Use a reward to get training on board

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Working dogs have a huge capacity for learning, but in order to learn things that we want them to do, there must be some reward in it for them.

Fortunately, one of the greatest rewards you can give a sheep or cattle dog is to allow it to work the stock.

This is obviously a great help when we train a dog to work livestock, but in this tutorial Andy uses the reward of working sheep to get Odo, who is terrified of going in a vehicle, to jump in and go for a ride!

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5 Replies to “Use a reward to get training on board”

  1. To also say , when these “episodes” occur, she seems very brave as she will take alpacas off the fence or in behind them out of a corner, and turn them or the goats , completely undaunted by their challenges. she has even been kicked by the alpaca and seems to simply learn not to get in quite so close. but never fear, never aggression , just if there is such a look in dog…A big fat grin on her face the whole time, She is so trying but so fun to watch I think shes going to be great IF she doesnt out smart me!

  2. That is how you teach dogs a proper lesson. Calm, assertive and patient leadership + reward. Thank you for this slightly different video of sheepdog training.

    1. Hi Andy , I have 2 bc girls, one of which ‘Bella’ 7 months, is always by our side and very obedient . The other Lexi at 8 months and half months is just starting on herding , but on her own every chance she gets, Sneaky little girl runs off an her recall is now terrible .I do what you say to do and go out and make it an improvised lesson and last time she seemed to really get the balance point down. BUT she will not come to us . she doesn’t want to quit and seems to know we cant stop her . or she will go off on her own on our walks she will totally ignore us ,or turn look at me say heck with you and continue on her way which makes me totally relate to your : “must have patients ” even though you want to strangle them tutorials! she has always had an “I dont follow the pack” mentality, she is completely non aggressive with the goats or alpacas but is very good at the same time , as she is totally loving it . I cant keep her always on a leash she needs to get out and run with the pack. ( we exersise our dogs 2x a day we have 2 great danes too) but I dont know what to do with her. shes such a wonderful girl but she makes me crazy with the I beat to my own drum thing. but I dont scold her or yell at her cause when she does come I have to praise her .I wouldn’t want to come to an angry nut. any advice to get a stop button would be great

      1. I think you need to sort out the basics before you go any further with your Lexi dog, Saskia. The dog clearly has no respect for you. It’s learned that it can have just as much, or even more fun, whether it does what you want or not, and until you change this perception, the dog’s going to continue to run rings around you.

        Keep the dog under control when it’s not being trained, and don’t allow it to go and do its own thing. If it escapes and goes to the stock, by all means turn that into a very brief lesson but be sure you can catch the dog and take it away quickly.

        There are two things to address before this is possible.

        First. The recall.
        The recall is very important – and unless you’re an expert, it should really be put in place before you begin training. The puppy stage is the best time to do this. I guess you didn’t spend much time bonding with the dog when it was a pup?

        The dog should WANT to come to you when it’s away from stock. If it doesn’t want to come to you when there’s nothing exciting going on, how do you expect it to stop and come to you when it’s chasing animals?

        Remember. If the dog doesn’t want to come to you, it hasn’t yet bonded with you fully. It doesn’t regard you as its leader. It doesn’t respect you. You must demonstrate to the dog that you ARE its leader, and you must gain its respect. The best short cut I know to this is PROPER lead training. By proper, I mean with the dog walking on a slack lead (away from stock).

        Watch the Bronwen and Scylla tutorials – particularly the early ones. Your dog is much like Scylla in those, but I quickly sorted out the recall with lead training.

        When our dogs are on their twice-daily run, I make a point of calling the youngsters to me from time to time. It’s not unusual for an adolescent to decide they’re not going to come to me, so when that happens, if I can’t catch the dog, they ALL go back to the yard. The errant youngster will go back to the yard as well, because the rest of the pack is going, and they don’t want to be left out.

        Once in the yard, I will catch the youngster and either take it out on a lead for the remainder of the run, or bundle it into its pen and leave it there for the rest of the run. I favour the lead though. Nothing concentrates the dog’s mind quite like being confined to walking PROPERLY on a lead when all the rest of the pack is running around chasing frisbee’s and having a great time. Youngsters hate it, and they learn very fast.

        All our dogs know that if they don’t come straight to me in the field (or anywhere else) they’ll be walking on the lead for a day or so. It has worked with every breed we’ve had.

        Catching the dog.
        If you’ve got a good recall it will make it much easier to catch the dog when it’s working. Usually, I position myself between the stock and the dog, then I crouch down and call the dog to me. If it “sells me a dummy” (comes towards me but dodges off to the stock at the last second) I repeat the proceedure, but get closer to the dog before I crouch down the next time.

        If this still doesn’t work after two or three attempts, I’ll open up a pen or move some hurdles to make somewhere to temporarily pen the sheep, then I’ll continue to work the dog around them until they’re confined (maybe even in a tight corner). Once the sheep can no longer run away, the dog will stay close, and I can catch it.

        I hope this helps – please let me know how you get on.

        1. Thank you for your response , I did spend 24/7 with her as a pup , but I did not do much proper training . I think I misunderstood your video , ( the come by and away ..or first steps dvd). when you said you didn’t do much obedience with them as pups . I totally can see she has no respect I’ll back up and get the recall and proper training done first . Ill let you know as I progress. Thanks again .

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