Calling the Dog Away 1 – the uncatchable dog!

Training a dog to come away from livestock can be tricky, especially if you can’t catch it! Here are some tips to help you to catch your trainee sheepdog.

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Video tutorial on how to catch your trainee sheepdog

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Video Highlights

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 catch your trainee sheepdog and call it away from the stock is absolutely vital for a good working dog. To work livestock safely and efficiently a dog 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’re teaching 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 you can’t catch your trainee sheepdog

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 might ignore 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 a training session whenever the dog comes back to you. Repeatedly ending the lesson when you catch the dog 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 to you means the session ends, is it any wonder it doesn’t want to come back?

A few times in each session, when the dog comes back to you or you can catch it, allow it to continue working again for a few minutes.

Calling the dog back, and starting again.

No matter how good a trainer you are, things will go wrong during sheepdog training. At these times calling the dog back to you, and then starting again, is very useful.

The stronger the recall before you 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!

Photo showing sheep being let out of a training ring, in an attempt to catch the dog.
Attempting to let the sheep out of a training ring, to catch the dog, can be a hazardous experience if your timing is not quick enough.

If you can’t, or would prefer not to, make a refuge pen there’s another option for catching the dog. It’s more risky as 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.

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Catch your trainee sheepdog

It’s very frustrating to find that you can’t catch your sheepdog 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 reasons to want to continue ‘working’. These tutorials will show you how you can catch the dog easily. From there, it’s then fairly simple to convince it that coming away from the stock with you is a great idea!

Calling the dog away – 2


One response to “Calling the Dog Away 1 – the uncatchable dog!”

  1. Carl McCosker avatar
    Carl McCosker

    Great new tutorial. I can use those ideas. I like the rescue pen.