Give the Sheep Some Space

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.


    1. 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).

  1. 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. 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. 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. 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

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