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. Hi there. What a challenge he is! I’ve got a McNab very much like Max but not quite so grippy. Super high drive and our first couple of lessons were utter chaos. She is coming a long. What I’m not understanding in these videos with Max is the continual repetition of “Lie down.” He never seems to respond to it, as though it’s just so much noise. What is the objective? Does he ever lie down? Does it not really mean lie down but something else? I’m confused.

    1. He does respond to it, Kerry – not much at all in the first tutorial, and much better (but still not very well) by the third tutorial. I hope you can see that!
      I keep repeating the command while I’m blocking him with the stick and my body position, and gradually he learns that Lie Down means stop. This is how we train dogs.
      For more on this, I suggest you watch the RECENTLY REVISED Stopping the Dog Tutorial – and look out for the revised Stopping the Dog 2 video when we upload that in a few weeks’ time.

      1. Thank you. I did see that and your description of the difference between what the command means to herding and obedience trainers. So much to learn. Also, starting a high drive dog, it doesn’t look ANYTHING like herding trials. LOL. First day I was lucky to escape with my knees intact.

  2. I have a nine month old border collie who will dive in at the sheep. He does not grip but the more I try to push him out and around the more he pushes against my pressure and dives in at the sheep. It almost seems that me putting pressure on him makes him worse. He is not shy of the stick or any other thing I’ve tried (rake, noisy paddle) and when on a long line will chew on the line or bite at the fence when behind it. Away from the sheep and after he gets tired while training he is very responsive to commands but will still dive in at them when trying to flank. Is this a lack of leadership on my part or do some dogs push harder against pressure and another training method has to be used.

    Your tutorials are so wonderful to the new handler. Your calm but firm handling of the dogs is quite beautiful to watch. Seeing when things go wrong and how you handle them is so helpful to the novice trainer. I can’t thank you enough for doing what you do and sharing it with us!!

    1. Glad to hear you find the tutorials useful, Monica.

      You don’t say how many lessons your dog’s had but he sounds like a dog which hasn’t done much training. If you stick at it, he’ll get there, but you must be firm with him. If he comes in tighter when you try to push him out, you’re not being “imposing” enough.

      For the sake of the sheep, you need to be firmer. At nine months, he’s an adolescent boy – flexing his muscles and seeing how much fun he can have.

      How much protein is he having in his food? He shouldn’t be on more than about 20% at his age. If working dogs have too much protein, it can “hype” them up.

      Regarding putting him on a line, if you make a rope-chain as you’ll see in “Training Max – The Gripper” he won’t chew that!

  3. Hi hi, I have one question / issue to discuss with you.
    I have been training my dog (3 years old in jan) this summer and fall in a fench at home,
    Its going fine, he is getting wider, and I have been able to prevent the dog to gripp (has been issue) by standing close by the sheep when he starts his short outrun!

    But than we went out of the fence and he was almost uncontrollable.
    He always stoppes the sheep ALWAYS, but than picks one out of the flock and brings it back!

    After pretty regularly training, and what I thought succesfull training, this was huge disappointment for me, huge!

    1. The dog is nice in a small fence where I can pressure the dog out, away from the sheep and on the same time prevent the dog from gripping.

    2. Out in a open field with untamed sheep running away in the mountains , fields and so on he is not bringing the whole pack back, stoppes the pack, and pickes one out!

    This was the dog last winter:

    What sugesstions do you have for me?

    1. In the video, the dog is working quite well inside a building, but your description suggests you are going from working in a shed (as in your video) to working the dog in a vast open space.
      The scenario is totally different for the dog, and I’m not at all surprised it reverts to its instinct.
      I stress in the tutorials that in the early stages of training, the farther the dog is from the handler, the less control you have over it. That’s the problem here.
      You need to find some way to introduce the dog to working farther away from you more gradually.
      Is it possible for the dog to bring the sheep out through the entrance to that building, and straight back in again (while dog and sheep are still close to you) then gradually increase the distance?
      Is there a way to confine the sheep when they come out of the building, rather than allowing them to run straight to the mountains?
      Failing that, you must find a way to introduce the dog to working in the open more slowly.
      If you have not already watched it, the tutorial “Coming Out” may be of some help.

  4. I have watched “Max the gripper”, and was really looking forward to see how Andy would make Max get more distance to the sheep (wider).

    I have a dog (bitch) that is nearly exactly how I see Max in these videoes. She is a gripper, she goes very close to the sheep, and when I’m not fully focused on her, she will grip.

    Her stop-commands is fairly good, and so is her flanks. (from what I see. I’m not a very experienced handler. She’s my 2nd sheepdog, but my first at now 3½, is in many ways opposite)

    I am at the point where I train short outruns, and the dog brings the sheep to me. I move backwards, and mostly in like 8-circles, but also sometimes few meters straight backwards. And she does this nicely compared to how it was in the beginning.

    But how do I continue from here? She is too close to the sheep which results in me not moving fast enough backwards. Then I simply move to one side, and she will have to flank.

    I am not always fortunate to have this calm sheep, and would like to teach her that other sheep want her further away (more distance between dog and sheep). But how can I teach more distance?

    Maybe you already have a video up that I can learn from?

    Many thanks for very helpful videoes!

    Best regards – Ulla

    1. You make it sound as though Max wasn’t working any wider in part three than he was in part one, Ulla! I suggest you take another look! Max made a huge improvement over the duration of these three videos. Have you watched them all?

      I was training him to go wider all the time by blocking him with my body position, the training stick and my voice. It’s all part of the same general process – gain control, get some sort of stop on the dog, and widen it out from the sheep.

      Training a sheepdog can be a very long frustrating business. You won’t get instant results, but it’s well worth it if you put in the effort.

      I don’t understand what you mean when you say that because your dog’s too close to the sheep, you’re not moving backwards fast enough. If the dog has a good stop (as you say it has) then stop the dog, and keep it there while you move further back. Then you can allow the dog to move again. If the dog rushes towards the sheep, stop it again – and repeat the procedure. The dog will soon learn to move forward at the pace you are moving back at.

      I highly recommend you watch the following tutorials:

      • Backwards is the Way Forward! A vital exercise to improve the dog’s pace, working distance and stock control. – 12.5 min
      • The Training Stick. Correctly used, the Training Stick can HALVE the time it takes to train your dog. – 7.5 min
      • Give the Sheep Space! Sheep move best for a dog that doesn’t crowd them – teach your dog to stay back. – 6.5 min
  5. again, I’m new to this, when I wrote that my dog stops to the A A sound, I mean when she needs correcting, she actually stops, not all the time, to a stop command, and she responds to a lie down command, however, not all the time of course as she is a trainee and so am I, before I signed up for the tutorials it was like the saying the blind leading the blind, literally, I seem to have come on leaps and bounds since discovering this site and am addicted, must go and try to get some other farming done.

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