Tess in the open field

Teaching a young dog outruns and flanks in the open field for the first time

Subtitles: French*, Spanish* or English, click CC on viewer (*translation errors).



Tess in the open field cover picture

If you have a paid account with us please LOGIN.
Our sheepdog training videos are restricted to paying members who have logged-into their accounts.
Find out about our Online Sheepdog Training Tutorials.

Video Highlights

Watch a complete training session of a strong-willed dog.
How to set your dog up for an outrun.
If the dog crosses over on its outrun, it may drive the sheep further away.
Watch the ‘Outrun’ tutorials to learn more.
The dog stopped well back off the sheep, and flanks beautifully.
Walking back with the sheep, and keeping the dog in place, to make room for an outrun.
Walking through the sheep, and setting the dog up for an outrun.
Sending the dog on its outrun.
Calling the dog away from the sheep, to make room for an outrun.
The dog goes out nicely but comes in tight on the sheep.
Attempting to call the dog away again, but she runs back to the sheep.
Calling the dog away again, then using a ‘Slingshot’ technique to make her go out wider.
Find out more, in the ‘Outrun 3’ (Slingshot) tutorial
Keeping the dog flanking, but she still comes in tight.
Walking backwards with the dog bringing the sheep along behind.
Calling the dog away from the sheep, to do a slingshot in the ‘Away’ direction.
The slingshot didn’t work very well.
Walking through the sheep, and calling the dog away to set her up for another outrun.
Setting the dog up for an outrun, the ‘Wrong Way’!
Watch ‘The Outrun’ and ‘Sending The Dog The Wrong Way’ tutorials.
Calling the dog away again, but the sheep move off, and the dog goes after them!
Giving the impression of being in control, even when you’re not – control is restored!
Walking towards the dog to set up a ‘Wrong Way’ outrun, but getting too far off balance.
When the dog goes the right way, she goes really wide.
Watch ‘Sending The Dog The Wrong Way’ to widen your dog’s flanks.
The single worst aspect of this dog’s work, is coming in tight near the sheep.
Calling the dog away from the sheep, for another ‘Wrong Way’ outrun, to widen her out.
The dog hesitates, and then goes in the intended direction.
The dog’s flanking quite nicely, but coming in tighter.

Not just outruns and flanks

A brief introduction to driving.
The dog can’t resist the temptation to charge at the sheep.
Once again, the dog brings the sheep back, and then flanks beautifully.
A little more driving looks promising at first, but she can’t resist bringing them back!
That’s actually quite encouraging, for her second attempt at driving.
Watch the ‘Driving’ tutorials.
Our third attempt at driving. It’s normal for the dog to be confused.
Once again, Tess can’t resist bringing the sheep back. Not good, but normal.
Walking towards the sheep, and quietly encouraging the dog to walk, too.
Tess can stand it no more, and launches herself at the sheep again!
Giving normal commands when control is lost, and the dog gathers the sheep again.
Remarkably, Tess goes back and collect a few sheep that were left behind.
Setting the dog up for another outrun.
Sending the dog the ‘wrong way’ to widen her outrun.
The dog launches at the sheep, but the sharp correction works well.
There’s no point in bearing a grudge, when you’re training a dog.
The dog flanks too tight, but she didn’t split the sheep up!
Calling the dog towards the sheep. They run off and Tess launches into them.
Once again, a sharp correction works well – and the dog flanks beautifully again.
The dog’s far more likely to be calm if the handler appears relaxed, and in control.
Calling the dog away for a ‘right’ way outrun, chasing her out to widen her flanks.
Ending the lesson on a good note.

Leave a review on our Google Profile! Comments or questions below please.

Teaching a young dog outruns and flanks

As well as learning specific sheepdog training topics, we like to show you complete training sessions. This helps keep the topics in context and gives the viewer a better understanding of the dog’s skill level when it undertakes various tasks.

In this session, Tess (who features in the popular tutorial ‘Starting a Strong Dog‘) has graduated to working outside the training ring. In this video, she’s learning to widen her flanks not cross over on her outrun or split the sheep up, to work more calmly around the sheep and come away from them more reliably. She also gets an introduction to driving.

Why Your Dog Should Flank Both Ways


16 responses to “Tess in the open field”

  1. trina mcewin avatar
    trina mcewin

    Hi Andy I like the way you show patience and just keep on asking for what you want. Perseverance seems to get there. Here in Australia, we have Merinos as you know – which are highly reactive. To work these sheep our dogs need to stay well off the sheep and we have to stop those 2 or 3 steps of creeping in after a cast for excellent control of the sheep- so a good stop and then a very slow walk up with plenty of feel from the dog, not too much push – this is for what we call our 3 sheep trials. Myself and a few others have started an international field trial group called SWIFT here in queensland and are using my farm as the place for our meets. We are excited to try and get this type of trial up and going here in australia. I have a young dog whose breeding goes back on one side to Aled Owens dogs. Your demo is just about where I am up to with this young 12 month old dog. It would be good to have some mentoring related to the field trials over here as we develop over time.

  2. Jan Assink avatar
    Jan Assink

    Wonderfull experience. I’ve Kelpie of 9 years that may never learn that much from me, but the way the handler is going from one try to the next is really inspiring.

  3. Ben Earle avatar

    Hi Andy, I have an almost 1yr old collie called Jess, we are in a similar situation to yourself and Tess in this video apart from when I try and call Jess away from the sheep she goes off on one and tries to attack them and doesn’t want to let me get near her. I can usually end the session by getting her to jump onto the quad but it’s been going on quite a few weeks and I don’t want her to think it’s acceptable behaviour. How long did it take to calm Tess?

    1. It sounds as though you need to go back to basics, Ben.
      I had a similar problem with Bronwen yesterday. She worked well until she needed to push them into a pen, and then she dived in and gripped. She was pushing far too hard and wouldn’t listen, so now she’ll go back into the training ring and learn to behave herself, then I’ll try her outside the ring with just a handful of sheep – and if she’ll keep back off them, we’ll progress from there.
      I suggest you do something similar with Jess, and when you want to call her away from the sheep, get yourself in between her and the sheep, crouch down, and call her to you. That way she’s far less likely to dive in and grip.
      If she dodges round you and goes after the sheep, you definitely need to instil some discipline in the training ring (if you have one).

  4. Amie Brodie avatar
    Amie Brodie

    Your Tess is just like my Sheltie, Carter. I’m a grass green newbie at herding and so is he. He is hard to stop, and sometimes charges in at the sheep like Tess did a couple times in the video. Your calmness and patience, as well as your optimism toward Tess’s training are encouraging. Sometimes I despair of us ever learning to do this, but seeing your confidence that Tess will be a good herding dog someday makes me think my Carter can be too!

    1. If you mean Carter is a Shetland Sheepdog, Amie, I’m not aware that they will herd sheep – certainly not in the way that a Border Collie or Kelpie will – but I guess they weren’t called “Sheepdog” for nothing. Good luck with training Carter, anyway.

      1. Amie Brodie avatar
        Amie Brodie

        We use ” Shelties” for herding here in the States, maybe more than you do there over the Pond. They are considered an upright, loose-eyed breed, like Australian shepherds, another popular herding breed over here. Only a couple hours from where I live ( thankfully) there is a Shetland Sheepdog club that holds an exclusively Sheltie herding trial, as well as all herding breed trials. Of course, I’m talking about hobby trialists, not working sheepdog ranches. An experienced friend of mine who has Aussies worked Carter for me recently, and, while he helped her burn quite a few calories, she got him stopping and flanking much better. Unfortunately temperatures here then plummeted into the single digits, and we all wimped out of herding, so I haven’t been able to build on his training. Spring is coming! Thanks for your tutorials, though. They have been very helpful, even if Carter works differently from a Border collie.

        1. That’s interesting Amie. I think I’ve only seen show bred Shelties here for years, but I’ve always assumed they used to herd. We had some visitors here last year who brought a Sheltie with them; it was gorgeous (I was very tempted) but it was TINY!

          Any chance of a photo or two?

          Good to hear you find the tutorials helpful, thanks for letting us know! Gill

  5. Britta Waddell avatar
    Britta Waddell

    Hello Andi,

    thank you so much for this video. My dog works exactly like Tess and it helps me to get her under better control. I live in NZ and the trainers here have told me that my dog is useless and should get another one, but I love her and still believe that she is a good dog.
    Thank you so much again,
    Britta Waddell

    1. Good to hear that you find the tutorial helpful, Britta. Thank you for your feedback.

  6. Daniele Lancini avatar
    Daniele Lancini

    hi andy,
    I have watched all the basic training videos more than once and started to introduce my Lupa to the sheep. Up till now I have just introduced her to away and comeby and she responds quite well in the ring. she’s a very shy dog though and shows a lack of focus on the sheep from time to time. anyway she can do away and comeby inside. next week I’ll try with “backwardi is the way forward” inside the ring.
    the problem comes in the open field. there, I can’t use the stick anymore because she looks terrified by it. which does not happen inside the ring at all. never been touched of course. She also seems not to be interested in the sheep anymore and looks very very confused. Almost always, she tries to run away from the sheep and does not care about commands. If she responds incidently, she can make her way around them only in the comeby direction and just one time. which looks like coincidence. what bothers me is her behaviour inside the ringis so so different. any advice?

    1. Hello Daniele. Thanks for your message, and thank you for subscribing to our sheepdog training tutorials.
      If you’ve watched the tutorials several times, you’ll remember that in the “Golden Rule” video I say “Tailor your correction to the sensitivity of the dog”. Your dog obviously has a serious confidence problem so if she doesn’t like the stick, don’t use it. You need to encourage her all you can. Make sure you’re always close to her and give lots of shushing noises – or whatever sound encourages her to work enthusiastically.
      It’s even worth encouraging her to have a nip at the sheep – to build her excitement, but obviously not to excess.
      If she’s working quite well in the ring, try making the ring a little larger. No need to buy more hurdles, just position the ring close to a fence and use some of the fence (or a wall etc) to supplement the hurdles and make the ring larger. If you make it longer, you can use that for walking backwards – but before you try that, you need to build the dog’s enthusiasm – make the sessions fun for the dog. I don’t mean play with the dog – just let her have fun chasing the sheep around a little.
      If the larger ring is a success, make it larger still – a little at a time until you’re working out in an open field.

  7. scott wallace avatar
    scott wallace

    Tess in the open field was my first session watched. Loved it. Gave me lots of ideas. I will be doing the sling shot with Sky. You extended the command away ( awwwwwayyyyyy) is this so that it’s not a sharp word that gets the dog to react quickly. I observed that it slowed the dog up. This also I will try.

  8. Scott Leichliter avatar
    Scott Leichliter

    Andy, thanks so much for the lessons. I have been working with these wonderful dogs for many years, but I always come away with something new to think about when I watch your DVD’s. They are well worth watching over and over again! So much to think about when training and trialing! These instructive tutorials always encourage me just when I’m ready to give up! Thanks so much! Scott L.

  9. Rachelle Bennett avatar
    Rachelle Bennett

    I enjoyed watching this and look forward to subscribing. As a newbie to herding I think these tutorials will be very helpful. There is so much to learn! thanks for creating these. We rescued a border collie 2 years ago, he is about 4 and was wandering around “herding” cattle, horses whatever he could on his own and getting into trouble. We took him in, worked on obedience and agility and now training on stock. I think it is going to be journey but well worth it.

  10. alex carracher avatar
    alex carracher

    Wonderful and for me moving, I thought I was watching my young Bonnie. In one of her good days, mind you ;)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *