Outrun (Part 3) Slingshot

Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Outrun (3) The Slingshot

Part three in our series of Outrun tutorials demonstrates how we use a simple technique we call "The Slingshot", to make the dog go out much wider on its outrun or when flanking the sheep.

"The Slingshot" is one of the most important and highly effective techniques we know of for quickly improving the dog's outrun.

If you're can get your dog's cooperation, it will absolutely love doing "Slingshot" outruns, and go out much wider.


Driving (Parts 1 - 2 - 3)

8 Replies to “Outrun (Part 3) Slingshot”

  1. Hi Andy. I’m training a 2 year old bitch. She’s come on a long way in the last few months, however I feel like I’ve hit a wall. She goes around the sheep in both directions and brings them up to me. I can make her stay and walk backwards 100+ m before telling her to walk up. She’ll also do a 100+ m outrun. The problem is she always wants to get close to the sheep. When I tell her to walk up she doesn’t walk, she runs, fast. No matter how much walking backwards i do it doesn’t seem to improve. Also, on an outrun she’ll start by going out wide but as soon as she gets past the sheep she’ll cut in very tight. The tail goes up and she almost ends up chasing the outmost sheep. This problems seems to be getting worse rather than better. I’m worried that repeating this in training isn’t doing her any good. Should i continue to do outrun training with her or concentrate on walking backwards and keeping her at a distance from the sheep? Another trainer suggested that I do close work with her in a tight corner to get her more used to being close in to the sheep. What do you think?

    1. From your description, this dog is nowhere near ready to do the things you’re expecting it to do.
      That’s what the Walking Backwards exercise is primarily for, Neil!
      Keeping the dog a hundred metres back off the sheep is not necessary – the dog will have lost touch with the sheep.
      It’s comparatively easy to keep the dog stationary while you and the sheep walk away, but a different matter to get the dog to walk towards them steadily.
      When you walk backwards, you should make the dog stay where it is until the gap is slightly more than is required, and then calmly encourage the dog forward.
      You know your dog is going to rush towards the sheep, so be ready to instantly stop the dog – then walk back until the distance is right before quietly encouraging the dog forward again.
      Once again, you know the dog will rush forward, so stop it instantly and repeat the proceedure. Eventually the dog will learn that there’s no point in rushing forward, and will begin to slow down.
      Stick at it, and it’ll be well worthwhile.
      Next, the outrun.
      This dog is NOT ready to do long outruns. You’re simply sending her too far, too soon.
      Reduce the distance of the outrun to one at which the dog goes out wide and doesn’t come in tight, and VERY gradually increase it as the dog’s confidence grows.
      Overall, I think you’re trying to progress much too fast with this dog, and you should be more patient.
      By all means work the dog in corners but start off well away from the fence and once again, very gradually move into tighter situations as the dog’s confidence grows.

      1. Hi Andy. Thanks for your reply. Yes, you are right I’m expecting too much. I see that now and will do as you have explained. It seems to be working already but I’ll not rush to progress too quickly this time. Thanks for your help.

  2. Andy thanks for the reply. I completely understand your answer as it pertains to training a dog to do an outrun but my question applies to a trained dog at a trial. What if the dog cannot see the sheep. Your body language should indicated what direction the sheep are along with how you walk to the post with your dog. I have read (but it is never explained) that you need to set your dog up properly for the outrun given where the sheep are. So – how do you do this? I want to send my dog to the left, so the dog is on the left side of me but the sheep are not within the dog’s vision. Where is the dog placed and how? is the dog behind me? is the dog 90degrees, is the dog at 45 degrees and three feet away? I’m trying to understand what the meaning of “properly setup”. Hope that is more clear. Thanks and again keep up the great training videos.

    1. Victoria, from the day you start training it, if you intend to run the dog in sheepdog trials, you should teach it that the sheep will always be found directly ahead of you when you send the dog off. The dog should learn that if you stand at the post with it on your left, you’re going to send it left, and so on. If you’re consistent, the dog will learn this.

      That’s about as technical as it gets.

      Secondly, during the runs before yours, you should allow the dog to watch the “fetch” section of a few runs. This will show the dog where the sheep are coming from. Some handlers lift their dogs up to help them see the sheep, but if the dog’s not happy about being lifted up, it might unsettle it.

      After the fetch, it’s advisable to put the dog where it can’t see the rest of the run though, because if the dog sees the sheep being put away in the exhaust pen, for instance, it might run there on its outrun.

      I hope you’ve studied the sheepdog trials tutorials:

      • Sheepdog Trials 1. How to prepare your dog and yourself for competing in sheepdog trials. – 24.0 min
      • Sheepdog Trials 2. How trials are run. Prepare for your first trial: what to do, and what to avoid where possible. – 28.0 min
  3. Andy there is plenty of material that says “the dog should be set up correctly given the distance of the outrun” but what exactly is that? I think it refers to the angle at which the dog is placed but not exactly sure. Do you set the dog at a 90 degree for a close outrun? a 45 degree for a bigger outrun? do you se the dog up 3 feet from the handler, or 6 feet? Where do you find this information? Thanks and keep up the great videos.

    1. No, it’s not the angle the dog is at, setting the dog up correctly (in the early stages of teaching the outrun) means keeping the dog in place while you move back to a point where you’ll be able to encourage the dog to go out wide – and stay out, rather than cutting-in or crossing over.

      I don’t position the dog at any particular angle when I’m teaching the outrun. I just make sure the dog knows where the sheep are first, then set it up as mentioned above. Start off with very short outruns, and gradually increase the distance. If the dog crosses over, or comes in too tight at the top end, you need to reduce the distance again, and spend some time “pushing” the dog out, before gradually increasing the distance again.

      As the distance increases, the dog will learn to go out correctly, but don’t try to send the dog too far, too soon. At sheepdog trials, make sure the dog knows where the sheep are before the run, and if it’s trained properly (and not too excited) it will take care of the angles and distance itself.

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