Starting a reluctant dog

How to boost your dog's confidence and help it to start working sheep.


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Close up photo of Maisie, the dog used in this herding sheepdog training tutorial

Most dogs are over-excited when they first encounter sheep and it's up to the trainer to do their best to protect the stock. Occasionally though the dog takes no interest in the stock at all.

In this tutorial, Maisie shows no interest in sheep at first, but once the hunting instinct kicks-in, despite being a sensitive dog, she's aggressive with them.

Our video demonstrates how to limit the pressure applied by your control measures, while at the same time encouraging the dog to work.

It also shows a good example of how to get a dog to flank both ways around the sheep when the dog prefers to flank in one direction only.


  1. Hi Andy, i am a novice trainer. I have a dog about 8 months now, she is 1 year and 3 months old. When I got her she was extremely shy but has improved immensely. She is very stuck on me and when I bring her out with sheep she is hard to get going. She may venture away from me but after a bit will look for me and come straight back to me. She’s definitely interested and is flocking the sheep against the fence but when I give commands she will run straight back to me. I’ve got her to come by in the training pen but she will not come away. She sticks under my ankles going back and forth. Can you offer any help

    1. Don’t worry Fergus, if the dog’s showing any interest at all, you should be able to build on it – but of course you need to be very patient.
      It would take me half the day to tell you all you need to know about the problem, but luckily we have tutorials for that! I recommend you watch both of the “Starting a Non-Starter” tutorials, and also “Sometimes Nice is Not Enough“.
      Building your dog’s confidence will work wonders! Please let me know how you get on.

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