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Training Max – the Gripper (Parts 1-3)

A dog which attacks livestock must be quickly brought under control


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Part 1 – A compulsive gripper can be a big problem to train
Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Training Max the Gripper - part one

Not for the faint-hearted, this tutorial deals with one of the most difficult aspects of sheepdog training, how to cope with a very strong-willed dog which persists in violently attacking the sheep. In the first part of the video, you’ll see Max at his worst despite his trainer being vigilant. Later on, Max’s training becomes easier and far more rewarding. Watch the video to find out how it’s done.

Part 2 – Max is making progress
Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Training Max the Gripper - part two

After a quick recap of Max’s colourful start to his training, this tutorial shows him making good progress in the training ring and even starting to bring the sheep up to the handler but he’s difficult to stop. Andy’s careful to start the training session correctly to give Max the best chance of going around the sheep rather than gripping or splitting them – but can Max keep up the good work?

Part 3 – Max is almost trustworthy now!
Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Training Max the Gripper - part three

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 above.

71 responses to “Training Max – the Gripper (Parts 1-3)”

  1. Micha Hamersky avatar

    HI Andy! If I push her more (encourage) her more, she would rather run around to get to the nose. Than I have to give her a stop or NO command and that will take the speed out of that exercise. That is why I asked especially for the lgs-training again. BUt I will try to first work on the grip command some more and than see if she will do that when she is behind the cattle. thanks a lot.

    1. Andy avatar

      Well come on! Cows are quite long things – much longer than sheep!
      When you see she wants to go to the head of the cow, you’ve got time to stop her, and make her stay behind. But equally, make it clear that she can go in front of the cattle to turn them back. It’s all a balance – ‘you can do this, but NOT that!’. It’s what training’s all about. You’ll get there!

  2. Micha Hamersky avatar

    Hi Andy!

    I work with our border collie on cattle and she is a header only. She does not grip the you have hints how I can teach her to grip the back legs? And how to get her to be more aggressive? She likes to be a bit more pushy when things become fast..not so much when when the work is slow (although sometimes the cow is just stubborn and that is why all is slow) thanks a lot Micha

    1. Andy avatar

      You’ve pretty much given the answer yourself, Micha!
      “She likes to be a bit more pushy when things become fast..”

      Watch the tutorial “Sometimes Nice is Not Enough“. That’s the one for giving the dog a bit more “GRRR!”

      Obviously, you need to be extra careful when working in close proximity to cattle, but the closer you are to the trainee dog when it’s working, the more control you have because when you are close, the dog has more confidence.

      The more encouragement you give the dog when it’s confronted with stubborn animals, the better. Try to keep the dog moving, and whenever the dog becomes more aggressive, put a command on it. That way the dog will learn when it’s OK to be more ‘pushy’ and when it’s not.

      When you say “(although sometimes the cow is just stubborn and that is why all is slow)” I presume you mean there is a standoff between the dog and the cow? Try not to let that happen. If you can anticipate when there’s likely to be a conflict, get in close (but safe) and give the dog some help to shift the beast. Every time the dog is successful, the dog’s confidence will grow.

      1. Micha Hamersky avatar

        Thanks you have an idea on how to get her to grip on the hind legs?

        1. Andy avatar

          It’s in the fourth paragraph of my reply to you, Micha. If the dog needs to be more assertive with the cattle, your close encouragement (and excitement) will ‘wind’ the dog up. Be sure to use a command, so that the dog will know when you want it to assert itself. (I don’t know how you tell it which leg! The dog will sort that out for herself). :)
          Watch the tutorial “How Can I Slow The Dog Down” – and do the OPPOSITE – in other words, lots of shouting, and excitement – and sudden movement, to shift the cattle. The dog will soon join in. Having another dog barking nearby, can be a big help. There are also some tips in the two “Starting A Non-Starter” tutorials.
          But take great care of your own safety when close to cattle

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