Stopping the dog (1 of 3)

How to train your herding sheepdog to stop on command, without damaging the dog’s confidence.

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



Teaching a sheepdog to stop on command

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Teach your herding dog to lie down

Getting control of the dog.
We must protect the sheep.
Keeping the action close results in far better control.
In an open field, the trainer can’t keep close to the action.
Should a ‘lie down‘ command mean the dog must lie on the ground?
Should a stop command mean the dog must ‘stand still’?
Keep the number of commands to a minimum in early training to avoid confusing the dog.
A slow moving object is easier to stop than a faster one.
Limit the number of sheep you train with.
A dog which won’t stop is at best, difficult, at worst, a menace!
Get a good bond between yourself and your dog.
The sensitivity of the dog.
Sticky dogs (often called ‘too much eye’).
From strong-willed, to sensitive dogs.
Distractions (canine avoidance techniques).
A delicate balance.
Things to teach the dog before training on sheep.
Training your dog begins the moment it first sees you.
Crouch down when calling the dog to you.
An excited young dog will ignore commands.
Pre-training can have unexpected results.
Feel free to invent your own commands.
More about bonding with your dog.

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How to get your sheepdog to stop!

These three extensively revised ‘stopping the dog’ videos deal with the common problem of how to get your dog to stop, and at the same time, avoid damaging the dog’s confidence. They go into more detail than the earlier versions, explaining why the keen herding dog doesn’t want to stop, and what you can do to make it more likely that the dog will heed your ‘Lie down’ or ‘Stand’ commands. (Both mean the same thing in sheepdog training terms).

PART 1 is packed with useful information as you will see if you look at the highlights list above. It reminds sheepdog trainers of the need to quickly get control of their dog to protect the sheep. The video recommends the use of a training ring, which will keep the sheep and the dog close enough to afford the trainer a lot more control than they would have in the open field. When the action is close, the dog will take a lot more notice of the trainer than it will at a greater distance.

Stopping the dog 2 | (top ⇧)


18 responses to “Stopping the dog (1 of 3)”

  1. Brian Thomas avatar
    Brian Thomas

    My family is started to think I’m crazy, because I watch these videos all the time. Every day I’m watching the videos and trying to take a mental note of the subtleties I’ve missed from previous viewings. My Belgian Malinois (beans) is progressing very nicely. It’s been a whole lot of fun, and I cannot wait until she can help me work the stock. Thank you very much for all the effort you have put into the content – the great video, editing, and thought out instruction. Based on the progress I’ve made in 7 training sessions, I feel very confident that she will be a great working dog here on our goat ranch in Texas. She is already circling nicely in both directions, taking to the flanking commands, slowing down, and sometimes she stops. The next sessions will be taking the goats out of the training ring into the open field for the first time. I’m super excited about this. Can’t wait to start walking backwards :)!

    1. Thanks for the informative feedback Brian, it’s important to know whether we’re putting the message over in a way that works, and in your case we certainly seem to be! It’s great to know you’re making progress with your dog. Be sure to watch “Moving Out” before you take the dog and goats out into the open field!

  2. Nicola Dennis avatar
    Nicola Dennis

    These videos are fantastic, but for some reason they are playing very poorly for me. Lots of stopping and buffering even though our internet connection is fine with other streaming sites.

    1. Thanks for your comment Nicola – and for subscribing to our training tutorials. It’s great to know you like them, but I’m sorry to hear you’ve been experiencing difficulty with viewing them. We have no other reports of issues at the moment, and the videos are certainly playing properly here, so it suggests that either your browser cache needs to be cleared (read about that here) or I wonder whether you may have changed the HD setting on the player?
      For the browser cache, follow the instructions on the link above, and for the HD setting, look for the HD icon at the bottom-right of the player when you are playing a video. It should normally be set on Auto, but some people change it so that it’s permanently on a high setting. I suggest you put it on Auto, or change it to a low setting.
      If neither of these suggestions work for you, please do an internet speed test (just type “speed test” into your address bar) and let me know the actual download speed. If you have the HD setting on Auto your internet speed shouldn’t be a problem unless it’s extremely low, as it automatically adjusts according to the signal strength. It can sometimes help if you watch on a different device…
      I hope this has been of some help, and that you can continue watching the tutorials as they should be!

  3. Mariko Suzue Pan avatar
    Mariko Suzue Pan

    Hello Andy and Gill thank you so much for the advice from my previous comment regarding distance! I’ve noticed that as our training has progressed, both my pup and I have gotten much better at reading the sheep. She’s able to better “calibrate” her working distance given how flighty or heavy the sheep are. I don’t fret too much about her maintaining a particular distance as long as the sheep are moving calmly and steadily, and will only really get firm if she is far too close and stressing the sheep out. There are so many different camps regarding the stop that I’ve run into as I’ve dipped my toes into the sheepdog world. I’ve tried a few different methods with my dog to see what works best, but I’ve decided and observed that the simplest and best method for us is keeping the number of words to a minimum, with my voice intonation determining if I want her to slow down or full on stop. With the walking backwards exercise, we can go straight with the sheep nicely between me and her, and I say “lie down” constantly in a very slow and gentle voice, and we are able to keep things moving calmly and steadily. Will there come a day when I can stop the constant “lie down” and she’ll learn to keep things steady on her own during the walking backwards exercise? Thanks as always!

    1. It sounds as though you’re doing really well!
      Keep nagging at the dog – and MAKE her stay back. If necessary, walk through the sheep to block her, and eventually she’ll get the idea. It won’t happen overnight though. Probably the best dog I ever had (work-wise) was Mel. She was incredible, but it wasn’t until she was FOUR years old that I could get her to actually stop and stand still with all four feet on the ground, for more than a second or two. She was too pushy for sheepdog trials, but an unbelievably good farm dog.
      Have you watched “How can I slow the dog down?” That should help you, too.

  4. Menno Wichers avatar
    Menno Wichers

    My 8 months old Border Collie listens well to commands, close by or far off, while off leash. On a walk off leash he’s often to focused on me and my commands. However, once on the leach he becomes a different dog. He will still stop, sit etc. when I ask, but when moving it is full speed to the end of the lease over and over again. If I tell to stay close, he will come back to my side but straight after go full speed ahead. The more pressure I put on him to stay close, the more he will focus on the surrounding or starts sniffing and peeing. This seems very deliberate to avoid contact and to escape to pressure of having to listen.
    I have tried many ways to fix this but without success. In the tutorial “Stopping the dog (Part 1)” you mention that this is related to the dog not being properly bonded with the owner and the dog not accepting leadership of its owner. Reading the above do you feel that that is the case, meaning that off leash he listens only because it gives him so much satisfaction?
    Your advice would be appreciated!
    Thanks, Menno

    1. Interesting! The dog chooses to obey you when he has a choice, but protests when he’s more closely controlled.
      It sounds as though you have him on an extended lead. Whether that’s the case or not, I would put him on a short lead and MAKE him stay close to you.
      Only when he’s prepared to walk properly (with the lead slack most of the time) on the short lead, would I promote him to a longer lead – and if he misbehaves when he’s on that, he goes straight back on the short lead.
      Yes! The dog has apparently found a way of controlling you. You need to get him walking properly on a lead – and control HIM. It won’t take long to do, and then you’ll have his proper respect.

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