Sheepdog selection and preparation

How to go about selecting and preparing a sheepdog for herding

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



Cover photo of the Sheepdog Selection tutorial

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Talking about the dog.
Potential pitfalls when buying a sheepdog.
Hunting instinct.
Registered vs unregistered dogs.
Will a pet dog work sheep.
What is the best age to begin training the dog.
Should a puppy be allowed to wander around the farm.
The young dog should be fast enough to get ahead of the sheep.
Introducing a young puppy to sheep.
Look at the parents before buying a puppy.
Old wives’ tales (common myths).
The dog’s tail position – and what it tells us.
Believe in your dog.
Male or female? Which makes the best herding dog.
Characteristics to look for in a sheepdog.
How to prepare your dog for training.
Teaching your dog to “stay close” by your side.
The importance of lead training.
Familiarising your dog with sheep.
You must protect your sheep.
Should a sheepdog live in the house.
The herding instinct we’re looking for.
Too much eye” – a lack of confidence.
A dog which doesn’t want to work.
Traits you may encounter when training.

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This is a very important tutorial!

It’s packed with essential information to help you to understand, and look after your dog. It includes housing, choice of breed, choice of dog or puppy – and what dogs to avoid. There’s a wealth of information on how to prepare your pup or young dog for herding sheep, cattle and other livestock.

For a long time now we’ve wanted to update our “First Steps” DVD set because our training techniques and understanding of sheepdogs have improved immensely since the DVD’s release.

This video presents most of chapters one (the introduction) and two, from the DVD set. It’s fairly heavily modified and now nearly 30 minutes long! We’re sure those of you who’ve seen the old version won’t be disappointed.

Sheep – Essential facts for trainers | (top ⇧)


31 responses to “Sheepdog selection and preparation”

  1. Peter David LLewellyn avatar
    Peter David LLewellyn

    Hi Andy I’ve got my sheep in the pen they haven’t been dogged very much. I’ve got a 7 month old collie just starting her in the pen but I can’t get the sheep off the hurdles so it ends up the dog chasing the sheep around the pen. Any suggestions? Dave

    1. It’s frustrating when the sheep glue themselves to the hurdles, but there are things you can do about it.
      Take a look at “Get off the fence” – that should get you sorted, Dave!
      Make sure the training ring’s the right size, and try to use the same sheep each time if you can. That way they’ll get ‘dogged‘ all the sooner.
      Once the dog will go between the sheep and the fence, try to send it back the other way, to keep the sheep away from the edge. If you can keep the sheep in the middle, you can start training the dog to flank round them properly.

  2. Hi Andy, I’m finding your videos full of great info and very clear to understand, thank you! I have a seven month old border collie (Dale) who is not in sheepdog training proper yet. I grew up on a farm wth working sheepdogs (although I don’t have any actual experience of handling) so I would love to train him but am still considering if this is something we should do. So far I have been teaching basic commands such as sit, lie down (though haven’t managed to get him to lie down at a distance) and some loose lead training. Some questions: What commands should you use when loose lead training and when/how do you move off lead towards a dog heeling or staying close? Should I use the command stand, wait or stop when I want Dale to stop? Or does this not matter too much? What should and shouldn’t Dale be allowed to play with..a ball? Thanks, Emily

    1. Thank you for your email, and for the great feedback. It’s good to know we’re providing the information our members need.

      What commands should you use when loose lead training?

      Any commands you like, as long as they’re clear to the dog, and not similar in sound to other commands, we just use “No” when the dog’s pulling, and praise the dog when it’s not!

      When/how do you move off lead towards a dog heeling or staying close?

      When you feel the dog’s got the idea! When the dog is coming back willingly, then is the time to experiment with no lead. Try to (calmly) keep the dog close at first – and be fun to come back to!

      Should I use the command stand, wait or stop when I want Dale to stop? Or does this not matter too much?

      Again, whatever command you like, but they must be distinct from all other commands.

      What should and shouldn’t Dale be allowed to play with..a ball?

      We encourage the dogs to play with almost anything. It broadens their minds and builds their confidence. If you join in the the play, it strengthens the bond between you, too.

      I created an FAQ post about the recall, and there’s quite a lot in there which will interest you (I hope). Good luck with training your dog!

      1. Emily Arnold avatar
        Emily Arnold

        Thanks for the above!

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