Starting a Young Puppy (Part 2)

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Starting a Young Puppy

In part one of Starting a Young Puppy, we saw that with care, it's possible to begin a puppy's training at a very early age.

In part two, we take young Ezra to the sheep again, but this time, give him a little more guidance and lots of encouragement.

We also see signs of Ezra's confidence growing and learn that nine sheep is too many for this early stage of a dog's training.


Starting a Non-Starter Starting a Reluctant Dog Starting a Strong Dog

10 Replies to “Starting a Young Puppy (Part 2)”

    1. The sheep are not trained as such. They learn that the safest place to be when there’s a trainee dog around, is close to the handler.
      Watch the “Top Tips” tutorial for more information.

  1. Just getting started with the tutorials and I am quite pleased. A question. I have taken on a 9 year old dog who was once quite a highly trained trial dog and did well competing. I do not know the dog’s whole history in detail, but somehow the dog just “stopped” being responsive to the owner. He just quit obeying. He literally is just herding sheep for his own pleasure now and is not a team. This is an incredibly sweet soft dog as a beloved house dog, but he is quite head-strong with the sheep. Pushy. I thought when I took him on that if he began to love me he would want to obey me (ok, do not laugh at my naive nature, I’m a beginner) . He knows ALL the herding commands, after all. But he doesn’t obey them – sometimes if you speak in a very rough voice he will respond to commands like Down, and That’ll Do Here, but I do not want to talk with him like that. I have other border collies to train, but I wondered what you think of this? Should I just leave him basking on the couch or is there something you suggest to get him listening to me? (he is not hard of hearing) He loves herding…just not for humans. Thank you.

    1. Very odd. Did you actually see the dog working well before you took it on? (Perhaps a few years ago)?
      Sometimes people say things just to get someone to take an older dog on, but if you’re sure that’s not the case, and you’re certain the dog’s not deaf, then I don’t think I can be of much help.
      Our little Kay is about ten years old, and has been a wonderful sheepdog, but now she’s deaf, and I cannot work her unless she knows exactly what I want her to do before she begins. It’s very sad.
      If your dog was definitely working well, and isn’t deaf, there must be some explanation, but I can’t think of one. If I come up with something, I’ll add it here.
      For now, I’d go back to the very basics. Get the dog in a training ring, and MAKE it do as you say. It should get back to normal quite soon.
      Another factor is how long you’ve had the dog. The older the dog is, the longer it takes to settle into a new home (and respond to the new owner’s commands when it’s working) but if the dog wasn’t responding to its old owner, that’s not the issue.
      Have you taken the dog to a vet?

      1. Thank you, Andy. I have had the dog about two years. He adores me, which is one thing I tried very hard for to see if that would help him want to please me and not go out and herd for his own self. He does want to please me with every trick I’ve taught him….except with herding. He has been thoroughly vet checked more than once since I’ve had him. I will start over in the round pen with him on very basic commands, perhaps with a loose long line if needed, too. He’s a marvelous sweet being. I do know for sure that he was a good trial dog, a good herder – for awhile. I think this is quite an interesting situation. Oh, well, he has his home for life anyway… I appreciate your comments. And SO enjoying the tutorials!!

  2. What are your thoughts on starting a young puppy ( 12-13 weeks) on ducks before exposing her to bigger livestock?

    1. I have extremely limited experience of working ducks with dogs but personally, I don’t really like starting a dog’s training on ducks at all. For the sake of the ducks, I prefer to get a dog working fairly calmly on sheep first.
      The pup will be very close to the ducks, and you probably won’t be quick enough to stop it if it (sorry, WHEN it) lunges at them. Sheep are much hardier and often there’s more room, so you can be in control.

  3. hi i have been watching your tutorials and i would love to bring my 10 wk old welsh sheep dog pup on with your help but i am not confident that i can do it as she is my first sheep dog. and my sheep are not used to a dog can you please give me sum advice. many thanks craig

    1. Hello Craig. I’m sure you’ll be able to train your dog, even if you haven’t trained a dog before, and if you already have knowledge of working with sheep it’ll be a big advantage.
      I think the information you need is covered in the Starting a Young Puppy tutorials, so don’t just watch them once. However, just to clarify the most important points for you (at the moment):
      – If you don’t have, and can’t borrow or buy, suitably calm and sedate sheep, don’t start your puppy with sheep until it’s around six months old. The puppy’s confidence is far too important to put at risk, and there’s plenty of time.
      – When you do start training your puppy with your sheep, make sure the training area is small enough for you to stay in touch with your pup, and use only 3 or 4 sheep so you can move easily around (or through) them.
      – Don’t spend too much time around your sheep with your puppy on a lead. If you can allow her to run after or around them (or someone else’s sheep) occasionally (even from the other side of the fence) that will be enough to keep her interested. If restricted by a lead SOME puppies learn (even if you haven’t deliberately taught them) that they aren’t allowed to chase the sheep and will be reluctant to start.

      If, in the meantime, you’re able to track down some calmer sheep to start training with, then jump at the chance. If you can borrow 6 sensible sheep, just for a month or two, it’ll be a tremendous help to your puppy.

      Otherwise, just treat your puppy like any other puppy. A good bond and some basic manners will be a big help when you start training.

      Best of luck! And keep watching.


  4. Just wanted to say how good your tutorials are. I have a 7 month old pup and he is doing really well thanks to your website. I would never have had the confidence to start him at four and a half months old if I hadn’t seen the tutorial. He is responding really well to your methods of training and am so pleased I started him early.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *