The Training Stick

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By far the most important tool we use for training sheepdogs is the lightweight plastic pipe.

We call it the Training Stick - and we wouldn't like to have to train dogs without one!

This tutorial describes how invaluable the training stick can be in the early stages of training, for controlling the dog's direction, it's pace, and the distance it works from the sheep or cattle.

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12 Replies to “The Training Stick”

  1. Hey Andy,

    I’ve had great success training my dog Clockwise and Anti-Clockwise flanking before beginning to use the training stick, and I’ve noticed that she doesn’t pay much attention to the words I’m using. She focuses mostly on my body movements which direction I’m sending her.

    With the introduction of the training stick I’ve noticed she only views it as an extension of my arm. It has been great so far, because now I can easily use it to have her flank much wider than she used to with only my arms to direct her. The problem I’m having is that when I use the stick to block her going the wrong way, she’s convinced I’m pointing her to go that way!

    My question to you is should I give up using the stick to block her and focus just on where I want her to be? I can have her stop going the wrong way with a quick “tss” sound easily enough, but I wasn’t sure how important you think it is that she respond to the stick as a block.

    Any suggestions are greatly appreciated, thanks!

    1. It sounds as though you’ve spent too long concentrating purely on widening the dog out, and now when you try to block her, she thinks you simply want it to go wider!
      I don’t recommend you stop using the stick. Teach the dog what you want it to do!
      Use your voice as well as the stick, and mix blocking her to stop her, with widening her out. She’ll soon get the idea!

  2. Hi, sorry for the very basic questions, I’m completely new to this! At what point do you introduce the voice commands come by and away? It seems from this video, if I’m correct, that the directional control is down to the training stick and not voice commands, do you just start introducing these slowly as you go along?

    1. I introduce the flank and stop commands right from the moment the dog first goes around the sheep, Michelle. Of course, it’s heavily backed up with the training stick at first, but the voice is there all the time – and I also praise the dog with a gentle voice when it does good work.
      If you haven’t already seen this, watch the “Starting a Strong Dog” tutorial or “Starting a Young Puppy“. I hope you find these useful.

  3. In the states we have 2 types of pic pipe. We build agility jumps out of the schedule 40, which holds up being outdoors. As you said overflow pipe I am assuming that you mean indoor or non schedule 40, correct.

    Thanks

    1. Sorry Linda, I know nothing of US plumbing specifications but the pipe we use is approximately 25mm (1 inch) in diameter with a wall thickness of about 1.3mm if that’s of any help to you.

      1. Andy,
        Thanks for your reply. I DON’T do metric so I’m not sure about the 1.3mm. I went to Home Depot yesterday & I realized the difference in the weight of the household pvc & the heavier schedule 40 pipe. It seems our elbows, etc., for plumbing only comes in schedule 40 which is fine, as you don’t need them for stock sticks.
        Thanks again for you reply,
        Linda

  4. Very interesting. It looks like the stick is used in a similar way to the whip when lunging a horse. Sending it away from the stick and not using it to indicate the direction that you want the dog to move in, as you might if it was a gun dog.

    1. Very similar to lunging a horse I think, Felicity. In fact, I think pointing to show ANY dog which way you want it to go is a mistake – because (depending where you’re standing) the way dog’s interpret this, means you’re blocking its path.

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