that our sheep aren’t ‘dogged’ atall and it’s a bonus if they even stay in the ring. Any suggestions?

    1. By “run behind the sheep” I presume you mean follow the sheep, rather than go out and gather them..?
      Don’t blame the dog’s age! Two is a wonderful age for training the dog, so now’s your chance. You need to teach the dog that you want her to be on the opposite side of the sheep from you. If she doesn’t understand that, then make her stay in place (using commands) and then YOU go to the opposite side of the sheep. Then you simply walk backwards, and call her up to bring the sheep towards you – at the pace you’re walking back at.
      If the sheep are really wild, you’ll need to calm them (and the dog) down.
      To do this, I’d get four or five sheep into somewhere they can’t escape from (a large building or yard possibly?) and walk the dog through, and round them. Have the dog on a lead or a rope if necessary. It’ll take some time, but it’ll be worth it. Keep these sheep clearly marked and away from the flock, so that you can just go and give them some training whenever you have time.
      Once the sheep calm down, you can start teaching the dog to stay on the opposite side of the sheep from you. It’s perfectly ‘do-able’ there are some trainers who teach the dog to drive the sheep away first, because they can control the dog on a rope (and calm it down). I don’t train that way, but I have tried it, and it will work.
      Watch “Backwards is the Way Forward” to find out what to do once you can get the dog on the opposite side of the sheep from where you are.

  3. Tom Charge avatar
    Tom Charge

    Hi, is there any way to download your video onto my iPad so I can watch them in the field? Thanks Tom

    1. You can watch the tutorials on a mobile phone or tablet anywhere there’s a reasonable signal.
      The only limitation is the number of logins, so try to avoid logging out and back in again frequently as it may trigger a temporary lockout.

  4. Regine Crutain avatar
    Regine Crutain

    Hello Andy, after watching and reaching your tutorials I am now really starting to understand things better !!!! If you have watched it once watch it again! !! The way that you manage to transform Gloria’s training session into an enormous amount of different learning experiences is superb!!! I spend about 20 minutes a day doing intensive training and it is so encouraging to see that after 5 months of following your advice and then adapting to mine and dogs assessment of each situation we are really making progress! Your advice about building up the dogs confidence and making tasks easy whilst always creating new challenges has proved to be very successful !!!! Thank you! !!

    1. Thank you for the valuable feedback, Regine. It’s good to know that the tutorials are useful to you and Gloria!

  5. Kim Harrison avatar
    Kim Harrison

    Andy, thank you for this video. It is good to see and have you explain what is going well and what you’d like to see change or done a bit better. With the help of another trainer, I am re-starting a dog that was turned off by a heavy handed trainer. My dog is keen again now and I keep thinking I need to make sure I don’t mess up. The more I watch your videos, the more I realize that if I can stay calm with voice and body language that even though our training session may have some rough spots, it is okay. I especially like the reminder that you shouldn’t change directions all the time. I do that when I get overwhelmed with her speed. I need to talk more to myself to remind me what I’m doing!

    1. You’re right! Staying calm is so important, Kim, especially with a dog which lacks confidence.
      Changing the dog’s direction can help with a fast working dog, but I suggest you watch “How Can I Slow The Dog Down“? too.
      Thank you for the useful feedback, and good luck with training your dog!

      1. Kim Harrison avatar
        Kim Harrison

        Great suggestion Andy. I watched “How Can I Slow the Dog Down” and wrote down all the tutorials you suggested to watch next. “Backwards is the Way Forward” is one of my favorite. The other benefit of watching these tutorials is that when I take my dog to a herding lesson, I am finding I understand what the trainer is asking my dog to do much better and I’m able to more easily stand next to and move with him. I ask better questions, which lends itself to very productive sessions. I also don’t feel defensive at all because he is telling me the same thing to do that I see and hear you say. Slowly it is all sinking in and I have a happy dog on the way to being a valued livestock partner!

        1. Great to know the light’s beginning to shine, Kim.
          Thank you for the feedback and good luck with training your dog.

  6. Jim & sandy lockwood avatar
    Jim & sandy lockwood

    Andy, Thank-you for this video. I have a nine month old that reflects the regular speed video of Gloria. Very fast and strong. She has no issues with stalled sheep! Your slow motion helps me see the “swishes” and their occurrence at the correct times. My issue is thinking fast enough to keep up- you already do these instinctively! Keep up the great work!
    Many best wishes to you and Gill for this New Year and for years to come- Be greatly blessed! sandy

  7. Annette Ross avatar
    Annette Ross

    Andy, your lie down command.. is that a stop, come to a complete stop or a slow down?

    1. Good question, Annette! It’s both!
      You cannot possibly have lots of different commands for different speeds that you want the dog to move at (like gears in a car) but you don’t need them. The dog will learn from the urgency of your voice, and the situation on the field, whether it should stop instantly, or slow down, and by how much. Watch “Stopping the Dog“.
      (You need to be logged into a full member account for this link to work).

  8. Ken Sykes avatar

    I am a retired sheep station manager, sheepdog trainer and sheepdog trialer in Australia. I have a considerable library of dog training books and DVDs. I find your method really fits well with mine and has helped me to refine my technique. I appreciate how you are prepared to show how things can go wrong and then how you work to correct them. I strongly recommend your website in my dog training book and also when giving working dog demonstrations.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Ken. It’s great to know that our work is appreciated.

  9. Rose Rushton avatar
    Rose Rushton

    I noticed you said you were not too happy about Gloria sitting to stop. Why? I have Wiltshire horn sheep who can sometimes run blindly into fences. I do have some stud lambs that I am hard feeding who follow me and on occasions Lexie has tried to hone her sheep dog skills on them without me knowing . I have found them in a bunch. Would the little ewe compliment be better to start with as our sheep are not as quiet as yours. Our smallest paddock is 100 acres so they tend to want to run away fast! I am 72 and not so agile as I once was. Do a lot of work with a quad bike these days. After seeing these tutorials I can see why there are no overweight competitors in sheep dog trials!

    1. I noticed you said you were not too happy about Gloria sitting to stop. Why?

      Traditionally, “sit” is not a command used by sheepdog handlers. There’s nothing wrong with it though. If I’m training a dog which ignores “lie down” but will “sit” when I tell it to, I’ll use that command at first, and gradually wean the dog onto “lie down”.

      I have Wiltshire horn sheep who can sometimes run blindly into fences. I do have some stud lambs that I am hard feeding who follow me and on occasions Lexie has tried to hone her sheep dog skills on them without me knowing . I have found them in a bunch. Would the little ewe compliment be better to start with as our sheep are not as quiet as yours.

      You cannot humanely train dogs with sheep which are running around wildly. It’s not fair on the dog or the sheep. We use ewe-lambs for training, but anything that’s steady but not too stubborn will be OK.

      Our smallest paddock is 100 acres so they tend to want to run away fast!

      That’s way too big for a training field. Our field’s five acres and that’s far too big for starting a dog off – and plenty big enough for a part-trained dog.

  10. Hi, Could you check “Educating Gloria” Subtitle Video please, I tried to watch many times,but I can not play. I can play without subtitle, but I would like to watch with subtitle video.

    1. Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Hiroyuki. The tutorial is working again now. I hope you find it useful and entertaining.

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