Driving (1 of 3)

How to teach your dog to drive sheep, cattle or other livestock.

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Video Highlights

Training dogs for driving and droving

What’s the difference between driving, and droving?
A dog which is driving, takes the sheep away from the handler.
A dog which is droving, works alongside, just ahead, or close behind the handler.
Droving is simple to teach, particularly if the dog will stay close to you.
Driving has a reputation for being difficult to teach, and some trainers dread it.
Before training a dog to drive, it should flank well both ways, and obey basic commands.
Ideally, the sheep should be calm and free-moving.
Driving can be hard to teach, because the dog’s instinct is to bring sheep to us.
Suddenly, we’re asking the dog to push the sheep away!
It’s perfectly natural for the dog to want to bring the sheep back to you!
Teaching the dog to drove sheep first, makes it easier to teach it to drive.
Dogs are usually happy working close to the handler, but not keen to push sheep away.
An example of a dog showing signs of wanting to drive.
The hardest dogs to teach to drive can become the best drivers, once they learn!
Remember that learning to drive is very stressful for the dog.
When the dog looks back at the handler, it’s not happy with what it’s doing.
Increase the droving distance slowly, and break-up sessions with activities the dog enjoys.
Watch Driving 2 and 3 for more.

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Teach your dog to drive sheep and other livestock

PART 1. Some sheepdog trainers dread teaching their dog to drive and it’s understandable, because when we ask a dog to take the sheep or cattle away, it’s contrary to the dog’s instinct. If you understand what’s going on though, it becomes much simpler, and more enjoyable to teach your dog to drive sheep. In this tutorial you’ll discover how to ease the dog into driving and reduce the stress involved when we ask the dog to take the stock away. The word hefted is mentioned in the video. Find out about the words commands and language used in the sheep world.

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Driving 2 | (top ⇧)


Comments

20 responses to “Driving (1 of 3)”

  1. Guy Bennett avatar
    Guy Bennett

    Hello Andy,

    I was just wondering if you’ll be making a droving video? I’m keen to try and teach my Corgi to drove sheep.

    Best wishes,

    Guy

    1. Good morning Guy, and thanks for the question; we don’t have any plans for a droving tutorial (though that could change if we have more requests). However, droving should be very straightforward for you to teach to your corgi, or to any other breed of dog (I’ve moved sheep in this way with the help of a Papillon) that you’re able to keep under control. When droving, all we really want the dog to do is to stay with us and use its influence as we quietly walk the stock to wherever we want them. Provided your dog will walk quietly beside you, you should be able to move the sheep. If/when you get more ambitious, or find the dog has a natural inclination to walk ahead and move the stock on its own, then the Driving tutorials should tell you what you need to do or look out for.
      Please ask if you need more help, or if anything isn’t clear, and I’d be interested to know how you get on with your corgi. With so many corgis bred for the show ring now, rather than work, it would be lovely to hear of one that’s working. Best of luck. Gill

      1. Guy Bennett avatar
        Guy Bennett

        Thanks Gill.

        I’ll keep you informed!

  2. ESTHER MURDOCK avatar
    ESTHER MURDOCK

    Hi Andy
    I have made some progress with early stages of driving with my 16 month old bitch. However,as soon as she has taken away the sheep for about 50 yards (that is good at this stage is it not?) and I am maybe 20 yards behind her, so the sheep are 10 to 20 yards infront of her and I am 20 yards behind her,she lies down,looks back at me,and attempts to run bac to me. This has happened several times ,though I do not allow her to come to me. I say ” N0″ in a firm voice and get her to lie down. Then I ask her to walk on. However she often just lies there. I am conscious that she may just be lacking confidence and sometimes if i encourage her on but give her a little flank first she will go a yard or two but no more. Am I doing something wrong.

    Regards
    Esther

    1. Esther – please watch the driving tutorials again! This is a quote from my commentary on the driving 1 tutorial. (I have edited it lightly because I was working a dog at the time)!

      “The most important thing to remember when you’re teaching a dog to drive is that it’s very stressful for the dog.
      We’re asking it to do the opposite of what its instinct is telling it to do.
      The dog shows the usual signs of feeling uncomfortable, licking its mouth, yawning et cetera, but the classic, when the dog is learning to drive, is looking back at the handler. You’re close to the limit of how far away that dog can work, in fact, you’re probably on the limit, and the dog’s looking back because it’s worried.
      So keep this in mind and let the dog work a little bit closer to you for a while until it builds up its confidence.
      Increase the distance slowly.
      When you’re teaching a dog to drive give it a break every few minutes, get it to do something it likes doing.
      A little and often is the secret here, just give the dog a short taste of driving to start with, and then, for the next few minutes, treat it to whatever it likes doing best.
      Usually it’s outruns.
      This will relax the dog again, and soon you can try a bit more driving”.

      The dog looking back to you is actually a good sign. When something is troubling her, she looks to you for help. That suggests you have a good bond with her.

      Even though the dog understands (and does) what you want when you tell her to drive, it doesn’t mean she’s confident doing it at a distance. Build the distance slowly.

  3. Vivian Knight avatar
    Vivian Knight

    Had our first go at driving yesterday and today after watching the tutorials thank you. Although desperate to go round the sheep and gather them to me we did get quite a nice albeit wobbly line drive on a couple of occasions.
    My question is. How do we progress to get him to flank the sheep driving away to keep them straight without him going round them? I presume that as we progress I ask him for a CB/Away then stop then walk on? He is a very sensitive dog and I worry that asking him to keep stopping will put him off ? Does that make sense?

    1. It’s all in the Driving Tutorials, Vivian! Please watch them again (so that I don’t have to type out what is already online for you).
      As for keeping on stopping the dog, as with any of the more intensive, repetitive types of training, it’s best to break the sessions up with something the dog likes, such as outruns – to keep the dog’s interest and relieve the tension. (That’s discussed in two of the driving tutorials).
      If your dog’s sensitive, I suggest you watch Calm But Firm, too.
      Keep up the good work, you’re obviously making progress!

      1. Vivian Knight avatar
        Vivian Knight

        Thank you for taking the time to reply. I have watched the tutorials. I’m very néw to herding so perhaps I haven’t understood or getting confused. I’ll re watch them. I apologise for asking something that’s already been explained!

        1. No problem, Vivian. We worry that we might not have explained things correctly, so please let us know if anything”s not clear. It’s important to us.

  4. Diane Geer avatar

    Hello
    Your tutorials are excellent !! The animations are very helpful. I have a 20 month border collie. I have been working with a trainer weekly for the past 9 months. We have nice flanks and a solid “lie down”. The dog will also push the sheep off the fence. Now my dog seems “stuck” once she lies down and I cannot get her to walk up. Any suggestions?

    Thank you,
    Diane Geer

    1. That’s an easy one, Diane – just watch “Sticky Dogs“. It’s specifically aimed at the symptoms you describe!
      Thanks for the great feedback. It’s really useful to know our tutorials are ‘hitting the spot’.

  5. roger levy avatar

    Hi
    Megan is walking up nicely however the Sheep (well dogged ) are not moving away from her. She is a very confident dog hard to upset and seems to like the concept of driving although as yet has not happened apart from a couple of light bulb moments…
    Any suggestions …any magic wands!
    Thanks
    Roger

    1. Dogged sheep can be a big bonus during early training, but they soon become a problem as you’re witnessing now.
      The longer they get away with ignoring the dog’s efforts to move them, the harder it will be to move them in the longer run, and the harder it will be to get the dog to stand up for itself.
      The easy remedy is to change the sheep for some fresh ones, but if you can’t or don’t want to do that, watch “Sometimes Nice is Not Enough” to find ways of improving Megan’s confidence in the face of stubborn sheep.
      Help her by going alongside her and driving the sheep away yourself (take care not to frighten her though). For the time being, encourage her to nip them, just to show them who’s boss. Eventually, you can gradually reduce the help you give her, and encourage her to do the job herself.
      There’s lots more in the tutorial.

      1. roger levy avatar

        Hi
        Thanks for your reply…yesterday there was a slight improvement and most of all she is try ing so hard to understand what I want her to do and enjoying it as well. I think learning something new is taking the pressure off everything else…much more relaxed and stopping better as well…
        AND I HAVE FINALLY STOPPED SHOUTING!!!
        The videos are great and very big help…
        Roger

  6. Catherine Galbraith avatar
    Catherine Galbraith

    Thank you for clearly explaining how to help the dog by using your position. I’m one of those learners who needs a clear diagrammatic explanation before I can apply it in practice, and that is what you’ve given.

    1. Thank you Catherine, it’s good to know the tutorials help you.
      Only yesterday, I was wondering whether we should include more animations in the tutorials, so your feedback is perfectly timed – much appreciated!

  7. Jane Hart avatar
    Jane Hart

    Hello, is there a right time to teach a dog to drive? I have heard people say that if you teach it too early it will mess up the outrun, but I am not sure how good the outrun should be. My dog seems ok on outruns of about 200m but I couldn’t say she won’t do something silly eg cross over, if there was something she wasn’t sure about. I have had her doing a bit of circling the sheep and yesterday she did it when fetching the sheep, which was not ideal.
    Best wishes,
    Jane

    1. I normally begin training the dog to drive as soon as I can control it between myself and the sheep. As you’ll see in the tutorials, I use any command or technique I can, to keep that control. It’s not easy at first though!
      I don’t see how teaching the dog to drive can spoil the outrun, in fact, it can help if you get the dog to push the sheep away, and then flank it round them, and bring them back. Some trainers teach the dog to drive before they teach it to bring the sheep to them. I can see the sense in this, because it could help the trainer to get the dog working calmly while it’s still very close. The closer you are to the dog, the more control you have over it.
      If the dog was circling the sheep when it fetched them, it’s because you’ve sent it too far, or the dog’s lacking confidence for some other reason.

  8. Kim Goodling avatar
    Kim Goodling

    I have purchased a 4 year old border collie that knows how to drive. She is having a hard time driving my sheep. They will stop and turn and stare at the dog. Sometimes a ewe will confront the dog individually. The dog seems to lack the confidence or the quiet power to turn their heads and get them going again. Any suggestions for how to get my sheep to move?

    1. Confidence, Kim. Watch Sometimes nice is not enough. That should help you a lot.

      Your problem is that some of the sheep have learned that if they challenge her, she’ll back down. Now you need to show her she really can move them. The tutorial should show you how. Please let me know how you get on.

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