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Moving sheep in and out of yards and fields can be tricky


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Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Close Work Part One

Teaching a dog to bring the sheep to you in the open field is all very well, but your dog’s capable of doing very much more to help you. Efficiently moving sheep around at close quarters, as well as putting them into and bringing them out of yards, pens and races and taking them to fresh pasture are all essential tasks for the farm dog.

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Close Work Part Two

In this two-part tutorial, watch trainees Carew and Tess try their paws at some practical farm work before our highly trained dog Kay, shows how it should be done!

17 responses to “Close work (Parts 1 & 2)”

  1. Rachelle Bennett avatar

    Love all your tutorials I have watched so far. I have an Australian Shepherd, they are a “loose-eyed” dog. Tend to work a lot closer to the sheep. He has a good stand and stay, but he still likes to get too close. His presence really pushes the sheep fast! Faster than my border collie. My border collie can walk right up on their rears and have to nip their heels to get them to move. My Aussie just jogs up and they run for the hills.
    However, in a small pen they sheep are calm with him.
    Trying to teach him to back off, trying the walking backwards, it does take some skill and muscles. We will keep at it! :) Thanks!!!

  2. Saskia Sowers avatar

    Hi Andy, I have been practicing moving the sheep from one field to another.
    Ian consistently wants to run through and gather them up and bring them back .also wants to rush in behind them in a penning situation. but he did herd them in the small shed, an held them by being still and staring at them while I doctored ones foot. and then “that’ll do ” came away with me. but he seems to fear they are going to escape or something… how can I help him not to rush at them when we are done and the should go?

    1. Andy avatar

      In an ideal world, you’d have a good enough “stop” on the dog to make it stay back, but it’s expecting a lot. Ian’s only following his instinct, Saskia. As the sheep go through the gate into the new field, the dog fears they’re escaping so it tries to bring them back.

      The secret of successful sheepdog training is to break each new task into smaller stages and teach the dog one stage at a time.

      Watch the “Close Work Tutorials” and you’ll see that if you go through the gate first with the dog bringing the sheep along behind you, the dog won’t run after the sheep because (as the dog sees it) the sheep are still under control.

      The next step is to only go two or three paces through the gate into the new field, and make the dog stay behind the sheep as they go through. Then you can go a stage further and stop next to either gatepost (obviously out of the way of the sheep’s path) and get the dog to bring the sheep through. Stop the dog in the gateway and keep it there as the sheep to drift away. Wait until the sheep are far enough away to give the dog a decent outrun (one it can do easily) and send it to gather them. Dogs love outruns, and soon the dog will learn that if it waits in the gateway, there’s a good chance it’ll be rewarded with an outrun. Assuming this goes well, on the next occasion, try staying back a couple of metres inside the old field, and once again, stopping the dog in the gateway.

      It’s similar with putting the sheep into a pen. Stay close to the entrance until the dog gets the idea…

      1. Saskia Sowers avatar

        Thanks Andy , will let you know how it goes!

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