Moving out

Moving sheep out of the training ring into the open without losing control of dog, sheep or both, can be a problem

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



Photo of a sheepdog and handler taking sheep out of a training ring, into the open field

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Video Highlights

The training ring’s great – but…

Dogs often work better outside the training ring.
Leading the dog away from the sheep by its collar.
Get between the dog and the sheep to make it go out wider.
Taking the (dogged) sheep out of the ring with Max (the gripper).
Outside the ring, Max is more relaxed and gives the sheep more space.
‘Waltzing’ the sheep into the ring.
An example of REALLYdogged‘ sheep!
Stacey Wilkinson and Zac taking the sheep out of the training ring.
Sheep are great judges of a dog’s capabilities.
Gloria attempting to get the sheep out of the training ring.
Keeping Gloria on the cord to stop the sheep running out.
Setting Gloria up to fetch the sheep.

Try to APPEAR in control!

Continue to command the dog calmly, as though you are in control.
Gloria splits another sheep off.
Now Gloria brings the sheep out of the ring again.
Gloria flanks much better outside the training ring.
It’s important for the handler to move into the field as the sheep come out.
Setting up Speck to bring the sheep out of the ring.
Keep the dog with you while you open the hurdles.
As the dog goes to fetch the sheep, move out into the field.
Bringing the sheep back into the training ring.
Look out for chances to teach the dog to do a little driving.

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A tricky affair!

Getting your trainee sheepdog to bring the sheep out of the training ring without crisis can be a tricky affair. The sheep will usually grasp the slightest opportunity to bolt and this can result in an ugly chase. In this tutorial you’ll learn a simple routine which will greatly increase the chances of a smooth transition with the dog maintaining control of the sheep from inside the training ring to the open field.

The Outrun 1


11 responses to “Moving out”

  1. Scott Thomson avatar
    Scott Thomson

    My dog is 5 months old and advancing well.
    she does the outrun really well both sites. but then struggles to get the sheep moving .
    She seems à bit timid and liés behind them is this normal for her age

    Thanks Scott

    1. She just lacks a bit of confidence, Scott. You don’t describe the situation in much detail, but I strongly suspect you’re trying to progress too quickly – with a very young dog. Shorten the outruns to a distance where she works more confidently, and brings the sheep to you.
      If she can’t do that, go and help her! Give her lots of gentle encouragement and praise – especially when she moves the sheep herself. Her confidence will grow.
      As I said, she’s very young, so take care. If you get cross with her for not bringing the sheep, you’ll harm her confidence still more. Work within her boundaries – just pushing them a little, now and then.
      A good tutorial to watch, is “Sometimes Nice is Not Enough” – but keep in mind how young she is – you’re effectively training a child to do an adult’s work at the moment.
      It would be great to hear how she progresses!

      1. Scott Thomson avatar
        Scott Thomson

        Great thanks for the advice

  2. Valerie Leith avatar
    Valerie Leith

    Hello Andy. Thank you for all the tutorials which are really very helpful. My dog (Cait) is 10 months old and has just started training – I am an absolute beginner at sheepdog training so we are both learning as we go along. Initially Cait flanked very close to the sheep, and preferred to flank ‘come by’. On the ‘away’ she had a tendency to dive in and try to nip. We’ve worked on this and now she is flanking much better both ways (and a little wider too although still a bit too close). I’m now trying little outruns (her stop and stay isn’t too bad) – if the sheep are too far away though she does dive in and split them, but seems to be trying to bring them back now, rather than chasing them around the training ring. Following your tutorials I would now like to try to get her walking the sheep up to me, but the sheep (scotch mules) don’t follow me, but stand facing the dog, who lies down and stares at them. Even pushing the sheep behind me they are still facing the dog. Any suggestions as to how to encourage the sheep to follow me, and or encourage Cait to get up and move forwards towards the sheep. Many thanks.

    1. It’s great to know the tutorials are helping you Valerie, and I understand your frustration when the dog can’t bring the sheep up to you.
      Sheep learn to “get the measure” of a dog if they possibly can, and yours seem to have discovered Cait’s lack of confidence.
      Fortunately, there are several ways around the problem. First of all, I recommend you watch “Sticky Dogs” and “Sometimes Nice is Not Enough“. Ideally, watch both several times to make sure you fully understand what’s going on, and how to fix it.
      As well as that, try sending the dog to bring the sheep to you, and then YOU run in the opposite direction (away from the sheep) a little way. At the same time, encourage Cait to bring them to you quite fast.
      I suspect you may have been trying a little too hard to perfect Cait’s behaviour around sheep and now she feels she’s not allowed to be assertive with them.
      If you can’t get her to get up an “assert herself” when she’s bringing them towards you, start teaching her to drive. That way, you’ll be walking along with her at the beginning, and having you there will boost her confidence.
      If you can get her to lunge at them, put a command on it. Once she’ learns that she’s allowed to get tough with the sheep when required, they’ll quickly learn to respect her.

      1. Valerie Leith avatar
        Valerie Leith

        Andy, many thanks for your very helpful reply. I have been encouraging her to be a bit more forceful with some success, but today the sheep were being quite aggressive (head butting her) which resulted in her hiding under the gator. I took another dog in to work the sheep for a while and she joined in, so that we ended on a good note. I think I need to get lighter sheep (maybe fattening lambs) and work with them so her confidence builds. I’ll keep watching all the videos as they really are helping with my confidence! Thanks again.

  3. Regine Crutain avatar
    Regine Crutain

    Hello Andy, just to let you know that by following your advice and by watching your tutorials, for example dogged animals in our case goats and being able to call the dog away makes life so much easier,!!!!!! I have been doing an enormous amount of walking backwards and gentle commands and we are really making a huge amount of progres! !! Our little dog Nilka and ourselves are so pleased to be able to take advantage of your experience and personally I don’t understand why people need to ask you questions when you guys have made such an efforts to cover and then explain all the up’s and down’s of this job!!! Thanks again and regards fom France ,Regine

    1. Great to know that the tutorials are working well for you Regine.
      Thank you for the valuable feedback.

  4. Rosemary Codd avatar
    Rosemary Codd

    Hi Andy
    I am struggling with this aspect of training. In the pen, I can get my dog to run around the outside of the sheep, but as soon as I let them out, the sheep make a run for the edge of the field with the dog in hot pursuit. I have ended the session each time he’s done this because I can’t get close enough to the sheep to send the dog off in a more controlled manner and I don’t want to instill bad habits into the dog. Originally I tried with 7 sheep and have reduced this to 4 which has helped a bit as it is slightly easier to stop the sheep dashing past quite so fast in the first place and there are less to split but it’s still far from elegant. Any ideas?

    Thank you for your help
    Rosemary Codd

    1. It sounds as though the dog’s not ready to work the sheep outside the pen. Apart from simply going round them, the dog should want to bring them to you. Then when you let the sheep out (and they run away) the dog will bring them back.
      Are you giving the dog plenty of short outruns in the pen? If possible, increase the size of the pen, and make it into an oval shape so that you can give the dog short outruns, and (most important) practice walking backwards – until the dog is working more calmly and bringing the sheep to you naturally.
      Clearly, the field that the pen is in, is too large for the dog’s skill level, so you need to increase the skill level.
      Is it possible to make the field smaller with fencing, or move to a smaller paddock, so the sheep can’t run so far?
      Practice getting the sheep away from the fence INSIDE the pen, so that if the sheep run off, you can get them under control with the dog. Remember, you need to be close to the dog for this to work at first.

      1. Rosemary Codd avatar
        Rosemary Codd

        Thank you. This makes sense and I will try these suggestions.

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