Outrun (Part 2)

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The outrun marks the difference between a dog in training and a dog in work. When you no longer need to walk to your sheep, but can send the dog away to gather and bring them to you, you'll have a real sense of achievement - and a really useful sheepdog.

In The Outrun part 2, Andy demonstrates how positioning yourself, your dog and the sheep, in relation to each other, is the key to success when you're working on lengthening or widening your dog's outrun. To prove the method works we see Carew at an early stage in her career - when she'd "cross over" at the prospect of even quite a short outrun - and, just a few months later, tackling a 500 metre outrun for the first time.

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9 Replies to “Outrun (Part 2)”

  1. I’m training my first Border Collie, he is 16 months old and is very aggressive dog.
    All the commands are fine, he is pretty well under control when the sheep are calm.

    But he is pretty tight on the outruns, and Im having a bit hard time widening him out ! Overall he has been trained for 3 weeks (grand total) !

    Do you have any comments on his progress ? How much training can you expect to do, before you start outruns ? What about the age ?

    He has matured a lot for the last weeks, he is much more calm and more relaxed than before.

    1. I’m not sure what you mean when you say your Border Collie is a “very aggressive dog”, but you say he’s under control when the sheep are calm, so presumably it’s just that he’s excited or lacking confidence when the sheep are not calm.
      From what you say, the dog is making good progress but if you’ve only been training him for three weeks, I think you might be expecting too much progress, to soon. His age is no problem.

      I start teaching the dog to do very short outruns as soon as it’s going round the sheep reliably. If the dog is running straight at the sheep, you should shorten the distance of the outrun OR make the dog stay in place while you walk to a midway point between the dog and the sheep, then send him off, and chase him out wider as he comes past you. It’s all in the Outrun Tutorials – watch them carefully – and of course, you can try the “Slingshot” which is described in The Outrun 3.

      You should also learn a lot about outruns from the Bronwen and Scylla Tutorials

  2. I’m in the U.S. and training my first dog. She’s a mixed breed/rescue dog. According to the DNA test she’s a mix of BC and German Shepard, although everyone that looks at her thinks she’s got Kelpie in there. Anyway, she has strong instinct and is coming along nicely for only being at it for six months. She’s 20 months of age this month.

    We train and trial in much smaller arenas here — often about 100 ft x 200 ft. Currently, we are working on the outrun, lift and fetch as you show, with the dog staying down (which she does quite well), then I move toward the sheep and send her on a flank for the outrun. This she’s starting to get the idea of. My biggest challenge is getting her to stop in balance behind the sheep. The sheep will often be up against the arena fence so it’s harder for her to really come in “behind” them. But when she does, she wants to continue on the flank. Of course the sheep then head the other way before she comes back to block them. So we have a start-and-stop before she falls in balance. Other than trying a firm “There, lie down!” as she’s coming toward the point of balance, do you have any suggestions to get her not to overrun the back of the sheep? Or is this just normal for this age and stage of training?

    A similar challenge with her is on the fetch. As I walk forward, sheep behind me, and dog behind the sheep, she wears pretty good most of the time. But she is a little pushy. Also, when she wears and moves up to catch the sheeps’ eye she runs past their head, but she has at least stopped ringing them. So as we fetch, she runs these exaggerated “U-shaped” paths from in front-left of the flock, around the back to in front-right of the flock. Again, she’s only 20 months of age and been training for six months, so I’m not sure if it’s anything to be too concerned about at this point.

    1. Sounds perfectly normal to me, Scott. Trainee dogs will naturally feel pressurised in a confined space with the sheep, especially when the sheep are against a fence of some sort. The dog feels it could get trapped between the “prey” and the fence, but with practice, the dog’s confidence will grow and soon you’ll be able to stop the dog behind the sheep. I suggest you watch “Get off the fence” to learn how to train your dog to work well in confined spaces.

      What you refer to as “the fetch” is covered comprehensively in “Backwards is the way forward“. It’s a question of stopping the dog behind the sheep, and making it stay there as you walk back with the sheep following you. Once the dog is far enough back that the sheep stay between you and the dog, you can call the dog forward but try to stop it rushing at the sheep. When you can achieve this, you can walk backwards (if you can do this safely) and encourage the dog to bring the sheep to you at the same speed that you are walking backwards. This is one of the most important things to teach the dog. Once you can do it properly, the dog will have learned to work steadily, and to keep at a reasonable distance from the sheep. It will also learn to balance the sheep to you.

  3. How verbal were you being with Carew on the big outrun? Was her waiting so as not to split them based on her own feel of the sheep?

    1. Thanks for your question, Laurie, and please accept my apology for the late reply.
      On the Carew Outrun video, I didn’t make any sound until she was at the far end of the outrun. The sheep were very reluctant to move of their own accord, so I gave her lots of encouragement (whistling, clapping and shouting) to move forward – and it worked! Once she had them moving, it all went very well. I hope this helps.

  4. Thanks Andy, these three videos have helped me to correct my mistakes for the outrun. I am lucky to have such a clever BC. Kate enjoys her outings with the sheep. Yvonne

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