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.
Training Max – the Gripper (Parts 1-3)

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

  1. John Groves avatar

    Hi Andy,

    I have a very similar situation with my dog that I am trying to train, however the circumstances are considerably different, I keep Indian Runner Ducks. My dog is 3 years old, he is from working stock and was originally intended to work sheep. Circumstances drastically changed and to cut a long story short, what was supposed to be an opportunity for training and working with sheep, turned out to be false. Approximately 10 months old, although he had seen sheep, but not been directly exposed to them. I attended a sheepdog school to do that. He was absolutely full of energy as expected and the feedback I got after the training sessions, was that he showed real promise, even though there were excited gripping occasions through the fence . From those early stages and change in circumstances, I was adamant to find some way of being able to work him. I haven’t been back to sheepdog school. As a frequent country show attendee I started seeing dog and duck shows, where collies were demonstrating on a small scale what I wanted to achieve with my own dog, so I set that up. I don’t own a farm or land. In the considerable amount of time that it took, my dog has just turned 3. His life hasn’t been just dog walking though. In that time, he has a very good understanding of what I want, our bond is strong. He recalls to “that’ll do” or whistle command. He can stand, lay down, walk-on, steady and although I haven’t released him to the ducks directly, I have built a circular pen and enabled him to balance. I appreciate your video on not convincing yourself that your own dog is doing better than it is, but I am confident he has the potential to do well.

    I’ve got and done everything you have suggested but on a smaller scale for the Indian Runner Ducks, the pvc waste pipe works amazingly well. Even the ducks understand what I want, so moving them around whilst he is on lead is simpler than what I anticipated, however his lunging concerns me, hence the long line. I know that teaching him to push the ducks forward is done later in training, but I wanted to at least expose him to them somehow without injury. My dog has been on a long line and is yet to be let off. Watching Max, apologies for describing it this way, but it is affordable for Max to grip in the early stages onto a sheep with a full fleece, I cannot afford that. My dog gripping a duck is game over, and I won’t allow that. His focus, strength, eye or whatever we refer to it as in the case of ducks is strong, but when the lead is loose, I’m concerned he will hurt or injure one of my ducks. The use of my body language or tone of voice is very influential to my dog, but my concern is with ducks running around frantically when he gets excited, my “Rrrrrrrrr” or “No!” will not work. When we have done circular pen work for balance, it’s clear to see he is over excited to have a nibble.

    I’m considering standing in the middle of the pen with the ducks and trying to push him out, but I wasn’t sure if this was the right approach. I’m also concerned by taking him away from the environment when things get a bit out of hand (over excitement) that I’m telling him I don’t want him to work, which is not what I want, however I cannot stress the ducks.

    I’ve even considered a muzzle, but this is a prime example of my in-experience.

    I appreciate my scenario is slightly different, please don’t think I expect an answer to address what issue I have, my comment is more a question of “what would you do in my situation?”

    Thank you for any advice you can give,

    1. Andy avatar

      Thanks for an interesting question, John.
      First, forget the muzzle idea. It may actually save a duck’s life, but it won’t help to train the dog, just frustrate him.

      Reading your description, you’re very nearly there (ready to start, I mean).

      Another point worth mentioning, is that Indian Runners might not be the most placid of ducks. Other breeds (or an IR cross) are much less flappable (pun intended) but being of heavier build, they cannot work for as long.

      Now, what you’re trying to achieve is exactly the same as anyone training a sheepdog on sheep, but as you point out, the margin of error is much tighter.

      However. You have the massive advantage that ducks move much slower than sheep. They can’t really run away, so this is what I suggest.

      First, get your dog used to working in a pen with ducks. Put him on a lead which is the correct length for you to control him and prevent him from lunging at the ducks. Walk the dog behind them keeping him back off them at whatever distance is required to avoid panicking them.

      As you go, gently try to encourage him to flank a little way left and right. If you’re successful, you’ll be able to dictate where the ducks go, and you should eventually get them into the middle of the ring.

      Remember that ducks get tired quite quickly, so you need to train a little at a time.

      Every time the dog goes near the ducks with you, the novelty will begin to wear off, and he’ll be more controllable. As this happens, you’ll be able to lengthen the lead, and hopefully, gently flank him a little further around them.

      The ducks will be settling down too – and eventually, you’ll have “dogged ducks” (just like the ones you’ll have seen in the shows).

      Of course, you’ll be working on the dog’s stop command at the same time, and training should all begin to fall into place.

      Once you really begin to trust him, you can even let the rope drop to the ground. This can work very well, because the dog feels the lead pulling on it’s collar, and assumes you are still in control. Don’t try it too soon though! (And use a rope that’s heavy enough for him to feel it’s resistance).

      If you can work with a longer lead, or by dropping the lead or rope to the ground, you can try putting yourself somewhere on the other side of the ducks from the dog. Not directly opposite at first, just a little way, and then gradually increase it until you’re on the opposite side of the ducks to the dog.

      Then you can start “Walking Backwards“!

  2. Saskia Sowers avatar

    Hi Andy , I have a 9 month old who is Very keen on the sheep . He is so focused he simply does not hear or see anything else, unless I am very tough on him. I do my best to be soft as much as I can. the biggest problem I have is he is too tight when he circles , he grips every chance he gets and will go straight at them rather than go around them as much as possible . I train with 4 very calm dogged sheep . my arena is about 150ft by about 50ft, a bit long but its all I have, beside hilly mountain fields. Usually he starts out very good but quickly goes south. and I try by best to keep things positive. but like Max, I end up just defending sheep , I wave the stick at him to move him out as you do but it does no good. I can wack in to the ground he will dodge under or around . So intent on getting straight to them scatter, chase, and grip . I have accidently hit him on the nose twice and once on the body in trying to hit the ground as you do to stop the gripping. I felt horrible . I tried the short outruns as you did with max when he was good but only to have the same disaster you did. I am so at a loss with him. I feel he could be great. If I can just manage not to ruin him, while I figure how to teach him to get wider and not attack the sheep! hes such good respectful boy in every thing else . even in the ring , until he just seems to ‘check out.’.. I tried today, instead of scolding and backing him farther from the sheep and then sending him around again as you do, to scolding and removing him from the ring entirely. As if to say if you do that you cant play sheep! l dont know. I would greatly appreciate any advice.

    1. Andy avatar

      My first reaction is that you have the makings of a great dog, Saskia, but you must “get on top of him”. At nine months of age, he’s an adolescent boy – need I say more?

      The training area is far too long. If you’re at one end and the dog chases the sheep to the other end, you have absolutely no control over the outcome The dog will know that, and take advantage of it. Is it not possible to put some sort of fencing across it to make it about 50 x 60ft or somewhere in that region?

      You say the dog usually starts very well, and then it quickly goes wrong, but how quickly? If you can get the dog to go around the sheep once or twice (and praise it) before things go wrong, that might be a good opportunity to abruptly end the session and bundle the dog unceremoniously back into it’s pen (or somewhere it won’t like being). You could then try again after an hour or two, and when the dog “goes south” as you say, bundle it away again.

      You don’t mention the rope chain… If the dog walks well on a lead, the rope chain can work wonders – and save both you and the sheep a lot of stress.

      If the dog begins well, and then turns aggressive, it very much sounds as though the dog’s getting frustrated for some reason. Try to work out what it is that’s frustrating him. Is there a pattern or something a sheep does – even looking at him in a particular way, or maybe challenging him?

      If the dog’s ignoring the stick, try taping an empty polythene bag on the end of it. Our supermarkets use very thin polythene bags which make a sharp rustling sound. That often works well.

      Our “weapon of last resort” is a lungeing whip. Not to hit the dog with, but to crack – immediately before the dog grips, but beware. If you over-use the lungeing whip, you can put the dog off working in seconds. Only use it if you’ve tried everything else and are making no progress. If you can’t crack a whip, whatever you do, don’t practice near the dog. They get used to it, and will eventually ignore that too – but it’s mightily effective when you first use it, so be careful.

      Whatever you do, don’t despair! The dog will come good as long as you keep protecting the sheep, and chase him away from them. Ending the session can be a very useful training aid. Dogs learn by reward – and you said how keen he is! He’ll quickly learn not to be aggressive if you take him away when he gets nasty.

      Get the sheep away from the fence and try to set him up to go round them nicely first time every time, and it’ll pay off soon. Lots of stuff to try there, please let us know how you get on!

    2. Saskia Sowers avatar

      Thanks Andy!! I think you are right , he does get frustrated. he works fast , and close but well. for about 5 minutes. or less. I haven’t timed it. but a guess. I think he gets bored ?? The big difference between Max and Ian is , Max will go out wider when you swish the stick . Ian does all possible to stay very close. he does have a stop and for the most part, a consistent one. but close. I did use a 10ft 1 inch cotton horse lead for him to drag. but I will go today and get the things for a rope chain. And fencing to shorten the pen. One thing I forgot to mention, he tends to get ‘sticky’ when he stops and I try to send him off again . Then dives in when I have to get close to move him . One last question. will the smaller pen make a difference with my other pup?. I have a 6 month old who is so quick to please she learns super quick , stops on a dime .and is flanking beautifully. both ways and doing short outruns? They are such opposites its amazing . She seems so easy and he is so tough . I think they will both be awesome!

      1. Andy avatar

        If Ian has a stop, work on it. Stop him on the other side of the sheep and make him stay there for some time. This is excellent for building the dog’s self-discipline. All the ‘symptoms’ you describe are typical. He’ll be fine once you show him you’re the boss and not him.
        If you can keep him on the far side of the sheep, try walking backwards (new tutorial coming up on this very soon). Walking backwards with the dog bringing the sheep up to you is excellent for showing the dog what distance you want it to work at and the pace you want it to work at, as well as building the dog’s self-discipline.
        Walking backwards is also great for sticky dogs. If you and the sheep keep walking away, eventually the dog will realise it’s no longer holding them to you, and will come forward (watch Sticky Dogs).

        1. Saskia Sowers avatar

          Hi Andy ! Ok I shorted the pen, used a rope chain scolded him fiercely when he got nasty. I took him unceremoniously out of the ring and put him in a crate for 2 hours , I took him back out to the sheep . and Eurika!!!! No charging , no griping ,stopping when he almost got nasty but did not. he gave more room when flanking too. very willing ! I also switched out one younger more excitable ewe, for one a bit steadier. she kept consistently breaking off from the 3 to get to her pals .and she messes things up at this stage I think ?? and wooohooo. I could have just cried tears of happiness and hope! twice he has done very well . even successful sort outruns ! I am exited to try a little more . but what should I do next? I watched the “What to do next”, tutorial but wasn’t sure about it . I am walking backwards and letting him bring the sheep, that is also doing well so far! I don’t want to jump to far or bore him to misbehavior.

          1. Andy avatar

            That’s excellent news, Saskia! Now you need to gradually get his training back to a more normal level. Us the rope chain for as brief a time as possible but have it handy so you can put him back on it if he’s aggressive. (I never had to put Max back on the rope chain after that first time).

            Now you’ve got better control, you need to teach him his flank commands – and get him flanking at a workable distance. You should also be thinking about getting him working in a bigger training area. If there’s some sort of gate into the longer part of your pen, try walking backwards and taking the sheep through that gate – but expect trouble as they actually go through. He’s likely to dive-in because he’ll think they’re escaping. Watch “Coming Out” before you do this. You might even try taking the new fence out altogether.

            Work on walking backwards for a while, and mix in some short outruns – it will transform him. You need to watch our new tutorial “Back to forwards” – once you can trust him not to attack the sheep when your back is turned, you can start walking forwards – a real milestone in the dog’s training. As you do this, you can keep him farther and farther back – and mix in some slightly longer outruns. Gently work mostly on his weaker side if he has one – but of course, take care not to send him too far. The closer the dog is to you, the more control you have over it.

            You were right to take out the difficult sheep – a red rag to a bull! Once you can trust the dog more, it might be worth trying him on some fresher sheep. Broaden his horizons!

          2. Saskia Sowers avatar

            Omygosh!!!!! ANDY!!!!! Ian made me cry today. I did not use the rope chain at all today , he’s a different dog entirely today! I did watch the back to forwards video, and employed it. He was flawless, working calmly. flanking nicely. Even when I say “lie down”, then, “that’ll do”, he came away with me. Every time!! I then walked about 30 ft and sent him out again he flanked beautifully . both ways .Come by’ he seemed only a little bit temped to go to them a bit straighter, but he did go around them and brought the sheep back ! the sheep separated on their own once and he panicked a bit I think. a short grip. I removed him . then we went back in 10 minutes later. and he going around even better. Ian wants to walk up a bit when they start to move, as I go backward but I think he will be fine after a few times. The sheep also seemed to sense his new attitude and worked calmer too! At the end he looked like he was getting a bit hot. I told him “lie down” went to pet him good boy and make a fuss. I then said, “That’ll do”. and he walked away with me, out of the ring!!!!!!!! Just one quick soft “here Ian” when he looked back at them!. I wish I could just hug you!! lol I so appreciate your advice ! Thank you Andy! he’s like a new dog!.

            1. Andy avatar

              That’s wonderful news, Saskia, but to avoid any misunderstanding I feel we should make it clear to anyone reading this post that Ian is your dog – and when he made you cry, it was a good thing!

              Seriously though, that’s wonderful. I’m sure you’re well on the way to making Ian into a really useful sheepdog. I would only stop a training session and take the dog away if it’s quite seriously ignoring your commands. Generally, it’s better to keep the session going and coax the dog back to good behaviour. Only if that isn’t working, do I take the dog away as I described in an earlier post.

              There will be setbacks on the way, but stick with it, believe in your dog, and you’ll succeed.

          3. Saskia Sowers avatar

            Note taken Andy , Yes they were tears of joy, I wont remove him unless serious , He’s been doing great. At a friends today, we did your suggestion and took him though a large opening. as you said to expect, he panicked . He went after them ,They scattered. but he gathered them with out one grip . he was stuck on the fence. but rather than get aggressive, he just held them , looked back at me like . What now?: I got to them and walked back enough to slightly get the sheep moving. he cleanly got them off the fence. so very proud of him. My friend also has 3 calm dogged sheep that he worked with at her place. Thank you again !

  3. Sascha Christof avatar

    HI Andy,

    I have got Jack, he is 4 years old coming from Cornwall and lives in Germany (Frankonian Switzerland) now and he knows how to work around the fence with come by, away, stand and laydown. He reacts on slow down and when I fluster he is getting very attentive and carefully. The big advantage is here that he has to follow the fence – that makes it easy for him. As soon as I put him inside – it is oval – he logically goes always the direct way on the sheep. I have to say it is the first time I train a boarder collies and it is the first time that the one male and 2 femal sheeps has to do with a dog. If there is enough space between them, it is no problem. If I go in my round pen (metal-version) and he is working on the outside everything is fine. He uses always the 12 o´clock position and react by himself on the movement of the three sheeps. The male often hit with the front legs on the grond to warn Jack. One of the younger female makes it meanwhile, too. Jack is not impressed at all. Because he is so fast I used the rope with the chain which worked on the first ten minutes. Then he startet again with his normal high speed. When I fluster he will slow down.

    Now I started in the meaning to get this regulated also inside the round pen. The first problem is, that the sheeps will glue to my bud ;-) and I have no chance to bring Jack with distance into the round pen. So I need a second person which brings the sheep to the other side of the entrance.
    Jack makes on command lay down and he won’t move like the sheeps which stay behind me. As soon as he got the order to go away or come by he will run full speed direct line to the sheep. When I start with the stick to bring him towards the fence he will start to react a little bit. But as soon the sheeps overtook me on the right side he will cut and passes me also on the right side instead the circle to the left around me with the away command. And then he is goint directly on the sheep and grips them. He well stop it pretty fast and lay down on command. But meanwhile the male sheep jumped over the fence and the females want to follow and do not move like before – logically.
    How can I go on to solve the problem “High-Speed” and “direct way on the sheep”? When I bring the sheep to the grassland Jack helps but I have always to stop him all 10 meters with the command lay down that he won’t drive the sheeps somewhere else with full speed which makes everything uncontrollable. I think in the round pen the male sheep will cause a big problem because he knows now how to escape from the round pen.

    What do you think Andy?

    1. Andy avatar

      Trying to start a keen young dog on stubborn or aggressive sheep is just not fair on either the dog, the sheep or yourself. Just as you wouldn’t try to teach a child to read by giving it a complex scientific document to read, nor should you expect a dog to learn to work sheep in a controlled manner when the sheep threaten or attack it.
      Although I used a small round pen with the sheep inside and the dog outside just for one session in the DVD First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training, this was to try to “balance” a dog which would only go one way around the sheep. I have since found far better ways, and have not used the dog on the outside of a pen for many years – because all it seems to do is frustrate the dog.
      Please try to get some suitable sheep – and watch “Starting a Strong Dog” and “Training Max the Gripper” (again) and watch how I try get myself between the dog and the sheep before I send (or release) the dog. If you can do this, you should be able to “chase” the dog out as it runs towards the sheep.
      Using the chain will help – and if it’s not slowing the dog down, it’s not heavy enough.

      1. Sascha Christof avatar

        Hello Andy,

        I will go some steps back and try it new, step by step like you told me.

        Thanks for your help!

        1. Sascha Christof avatar

          By the way – my problem is that I have no alternative to the stubborn sheeps.
          I have only at a neighbours ground about 8 sheeps which work with an very wise 14 years old boarder collies on a different way and they have right now lambs. An no round pen at all….only a fence or walking free over fields and the old boarder collie will take care and bring them back in a very relaxt and calm way. Very nice!

          But for Jack or better said for me very difficult to show him the right things in the right environment… ;-(

  4. Dave avatar

    Hi Andy,I took your excellent advice and built a circular pen and I am using six of the hoggets,it was a bit chaotic at first but they settled down surprisingly quick,I have my fathers dog on the outside which prevents any jumpers,I have established that he has a tendency to grip on his comebye side but now I can get in quick to prevent it,I am thoroughly enjoying the training now because previously I was anxious that he was going to cause damage to the sheep and I suppose this anxiety was being passed to the dog,I also put the rope chain on him at the start of every session to tire him out a little and then remove it.thanks again for your advice and I love the tutorials.

    1. Andy avatar

      That’s very good news, Dave. I’m glad you’re finding the circular pen useful.
      Try to manage without the rope chain as soon as you can. If you can keep the dog in place while you put yourself between him and the sheep before you send him off, you should be able to guide him around the sheep, especially if your father’s dog’s on the outside keeping the sheep off the hurdles.
      Most important: When you first send him off to the sheep, send him “Away” – that’s obviously his best way because you said he’s inclined to grip if you send him clockwise. Once he has the sheep under control, try to send him “Come bye” as often as possible to get him used to going that way. The rule is: Send the dog its best way if the job is difficult (sheep on the fence, or the dog’s excited etc etc) – and send the dog its worst way whenever the job is easy. This way, you’ll soon balance the dog’s sides up.
      Of course it will be a great help if you feel more relaxed – try to be very calm, but firm.

      1. Dave avatar

        Hi Andy,I have had my dog in the circular pen every evening for a week,he is flanking nicely in both directions and the gripping is definitely getting less and less,he has no problem controlling the six hoggets in the ring,however at the end of the last few sessions Iv tried to get things going in the open field,whilst the ewes are fine in the ring they are very flighty in the open,he certainly tries his best to control them but he really only manages it when the ewes are very tired and panting,at which point I feel I don’t want to work them anymore,it’s such a pity because at this stage when the sheep are tired the dog is working nicely,unfortunately I don’t have any other ewes to use so I have to make these work,should I just stay in the ring for longer and not attempt the open field for another while?he was able to control the larger flock better but then gripping was the always your expert advice is very welcome.

        1. Andy avatar

          Working the dog every evening for a week is probably not enough, but I would expect him to have stopped gripping by now. Are you using the same hoggets every time? You really should, otherwise you’re using fresh, flighty sheep for each lesson. If necessary, mark the sheep and make sure you use the same ones every time.
          Six sheep is too many at this stage. Use three or four at the most. You can always increase the numbers gradually once the dog’s managing better. I don’t worry too much if the sheep are panting (just as we do after running) but I stop immediately if they’re gasping. In fact I try to stop well before they start gasping.
          If you’re losing control when the sheep leave the ring, how are you getting them out? Watch the “Coming out” tutorial and make sure you follow it.
          You need to open up a wide gap so the sheep move out steadily and the dog has room to go round them.
          Try this.
          Work the dog in the ring as normal, and while he’s going round the sheep well, get a friend to open the hurdles WIDE. Make sure the dog keeps circulating and keeps control of the sheep while the hurdles are being opened. If you lose control of them, I’d say the dog’s not ready to work outside the ring.
          If you’re able to keep control of the sheep with a large gap in the hurdles (or fence) then keep the dog circling in his best direction, and “Waltz” the sheep out into the open. This way the dog keeps the sheep in check and they can’t run off. Watch the “Get off the fence” tutorial for more about “Waltzing the sheep out“.
          How big is the ring (diameter)? If you can’t control the sheep outside the ring, but the dog’s controlling them well inside it, you can always gradually make the ring bigger and bigger.
          Lastly. while the dog is in the ring with the sheep, you should be teaching him to get the sheep away from the fence. If he can do this well, then it should be quite simple to get them under control again if they run off to a hedge or a corner somewhere. If they’re tight in a corner and the dog doesn’t want to dig them out, slip a rope or lead THROUGH his collar and lead him behind them, then as the sheep come out of the corner, let go of one end of the lead so that it slips through his collar and releases him. Then IMMEDIATELY keep him going round them and if possible, stop him in the corner, so the sheep come out.

          1. Dave avatar

            They are the same six sheep I have been using in the ring for the week,the ring is approx 20 meters in diameter,he has no problems in getting the sheep away from the hurdles,I suppose I am getting a little anxious as the summer is drawing to a close and because I work full time I will only be able to train him at weekends when the evenings get dark,will he still be ok with this minimum training?he will be two at the end of next July?

            1. Andy avatar

              NEXT July? You mean he’s only a year old Dave? Some of our dogs are lucky if they get trained once in two weeks! He’ll be fine.
              The ring sounds about the right size – now what about all the suggestions I spent a lot of time typing out to try to help you?

          2. Dave avatar

            Rest assured Andy that I will use every piece of advice that you have given me and I am watching all the tutorials over and over,and yes he was only a year old at the end of june(not July as I previously stated)so I should really appreciate how far he has come.

  5. Dave avatar

    Very interested in max the gripper,I have been working with my young dog(13 months)since early summer and he’s doing great,fetching,flanking even driving,however my only concern is that when a sheep tries to break he grabs and hangs on,he has even nicked a couple of ears along the way,I am working with about forty sheep so it’s difficult for me to see it happening to get the correction in before it happens,he just needs to learn to keep out around the sheep,when he gets the sheep turned towards the flock he lets go,any ideas would be very welcome.

    1. Andy avatar

      Your dog is young and excitable. Are you training him or using him for work, Dave?
      If you’re using him for work, he’s not ready for flock work yet. If you’re training him, forty’s far too many for you to control the situation and give the dog the guidance it needs. Diving in and gripping shows a lack of confidence, so you need to reduce the number of sheep to something like six or eight, and work the dog close enough to be able to see what’s happening, and correct him (as you say) before he grips.
      When he can handle that number of sheep confidently, start to increase the distance gradually – and then increase the number of sheep.
      He sounds like a great dog but you’re trying to get him to “run before he can walk”.

      1. Dave avatar

        Thank you for your reply Andy,it’s difficult for me to use a small number of sheep as these are ewes with Spring lambs(lambs were born in March)and separating them would be near impossible,he’s fairly calm around them and only grips when one of the lambs make a dart for escape,I have access to 15 hoggets but these are very flighty and he finds it very difficult to get control on them which I was worried would damage his confidence.

        1. Andy avatar

          Trying to train a dog on ewes with lambs is not fair on the dog or the sheep. You’re expecting a novice to do the work of an expert.
          Surely your dog’s worth the small effort of getting a handful of sheep which are used to being worked by a dog. Are you really not bothered?
          Allowing the dog to continue working in a situation where you can’t control it is likely to have a highly detrimental effect on the dog’s future work – not to mention the welfare of the sheep.

          1. Dave avatar

            Thanks for the reply Andy,I certainly am bothered and don’t want to do wrong by the dog or sheep,getting a handful of sheep isn’t the problem but I have no where to put them as I have no land,I am using my fathers sheep and whilst I have trained two dogs for him in the past they were far from trial dogs although they were excellent workers,I got this fellow as a pup and planned to try and get him to trial material,I work full time and only get to train him in the evenings,perhaps when the lambs are weaned il be able to separate off a couple of ewes to make it easier on the dog,I admit I am a complete novice and look forward to any input you may have.

          2. Dave avatar

            Hi Andy,since Iv last been in touch Iv had my dog in the round pen and out in the open field,he was going great until I was bringing the sheep into the round pen and one decided she didn’t want to go in,she tried to run down the field and he went after her and gripped her ear,I was really disappointed as I thought we had started to get the gripping problem under control,any idea how I can get him to stop doing this,he only goes in to grip when one sheep tries to break away.

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