Top tips for easier sheepdog training

Sheepdog training tips and advice to make teaching your farm dog to herd sheep, a lot easier!

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Video Highlights

Simplify the education of your first herding dog with our sheepdog training tips and advice for beginners.

Safety tips and advice

If you want the dog to work cattle and also sheep, training it on sheep first is safer and easier.
You must ensure the safety of yourself, other people, and also any animals concerned.
Falling over in the field, is an obvious safety issue.
Training herding dogs is completely different.
Which of the everyday obedience training lessons are also useful for farm or ranch dogs?
Everything a dog does in its life is either for survival, or reward.
Most other canine disciplines rely on giving the dog a reward of some kind.
When a dog herds other animals, its instinct tells it that it’s doing it to survive.
The biggest reward you can give a herding dog, is to allow it to continue working.
Because dogs are so trainable, we’re able to turn the hunting instinct to good use.

The hunting instinct is essential for herding dogs


New trainers are often shocked by their dog’s aggression when it first encounters stock.
A modified form of this aggression, is what the dog uses when it works stock.
Getting the dog as well as the sheep under control, can be the most difficult part.
Even those who doubt dogs descended from wolves, must recognise their ancestors hunted.
We defy anyone who’s lived amongst dogs the way we have, to deny their pack instinct.
Watch the tutorial ‘An Insight Into Pack Behaviour’ for a better understanding of it.
Understanding pack behaviour, answers many questions about sheepdog training.
A dog’s reluctance to get sheep out of tight places, is clearly explained by pack behaviour.
Trained sheepdog Mel, demonstrates how to get sheep out of a tightly packed pen.
ANIMATION: Showing the ‘danger area’ when a dog approaches sheep on a fence.
There are plenty of sheepdog training tips and advice in the tutorial ‘An Insight Into Pack Behaviour’.
Get Off The Fence’ shows how to teach your dog to get sheep away from tight places.

Tips on being a suitable trainer

Are you a suitable trainer?
When a herding dog is confronted with farm stock it can be very difficult to control.
You’ll need to be strong-willed, to control the dog and protect the livestock.
If you find it hard to assert yourself, you may find sheepdog training is not for you.
You don’t need to treat the dog harshly, but at times you’ll need to be strong-willed.
The better you earn the dog’s respect as its pack-leader, the easier training will be.
Training the dog will also be far easier if you’re fairly fit.
If you lose your temper, your dog’s training is also likely to get worse rather than better.
Which breeds and types of dog make the best herding dogs.
If you simply want to push stock in one direction, there are many breeds to choose from.
If you need a dog to gather sheep and bring them to you, Collies and Kelpies are ideal.
For more information on sheepdogs, watch the ‘Sheepdog Selection and Preparation’ tutorial.

What type of sheep is best for sheepdog training?

Sheep that are not used to being worked by dogs, often cause problems for trainers.
Farm animals see dogs as predators. Their natural reaction is to run away from them.
Sheep running away or scattering, cause huge problems for untrained dogs.
Sheep will quickly trust a calm, predictable dog, but greatly fear an erratic one.
What are dogged sheep, and how can they help train my dog.
Dogged’ sheep can be excellent for starting a dog off.
As the dog’s training improves, you’ll need ‘flightier’ sheep, which will move away.
How to manage if the sheep won’t go away.
The ‘Driving’ tutorials will help you to teach your dog to drive sheep away.
ANIMATION: Showing two handlers simultaneously training their dogs to do outruns.
Watch the ‘Outrun’ tutorials to find out how to teach your dog to go out and fetch sheep.
What to do if you can’t obtain any ‘dogged’ sheep.
Types of sheep to avoid when training your dog.
Watch ‘The Dog’s Confidence’, and ‘Sometimes Nice Is Not Enough’, to learn how to cope with stubborn sheep.
And watch the ‘Sheep’ tutorial, to find out a lot more about sheep.

Tips for creating a suitable training area

How a few simple changes can make training easier.
How to modify your training area to make training as easy as possible.
Why we recommend using a temporary training ring to start a dog on sheep.
There’s much more information in ‘The Training Ring’ tutorials.
The dog’s confidence is also important for working sheep and cattle dogs.
Sheep are particularly quick to learn if a dog lacks confidence.
If the dog approaches in a calm, confident manner, the sheep will respect it.
You should make sure the dog always wins any confrontation with the stock.
What to do if your dog is struggling to move sheep or cattle.
Watch the tutorials ‘Sometimes Nice Is Not Enough’, and ‘The Dog’s Confidence’.
Learn your commands. Ways to remember your commands and get them right.
Make sure you know your flank commands, and keep commands to a minimum.
The ‘Learn Your Commands’ tutorial will help you to remember your commands.
Watch ‘What Shall I Do Next’, for advice on the sequence of training we recommend.
A brief summary of the main points in this tutorial.

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Who said it was easy!

Nobody would claim that sheepdog training a dog to work sheep or other livestock is an easy matter. But by understanding what is going on and why, and by paying attention to just a few basic details, we can make the process so much easier for both dog and handler.

Andy addresses nine valuable sheepdog training tips frequently overlooked by novice trainers. They include safety, the difference between training a dog to herd sheep compared to obedience and other forms of dog training, the dog’s hunting instinct and pack behaviour. He also asks you to consider whether you’re a suitable trainer…

WATCH NEXT
The Golden Rule of sheepdog training


Comments

54 responses to “Top tips for easier sheepdog training”

  1. kent bradley avatar
    kent bradley

    HI – I’m trying to find the video with the lead training bits mentioned in the Bron and Scylla 1 video but not having luck.

    I’ve got a very high drive young one who occasionally debates whether or not he needs to listen and I know that would help us both.

    1. Hello Kent, I think lead training is included in Bronwen & Scylla, Part 1, and there’s also an FAQ that includes it – Good Recall.
      I hope that helps!
      Gill

  2. Peter David LLewellyn avatar
    Peter David LLewellyn

    Hi Andy I need a bit of help I’ve got my 11 month old collie to flank which she does pity well but once she gets around the sheep she stops and lies down and I can’t get here to drive the sheep on towards me, can you give me some tip please Dave

    1. It’s a very common problem Dave, but not too difficult to correct. Watch the “Sticky Dogs” tutorial. If my guess is right, your dog lacks confidence, and rather than assert herself with the sheep, she considers that after all, she has them under control between you and herself, and all is nice and safe.
      With practice, you’ll be able to keep her moving and as her confidence builds she’ll get better and better. Another trick is to walk away. If you do this, the dog will realise it no longer has the sheep safely trapped between you and herself, so she SHOULD get up and bring them to you.
      If the problem is a general lack of confidence, rather than the dog being “Sticky” I suggest you watch “Sometimes Nice Is Not Enough“. This will show you ways to improve the dog’s confidence, and make it more “pushy”. It wouldn’t hurt to watch that one either way.

      1. Henza Dantier avatar
        Henza Dantier

        Hello,
        This year (Year 2) my dog had an epiphany and started showing balance and responding to the directions with the stick. The problem is me. When the trainer is in the pen, all is fine, but when I’m there I am confused and don’t know where and whom to look at and how to move. The sheep get behind me from the start and my dog just circles around us since I’m not doing anything. I believe that the aim is for the dog to get the sheep to me but what do I do if the sheep is already seeking safety behind me? Should I follow my dog’s movement in the clock position and make him change direction from time to time? Thank you!

        1. I think I need more information before I can give you a helpful reply, Henza…
          You say the dog had an ‘epiphany’ (great word) and apparently works well for ‘the trainer’. Would I be right in supposing that you are having lessons with a trainer?
          I don’t want to give advice which might not be appropriate for another persons methods – but I have to wonder why that trainer isn’t being more helpful to you.
          If you could send me a video (see how, via this link) so that I can see what’s happening, that would be a great help.
          I suggest you watch the videos which involve starting a dog on sheep, especially ‘Starting a Strong Dog‘ and ‘The Training Stick‘ to see how we do it, – and be sure to let me know if I can be of further help.

          1. Thank you Andy. At first, I told the trainer that I preferred that she worked with Mishka and it’s going great. Now she’s slowly trying to introduce me into the pen with my dog, but I am having difficulty knowing which way to move. The trainer told me to look at the direction the sheep is going but I am quite clueless as to what to do with that information, do I back up, move in the opposite direction, etc. I am sorry if I gave the wrong impression but the trainer is very good; I’m the bad student! Since we travel only once per week for herding class, I wanted to do some homework to gain some insight into moving correctly and not confusing my dog. I will watch the recommendations and send you an existing video of my dog and the trainer; I will also try and get one of me being clueless next time! Thank you.

          2. Just try to relax about it all. You are not a bad student, it’s just that nobody has clearly explained to you what you should be doing.
            If the dog is going round the sheep, then you should try to stop it on the opposite side of the sheep from where you are. Once you can get the dog to stop there (on the opposite side of the sheep from where you are) you are beginning to get control of the situation. I think it might be better if you watch the dog, but be aware of its position in relation to the sheep.
            If the sheep are behind you, then you should copy whatever means your trainer uses to get the dog to go round them. Try to keep the sheep between the dog and yourself (for now). Once you can do that, your trainer will probably tell you what to do next.
            When you watch the videos (including the one of your trainer working your dog) don’t watch them like a film or TV program. Try to see what is happening with the sheep and the dog (and the trainer) and work out what the trainer did which resulted in the dog doing (whatever).
            The same with our videos. It won’t cost you any more to watch them many times over, so do that. Another good one to watch is ‘Max – the GRIPPER‘ – he’s pretty horrible at first, but soon improves once he knows what he should and should not do.
            Hopefully you will have the epiphany moment soon, yourself!

  3. Jeff Ohaco avatar

    With a paid subscription will I be able to stream these videos or do need to get dvds?

    1. Hello Jeff,

      Thanks for your interest in our sheepdog training. You don’t need to buy any DVDs; with a subscription you have access to all of the online tutorial videos, and you can watch as many times as you like, for as long as you like. If and when you decide to cancel you continue to have access to the tutorials for the time you’ve paid for.

      If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to get back to us.

      Gill

  4. kent bradley avatar
    kent bradley

    great great great as usual. Thanks

    1. Thank you Kent!
      It’s great to know we’re bringing you the right sort of videos.

  5. Arye Ehrenberg avatar
    Arye Ehrenberg

    Dear Andy & Gill. My yearly membership is about to end. I really enjoyed your wonderful tutorials.
    I learned a lot from them, in fact they enabled me to start training my dog, since there isn’t sufficient knowledge about it here in Israel.
    I also bought the book ” a way of life” by G. johns. Without your tutorials I wouldn’t have been able to understand what he is talking about.
    All the best

    1. Thank you Arye, both for subscribing to our online tutorials, and for your feedback.
      It’s very useful to know when we are producing videos that are helpful to our members.
      Good luck to you and your dog for the future!

  6. Linda Ferguson avatar
    Linda Ferguson

    When I am home, I would love to cast the videos on my television so that I can view it better. Any help in this matter? There is no symbol on video to click on and cast the signal to my television. Thank you.

    1. For technical reasons, we’re not able to offer casting at the present time, Linda.

  7. margarita Fernández Wiberg avatar
    margarita Fernández Wiberg

    hi! I am trying to wath the course in a Mobil phone… but it stops all the time and stays blocked… is it only for computers and expensive pones? or… is it possible to wath it with a normal not expensive one?

    1. Provided you have a suitable network reception you should be able to watch the videos.

      On the video screen you’ll see HD at the bottom right hand corner.Click on it and set the dropdown menu to AUTO. This will automatically select the best quality video for your internet connection.

      I hope this helps. Thank you for subscribing to the tutorials, I hope you’ll find them useful.

      Gill

  8. Barbara Mazur avatar
    Barbara Mazur

    Hello back, Thx for your response.
    I agree 100% that the dog must do what we want and not the other way around. It would just turn into a chasing and hunting activity.
    First, I do want you to know that I have watched the first 14 or so tutorials in order. Of course, I have also jumped to the ones that target what I think are areas that need work. My dog is an upright, loose-eyed gathering type – mixed breed. We’ve been training for almost 3 years, the first 2 being quite sporadic due to my job and distances. She knows her flanks, stops, walk ups, get outs – doesn’t mean that she always listens. Par for the course and I try to enforce what I can manage.
    To clarify my questions about pressure, I think it’s just an issue of semantics. When I watch you in the tutorials, you use your training stick, your voice, your body language to communicate with the dog. For instance, you whoosh your stick to get the dog to go out more. When they do, you stop. That’s what I meant by pressure. Perhaps another way to describe it is to label it as corrections – one corrects and when the dog gives or does what is asked, one steps back so the dog knows that it’s doing the right thing.
    I do enjoy your videos very much, you are clear and precise. There is also a wide variety of dogs that you show us and that is very helpful. For instance, I could really relate to the “Starting a Strong Dog” which is funny because I have always thought of my dog as more submissive and soft. Luckily, though, she isn’t mean or aggressive towards the sheep.
    Thanks again for the help, Barb

  9. Barbara Mazur avatar
    Barbara Mazur

    Hi Andy and Gill,

    I have been looking at many of your tutorials, often times more than once. Keeping your temper, soft and gentle voice, harsher for corrections…all of this I’m trying to do if I can remember !
    Anyway, I was wondering if you could point me to your tutorial(s) that deal with pressure and the release of pressure by me. I don’t believe that release of pressure is always a reward…or maybe it is as it allows the dog to keep working. Maybe it’s a tutorial on how to properly use corrections.
    As an example, my dog is an upright dog and she prefers to work closer. Also, her outruns , though better, aren’t the wide BC type. I don’t want to over correct her by pushing her out all the time b/c this may frustrate her as she’s not being allowed to do what comes naturally.
    Any comment would be helpful. Thx!

    1. On reading your questions, I can’t help but wonder whether you might be confusing our training methods with someone else’s?
      We rarely talk about pressure other than the pressure the dog puts on the sheep, or the sheep put on the dog. We also suggest you relieve pressure when teaching the dog something really intensive, such as the stop, or driving. For example, where I suggest the handler uses the occasional outrun, or some other activity which the dog enjoys, to give the dog a short break.
      When we do this, the dog is still expected to do these “relaxing” activities correctly though.
      That brings me on to another point.
      You say “my dog is an upright dog and she prefers to work closer. Also, her outruns, though better, aren’t the wide BC type. I don’t want to over correct her by pushing her out all the time b/c this may frustrate her as she’s not being allowed to do what comes naturally”
      Surely, the point of training a dog is to get the dog to do what WE want, rather than allow the dog to do what IT wants? For herding sheep, the dog uses its hunting instinct – and many dogs would destroy the sheep if we allowed them to do what they want.
      Can I respectfully suggest that you watch the tutorials in the order we recommend? If your dog is a “gathering” breed (it’s not clear from your text, exactly what it is) and if you properly and fully carry out what each tutorial suggests, you will eventually have a useful sheepdog.
      Giving the sheep lots of room and wide outruns are essential, not only for efficient work, but most importantly, for the welfare of the sheep.

      1. Barbara Mazur avatar
        Barbara Mazur

        Hello back, Thx for your response.
        I agree 100% that the dog must do what we want and not the other way around. It would just turn into a chasing and hunting activity.
        First, I do want you to know that I have watched the first 14 or so tutorials in order. Of course, I have also jumped to the ones that target what I think are areas that need work. My dog is an upright, loose-eyed gathering type – mixed breed. We’ve been training for almost 3 years, the first 2 being quite sporadic due to my job and distances. She knows her flanks, stops, walk ups, get outs – doesn’t mean that she always listens. Par for the course and I try to enforce what I can manage.
        To clarify my questions about pressure, I think it’s just an issue of semantics. When I watch you in the tutorials, you use your training stick, your voice, your body language to communicate with the dog. For instance, you whoosh your stick to get the dog to go out more. When they do, you stop. That’s what I meant by pressure. Perhaps another way to describe it is to label it as corrections – one corrects and when the dog gives or does what is asked, one steps back so the dog knows that it’s doing the right thing.
        I do enjoy your videos very much, you are clear and precise. There is also a wide variety of dogs that you show us and that is very helpful. For instance, I could really relate to the “Starting a Strong Dog” which is funny because I have always thought of my dog as more submissive and soft. Luckily, though, she isn’t mean or aggressive towards the sheep.
        Thanks again for the help, Barb

  10. Hope Paine avatar

    What are your thoughts training a puppy (10 months) along side a dog that is trained?

    Thank you in advance

    Hope

    1. It depends what you mean, Hope. If you mean using the trained dog just to keep the sheep together and make training easier for the trainee, that’s fine. We do it on occasions when we have a trained dog with the right temperament to do it (Kay and Carew were great).
      Using a trained dog to teach the pup by example is not a good idea though. It works to an extent, but of course, any faults the trained dog has will be passed on to the youngster. There’s really no substitute for training the young dog from a clean sheet, as it were.

  11. Hannah Sharratt avatar
    Hannah Sharratt

    Hi Andy and Gill,

    I have taken on the training of an older dog (Ben is about 6). He as been on the farm I now work on since about 12 months old. He is a strong and keen dog and as such has been hard to control for his previous handler. I also think that he was rushed on to more difficult work quickly rather than continue gradual training. I have a good bond with Ben having known him and and exercised him for 2 years.
    I am working on building his confidence as he has been left out of work up to now because he wasn’t working as his previous handler wanted. He is hard to stop and often takes it upon himself to bring you a group of sheep that you didn’t want.

    What I would really like to know is, do you have any advice for “retraining” an older dog, and if you think I can be successful. Ben has really good instincts so I hope it can be done, I’m starting from the beginning with your videos but if you have any in particular to recommend, that would be great.

    Cheers, Hannah

    1. Good to see that you’re going to get Ben trained Hannah, but bear in mind that the older the dog is, the slower it might be to learn. That’s why people mistakenly say “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. It’s nonsense, but you just need a little more patience than you might with a one year old dog.

      Regarding the tutorials, I strongly recommend you watch them in the order they appear by default. That way YOU will get a clearer understanding of what’s likely to happen, and how to put it right.
      Start Ben off as though he were a first-timer, and move through each stage when he’s working well at the basics. You’ll be fine, just have faith in Ben, and yourself.
      (It would be great to hear how you get on, if you can spare the time)!

      1. Hannah Sharratt avatar
        Hannah Sharratt

        Thanks for your reply Andy. I’ve been working with Ben every day that I can get out, in a ring with about 4 hoggs. I’m pleased with his progress- being worked every day is increasing his confidence and he’s definitely seeing me as the boss now. I know he can gather sheep- he’s got a great outrun but am working on stopping and recall- that’s where we’ve had issues in the past. We have to walk through sheep to get to the training ring and I think this is teaching him that he only works the sheep I want him to work. Any tips for over eager dogs who don’t want to stop when you tell them? I want to move onto driving next but I’m it all super slow.

        Thanks for your help, Hannah

        1. That’s really good news, Hannah! Don’t worry about slow progress. As long as Ben’s improving, you’re on the right track – and if you can walk through a flock with him, it shouldn’t be too difficult to stop him.
          The Stop tutorials are full of ideas for stopping the dog, but really it’s about getting it through to him that you REALLY mean it! If necessary, walk through the sheep towards him in a threatening way, pointing at him and grumbling. It helps if you worry him a bit!
          Rather than driving, I suggest you first move on to gradually increasing the distance at which you stop Ben. I know you said he has a great outrun, but it’s no use if he won’t stop! Remember: the closer you are to the dog, the more control you have over it. This means that he’ll learn (or more likely, already has learned) that you are powerless to stop him at a distance. That knowledge only undermines your authority over him, so for now, only send him as far as you can stop him. Once he’s fluent with that, you can gradually increase the distance – but reduce it again, if his stop deteriorates. That way, he’ll (eventually) learn that he must do what you say, whatever the distance.
          If you can walk through a flock and keep him under control, driving should be relatively simple, but concentrate on stopping him for now. When you start teaching the dog to drive, the dog’s very strong instinct is to run ahead of the sheep and bring them back to you. It’s hard enough to prevent this even if the dog stops quite well, so if you can’t stop him, it’s going to be even more difficult!

  12. saira renny avatar
    saira renny

    Hi Andy
    I have been training my dog for the past month and watching your tutorials . She is very biddable and competent in a small paddock with a dozen or so sheep. I have also been taking cuilean out on a longish lead when i have been gathering the hill with our old dog who is an extremely good and calm worker . I feel that it is good for cuilean to learn the ground and observe what is going on , she is certainly not yet ready to control sheep herself on rough open hill ground ,. I also take her when we are doing any close work in the shed , and let her do a few of the easier tasks alongside the other dog . She is of course very agitated at being kept on a lead while the other dog works , as she is very excited to take part . Although she may be learning by example and getting her used to being around sheep regularly . would you recommend taking a dog in training out like this ?

    1. The emphasis in our early training tutorials is for training sessions to be as calm as possible. As the dog’s keen, and you’re not having any issues with getting her interested in working sheep, I think you should continue Cuilean’s training in your small paddock. As her training advances you can give her more difficult tasks to do, and start working on other parts of the farm when she’s ready. Don’t try to push Cuilean into making progress, and don’t put her into a situation where she’s likely to be over-excited and perhaps achieve more harm than good.

      1. saira renny avatar
        saira renny

        Thankyou Gill for your advice , im really enjoying your tutorials , and have found them very helpful . Im at the stage in training where i would like to take the cuilean to a larger paddock than im currently using (which is around 3 times the size of a training ring as it is beginning to feel limited ) , but wary of the large field because as you say i dont want to achieve more harm than good .
        A tricky step !!

  13. Lotte Bender avatar
    Lotte Bender

    Hi Andy,

    Firstly I love the tutorials. I will be getting my border collie in about a week time and I’m getting as much prep in as possible. Super informative and entertaining.

    I do have one concern that I was hoping you could advise me on as I am very new to dog training, and especially sheep dog training. I have a farm with a small flock of sheep which I will be training my dog on. But we also have 8 donkeys which form a little herd themselves. The donkeys would be dangerous to the dog. And I am wondering is there a way of training the dog to stay completely away from the donkeys but still understand that herding sheep is ok. Just not herding donkeys…

    I’m concerned that the herding instinct in the dog may not make the distinction and may go for the donkeys too. However if I teach her to stay away from them I don’t want her to thinknthat herding is not ok in general if that makes sense?

    Any advise in this matter would be most appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Lotte

    1. You can teach your dog anything, Lotte!
      We have one field of about three hectares (five acres) and at this time of year we have between twenty five and thirty sheep on it. Until recently, we had anything up to thirty dogs. We take them out twice every day, whatever the weather for a run.

      The dogs know the sheep are there, and the sheep know the dogs are there, but they keep out of each others’ way. The dogs don’t chase the sheep, because they know it’s not allowed when they’re out together, recreationally.

      The only exception is puppies and young dogs (when we used to buy dogs in to train them). They need to be taught not to run off and chase the sheep when they’re not supposed to. There are lots of ways to do this, but I suggest you keep the donkeys fenced-off at first, at least until you can train the dog.

      You need to teach the pup from as early as possible, that it must respect the donkeys. At the same time though, teach it that when you take it to sheep, it can run after them (and you’ll encourage that) but it must not chase donkeys.

      You’ll only put your young dog off working sheep if you constantly restrain it from working (chasing) and don’t regularly encourage it to work – to show it when it’s allowed to, and when it’s not.

      Watch all the tutorials in the “Where to Start” category – especially “Starting a Young Puppy“.

      Thank you for the kind feedback. It’s very important for us to know we’re providing the tutorials you need!

      1. Lotte Bender avatar
        Lotte Bender

        Hi Andy,

        Thank you very much for your thorough and quick reply. I really appreciate that tip. I’m getting a 6 month old who has been started on sheep, and plan to train her on the sheep for a short time each day so hopefully that will help her distinguish what is ok and what is not.

        Many thanks again for your help and thank you for this fantastic resource.

        Kind Regards,

        Lotte

        1. Hello again, Lotte! That sounds really good. Just be very careful in the early days. The new dog will take time to really bond with you – and that’s what you need – to control it when it wants to run after stock. Puppies can be controlled far easier than a five month old dog!

  14. Jeannette de Vries avatar
    Jeannette de Vries

    I ‘m very happy that I discovered your tutorials. I have been working my Border Collie for more than 1 year and I face a couple of problems. She somehow does not respect me properly in the field and is very hard to lie down when required. Do you a tip for me how I can improve the situation? She is not a very strong dog and she’s also at times afraid that se may lose the sheep. She also sometimes gets into the sheep and grips when she gets desperate. Her outruns are also not so very impressive but I’m trying to follow up your tutorial suggestions on this. So these are a couple of problems I’m working with …. perhaps you have some suggestions for me. The most important one is the lie down as it drives me really crazy that she doesn’t obey:(. Thanking you in advance for your very much esteemed advice! P.S.: Do you also give clinic sessions in your place?

    1. Thanks for subscribing to the tutorials, Jeanette. I can understand your frustration, but your dog sounds perfectly normal – with a strong working instinct.
      If you are able to get the dog to go around the sheep (most of the time) you are making progress, but of course, you would prefer to go faster!
      First, can I suggest you watch ALL the tutorials in the “Where to Start” category? You need to watch them all, to get a proper understanding of your dog and why it does what it does. Even the “Starting a Non-Starter” tutorials contain information which could help you, too.
      Stopping the Dog” (parts 1 and 2) – and “Starting a Strong Dog” should be particularly helpful, and even “Training Max – the Gripper“. There’s loads there to help you, and don’t just watch them once, keep watching until you fully understand what’s happening, and how to get the situation under control.

      1. Jeannette de Vries avatar
        Jeannette de Vries

        Hi Andy, many thanks for your informations! I will watch the tutorials again and try to Keep your recommendations in mind when working the little beast:)))! She is really a very keen worker but overdoing it at times:)))!
        Best wishes from Switzerland and stay safe
        Jeannette

  15. Mindy Mills avatar
    Mindy Mills

    Just a word to say I am greatly enjoying the tutorials. I am using/ training English shepherds to work my sheep here in central Missouri USA. A gathering breed for sure! That is if the dogs are from working bloodlines…. which sadly are in danger of being lost. We call em a border collie with an off switch! Just had to give em a little brag! Stuart, Lexie and I are all benefitting from your excellently produced videos! Thank you!!

  16. Gerry McAuley avatar
    Gerry McAuley

    Hi
    Just to say I’m thoroughly enjoying your videos and learning a great deal from them.
    About 2 1/2 years ago, when I started training my first Border Collie, Glenn, I bought four of your DVDs and found them very useful. I’m now starting to train a new 14 month old bitch (Cass) I bought recently so I decided to invest in a subscription to your website so that I would have access to all your training material. Cass is progressing well and is much “faster on the uptake” than Glenn was – or maybe it’s just that I’m a more effective trainer this time round!
    Glenn is now nearly 4 years old but still capable of learning new things – and indeed in need of further instruction. For example, I only recently managed to teach him to shed.
    One thing I would like to train both Glenn and Cass to do is to “take hold” on command. Obviously, there is a fine line between an unwanted grip and a controlled take hold so I was wondering have you any advice on the matter or if you are planning to cover it in a future video.
    Thanks.
    Gerry McAuley (Big_gmc)

    1. It’s great to know you find our videos helpful, Gerry. The feedback is very useful to us. Thanks!

      As for teaching a dog to hold a sheep, it’s not something I do, but I know it can be extremely useful on certain occasions, and at four years of age, Glen’s certainly young enough to learn how to do it.

      The way I would go about it is fairly simple but you must understand your dog might bite you if you do it. Wear thick protective gloves if you try this. Watch this video for more details about the risks.

      If you watch “Starting a Non-Starter“, you’ll see that I recommend getting a small number of sheep into a fairly confined place and then grabbing one, and pretending to drag it away. This excites the dog and can be an excellent way to spark it’s interest in working. It can also fire the imagination of a dog which already works! So much so, in fact, that the dog is likely to try to bite the sheep very close to where you’re holding it. Hence the likelihood of you’re being bitten!

      Once the dog grabs the sheep by the wool, you simply give the “take hold” command. If you do this in a calm and controlled manner, the dog will quickly learn that grabbing the sheep and holding it, is what you want it to do.

      If the dog isn’t moved to grab a sheep just because you have, it’s going to be more difficult to train it to “take hold” because you’ll need to create a situation where you know the dog will grip. This can be more uncontrolled and stressful for the sheep, so I recommend you try hard with the first method. It should work if you can excite the dog when you grab a sheep.

      Only do this if you’re prepared to risk being bitten though.

      1. Gerry McAuley avatar
        Gerry McAuley

        Hi Andy
        Thanks for your informative and prompt reply.
        I shall have a go using your suggestions and, if successful, I’ll video the result and send it to you.
        Gerry

        1. Gerry McAuley avatar
          Gerry McAuley

          Hi Andy
          This morning, I tried the “take hold” suggestions you gave me and, with one slight modification to the technique I think I can make it work with Glenn.
          When I grabbed a sheep and started seemingly to struggle with it, Glenn obviously wanted to help but all he would do was dive in for quick nips and jump away again. Strangely, though, when I let the sheep go, he grabbed it immediately and firmly by the wool at the shoulder and held on tight until I took hold of it again. He then let go. I was so surprised that I almost forgot to issue the “take hold” command!
          Just to check if it was real and not just a coincidence, I tried the same thing with another sheep. Same result. This time I had the presence of mind to issue the “take hold” command on time!
          I think that this exercise will also help Glenn’s power and confidence. His one major fault is that when he is working a bit away from me (say 100 yards or more) he lacks the power to push stubborn sheep. Also, he’s never too keen to go into tight corners to drive sheep out.
          I blame myself for this. When I started to train him I was very hard on him if he showed any signs of aggression. The result was that I made him a bit too soft – I think.
          After the “take hold” exercise, today he seemed to have had his “fighting spirit” rekindled a bit and was much more authoritative with the sheep than he had been at the beginning of the session.
          Thanks again for your excellent advice.
          Gerry McAuley

          1. I was confident that would work for me Gerry, but it’s good to get confirmation that worked for you too! Of course, it’s often necessary to make minor changes to training ideas, and you seem to be doing that with Glenn. That’s excellent.
            Once he understands that he can use his teeth when he needs to, Glenn’s confidence will improve dramatically, but don’t expect it to work when the dog’s a long way from you, straight away. Get it all working nicely close-bye at first, and then very gradually increase the distance.

  17. Kirsten Colton avatar
    Kirsten Colton

    Thanks so much for your great videos. We have learned so much so far. How often would you recommend doing herding training sessions with a one year old border collie? Should we do daily, every other day, or less frequently than that?

    1. Hello Kirsten, thanks for the question. I recommend you watch the “How often, and for how long?” and “What shall I do next?” tutorials (you need to be logged in for the links to work). I’m sure these will answer the question more fully than we have space for here but, of course, don’t hesitate to ask if anything’s still unclear.
      Good to hear that you’re finding the tutorials helpful.

  18. Michaela Doecke avatar
    Michaela Doecke

    Thank you so much for this tutorial, it was very helpful!
    I’m training my first sheepdog, a 2 yr old kelpie who is very keen and working well on both sheep and cattle. His training is progressing a little slowly though, due to lack of regular training and probably my inexperience, but I’m sure he will get there eventually!
    I am thoroughly enjoying all of your videos and find them very useful. In the future will you be doing a tutorial focusing entirely on a kelpie? I’m sure that would be very interesting.

  19. Gill Evans avatar

    Really useful! looking forward to watching the rest of them. Sound quality excellent on my PC.

    1. Thanks, Gill. Your feedback is extremely useful to us.

  20. Daphne Tomblin avatar
    Daphne Tomblin

    No problem with the sound on my I Pad. Just wanted to compliment you on yet another helpful tutorial ..I enjoy your presentations

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Daphne. Its very helpful to us!

  21. Daphne Tomblin avatar
    Daphne Tomblin

    Nicely put.

  22. David Knight avatar
    David Knight

    Top tips for easier training sounds awful………….like in a empty barn. Sorry, not up to your usual standard…….or is there a tip on audio settings I need to know ?

    Regards,

    David

    1. Sorry you don’t like the sound, David. Both Gill and I have checked it on two different computers and an iPad, as well as TV. It sounds fine to us, both with, and without headphones!
      Perhaps you could try listening on a different device in case something at your end is affecting it?

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