Flock work

Start working with a flock of sheep. Is your dog ready?

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A flock of sheep being moved through a gateway.

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Video Highlights

How to prepare your trainee sheepdog, for working a flock of sheep.
You would think graduating to flock work, would be easy for a trainee dog.
In reality, moving from training to flock work, can be a huge step for a dog.
We train our dog by making tasks simple at first, and then gradually more difficult.
Flockwork graduates, can be as nervous as a dog going to to sheep for the first time.
Dogs are often overwhelmed when introduced to a flock of sheep for the first time.
Expect problems when you introduce your dog to working a flock of sheep.
There are things you can do to make the transition to flock work easier.

Flock work checklist!

Six points to address before you introduce your dog to working a flock of sheep.

  1. Is the dog working well, with wide flanks in both directions, and a good stop?
  2. Is the dog doing outruns of at least 100m and bringing the sheep steadily?
  3. Can you stop the dog and flank it both ways around the sheep, when it’s 100m away
    (Watch the ‘Inside Flanks’ tutorials to find out how to do this).
  4. Has the dog worked a bunch of sheep larger than the number it normally trains with?
  5. Is the dog used to working in unfamiliar fields, on different sheep to those it trains with.
  6. Does the dog have a good recall when it’s working sheep?

If the answer is ‘YES’ to all these questions, the dog should adapt to flock work easily.
If the answer to any of the questions is ‘NO’ the dog needs further training.

A few exceptions…

Farmers might have no choice but to introduce the dog to a flock, before it’s ready.
There are still things you can do, to help the dog with its flock work.
The closer you are to the dog, the more control you have over it.
Get closer to the flock, before you send the dog to gather the sheep.
Take great care if you use a vehicle. Your dog won’t understand the danger.
The best way to introduce a dog to flock work, is gradually.

Remember:

  • Get the dog working well, with wide flanks and a good stop.
  • Get the dog doing 100m outruns and bringing the sheep steadily.
  • Get the dog stopping, and circling the sheep 100m away from you.
  • Get the dog used to working bigger bunches of sheep, than those it normally trains with.
  • Get the dog used to working on unfamiliar ground, with sheep it’s not used to.
  • Make certain the dog has a good recall, when it’s a long distance from you.

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From class-time to big time!

To us humans, working a flock of sheep seems like a natural activity for the dog. That’s what they’re for, isn’t it? We don’t see the change from training ground to farm, as being a problem, but the dog does!

In reality the introduction to flock work can be a huge step for a trainee dog. Almost as big a step as when the dog first went to sheep.

This tutorial will give you a lot of advice on making sure your dog is ready to start working with a flock of sheep, on ground it’s not familiar with.

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