Training Max – the Gripper (Part 3)

Training a dog which is aggressive with sheep

The third and final part of our "Training Max the Gripper" tutorials sees Max working well in the training ring but then Andy decides to move the action out into the open field.

Find out how Max copes with taking the sheep out of the training ring, and whether or not he manages to get them back into it before the session ends.

Max had no training of any kind at any time in between the lessons shown in these tutorials.

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21 Replies to “Training Max – the Gripper (Part 3)”

  1. hello, I have written in my first comment of using the stick on the ground, omitting to write that I have also used it as an extension an to whoosh her out, only on the ground when she went the wrong way in order to stop her, it worked but she usually stops to a arh arh, sound difficult to put in to words but its the sound one usually makes when a toddler is just about to do something naughty or dangerous and you wag your finger sort of sound not to harsh just a little sharp, it seems to work, sort of two sharp A sounds;;

  2. thanks for this tutorial, my young dog was lovely I thought going round outside pen, but when I bought her in she did like max, so within two short sessions I have managed to get her doing circles in the way I’m asking inside the pen, with the sheep, but I had no dogged sheep as I realised, so I enlisted the help of a half tame bottled ewe, so she comes to me and stays in the middle whilst I have used the stick to encourage the dog out, she even stopped when I asked and walked up, granted towards oneside a little but then stopped as I asked. very pleased with her progress, although small, considering no dogged sheep and my pen is too big, its made of woden posts and sheep wire so not so easy to change, its almost like being in a small field. however I feel positive using the stick on the ground for the first time these last couple of days has really changed things. thank you;

  3. This video of Max looks all too familiar. I am a beginner trainer working a beginner dog and he grips harshly, works way too close, is incredibly difficult to stop or have”walk up” steadily, all the things. He may work quietly and steadily for all of 10 seconds before he explodes with a “war cry” and rings madly or dashes in for a grip. Normally a gentle and tractable dog, even a calm dog, he totally loses his head around sheep. My read is that he gets very anxious and insecure and feels that if he isn’t all over the sheep, he will lose them. Of course, when I can finally get him to stop, the sheep sometimes see this as their chance to get away thus reinforcing his anxiety! He is a 2 year English shepherd, so he does work differently from a BC (loose, upright, virtually no “eye”). He has had intermittent training for about 6 months and very regular training (3-4 x week) for the last 6 weeks or so (we now have sheep on the property). The sheep are well dog-broke and were raised specifically for training purposes. I’ve seen little progress so far with him and with my inexperience, I fear I may be inadvertently impeding him. In the Max videos, we don’t get to see just how he turns into that well-trained functional working dog in the end. How did he get there and how long did it take? I don’t have any intention of using my dog for trials or anything, but I would like to have a useful dog and he is certainly driven. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

    1. It can be a long hard road, Kim, but stick with it and you’ll get there! If the sheep are running off, it sounds as though they might not be as “dogged” as you think – and if they’re running off, it suggests your training area is too big.
      Your dog’s excitement is perfectly natural – you just need to channel all that energy into good work and he’ll be fine.
      You asked what happened in between the lessons you saw where Max was being trained, and him starting to work well… A lot of the same. Just concentrate on anticipating what the dog’s going to do, and making sure you’re ready for it, and being tough enough to keep him away from the sheep, and he’ll begin to get the message.
      I can’t show endless videos of lessons where I’m doing the same thing over and over, people would get bored, but that’s what you need to know.
      The stage you are at is very tedious and tiresome but as soon as you begin to be able to trust the dog, and you can see some progress, it all becomes very worthwhile!
      I suggest you watch The Training Stick and Starting a Strong Dog as well.

      1. Thanks for the reply Andy! The encouragement helps. And the commiseration. He’s been a tough nut to crack but I’m a pretty tough nut myself! I have used a variety of size pens for training. Smaller is generally better, but I’m also trying to get him to GET OFF THE SHEEP, so I experimented with a large field so that he has space to move out. We are currently back in the smaller pen due to the runaways! I’m actually beginning seeing some progress, so we shall keep plodding along. I really enjoy your tutorials by the way. Very helpful!

        1. If the dog is tough, Kim, you need to be even tougher to train him! But it sounds as though you’re making progress.
          Just watch the size of the pen. Too small and the dog’s likely to be more aggressive with its stock, and if it’s too big, you won’t be able to get close enough to control the dog. Our training ring is usually made from twenty eight, six foot (1.8 mtr) hurdles (panels). That gives a diameter of about sixteen metres. If you’re able to extend it to make an oval shape, with straight sides, that will help with outruns (runaways) but you can still use the narrower ends to regain control if you need to.
          It’s great to know that you find the tutorial useful – thank you for the feedback!

  4. I enjoyed the tutorial on Max I have recently acquired Scott who is 18 months He works nicely flanking & driving short distances with a yet to be perfected Lie Down at a distance His problem involves gripping when the sheep get away from him …Nasty grips that on 2 occasions have drawn blood…Yesterday he was driving nicely when the sheep made a dash for home he ran to gather them but lost his mind at the top & gripped hanging on for dear life Since this only occurs at a distance the methods demonstrated in your tutorial are hard to duplicate …Do you have any suggestions.

    1. If you’ve watched many of our tutorials you’ll be familiar with me saying “the closer the dog is to you, the more control you have over it“.
      Try to keep Scott working within that safe distance where possible, only very gradually increasing the distance he’s working from you when he’s going well. He’s clearly working too close to his sheep, so go back to basics and widen him out. You’ll get there!

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