Training a sheepdog to come away from sheep or cattle can be tricky, especially if you can’t catch the dog! Here are some tips to help you to catch your eager dog.
Subtitles: French*, Spanish* or English, click CC on viewer (*translation errors).
Points to consider, when training a sheepdog to come away from sheep or cattle.
For those who want their dog to work both cattle and sheep, Andy explains why it’s better to train the dog on sheep first, if you can.
You must ensure the safety of yourself, other people, and also any animals concerned.
Reasons why the dog must come away from stock
Being able to call your dog away from the stock is absolutely vital for a good working dog. A dog which is going to work livestock efficiently must come away from the animals immediately, when you call it.
Apart from coming away with you when a training session is over or a task completed, the dog must come back to you when you teach it to do outruns, and driving. When you teach it to shed sheep the dog must come through them, towards you. Being able to call the dog in closer, is also useful if your dog’s flanking too wide.
Why won’t the dog come away from the sheep?
In early training, it can be difficult to coax a keen dog back to you when it’s working. The dog’s hunting instinct is strong. So strong in fact that at first, it ignores everything we say or do. It just wants to ‘get at’ the stock.
As the dog becomes more familiar with working close to livestock however, the novelty and excitement will lessen. The dog will begin to heed the commands you taught it before you introduced it to the sheep or cattle.
If I go back to my trainer, the fun will end…
Avoid ending training sessions every time the dog comes back to you. Repeatedy ending training sessions is a common cause of the dog not coming away from the sheep. These dogs are highly intelligent, and working is the thing they like most. If your dog learns that coming back means the session ends, is it any wonder it doesn’t want to come back to you?
When the dog comes back, or you can catch it, allow it to continue working again a few times each session.
Calling the dog back, and starting again.
No matter how good a trainer you are, things will go wrong during sheepdog training. At these time, calling the dog back to you, and then starting again, is very useful.
The stronger the recall before we start, the easier it will be to train the dog. The dog should want to come to you.
Using a refuge to catch your dog.
We discovered this method by accident.
When training a dog I couldn’t catch, the sheep (who said sheep have no sense?) spotted a tight corner, and rushed into it. There were some spare hurdles handy, and I quickly pulled them across and penned the sheep in.
With the sheep unable to run away the dog had to come close, to get near them. Then it was easy to get the dog under control.
A ‘desperate’ measure!
If you can’t or don’t want to make a refuge pen there’s another option for catching the dog. It’s more risky it depends on you having quick reactions and perfect timing. If you’re working in a training ring or small enclosure, with a dog that’s hard to catch you or a friend, can open the gate and let the sheep out, but not the dog.
This relies on you being able to close the gate quickly once the sheep are out to prevent the dog from running after them. Take my word for it, the dog will be very quick.
Training a sheepdog to come away from sheep or cattle
It’s very frustrating to find that you can’t catch your dog when you introduce it to stock. What’s more, it’s extremely important to be able to call the dog away from the sheep or cattle when you work it.
From the dog’s point of view, it has very good reason to want to continue ‘working’. These tutorials will show you how you can catch the dog easily. It’s then fairly simple to convince it that coming away from the stock with you is a great idea!