Making progress

Making progress with your sheepdog training

Back to forwards!

Back to forwards is a great lesson to improve control of your dog

This is the next step, once you and your dog have mastered “Backwards is the Way Forward“. Once you reach the stage where you can turn around and trust the dog to bring the sheep up along behind you, as you walk along (almost) normally, training gets far easier, and progress also becomes quicker! (top ↑)

Backwards is the way forward!

Andy walking backwards with a dog.

One of our most important sheepdog training video tutorials! It’s boring – and it might appear pointless to the novice, but walking backwards with the dog bringing the sheep up to you is the single most important exercise you can do once your dog has basic control of the sheep. While you’re learning how to train a dog to work farm livestock, this exercise improves pace, working distance, the stop, sheep control, and much more. (top ↑)

Educating Gloria

Cover image for Educating Gloria

This is Gloria’s fourth training session, with some well-dogged sheep. The tutorial shows how to train a dog to work farm livestock using techniques seen in other tutorials, for instance the training ring; training stick; reinforcing the stop, and flank commands; widening the flanks; taking the sheep out of the ring (whoops – the wrong way!) and dealing with gripping. (top ↑)

Why your dog should flank both ways

Photo of Andy filming the video: why your dog must run both ways around sheep

This video emphasises the importance of teaching your dog to go both ways round the stock. Just as most humans are left or right-handed, the majority of herding dogs favour working in one direction over another. But it’s simply a habit that can fairly easily be trained out of the dog. How to train a dog to work farm livestock properly involves the dog going both ways around the livestock. (top ↑)

How can I slow the dog down?

Cover photo for. the tutorial "How can I slow the dog down"

If your dog is excited and races around the sheep or cattle, it’s going to stress them as well as frighten them. When farm livestock get upset or scared, not only do them become less productive, they also move erratically. This further excites the dog, which in turn runs faster. Training a dog to work livestock shouldn’t be like this for a moment longer than can be helped. Learn how to get your dog working steadily around the stock, and soon your training lessons will improve dramatically. (top ↑)

Moving out – into the open field

Photo of a sheepdog and handler taking sheep out of a training ring, into the open field

Getting your trainee dog to bring the sheep out of the training ring without crisis can be a tricky affair. The sheep usually grasp the slightest opportunity to bolt and this can result in an ugly chase. In this tutorial you’ll learn how to train a dog to work farm livestock using a routine to get sheep out of a training ring and into the open. A method which also greatly increases the chance of a smooth transition. (top ↑)

No excuses please

Photo of a dog biting some sheep as they go into a pen

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking your dog’s work is better than it really is. Novice trainers are often eager to move their dog’s training on, and can overlook shortcuts and bad habits which the dog sometimes adopts to get the job done quickly. Find out how to train a farm dog to work and accurately assess the dog’s skill level. (top ↑)

Sending the dog the wrong way!

Sheepdog Training in a large field

No, it’s not a mistake! The technique we call ‘sending the dog the wrong way’ will widen your farm dog out as it goes round the stock. It’s not easy to describe in print, but it’s easily understood when you see it working on video. Sending the dog the ‘wrong way’ is a great training technique to get a dog to give the sheep space when it’s flanking. Once you can achieve this, you and your dog will soon find you’re well on the way to producing quality sheep and cattle herding work. (top ↑)

Sometimes nice is not enough

Photo of a sheep chasing a dog away

It’s fine training your sheepdog or cattle dog to keep back from the stock so as to not upset them. What can you do if the sheep refuse to go where the dog’s trying to put them though? For their own welfare, sheep, cattle or other farm stock must be handled, treated for any ailments and managed. So that means we need to teach the dog to get tough sometimes. (top ↑)

Tess in the open field

Tess in the open field cover picture

Highly recommended. The ‘Tess in the open field’ sheepdog training video tutorial is a complete training session, packed with important training examples.  In this video, Tess is learning to widen her flanks, not cross over on her outrun, or split the sheep up. We also encourage her to work more calmly around the sheep, and come away from them more reliably. In addition, she gets an introduction to driving. (top ↑)

What shall I do next?

Gill, wondering what to do next with Roy

When you start to train a sheepdog there are so many issues that need attention, it can be quite daunting. You can’t possibly address them all at once, but while there’s no simple rule for the order of training, we suggest a logical syllabus pattern that we follow at home, and we also explain the reasons why. Don’t stick too rigidly to any pattern though. Once the dog’s making good progress and controlling its sheep well, events, locations as well as (if possible) sheep, should be varied to keep the dogs interest and attention. (top ↑)