Getting Started

Start training your farm sheepdog.

These videos will help you to get started when you begin sheep dog training for the first time.

Balance, what’s the point?

Cover photo of Balance tutorial.

When you start training a farm or ranch dog it’s important to understand the point of balance. Put simply, the point of balance is on the opposite side of the stock from the handler. Not always though! When you start training your sheep dog, knowing where the point of balance is will help identify if the dog is where it should be. In this short sheepdog training video tutorial we discover exactly what “point of balance” means, and how to tell if your sheep dog is in the right place for best results. (top ↑)

Calm but firm

Photo of a dog being trained in an open field

When training a farm dog to work stock it’s so important to appear calm, even if you’re not! But we know it’s not easy. In this video, Audrey is aggressive with the stock, but she runs away if any attempt is made to correct her. She also refuses to go in the “Away” direction around the sheep. A dog like Audrey is difficult to train, but patience, and calm but determined control, win the day and Audrey quickly starts to make progress. (top ↑)

Get (the sheep) off the fence!

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

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’, that is. This video training class shows you how to prise the sheep off a fence, and also turn the dog’s ability to circle the sheep into a tool for moving the sheep into the open field. (top ↑)

Getting the sheep into the ring!

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

When you’ve built the training ring you’re ready to start training your farm or sheep dog. But getting your training sheep into the ring is your next task. This twenty minute video lesson will show you how to put sheep into the training ring if you don’t have a trained sheepdog to help you. (top ↑)

Give the sheep some space!

Photo of a pond In autumn

There are times when the dog needs to be close and assertive with the stock, but farm livestock hate being hassled and crowded. As a general rule the less the dog pressurises sheep or other livestock the better, so teach your dog to give the sheep plenty of room. It will pay you dividends in calmer stock and calmer work. (top ↑)

How often, and for how long?

A sheepdog being trained to work sheep

This is a frequent question when new handlers start training a sheepdog, and there’s not an easy “fits all” answer. Observe your dog’s behaviour, and learn to recognise when your dog is becoming too physically or mentally, tired to make training worthwhile. Your dog is your best guide to how often, and for how long. (top ↑)

My dog’s no good

Photo of a dog chasing sheep in a ring

We hear this at training clinics, and read it in emails, and 99.99% of the time it’s entirely wrong. Believe in your farm, cattle or sheepdog. If your healthy young dog is of a herding breed, shows an active hunting instinct, and is willing to work for you, it’s capable of working stock. Watch this training tutorial to remind you to recognise the positives. (top ↑)

Starting a non-starter (1 of 2)

How to get your dog interested in working sheep

It’s disappointing to find that a carefully chosen and reared puppy doesn’t want to work sheep. There’s no need to despair – it’s perfectly possible to change its mind! Understand what’s happening and why, and you’ll see there’s a good chance you can spark the dog’s interest and start training your sheepdog. (Part 2). (top ↑)

Starting a reluctant dog

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

How to boost your dog’s confidence and help it to start working sheep or other stock. Most dogs are over-excited when they first encounter livestock 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. (top ↑)

Starting a strong dog

Photo of a sheep dog having lessons

How to begin training with a dog which is difficult to control around sheep? There’s a good chance your young dog will 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 assertive and patient. We watch Tess’s training session at half-speed with an in-depth description of the action, before watching again at normal speed. (top ↑)

Starting a young puppy (1 of 2)

Photo of Andy holding puppy Ezra

Part 1. The usual age for starting a pup on sheep is between six and twelve months. If you have the right sort of sheep – and also know what you’re doing, you can train a young farm dog to work at a much younger age. Starting a dog early makes it much easier to get the youngster under control in the presence of sheep. (Part 2). (top ↑)

Sticky dogs!

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

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. But is ‘eye’ something you’re stuck with? You don’t have to live with this start-stop style of work. It’s also not difficult to correct if you understand what’s happening. (top ↑)

Stopping the dog (1 of 3)

Teaching a sheepdog to stop on command

This is the first of three sheepdog training video tutorials in our series about teaching your dog to stop on command, but without damaging its confidence. Part one reminds trainers of the need to quickly get control of their dog to protect the sheep. It also strongly recommends containing the action inside a training ring. (Part 2 | Part 3). (top ↑)

Training Max – the GRIPPER! (1 of 3)

How to train an aggressive sheepdog

This tutorial covers a difficult problem when you start training your farm dog. Coping 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, but with care and the use of a rope-chain, the bad boy soon begins to make good progress. (Part 2 | Part 3). (top ↑)