Getting Started Category

Start training your farm sheepdog.

Now that you have watched the videos in the BASIC category, these videos will help you to get started when you begin sheep dog training for the first time.

Try to remember that the most common reason for things going wrong when you are training your dog, is that you are trying to move on too quickly. Working the dog too far away from you is a regular error.

How to call the dog away from sheep or cattle during training

CALLING THE DOG AWAY (Part 1 of 2). Catch Your Uncatchable Dog! It’s extremely important to be able to call the dog away from the sheep or cattle when you work it. From the dog’s point of view, it has very good reason to want to continue ‘working’. These tutorials will show you how you can catch the dog easily, and convince it that coming away from the stock with you is a great idea! (Part 2).

Cover photo of Balance tutorial - how to train a dog to work farm livestock

BALANCE, WHAT’S THE POINT? Sheep and cattle dog trainers often refer to the importance of “the point of balance” but what exactly is it, and how can it help us teach our dog to work sheep or cattle? In this short sheepdog training video tutorial, we discover what exactly the “point of balance” means and how it affects sheepdog training. Surprisingly, the point of balance is not always found on the other side of the sheep!

Photo of a dog being trained in an open field

CALM, BUT FIRM. A dog which is aggressive with the sheep, but runs away as soon as the trainer attempts to correct it, can be among the most difficult dogs to train. When schooling a farm dog to work stock, it’s important to appear calm, even if you’re not! It’s not easy! Audrey not only fits this description perfectly, she refuses to go “Away” around the sheep too. When training with patience but firm control Audrey shows good progress.

Close-up photo showing what a dog sees when it tries to get sheep away from a fence

GET (THE SHEEP) OFF THE FENCE! To avoid the attentions of a trainee dog, sheep will cluster tightly against a fence or hedge if they can. Inexperienced dogs find it very difficult to get them away from there, but this video will show you how to overcome the dog’s fear of going between sheep and a fence, and remove them from it. You will also learn a simple way to turn the dog’s ability to circle the sheep into a tool for moving them into the open field.

How to get sheep into a pen or training ring without a trained sheepdog

GETTING THE SHEEP INTO THE RING! OK! You’ve built yourself a training ring of the recommended size, and now you need to get the sheep into it and begin teaching your dog to work sheep. But if you don’t have access to a trained sheepdog, that might appear to be a difficult task! But don’t despair! In this twenty minute video lesson, you’ll soon learn ways to easily get some sheep into the training ring without the use of a trained dog.

Photo of a pond In autumn

GIVE THE SHEEP SOME SPACE! One of the most common reasons for sheep herding work not going well, is the dog being too close to the sheep, and upsetting them. To work sheep or cattle properly, the dog must give them plenty of room. Of course there are times when the dog needs to be close and assertive, but usually, the less the dog pressurises stock the better. If you instruct your dog to give the sheep space in early training, it will pay you dividends.

A sheepdog being trained to work sheep

HOW OFTEN, AND FOR HOW LONG? Make sure you stop each teaching session before the dog becomes too physically or mentally tired. One of the questions we are most frequently asked is about the frequency and duration of sheepdog training sessions. There are no hard and fast rules, but it’s not just a matter of working the dog until it’s exhausted. That can be counter-productive. Learn how your dog’s behaviour can give an indication of when to stop a lesson.

Photo of a dog chasing sheep in a ring

MY DOG’S NO GOOD Don’t believe it! As long as your dog is a herding breed with an active hunting instinct, is willing to work for its handler, and is physically fit, it’s also capable of working livestock to a reasonable standard. Farmers, shepherds and handlers often assume a dog’s useless because it’s working badly, when it’s more than likely their own fault, for not properly instructing or showing the dog how they want it to work.

How to get your dog interested in working sheep

STARTING A NON-STARTER (Part 1 of 2) To discover that your dog doesn’t want to work, can be very disappointing. It may not mean you can’t change the dog’s mind though. 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. Learn ways that you could spark your dog’s natural instinct for working in this two-part online sheepdog training video. (Part 2).

How to train a dog which isn't keen to work sheep

STARTING A RELUCTANT DOG. How to boost your dog’s confidence and help it to start taking an interest in working sheep or other farm stock. Most dogs are over-excited when they first encounter sheep or cattle, and it’s up to the trainer to do their best to protect the stock. Occasionally though, despite the trainer’s best efforts, the sheep dog takes no interest in the stock at all. Watch how Maisie’s dormant instinct comes alive in the training ring!

Photo of a sheep dog having lessons

STARTING A STRONG DOG. An important video showing how to begin training with a dog which is difficult to get under control around sheep. Your young dog may have its own ideas about how to go about tackling sheep! Additionally, if the dog’s as tough as Tess, you’ll need to be both assertive and patient at the same time. We watch Tess’s training session at half-speed with an in-depth description of the action, before watching again at the normal speed.

Photo of Andy holding puppy Ezra

STARTING A YOUNG PUPPY (Part 1 of 2). The commonly accepted age for starting a young dog on sheep or other farm livestock is between six and twelve months. If you have the right sort of sheep, and also know what you’re doing though, you can train a young farm dog to work at a much younger age. Young Ezra goes to sheep in this video at 11 weeks old! Starting lessons early can make training easier but there are risks. It must be done with care.

A photo of a border collie sheepdog being trained to work sheep

STICKY DOGS! “That dog’s got too much eye!”  You’ll sometimes hear this when a sheepdog, (invariably a Border collie) appears mesmerised by the sheep, and reluctant to move. We don’t like the term ‘too much eye’ because it suggests there’s something physically wrong with the dog. There isn’t though. What people refer to as ‘too much eye’ is simply the dog’s lack of confidence. It’s also not difficult to correct if you understand what’s happening.

Teaching a sheepdog to stop on command

STOPPING THE DOG (Part 1 of 3). To control your dog properly, you must be able to stop it. This is the first of three sheepdog training video tutorials in our series about teaching your dog to stop on command, without damaging its confidence. Part one reminds trainers of the need to get control of their dog during the course of its training, to protect the sheep. It also strongly recommends containing the action inside a training ring. (Part 2 | Part 3).

How to train an aggressive sheepdog

TRAINING MAX – THE GRIPPER! (Part 1 of 3). Not for the faint-hearted! This tutorial deals with one of the most difficult aspects of teaching a sheepdog. How to cope with a very strong-willed dog which persists in violently attacking the sheep. In part one of the video, you’ll see Max at his worst, despite his trainer being vigilant, but with care and the use of a rope-chain, the lessons pay off and the bad boy soon begins to make progress. (Part 2 | Part 3).