Sometimes Nice is Not Enough

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sheepdog training video about improving the dogs confidence with stubborn stock

It's all very well training your dog to keep back from the sheep and not upset them, but what can you do if the sheep refuse to go where the dog's trying to put them?

For the welfare of the sheep, they simply must be handled, treated for any ailments and managed, so we need to teach the dog to get tough when the time arises.

Find out how Carew's confidence grew immensely once she learned to be more assertive. As well as difficult sheep, Carew can now handle stubborn cattle with relative ease.

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25 Replies to “Sometimes Nice is Not Enough”

  1. Hi there, is a there a video that teaches how to drove, not drive. My dog isn’t to keen to walk beside me and drove them, but always wanting to head them off, especially going through gateways.

    1. Getting the dog to walk beside, or slightly in front of you is the first stage of teaching a dog to drive. If you’ve got a good stop on the dog, just follow the “Driving” tutorials and you’ll do it. If you haven’t got a good stop on your dog, you’re “trying to run before you can walk” (as it were).

      Stop the dog when it’s close, and then call it to you. Once the dog is really close, begin to walk towards the sheep, but keep calling the dog back – it’s all in the “Driving tutorials“.

  2. Hi there are there any videos on working two dogs at once, and roughly how many sheep toons dog would you advise.

    1. We don’t have a video about working two dogs at once Oliver, because you really need to train each dog on totally different commands from day one. I’ve tried doing that, and quite honestly, I get mixed-up when it comes to remembering which dog is on what command!

      You also need to be able to keep one dog still, while you work the other dog , and then swap over, with the first dog doing the work while the other dog keeps still.

      I have managed to work two dogs by calling the dog’s name immediately before the command, so that eventually they learn to ignore any command which is preceeded by the other dog’s name. That worked well with Carew and Kay a few years ago, but I haven’t had two dogs of the right temperament to try it since!

  3. Hello Andy and Gill and all the others that are finding how wonderful and useful Border Collies can be, Our little Nilka arrived on our farm when she w as 11 months old. Last September ,she was out of control!! Being novices and not having discovered Andy and Gills website we made a lot of classic mistakes!, We have been very lucky that our young dog is very determined and just wants to work and to please us!! Without going into lots of details I would like to say that what I have experienced is that by watching and listening carefully to Andy,s tutorials and working as a team with a young dog has for us proved to be very successful! !! The same as an apprentice get in there with them and show them what you want them to do!! Good Luck to all of you! !

  4. Hi Andy, Thanks for the excellent video. Do you have a lesson on teaching a proper grip on the nose? When working tough range sheep, our dogs need to walk in directly, and if necessary, snap at or nip on the nose and hold their ground. I was just wondering if you had any other ideas for teaching this type of grip. We often do corner work, as well as in the pens, but I am always looking for new ideas. Thanks again. I am enjoying all your videos during the cold, winter months. Take care.

    1. Hmm… What you see in this video is what we do Jen. So far we’ve had no complaints from those who think they know more about animal welfare than you or I (if you know what I mean) and I want to keep it that way.

      If you want to develop it further, that’s up to you, but for our requirements, Carew was doing a pretty good job of “holding her own” as you put it, with cattle and sheep. I know some shepherds train their dogs to catch and hold sheep – particularly at lambing time, but to be honest, lambing time is the one time when sheep most need to be stress-free, so I’m not at all sure about it.

      If you watch “Starting a Non-starter” you’ll see that I talk about grabbing a sheep in a confined space (corner work?) and then the dog dives in and grabs it too. I use it to spark the interest of a dog that doesn’t want to work, but I can tell you from experience that it sparks the interest of workers, too! This would create various opportunities for training, as I’m sure you can imagine.

      We had a similar enquiry recently (on this link) and since then I’ve been toying with the idea of a tutorial about it – we’ll have to see! I’d love to hear how you get on, if you try it.

  5. Awesome tutorial! It’s interesting seeing the comparison between the two dogs.
    While my dog works sheep and cattle confidently in the open field he lacks a lot of confidence in the yards mainly due to some negative experiences with stubborn and aggressive sheep in the yards. And when he was a puppy about 12 weeks old and only seen sheep a couple of times he was kicked by a cow resulting in a broken leg and a few weeks stuck in the house. So in an effort to keep his energetic kelpie brain occupied he learnt a lot of simple tricks, one of them being to speak on command – and he became quite good at it. When he saw some cattle a few weeks later when we were fencing near their paddock he was absolutely terrified whenever he caught sight of them and would run whining to the nearest person or vehicle(no doubt recalling his previous experience with them). But later that same day when the cattle(5m old poddy calves) came sniffing curiously at him where he was cowering under the car I told him to “Speak” so he moved towards them and did just one woof which sent the calves scattering away in fright – and that’s all it took! he couldn’t resist the desire to head them off so of he shot and after a few confrontations that resulted in the calves turning away from him when he barked he was working them quite confidently and has never had any confidence issues around cattle again!

    1. Sometimes that’s all it takes, Anna! Great to hear that despite a troubled start your dog’s regained much of his confidence. Thank you for the feedback – it’s so valuable to us.

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