Starting a non starter (Parts 1 and 2)


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Photo of a border collie clambering through a fence to get away from the sheep in the background

If your dog won't work, we can help you to change its mind!

It's very disappointing to find that your dog doesn't seem to want to work sheep or cattle, but it doesn't necessarily mean you won't be able to change its mind. As with most aspects of training dogs to work stock, if you understand what's happening and why, there's a much better chance of putting things right.

In these two tutorials, we look closely at why some dogs want to work and others don't. Then we look at several proven ways of triggering the dog's work instinct.

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3 Replies to “Starting a non starter (Parts 1 and 2)”

  1. I’m here because my 6yo border collie Mica (off exceptional working parents and exposed to sheep many times here) has had 100% refusal on herding. The job he took on was being a varmint dog – keeping coyotes, turkeys, deer, etc. AWAY. It was very disappointing to me that he would only lie around and eat grass with the sheep. Last week a friend brought her young Tommy dog over to work my sheep (8 sheep) and I was astounded to see Mica finally show some herding interest!!! Tommy is super enthusiastic and there was a lot of dashing around. I’ve tried a few times now with mine, sometimes he’ll gobble grass or sheep poop freakishly between some herding tries. Is better at driving action than balance, but is starting to do that too. Will let you know if he improves to anything useful (e.g. get the sheep off the hill instead of me having to.) Thanks for Part 1 & 2 – some reasons and possibilities.

  2. Looking at the footage of the kelpies that you have, I was noticing that they all seem to have a very bouncy approach to sheep and work at a fast pace. Have you ever had one that tended to show “eye” instead of being aggressive when it approached sheep? Would that make it easier to train.

    1. It may make a difference, Anna, but our difficulty with Kelpies is the length of time it takes for them to learn. In our limited experience, collies are far quicker to “get the idea”.

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