Backwards is the way forward

Our best sheepdog training exercise, once you have control of your farm dog, and the dog has basic control of the sheep or cattle.

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



Our best sheepdog training exercise - Andy walking backwards with a dog.

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What to do next, once your dog goes round the sheep, and stops reasonably well.
Our best sheepdog training exercise once your dog has basic control of the sheep.
Improving the stop, flanking, manner, control, working distance – and the bond with its trainer.
Done correctly, walking backwards enables you to take a bunch of sheep wherever you like.
The walking backwards exercise paves the way for teaching outruns, driving, shedding, and even penning sheep.
Taking sheep in two circles (a figure of 8) means the dog must flank both ways to control them.

Take care!

WARNING: You may fall over if you do the Walking Backwards exercise in a field.

Introduction to a ‘walking backwards’ session with a strong dog.
Setting the dog up for an outrun.
The dog runs to the sheep, but goes around them – just!
Try to give the dog the impression you’re in control, even if you’re not!
Keeping the dog back, allows the sheep to reunite.
Using the training stick, to keep the dog back off the sheep.
Continue to give calm, well-timed commands when control is lost.
Making the dog stay back as you walk backwards.
Flanking practice to relieve pressure on the dog.
Taking the sheep towards two trees to practice figure of eight flanking.
Reminding the dog to keep back behind the sheep.
Working in a figure of 8 to improve both of the dog’s flanks.
Turning to face the dog improves control.
Time to use some outruns to relieve the pressure on the dog.
Moving through the sheep, keeping the dog in place, to allow the sheep to move away.
The dog stays in place while the sheep are still, but moves the moment they do!
When the handler crouches down to put the dog on a lead, the sheep move away!
When the dog loses a sheep, it’s a good opportunity for a ‘look-back‘.
Calm, well-timed commands, should still be given if control is lost.
And once again, keeping the dog back enables the sheep to reunite.
The moment the dog is restrained, the sheep move off …

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Our best sheepdog training exercise

It’s boring – and it might appear pointless to the novice, but walking backwards with the dog bringing the sheep up to you, is our best sheepdog training exercise, but it relies on your dog having basic control of the livestock before you try it. It improves pace, flanking, working distance, the stop, general sheep control, and much more.

As well as clearly demonstrating how to get a strong dog to bring the sheep up quietly – this tutorial provides a valuable tip on how to ‘read’ your sheep, or in other words, predict what they will do next.

Back To Forwards! | (top ⇧)


30 responses to “Backwards is the way forward”

  1. David Buckley avatar
    David Buckley

    Me’n Flynn (né ‘Roger’ – one of yours & Gill’s)) have reached this stage. This video is perfect for where we are at! The problem lies mainly with me, in that I try to ‘help’ him by turning round too often to ‘place’ him the other side of the sheep. As a result, he kept circling the sheep.A kind friend video’d our efforts and as a result I can see, that I can trust him not to dart in while the sheep and I are proceeding backwards. As result, your video here video makes 100% sense and I have now watched it many times. Thanks so much!

    1. It’s good to know the tutorials are working for you and Flynn, David.
      Thanks for the feedback.

  2. Paula Baldry avatar
    Paula Baldry

    My Moss aged nearly two and a half only works sheep once a week as we don’t have our own sheep. He is coming on well but is sticky, and I have watched the sticky dog video. When I walk back sometimes he just stops in the large open field and although I can usually get him to come with a walk up I am not sure this is really improving….and it is incredibly wearing, evenI get fed up with hearing me
    Any ideas?

    1. It’s difficult to know exactly what’s going on without seeing it Paula, but usually if the dog doesn’t bring the sheep to you when you walk away, it’s because you’re not walking away far enough! Try walking away much farther if you can, and don’t give the dog any commands (or even look at it) just let the dog work it out for himself, if he can.
      If Moss still doesn’t get up and bring the sheep to you, try walking to him, and moving him with your foot (don’t kick him). Just give him a shove and the appropriate command, and he should move. Once he does that, try not to let him stop. You will know the times when he’s most likely to stop (from your description, you’ve had plenty of time to study it) so do what you can, to keep him moving.
      If I’ve misunderstood the situation, why not get someone to video the session, and send me the video (read this link first).
      Also, be sure to watch the Sticky Dogs tutorial a couple of times more to be sure you don’t miss anything.
      Feel free reply if you want to.

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