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Shedding (or Separating) The Sheep

Very useful on the farm, and essential for sheepdog trials. Learn to ‘shed’ the sheep!

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Shedding is one of those operations that contradicts the basic rules we’ve taught the dog so far. Previously, we’ve insisted the dog keeps the sheep together, but to shed them, we must teach the dog to part them again. Many dogs take readily to shedding, but it’s understandable if a young dog’s confused or worried by it. As with most sheepdog training, the key to success is to make the task as easy as possible when we start.

This tutorial shows how to teach a dog to shed sheep by making it as easy as possible for the dog to come through them. Featuring footage from actual training sessions this tutorial has a running commentary throughout.


5 responses to “Shedding (or Separating) The Sheep”

  1. Merin Ap Martin avatar

    Hi Andy,Ive started the shed with my 14month old sheepdog.When i call her through the middle she’ll go around the sheep and then sit by me.How do i get her to go through the middle?

    1. Andy avatar

      That’s very typical when you’re teaching a dog to drive.
      As long as the dog has all the basics – fair outrun, flanking well, stopping reasonably well and STAYING IN PLACE WHEN YOU TELL IT TO, you’ll be able to teach it to shed the sheep.
      The most common mistake is expecting the dog to come through too narrow a gap. It’s up to you to ‘shoo’ the sheep away while keeping the dog in place. Then you crouch down and call the dog to you. If it tries to go around the sheep, stop the dog and move closer, then call it through again. Be REALLY nice to the dog. Don’t be gruff or cross with it.
      But DON’T let the dog come all the way around the sheep to you. Send it back!
      If you really can’t get the dog to come through the sheep even though the gap is wide, try penning the two (small) bunches of sheep in some hurdle pens – plenty wide enough apart – then call the dog through that. You may be surprised to find the dog still won’t come through. If that happens, try leading the dog between the pens, stopping at the narrowest point and talking to the dog, to build its confidence.
      If the dog does come through OK, you can call it through a few times, then move one pen a little closer. If the dog comes through well enough, move the pens a little closer-still – and so on.
      The rule is, if the dog won’t come through, the gap’s not wide enough.
      Try stopping the dog in the gap between the pens, then call it to you again.
      The idea is to build the dog’s confidence by taking away all the pressure, and then very GRADUALLY narrowing the gap again.
      When you try shedding with the sheep loose in the field again, make the gap WIDER than you think you need. “Success breeds success!”

  2. Andrea Principi avatar

    Could you please learn more about the shedding training techinique?

    1. Andy avatar

      I am not sure what you mean, Andrea. If you mean you would like to see a more detailed video about shedding (or if any part of this video is not clear) please let me know.

  3. Francois and Yvonne De Brucker-Hollyoak avatar

    Thanks for advice given. I needed a few reminders.
    Yvonne H.

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