Starting a Young Puppy (Parts 1 & 2)

How to start training a young puppy to work sheep and other livestock

We take two eleven week old puppies to sheep

Part 1. The usual age for starting a pup on sheep is between six and twelve months, but if you have the right sort of sheep and know what you're doing, you can start a pup at a much younger age. Starting a dog early makes it much easier to get the youngster under control in the presence of sheep.

In "Starting a Young Puppy" Andy shows what to do and what to avoid when he takes litter-mates Ezra and Carew to the sheep at just eleven week old.

In Part 2, 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.

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6 Replies to “Starting a Young Puppy (Parts 1 & 2)”

  1. Hi, my 4 months old pup takes every opportunity (and she is very quick) to escape and run to the sheep. Our property is shared between horses and sheep, therefore we have electric fences (Gallagher Equi Fence). It keeps horses and sheep where they should be and they are safe. My older BC had a few shocks as a puppy and then learned only to go thru fence if I allow it. But this pup doesn’t seem to mind electric shocks and still runs off, all by herself. What can I do to stoop this/

    1. If you have no fences, it won’t be easy to control a puppy, Brita. It’s usual to keep the dog in a kennel, take it out regularly and keep control of it with a lead or rope while it’s out. If you spend time with the pup, keeping it on a lead to stop it running off, it won’t take long to teach the dog to come back to you when you call it.
      At the moment, the dog either feels it’s getting no guidance from you, or it’s not properly bonded with you (respects you as its leader) so it goes off and follows its instinct.
      I recommend taking the dog out for a few minutes several times a day on a lead, and training it to walk properly with the lead slack. If the dog is pulling on the lead, it’s trying to control you. That means it doesn’t recognise you as its leader. When you get it to walk properly with the lead slack, the pup will begin to respect you more.
      At the moment, with no fences and no respect from the dog, you can’t possibly control it.

      1. Thanks Andy,
        now almost a month later, we have improved a lot. Leading on a loose lead/rope, sit and down are now established and she even came back when she took off to see the sheep the other day. Great success I thought :-
        Other people told me to use electric collar, but really didn’t want to do it and I didn’t have to!

  2. Hi – my puppy chases my boots more than the sheep. She tries with the sheep, but get suddenly more interested in eating the sheep’s poop and just now and then chases the sheep. The sheep are not very afraid of her either. Just curious. Should we try her on other sheep, more afraid of her chasing-motions? Should we let her chase our boots? Jenny

    1. The dog certainly shouldn’t be chasing your boots, Jenny. You need to stop that, but you don’t say how old the puppy is. It’s not unusual for a young pup to get distracted but if it’s more than about six or seven months old, the likely cause of its getting bored is that the sheep are not responding, so yes, I would get some more responsive sheep if you can.

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