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What’s known as “too much eye” is nothing more than a confidence problem


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Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Sticky Dogs

That dog’s got too much eye!” You’ll sometimes hear this when a sheepdog, invariably a Border collie, appears mesmerised by the sheep, and reluctant to move. But is ‘eye’ something you’re stuck with? The “Sticky Dogs!” tutorial demonstrates that you don’t have to live with this start-stop style. Andy works with Mab in an assertive, but kind, and encouraging way, with the emphasis always on keeping the dog moving as much as possible.

20 responses to “Sticky Dogs (too much eye)”

  1. unai urkia avatar

    first of all very nice and helpful vid!

    I have a 15 month bitch which I try to train. Its my second dog and the first one was an easy calm dog but this was so wild.

    She use to scape and chase the sheep and grip them from so early stage (4 or 5 month old) that i probably have been quite tough (loud recall screem…) and may afect her confident as i didnt allow her to reach the sheep to herd… I had no time till couple month a go when i started a bit to train her and I found out this sticky behavior…

    She lays down and whatch at the sheep and I could see the anxiety was building that when I encourage her to move she went very hard to grip the sheep (always from the back)… I put her the last 5 days in a round pen (2 or 3 sheep) as you show in the vid and she really improved. She is even following the sheep a bit but I have to keep fast and change directions that she keeps following. She keeps griping when she gets close to the sheep but she looses as soon as I say a bit louder EH! for the rest of the time I encourage her with nice words and smooth tone. I use to do 3 or 4 rounds a day of 5 min and try once a day in a bigger pen with more sheep (12-15 sheep).

    She becames more sticky as soon as she gets tired and starts to take more distance and become slower in the round pen so after 4 or 5 minutes I stop as i dont want to ruin the good behavior of the beginning of the trainning. I also use to go with her in a narrow ways and make her follow the sheep. She feels more confident than in open field and it makes easier for me to make her move forward.

    I had lost my hope to get something of her as I just read bad things about the too much eye dog… but now i have recovered my hope and understood it may have been my mistake at early stage… Do you thing this could have been the mistake?

    Sorry for that long text and I hope you can understand my bad english…

    By the way, I would like to ask if there is anything you would add to the trainning to keep going a head and build up her confidence again.

    Thanks a lot!

    1. Andy avatar

      Thank you for your kind comments – and for subscribing to our sheepdog training tutorials. It’s good to know you like the “Sticky Dogs” tutorial, and that it has restored you faith in your dog. She sounds fine – she just needs training.

      I do not think shouting at her when she was younger has caused her to be ‘sticky’.

      I don’t really understand why the dog gets tired after just a few minutes… I’m surprised she gets tired so soon, but a lack of confidence means the dog is frightened – and that is VERY tiring. She should not be getting tired so quickly though. Please can you explain what is happening? Also, what you mean when you say that she behaves well at the beginning of the training session and then gets worse as she gets tired… What is she doing?

      You do not say what the size of your training ring is, but at the stage (of training) the dog is at the moment, I don’t recommend you train with more than four sheep.

      As for building her confidence, that it what we encourage in nearly all of the tutorials, so I recommend you watch more of them but be sure to watch the tutorials in the “Where to Start” category first.

      1. unai urkia avatar

        HI Andy,
        thanks for your answer. Maybe tired was not the right word… first of all, the trainning ring I´m using may have 6 or 7 meters diameter. I train only with 2 sheep there. And some times try with 12 sheep in a 2000m2 field.

        What happends is, that the dog enters with energy and chases close the sheep. She even keep the balance with me (changing directions) without laying down. This looks nice because she really goes from 11 to 1 and back as I move my self. With getting tired and changing behavior I probably mean bored or something… don´t know…

        After a while (firs minutes) she starts getting more distance from the sheeps and laying down easily… when I see this, I just take her and bring her back home. I reward her with nice words and touch her when i finisht the trainning.

        The problem to me is that she goes losing intesity and I just try to train when I like the intensity she is having and stop as soon as the intensity goes down. I dont know if this is right… do you mean I should train longer than the 5 minutes? i do this 3 or 4 times a day.

        thanks again! and of course I will watch the tutorials!

        1. Andy avatar

          I am sorry, I do not understand what you are trying to describe – but if you have watched the tutorials we recommend, you will know that the training ring size should be around 16 mtrs diameter. 6 or 7 is too small…
          You say the dog enters with energy and chases close to the sheep. Do you mean she is chasing very fast and making herself tired that way? (That would be normal for an untrained dog).
          You also say she balances the sheep to you – but if she’s going from 1 to 11 (as on a clock face) that is NOT balancing the sheep to you. Watch the “Balance” tutorial.
          Then you say she is getting bored or something… don’t know…
          That is the part that worries me. Without a better description, or seeing what the dog is doing, I don’t think I can help you much. But you should know whether the dog is doing what the dogs do in our videos. Watch “Calm But Firm” is the dog losing interest because you are not allowing it to attack the sheep? If that is the case, you really need to be careful or the dog will stop working altogether.
          Taking the dog away from the sheep when it loses interest is a very bad idea. The dog stops working because it doesn’t want to do what you are trying to make it do – and you do exactly what it wants by taking the dog away! If the dog is doing that, you need to be more easy-going with the dog (allow it more freedom with the sheep) to get it back to work again. Keeping the dog working should be a priority.
          I would suggest just ONE 15-20 minute) training session per day for the time being. Try to keep the dog keen to work.

  2. Hayley Watson avatar

    good morning i have a 8mth old bitch who is very sticky i have trouble flanking her when shes in front when shes walking on. she likes to drive them and can flank her at the back of me. shes tight on the sheep and quite slow. the stick or whip doesnt bother her. so cant get her off them. she will balance them all day long so taught her stand so keep her moving . outrun is coming on nicely. i have took her off them for a week now she has gone really sticky. your vids have taught me so much. so hoping you could help please ha thanks hayley

    1. Andy avatar

      First, let me make it very clear that eight months of age is very early to expect the dog to be doing all you ask of it. My overall impression of your comments and questions are that you are trying to move on too fast, and not teaching the basics properly, first.

      [I have trouble flanking her when shes in front when shes walking on. she likes to drive them and can flank her at the back of me].
      This is perfectly normal for a dog which is learning to drive. If you have taught the dog to flank around both you and the sheep in the early stages of her training, that is what she will want to do when you begin to teach her to drive (if that is what you are doing).

      [shes tight on the sheep and quite slow].
      If she’s tight on the sheep, you need to teach her to keep back off them during her basic training. Driving is definitely not a part of basic training, so until you can control the dog properly, go back to basics.

      In what situation is she quite slow?

      [the stick or whip doesnt bother her. so cant get her off them].
      The dog hasn’t completed its basic training yet. Get her under control before moving on to outruns and driving.

      [she will balance them all day long so taught her stand so keep her moving].
      I don’t know what you mean by ‘taught her to stand (ie. stop?) to keep her moving’. It doesn’t make sense to me (sorry).

      By ‘hold them all day long’ I think you mean she’ll hold the sheep in place (on her terms, not yours). If that’s the case, then it’s back to basics again. Watch “Sticky Dogs” again, and take note of how I walk around with the dog bringing the sheep up to me. That’s how to keep the dog moving.

      [i have took her off them for a week now she has gone really sticky].
      The dog learns nothing when it’s in its pen – and little or nothing about sheep work when it’s away from sheep, but in your case, it’s probably a good idea to give the dog a short break while you learn how to train it.
      If she’s getting increasingly sticky it means you are confusing the dog and it’s losing confidence rather than gaining it. Again, go back to basics and build your dog’s confidence back up.

      I strongly suggest you watch ALL of the early tutorials in the default order they appear (Recommended Viewing Order). That will give you a proper understanding of how to train your dog.

      There’s nothing wrong with your dog, she just needs proper guidance.

  3. danny gamble avatar

    my 9 months old border collie is very much like mab, she like to hold on to the sheep,out runs are good i use the walk on, thats also good,thats just what i needed to show my nellie keep her moveing. many thanks

    1. peter hastings avatar


      My 3 year old dog has just developed this stops on flank and wound get up to drive

      He is down on weight and maybe his power being reduced has brought this on I am not sure

      1. Andy avatar

        If the dog has recently lost weight and his work is affected, I suggest you get him checked by a vet, Peter. I hope he’s OK.

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