Close work (Parts 1 & 2)

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.

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!


  1. Sounds like a good idea, Patrick – build up his confidence – and limit his driving to just a few yards in front of you until he’s working more freely.

  2. I also think it is a confidence probem. I try to give him always good words, like good boy. I think it is, while when he was young must stop him always he was a bulldozer. And i think i give to much pressure on him. I think he must work a lot witout commands only “good boy” and not mutch lie down. And i will try you tips.
    Thank you and best wishes.


  3. A really good tutorial. I like that we can see that not all is gone. Some misstakes can happen. Its normal..

    My dog has a lot of eye too. The problem is only when he is driving the sheep. Sometimes he want get up. Always flanking ? is this a good idea? Now i try to always give him a stay command. And let him a lot of driving and give him alwasy commands like good boy …. Or what can i do?

    1. Hello Patrick,
      If your dog sticks when it is driving, and then wants to flank and bring the sheep back to you, that is not “eye”, it’s a lack of confidence when driving. A lot more driving practice is needed – but don’t ask the dog to go too far ahead. Increase the distance very gradually.
      By all means give lots of encouragement, but not, of course when the dog flanks and brings the sheep back towards you.

      1. No you missunderstand me. He likes to drive. But somtimes when he stops and lay down. He won’t get up. I give him get up command. But he want get up.
        And i don’t want give him flanking commands. But i think then he always wait of the flanking commands he never get up and drives forward.

        1. Patrick, I don’t understand . . .
          Why do you say he likes driving if he won’t walk up on the sheep?
          How far will he drive the sheep in front of you before he stops?

          1. Hi Andy hi can drive 100 meters, no problem. Its not a problem of the distance.
            He drives the sheep I give him a lay down command. And then he will not walk. Then i give him a flanking command and then he walks.
            Is flanking a good idea for correct this.?

          2. You need to work out what the problem is. Is it only when he’s a long distance away, or does he stick like this when he’s closer?

            Either way, it’s a confidence problem, so you need to do whatever it takes to keep him moving freely. Try not to let him actually lie down. Dogs usually move more freely if they stay on their feet.

            Have you tried encouraging him with clapping your hands and ‘Shushing’ or hissing to encourage him?

            If it has to be a flank command to get him to walk up, immediately give the walk up command after the flank command – and try to reduce the flank command over time.

  4. Enjoyed this. My Merit is a bit too pushy and I have one heck of a time getting her to maintain distance and a slower gait, especially on close work such as penning. Should I stop actual penning and stick to pushing sheep from one field to the next until she is more comfortable/calm with this before actually penning?

    1. Sounds as though she’s not really ready for penning, Cathy. Lots of practice at bringing the sheep up behind you (as in Give the Sheep Space) first. If she won’t stop, walk through the sheep to get closer and make her stop. When she’ll bring the sheep up steadily and behave herself, then you can start teaching her to pen – but do it gradually.

      1. Thanks, Andy. Will do. She is a cheeky little lass, but I suspect I am not always as consistent as I need to be. Will review Give the Sheep Space and practice more. Cheers.

  5. Thanks! I have a dog with a lot of eye and she tends to get a bit sticky. I have been having trouble getting her to walk up or even move. I will try the flanking commands to get her to move.

    1. That’s a good idea, Beth. Keep her moving as much as possible. If she stops and won’t start again, walk away if there’s room in the field (right away) so that she’s no longer holding the sheep to you – she should then get up and bring them to you again – so keep walking!

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