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Balance – What’s the Point?

The important point of balance, isn’t always where you’d expect it!


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Sheep and cattle dog trainers often refer to the importance of “the point of balance” but what exactly is it, and where can we find one?

In this short tutorial, we discover what exactly the “point of balance” means to the working sheep or cattle dog handler, and just how much it affects the sheepdog’s work. We also learn why the point of balance is not always to be found quite where we might expect it to be!

13 responses to “Balance – What’s the Point?”

  1. Sarah Hemming avatar

    Hi, I have rescued an older working collie. We are still getting to know each other but she does not balance at all. She is happy circling and will drive with you if you are moving forward as well as do some pen work, but she doesn’t have a concept of gathering or walking sheep up to me. I have tried getting her to walk sheep up to me down a fence line when I am on the opposite side walking backwards but she just looks at me like I am a bit mad! Any tips on how to teach this skill or is it a case of working with what she will do? She isn’t too keen on the ring / lessons and so most of the teaching has to be whilst doing jobs. My sheep are not the most dogged and so I don’t have anything that will stick to me like glue. Thanks.

    1. Andy avatar

      I’m sorry, I can’t really begin to answer your question properly without more details.
      You say you ‘rescued’ an ‘older’ working collie, and you’re ‘still getting to know each other’.
      From what did you rescue the dog? How old is the dog, and how long have you had it?
      All three of these can make a huge difference to my replies, but I cannot possibly sit and type out every possible cause of each of the problems you mention, it would take far too long, and depending on the dog’s background (was it actually working sheep when you took ownership of it) the dog’s age, and how long you’ve had it living with you, much of my reply would be irrelevant.
      Please briefly give as much detail as you can, and I’ll be happy to help.

      1. Sarah Hemming avatar

        Hi Andy, thanks for reply. She is a six year old working sheepdog whose farmer had died and was taken to a rescue. We do not know anything else about her other than she was the farms sole sheepdog. We have had her four months and she has settled in well with us, I have just observed that she wants to drive sheep with me and not gather to me. Thanks

        1. Andy avatar

          That all sounds pretty good! She’s not too old, and has been with you long enough to have at least partly, bonded with you.
          If the dog will drive the sheep and circle them, then it shouldn’t be too difficult to stop her on the opposite side of the sheep from you.
          If you can’t do that – and you really should be able to if you watch the tutorials which show how to use the training stick, and block the dog – The Training Stick, Stopping the Dog, Starting a Strong Dog etc.
          To be honest, I think you need to be more assertive. If the dog will work in a pen, there’s no reason why it won’t work in a training ring. That’s where you can get control of her and make her work the way you want her to. Try to make it enjoyable for the dog if you can, but you need to MAKE her stay on the opposite side of the sheep from you. Then as you walk away from the sheep, they should follow you (rather than be near the dog). Once they follow you, you can call the dog up a little way, and then stop her again (or preferably slow her down, so that she brings the sheep at the pace you are moving back). Watch Backwards is the Way Forward.
          Use the ring to teach the dog to stop on the other side of the sheep, then if there isn’t enough room in the ring, move outside it to teach the ‘walking backwards’.
          Keep trying, and BELIEVE in the dog. She’ll be gathering sheep for you in no time!

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