Sticky Dogs (too much eye)


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"Too much eye" is nothing more than a confidence problem

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.


  1. Hi Andy –

    I have a 8 month old Kelpie who is extremely Sticky. She get’s fixated on the trainer sheep and doesn’t move. Where i have had success in the past is doing figure of 8’s in the paddock where she has to keep on moving. I’ve had no success elsewhere (yes she is young). She has no force and when trying to get her to move sheep through a gate (even if i walk through first) she will just stare at them. My question is for a dog who’s instinct is to be sticky, am i best focusing on encouraging her to be consistently moving and once she seems comfortable with this, then proceed to other aspects of training?

    Thanks. Your video was extremely helpful.


    1. Great to know the tutorial was helpful, Tony, but if it didn’t make it clear to you that you need to keep the dog moving, then I guess it failed!
      Keep her moving all the time until she gains confidence – and give her very easy tasks to do. If the fails to get sheep through a gateway, try somewhere with a wider gap. Maybe between two buildings, or set something up with fencing or even straw bales.
      If the dog finds it difficult, make the task simpler until the dog’s confidence builds.

  2. Hi iv got an 8mth dog who is sticky all he wants to do is drive drive drive he’s OK in the small pen if u get after him in with the sheep and out but if I take him out into small field he doesn’t run fast at all I have to have another dog run on outside to keep the sheep together. My sheep are heberdeans which are probably to flighty for him. He lies down on command walks up on sheep but trying to get him round is hard work. He’s out of cap who won Scottish internationals I belive they are like that from him thanks Andy

    1. Let’s get this clear. What I describe as “sticky”, Hayley, is a dog which stops and then doesn’t want to move again (as with Mab in this video). From what you say, your eight month old pup is not sticky, it’s running after the sheep but it’s not fast enough to get ahead of them. Give it some time to grow a little, and get faster. Once it’s fast enough to overtake the running sheep and get ahead of them, you can train it to do that, but at the moment, you’re expecting too much of it. In the meantime, restrict the pup to working in the ring so that getting ahead of the sheep and bringing them to you becomes second nature.

  3. I am training a 9 month old dog who is a bit sticky. I have tried constantly changing direction and praising when he moves with energy. He will stay on his feet and wont stop unless he’s told or there isn’t any reason to move. He will walk up on command brilliantly. I wondered if it could be my sheep ( I use 7 young ewes, Torrdu) who are well dogged and he perhaps feels like he doesn’t need to run with much pace as he has them under control? Would I be better with less dogged sheep or a greater number? If I let the sheep drift away he is excellent and goes out nice and wide and fetches them back with energy and enthusiasm. He is brave and happily brings the sheep off a fence or even through a lean to shelter we have in the training field so I don’t think its a confidence thing? If we are working close he does the job but his lack of pace makes it hard for me to encourage him out wider. Any advice appreciated! Mark

    1. I don’t think your dog’s what I’d call a “Sticky Dog” that’s one which becomes fixated and will not move when commanded. This is a confidence problem.
      In your case, it sounds as though the dog knows the sheep are not going to run away, so there’s little of interest to him. Why don’t you train him to drive the sheep? There are three tutorials to help you with that. The other thing that springs to mind is shedding. If you shed off three or four sheep from the others, and get the dog to take them some distance away, that might be quite a challenge – and then the dog will simply LOVE going back to collect the remaining sheep.
      Alternatively, as you suggest, I think you could use some “flightier” sheep – to make work more exciting for your dog.

  4. I have a sticky dog when the work is too long… When my BC is tired and if sheep are statics I have a real problem. But, my dog is not shy with sheep, not afraid. How can I manage this situation ? Should I stop before the dog is tired and uncooperative sheep? Should I rather work this? For now, in this situation I start to move so that the dog is placed in front of me, but that does not solve the problem for the drive.
    Thank you for your answer.

    1. It’s difficult to assess the situation without more information, Laetitia. When you say the dog gets tired, how long has it been working for when it gets tired? How many sheep do you have? Are the sheep “heavy” (difficult to move or aggressive with the dog)? What sort of work is the dog doing?
      Or is it possible that the dog loses interest in working after a few minutes? Most keen sheepdogs will work until they drop if you let them (of course this is not recommended) so there must be some reason for the dog not wanting to work.
      It would be easier for me to answer you if I knew more, but in the meantime, I recommend you watch the “Sometimes Nice is Not Enough” tutorial.

  5. We are working a “sticky” border collie here at the farm. He can be very difficult to get him up but once we do and ask for flanking commands he will over flank 3-4 strides before stopping. His overflanking makes it hard to keep the sheep moving in the direction we want them to go, and then he becomes sticky and freezes! He is very talented, nice outruns and driving nicely when not overflanking!

    1. This is a problem if you’re trying to work a dog while you train it, Melinda. If possible, you should fix the stickiness problem first, and then move on to the stop. If the dog won’t move on easily, you should try not to stop it at all. Keeping it moving will build its confidence – and then once the dog is working very smoothly, you can begin to stop it momentarily before calling it up again. Very gradually increase the duration of the stop, but if the dog starts to get sticky again, go back to keeping it moving.
      It takes some time, you won’t get a quick result, but it works if you do it properly.

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