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Teach your dog to keep well away from the sheep when flanking

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Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Give the Sheep Space!

If your dog’s going to work sheep or cattle properly, it must learn to give them plenty of room. Of course there are times when the dog needs to be close and assertive with the stock, but as a general rule, the less the dog pressurises sheep or other livestock the better.

If the dog keeps well back off the animals, they’ll be much calmer, and subsequently far easier to manage than excited or frightened animals will be.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn ways of encouraging your dog to go out wider, and keep well back from livestock.


25 responses to “Give the Sheep Some Space”

  1. Mariko Suzue Pan avatar

    Hello Andy, thank you so much for your videos! I am really enjoying them. I found this video really helpful and my pup is starting to keep her distance well with her flanks and in doing so, has been gripping a LOT less. We still have work to do but it’s getting better! The one thing I can’t seem to do is to encourage her to keep her distance when I’m walking backwards straight. With her flanks she keeps her distance, but she comes in way too tight when I go straight, and that’s where it all seems to go all out the window. Her stop is getting better and better and I tell her to lie down when she comes in too close, but the second I tell her to walk on, she comes in too close. It’s akin to a car constantly accelerating and braking rather than just a slow, smooth ride. How can I fix this? Thanks!

    1. Andy avatar

      It’s great to know you’re finding the videos helpful! Thanks for the valuable feedback!
      Don’t worry, it’ll come! Your description of the car lurching forward is exactly what it’s like! It’s perfectly natural for the keen young pup to keep coming in, but you must insist on her staying back.
      I hope you’ve watched “Backwards is the way forward” – if you have, watch it again – and again! It will help you a lot. Watch how I come through the sheep to MAKE Tess stay back.
      Backwards is the way forward is the single most important video for anyone who’s dog is flanking and stopping reasonably well. Keep at it – do it PROPERLY, and your dog will be transformed!

  2. Arye Ehrenberg avatar

    Hello Andy. do you use a command to to tell the dog to move away from the sheep?

    1. Andy avatar

      If you need to, but usually the dog will learn to flank properly if you push it out, as you’ll see in the video above (and many others).

  3. Nancy Barrows avatar

    Hi Andy
    I’ve been enjoying the videos and have found them helpful. My young dog was very tight but she’s gotten much better lately. The problem I having is at the top of the out run. She’s willing to give room on the sides but tends to cut in at the top which upsets the sheep. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks, Nancy

    1. Andy avatar

      Great to know that you’re finding the tutorials useful – and that your dog is going wider now. Thanks for the feedback Nancy.
      If your dog’s tight at the top of her outrun, position yourself between the sheep and the dog before sending her off to them. Then, as she comes past you, move across towards her and ‘push’ her out. You need to get a feel for how aggressive/assertive to be though. Usually just the fact that you’re moving out towards the dog and telling it to “get out” will be enough to push the dog out wider, but of course you need to time it so that it has most effect when the dog is actually past you. At the very least, this will give you a “get out” command to tell the dog to go wider.
      You can see graphics showing this more clearly in the Outrun tutorials but basically, if you stand closer to the dog and farther away from the sheep, you can widen the dog on it’s journey to the sheep, and if you stand closer to the sheep – but farther from the dog, you can widen the part of the outrun when the dog goes around the sheep.
      If you don’t already have a “get out” command, it’s well worth developing one because you can use it whenever the dog begins to come in tighter.

      1. Nancy Barrows avatar

        Hi Andy
        I tried your suggestion yesterday during practice. Yes it does help if I position myself closer to the sheep and just Get Out. Thank you for your help with that. The other issue I’m having is with her speed. She is very very fast. I’m pretty sure the sheep would like for her to approach at less than warp speed. Any suggestions?

        Cheers, Nancy

        1. Andy avatar

          Good to hear that worked, Nancy.
          Now I want you to position yourself on This Page (the A-Z list of tutorials) and look for “How Can I Slow the Dog Down“! :)

          1. Nancy Barrows avatar

            I tried the walking backwards today at practice. It made an amazing difference! I used a fence line to help control the rather flighty sheep we were using and by the end of the session she was really giving the sheep tons of room. Thank you so much

            1. Andy avatar

              That’s great news, Nancy. It sounds as though you’ve got a really useful dog there!

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