How to train a sheepdog – Online Tutorials Preview


We now have 70 clearly explained, easy to follow sheep and cattle dog training videos for first time sheepdog trainers, farmers, and shepherds. Watch the preview here!

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84 Replies to “How to train a sheepdog – Online Tutorials Preview”

  1. I have purchased a Austrailand Collie puppy. I have 50 sheep. I have 2 great prynees that watch them during the day. i had got the puppy to teach to move sheep. Which cd’s do I need to get to teach my beginner dog? I see the membership but I am still a little confused on which videos to start with for his /and my training. I have never been trained to work w/a sheep dog. I move my sheep down the street using a dog leash. I need help figuring out which is the best method to use. The membership yearly or buying certain cd’s if you could guide me. My pup is 4 months old now. I want to get him moving and do it the right way if you could please give me guidance on how or what i Need at this point being a beginner. Thank you.
    I am in the u.s

    1. Thanks for your message, and for your interest in the tutorials.

      At the moment, all of the tutorials available online are also available on the four collected volumes of DVDs. If your broadband can run the tutorial preview then you’ll be able to watch the tutorials online. There are several tutorials specifically dealing with training a puppy, and as a subscriber to the tutorials you could also leave comments and ask questions if anything isn’t clear, or if you have a particular problem to deal with. I’d particularly recommend you watch What Shall I Do Next? – which describes our program of training (what to teach, and the order to teach it) and Top Tips for Easier Training – which gives you an overview of what’s in the tutorials. Top Tips is also available free of charge to anyone who registers for a subscriber account.

      If you prefer, or need, to watch the tutorials on DVD then they can be purchased here. Other DVDs that might be helpful to you, as a beginner to sheepdog training, are First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training and Starting your Border Collie on Cattle, Sheep or Ducks.

      I hope that’s of some help.

  2. Hi Andy! I have been using your training methods quite successfully, considering I was a total novice, to train my border collie. Thankyou for such valuable help and advice, it’s a wonderful hobby. I was recently given another young dog, “Angas” – border collie x Australian kelpie and both parents are working dogs. My question is how soon should I begin training him with sheep? (He’s now 6 months old) I’m trying to concentrate on basic discipline at present. All good until he chooses not to comply!! I have recently bought 20 hurdles 2.1 metres long so should have the makings of a decent enough yard. I ‘m afraid of him getting too excited and out of control initially.
    By the way…..we live in South Australia. Regards. Paula Cousins.

    1. It’s great to know you find the tutorials useful Paula, thanks for the feedback.
      You don’t actually say how long you’ve had Angas. If it’s only a few days, bear in mind that it takes time for the dog to properly ‘bond’ with you.
      If you watch the “Starting a Young Puppy” tutorials, you’ll see that we like to start youngsters off as early as possible, but it’s important that the sheep don’t frighten or harm the dog because this can affect its confidence.
      If you can trust the sheep though, the sooner you get going, the easier it will be to gain control of him.
      I recommend you watch the Starting a Young Puppy tutorials even though Angas is six months old. Then, I suggest you watch “Starting a Strong Dog” in case he’s very excited when he encounters sheep. Ultimately, if he’s REALLY aggressive, watch the three “Training Max – the Gripper” tutorials.
      Please try to keep in mind that if you’re really anxious at the time you take Angas to sheep, he’ll sense that, and it will add to his anxiety too!
      It’s easier said than done, but try to be “Calm but Firm” (another important one to watch).
      You need to be logged into a full member account for these links to work.

      1. Thankyou! Will watch all of the above. I have had Angas for about 6 weeks and am very happy with his temperament so far. Being half border and half Kelpie could be interesting!! I’ll let you know as I am sure to have many more questions as time progresses. Paula.

  3. This is the first time we have expose our ewes to a neighbors ram. We only have a small flock of 7 ewes. We brought in the ram in February and plan on taking the ram home this weekend. My question is if it is ok to still work my dogs on the exposed ewes. I wasn’t sure if this would cause harm to the unborn lambs. I have 4 Border Collies and I should have asked this question before I exposed all of my ewes.

    1. It’s not a good idea to train dogs on pregnant ewes.
      I suggest you obtain three or four ewe lambs to train your dog on, and let the ladies have some peace and quiet!

  4. Hi Andy
    Which tutorial would you advise for me?
    I’ve just about got my dog penning ,
    When I tell him to come bye or away at the crucial moment he does the comand, but to straight rather than bending out to give them more room & not spook the sheep.
    I am quite hard on him to push him out if I see him coming in to tight .
    But he’s liable to turn a circle on himself before he goes out.(which I don’t like)
    Hope this makes some sence

    1. Ha! Tell me about it!
      This happens with nearly every dog, so don’t worry, it’ll come right, but you’re probably pushing the dog a bit too hard. I have a very promising youngster (Dulcie) who’s doing exactly the same thing at the moment, so I’m trying to take the pressure off her.

      The dog needs more practice in situations which are not so tight.

      Get the dog to put the sheep into a corner (loosely) and then flank him PART of the way round them. It’s easier said than done, but if it fails, it’s because the sheep are too tight in the corner for the dog’s current confidence level. Find a level of tightness that the dog can cope with, and then very gradually tighten it, making sure the dog will obey your flank commands and stop at any point.

      It’s comparatively easy for the dog to go into a corner and bring the sheep out, but quite another matter to stop behind them. If it won’t, use the dog to get the sheep out of the corner, and then put them in more loosely. Only increase the tightness as the dog gets more confident.

      We don’t have a specific tutorial for this Mike, but perhaps we should have. Thanks for raising the topic!

      Try not to be hard on the dog at a time when its confidence is lacking, you should be firm, but encouraging. Frightening the dog out won’t build its confidence, but successfully practising in a lower-pressure situation, and finding out there’s nothing to be afraid of, will.

      Lastly, spinning round is a classic sign of a lack of confidence and should stop as the dog’s confidence improves.

  5. Hi, Andy
    I have a training issue I have never seen addressed in a video. My dog has just turned 2 years old this month, and with the help of your website has progressed from a pup (our first) to a pretty useful sheepdog. We started him at 9 months. However, I haven’t been able to improve this: after his outrun, instead of stopping opposite me and bringing me the sheep, he often continues to circle in front of them. He can’t move them that way! I block him when he swings out to the side, and he goes out the other side. Have you seen this? Is it in a tutorial I may have missed? Thanks for all you do.

    1. If you’re sending the dog off and he goes round the sheep but then instead of stopping behind them and bringing them to you, he continues to circle them, you’re sending the dog too far.

      You’re expecting too much, too soon, from your dog. You haven’t covered the basics properly.

      It’s great that he’ll go round the sheep, but remember, the closer you are to your trainee dog, the more control you have over it (and vice-versa). Dogs are pack animals, their instinct is to work in a group, but your dog doesn’t have a pack, he only has you. When you ask him to work farther away from you, he feels he’s getting no backup from the rest of the pack (that’s you), so he abandons what you’ve taught him and resorts to his ancient hunting instinct (hence, circling the sheep).

      Watch “What Shall I Do Next” (if you’ve already watched it, watch it again).
      (You need to be logged into a full member account for tutorial links to work).

      I strongly recommend you go back to basics with the dog. Work close enough to him to be sure you can stop him and don’t try to increase the working distance until the dog reliably understands he must stop on the far side of the sheep from where you are.

      Once this is achieved, you can gradually increase the distance that he works at, and the dog’s confidence will grow. As that confidence increases, he’ll work farther away from you (and stop behind the sheep). Watch “Backwards is the Way Forward” to see how to do this.

      Lastly, thank you for your encouragement, and good luck with training your dog!

  6. Hi! We have a 3 month old Border Collie and we have a goat farm . We rotational graze over 160 acres. I’m very interested in signing up for your classes although id like to know if training on goats is similar to sheep. Are there any differences I should be aware of before signing up?

    1. Training a dog to work goats is very similar to training on sheep.
      The principle behind herding is that the herded animal (in your case, goats) sees the dog as a predator, and the dog must have the instinct to hunt (in other words, chase other animals).
      In stock working Border Collies, this instinct has generally been preserved, but sometimes it’s dormant and needs to be “brought out”. We have two tutorials for this, called “Starting a non-starter
      (You need to be logged-into a full member account to be able to access the tutorial links).

      Personally I have no experience of working goats with dogs, but I know people do.
      If the dog is keen to “get at” the goats, and the goats would prefer not to be near the dog, then the tutorials will apply. If the dog doesn’t have the instinct to chase the goats, then the tutorials above should help you, but it’s not guaranteed.

      Your dog is very young, so the hunting instinct may not have developed yet. If not, don’t despair, there are things you can do to help (and things to avoid) in the “Starting a Young Puppy“) tutorials.
      The age that a dog begins to take an interest in herding varies widely, but I would usually expect it to happen between ten weeks and six months.
      As well as sheep, Border Collies are used for working chickens, ducks, turkeys, cattle, and other animals.

      Why not sign up for the tutorials and find out? It’ll only cost you $14.50 (US) for a month, and you can cancel at any time. Signup here.

      1. Hello Andy.

        I dont know how to start a post for myself, so with an apology, I will ask here. Do you have beginner bracing videos?

        Thank you. julie
        [I could use some internet skills also]

        1. Do you mean working a brace, Julie? (Two dogs at once).
          We don’t have a tutorial for working a brace at the moment, and that’s because I’m not very good at it!

          To work two dogs independently, you should ideally train them (from the start) on completely different commands. That is the part I find difficult. I sometimes get mixed-up, especially when the situation is difficult.

          You should also teach the dogs to wait where they are when you are working the other dog. This is not so difficult, but it takes patience on the part of the trainer. Start by having one dog on a lead while you work the other, then when the dog stops pulling every time you give the other one a command, you can try letting that dog off.
          Once both dogs will let you work the other one without moving or joining in, you are nearly there!

          Because I tend to get muddled when I try to remember which dog is on which command, I train two dogs to work together by saying the name of the dog that I want to move, immediately before I give the command. Then it’s just a question of teaching the other dog to ignore any command which begins with the other dog’s name.

          I hope you understand what I mean. Please reply to this if you need more information.
          Your question has inspired Gill and I to make a tutorial on this topic sometime in the future. Meanwhile, we’d love to hear how you get on.

          Lastly, the Glyn Jones DVD “That’ll Do!” covers teaching two dogs to work together.

  7. We have a smooth collie bitch (aged almost 3) and we’ve been working sheep with her for just over a year now. She’s actually doing a very good job, despite our bungling. However, she is very forward and puts a lot of pressure on the sheep and then flanks wide, often right up to the handler, effectively stopping the sheep. We’ve been trying to get her to keep her distance, but this is proving quite hard. The trainers tell us it has to do with the fact that she’s not a border collie and therefore works slightly differently to border collies. How can I get her to keep more distance and put less pressure? All work we do with her is under guidance of a trainer, but we hope to get some sheep of our own and train her on those as well. Would your tutorials help even though we don’t have a border collie?

    1. Your description is a little vague…
      Smooth collie bitch? Do you mean a dog like this?
      Smooth coated working border collie sheepdog, Boz
      This is Boz. A typical smooth coated border collie sheepdog. As it happens, Boz is not registered with the International Sheepdog Society, but that’s down to an administration error with his mother’s registration when we bought her as a pup. Boz is a perfectly normal border collie sheepdog, and with training, will become a fine herding dog. Dogs do not have to have long coats in order to be border collies.

      Secondly, by “flanks wide, often right up to the handler”, do you mean that the dog won’t stay behind the sheep, but prefers to come back to the handler??

      If that’s what it’s doing, you’re trying to move on too quickly. Get the dog going round the sheep, and stopping reasonably well before you move on to more ambitious work.
      Once the dog will stop, you can begin to keep it in place while you (and the sheep) move back – giving the sheep more room.

      Either way, as long as your dog is keen to “get at” the sheep (and it sounds as though it is) I think the tutorials will be very useful for you. Everything you need to know should be in one or more of the seventy tutorials, and if it isn’t let us know and we’ll endeavour to add another tutorial to cover it.

      Why not sign-up for a free account and watch the free tutorial?

      1. hi Andy,

        Thanks for your reply. I have a smooth collie, i.e. a smooth-coated scottish sheepdog (‘Lassie’ with a short coat, see . Definitely not a border collie.
        You’re absolutely right that she’s very keen, perhaps a little too much so…? On straight stretches she will run up alongside the sheep, level with me. It’s not that she’s coming to me, but more like level with me. She has good balance, because as soon as I turn, she’ll counter my movement (taking the 12 o’clock position). It seems to be over-enthusiasm on her part. She is constantly on the move, either weaving to and fro behind the sheep if I’m lucky or otherwise moving alongside level with me. We’re working on the wait/lie down to create more distance between her and the sheep, but once she gets a ‘walk on’ she’ll rush right up to the sheep again. Both trainers I train with say that this behaviour is because she needs to put more pressure on the sheep because she lacks the eye of the border collie.
        Will sign up for the tutorials!

        1. If you can get the dog to go to the opposite side of the sheep from where you are, you need to train it to stop there when you tell it to.
          Obviously, our “Starting” tutorials will help you with that.
          Once the dog will fairly reliably stop on the far side of the sheep (around three or four – not too many at this stage) you need to move on to the “Walking Backwards” stage.
          There is a tutorial called “Backwards is the Way Forward“. It’s probably the single most useful tutorial in our library for getting a dog to work well.

  8. Hi Andy
    I Have a 7 month Bitch ISDS I am concerned she seems very small…I know at that age she is not fully grown but in your experience do they tend to put on much height/weight after 7 months…also she is very fussy with her food do you have a recommendation on which food to feed her?

    1. Don’t worry, your young dog has plenty of time left for growing Roger. They continue to grow until they’re over a year old. There really is no need for concern. Big or small, if you train it properly, I’m sure the dog will do a great job for you.
      If you saw the parents before you bought the pup, that can give you an indication of the size the pups are likely to be (but not always).
      Don’t worry about the food too much either, she’ll eat as much as she needs. We feed ours on Beta Puppy Junior when they’re very small and then gradually begin to mix in some adult food, until by the age of a year, they’re on 100% adult food. (We feed CSJ Champ Adult to the grown up dogs).
      Don’t make the mistake of giving the dog too much protein. Despite what many manufacturers claim, it can cause all sorts of behavioural problems because it “hypes” the dog up. Apart from the Beta Puppy (30% protein) when the pups are very small, the highest protein we feed is usually in the low 20% area. At your dog’s age, around 24% should be about right.
      My advice is to stop worrying, and enjoy your young dog’s youth!

  9. I have a 2 1/2 year old entire male border collie who is very hard to train, I was watching your tutorial on Max the gripper and although Salt doesn’t grip, he dives in and splits the sheep and chases one, when he does this, I have no control over him, he doesn’t listen, usually this is anti clockwise and under pressure ( close work) and also on a cast ( outrun) anticlockwise only, he has put numerous sheep into a fence, he has a very strong eye and is a mix of Australian bloodlines and ISDS lines.. I’v had him since 8 weeks and he has always been like this, working really well then all of a sudden rushing in and splitting the sheep and chasing one, I thought we had it under control, but on the weekend he did it again in a paddock.
    I’v had so much advice, do this , do that, don’t work him in a confined area, work him more in a confined area, don’t put him under any pressure, put him under more pressure, the last trainer/clinic I went to on the weekend said the only way to get it out of him was to belt it out of him, which I won’t do.. but I’m now totally confused and at a loss as to how to fix it.. he has always been a very headstrong dog, but I don’t let him get away with anything, he is not allowed to go before me anywhere, off stock he is very obedient, he knows his sides, has a good recall, and when under control has a great stop on him, he reads his sheep well, carries them beautifully, and when he is working well, he is calm.. he has a steady command which I use to slow him down on a cast and I usually only do short casts and get close to the sheep before I send him, but he has a hair trigger and you have to be on your guard all the time because he is so fast when he does explode.. I was wondering if you had any advise for me..

    1. I don’t need to see a video to know what the problem is, Annette. It has little to do with his gender, his hormones, his age or even his Australian ancestry.

      You clear description tells me you have a dog with great potential, but in certain circumstances he’s lacking confidence. He simply needs training. I don’t mean that in an insulting way at all. You’ve done well to get him doing outruns (albiet in one direction) but you’re trying to move on too quickly with him. The expression we’d use in the UK is “trying to run before you can walk”.

      Forget the outruns for now. I recommend you go back to the very basics, and get them right before you attempt more ambitious work. Work with three or four sheep (no more) and get the dog going round them and stopping reliably in a situation where you know it will work well and he won’t dive into them.

      Work him very calmly, and give gentle praise when he’s doing well. Whatever you do, don’t shout excitedly or rapidly (even to praise him). You must be ultra-calm under all circumstances, but obviously correct him firmly (just once) each time he makes a serious mistake. Be a good leader.

      Limit his lessons to very basic work that you know will go well, and only very gradually move on to more ambitious work when you can rely on him. I strongly suggest the next thing you move on to is “Walking Backwards”. This exercise will benefit him greatly if you’re prepared to make sure he does it properly. It’s described in detail in the tutorial “Backwards is the Way Forward”.

      Once he’s doing the walking backwards exercise really well, you can go back to circling the sheep, but this time, edge the sheep a little closer to a fence or hedge, then send him to get bring them away again. The closer the sheep are to the fence, the greater the pressure on the dog, but once more, progress very gradually. If he dives in, correct him and if the correction works (he takes notice of you) carry on, but at any time (whatever the lesson) if he dives in repeatedly and won’t heed your corrections, take him away gruffly, and bundle him into his pen (or if he lives in the house, somewhere he’ll be bored). Show him that if he won’t listen, you’re not going to let him near the sheep until at least the next day.

      There’s absolutely no need to beat the dog, and anyone who tells you to, knows little about dogs. You have a great dog there. Believe in him, and train him one step at a time. When you eventually give him outruns again, limit them to very short ones which he can achieve reasonably well in either direction, then concentrate on the worst side until he’s going equally well both ways. Only then should you begin to gradually increase the distances.

      Relevant tutorials are: Backwards is the Way Forward, Get off the Fence and all three The Outrun tutorials.
      (You need to be logged into a full member account for this link to work).

      It would be great if you would post back with Salt’s progress (good or bad)!

      1. thank you for your prompt reply Andy, I have watched the tutorial Get off the fence and will try that next training, I feel that the waltz will work quite well with him.. I’v already watched the tutorial Backwards is the Way Forward a while ago, but will revisit in the next day or so, I already do walk backwards and stop him to allow some distance, as I work with very dogged sheep who tend to hug my legs and Salt has a lot of presence, so I have to make him work at a distance so I can move, then I give him a walk in command which he does so perfectly, I try not to let him get too close as you can see the pressure build when I do, I will try as you suggest, go back to basics, avoid confrontation and maybe we will both start enjoying it again :-)

        1. That’s great, Annette. The more you can work him without him diving in, the more his confidence will grow, so keep the work very simple and only gradually increase the pressure – you’ll get there!

  10. I have a one year old dog pup that has lost his drive. He used to be very interested in hunting sheep but lately hasn’t been very interested and just lies down when told to walk on, he also has been faced with a tough ewe in the last week which didn’t help. He used to have lots of drive in him and i was wondering how i would get it back, he is from really good bloodlines and he is brilliant on come by and away so i just want to get him working fully

    1. Assuming the dog is fit and well (have you considered taking him to a vet for a check?) it sounds very much like a confidence problem. It’s covered fairly extensively in our tutorial “Sometimes Nice is Not Enough” (you need to be logged-into a full member account for this link to work).
      A good way to test whether it’s a confidence problem is to walk up close to the dog when it stops in front of the sheep. If the dog will work when you’re up close and giving encouragement, it’s a confidence problem, but if the dog is lacking “drive” when away from sheep, I suggest you take him to a vet.

  11. Hi Andy, what are your thoughts on teaching a heading dog to jump. I am getting mixed opinions from people. Some say a sheep dog should never be taught to jump due to getting caught on fences and it is bad for their joints. However I often work long distances away from the kennels so would like my dog to get on the back of the quad bike to save him running all the way there however my 7 year old collie has never been taught to jump by the previous owner. Thank you

    1. I suggest you do what you think is natural for a dog, and what suits your situation. Ignore some of the more bizarre advice you’re given. People believe all sorts of stuff about sheepdogs. One of the most common is that you should never allow a sheepdog to play! We spend hours in the field with our dogs every day, throwing balls and frisbees for them. They dig holes, and they love to jump. Dogs are fantastic jumpers, and (once they get the hang of it) they love to ride on quad bikes and other vehicles. As far as I’m aware, jumping (in moderation) isn’t bad for their joints.
      Of course whatever a dog does, there’s a risk involved, and occasionally dogs have accidents. That’s the way life is, but we don’t let it get in the way of our dogs’ enjoyment and their work. Of course, if an inexperienced dog tries to jump a high barbed wire fence, there’s a much higher risk of injury, but if you teach a dog to jump onto a quad bike, that doesn’t mean the dog’s going to try to clear the nearest wire fence (but it might).
      If you want to teach your dog to jump onto a quad bike, I suggest you watch the tutorial “Use a Reward to get Training on Board”. Logged-in members can watch it here

  12. I have just picked out two 4 week old border collies and would like to learn what commands and training I should be working on when I bring them home at 8 weeks old. When would it be good to introduce them to sheep as well. Just so they see them and get to know what they are. Then when is good age to start more sheepdog training?

    1. Unless you are experienced at training dogs, your first mistake is in having two puppies (particularly litter-mates)!

      Two pups will bond with each other rather than with you, and this can make them very difficult to train properly. Unless you have lots of spare time and are prepared to train the young dogs seperately it’s a far better idea to have one puppy, and then after six or better still, twelve months or more, when your first dog is really nicely under control, buy a second pup.

      If you do it this way, the first dog will help you train the second one!

      Starting pups on sheep is too complex to explain fully here, but it’s very well covered in our Sheepdog Training Tutorials. As you’ll see in the Tutorials Library, we even start a pup on sheep at eleven weeks, but this should only be undertaken if you know what you’re doing.

      1. Dear Andy,

        You kindly spoke to me about advising on Pumi training and the possibility of a video.

        I have a short Pumi training guide translated from Hungarian . One key paragraph is “The Pumi completely loses interest in the sheep if we don’t let it near the sheep but only to a few yards from them. The English style training method therefore will destroy the herding drive of the Pumi within minutes. In other words, if the trainer or owner position themselves between the sheep and the Pumi and they constantly drive it away from them – or rather try to make the Pumi to keep distance, the Pumi will lose interest in the whole thing in no time because the very same tools are taken away from it which enabled it throughout its whole life to work instinctively and made it capable of independently resolving complicated tasks!”
        Could you comment and advise please

        1. When we spoke, I explained that I had never heard of a Hungarian Pumi (let alone train one) but I was prepared to give you my opinion. However, in view of your research, I think it’s best that you seek advice from those who are familiar with the breed.
          Good luck with training your dog.

  13. We use electric fencing to separate our pastures for rotational grazing. How can we best teach our dog (2yr old fem. BC) about electric fences?

    1. We used to use electric fences years ago, Bill. It’s not ideal.
      Inevitably the dog’s going to get a shock at some point or other, and if you have flighty sheep, they’re going to learn that they can charge through the fence at will. That’s not good either, because it teaches the sheep they can beat the fence if they want to.
      If you really must use electric fences, the only practical solution I found was to try to carry on giving commands to the dog even though it may be running off because it’s just had a shock.
      It doesn’t work all the time, but depending on the dog, you’ll be surprised how often it does work. If you have a good recall on the dog, you can call it back, and also, it’s worth walking the dog near the fence (without any sheep there) just to try to show the dog there’s nothing to worry about.
      Ideally, get some proper fencing though.

  14. What is your guidance on keeping a working farm dog (2yr old female border collie) in a kennel or in the house with the other pets (one old dog and several cats? I am concerned the dog may become too soft being in the house, forget her training; become spoiled or am I bonding with her? We currently keep her out in the kennel during the day when not working and bring her into the house at night. She is confined to the kitchen with the other dog and seems to have adapted well; maybe too well!

    1. As long as the dog’s got a keen instinct to work animals, and nobody spoils her (by playing with her so much that she loses interest in working) it doesn’t really matter where the dog lives, William.
      When you mention that she may have settled in “too well” though, I wonder what this means? If she’s showing signs of not wanting to go out to work, that’s obviously not a good thing, but it’s not about living quarters, it’s about the bond you have with the dog. If she’s working well, and does as she’s told, you shouldn’t have a problem though.

  15. Andy- I know this is probably basic, but how would you teach the recall command? My dog is 11 months old and rather embarrassingly doesn’t always come when called even though he knows what it means.
    Thank you for your help

    1. You don’t say how long you’ve had the dog, Rosemary. If it’s only a couple of weeks or so, he should improve quite quickly, but either way, if he doesn’t come back to you, it’s simply because he doesn’t yet respect you enough to abandon something he sees as interesting, in order to come back to a situation he regards as less interesting…
      You need to work on the bond between you – and by bond, I don’t mean that the dog should sit and wag his tail when you pat him, I mean he must RESPECT you.
      If you open a gate, I’d put money on it he’ll dash through it first, even if he nearly knocks you over in the process! This is not good enough. The dog needs discipline. YOU should be in charge, and if he disobeys you, then you gruffly bundle him away somewhere, away from anything that interests him – for at least an hour. Then you bring him out again (and so on).
      One of the best ways to gain your dog’s respect is to teach it to walk PROPERLY on a lead. By properly, I mean with the lead slack for at least 80 percent of the time.
      Take the dog for a walk on a lead. If he pulls, pull him back sharply and tell him “No” (sharply too). If he continues to pull back, stop and repeat the pulling back and sharp “No”. If he continues to pull, turn around and go the other way. This will usually stop him pulling, so when the lead’s been slack for a few moments, turn back to the original direction again. If he pulls, repeat the process.
      If you do this RIGHT – and don’t give-in to the dog, it WILL work.
      If you think about it, a dog which pulls on the lead doesn’t fully accept your authority over it. By pulling, the dog is trying to control your speed – so it can’t have accepted your authority over it. Once he does, his recall will improve dramatically.

    1. When you login, Anne Marie, look at the categories. The first one (in red) is “Where to Start“. Watch all of the videos on that page to get a good grounding of sheepdog training!
      There’s also a tutorial called “What Shall I do Next“. That will give you a better idea of the order of training. (You must be logged into a full account for this last link to work).

      1. Thanks Andy! I’m learning to navigate the tutorials and the way they’re organized. I’ve trained dogs for search and rescue, but as you point out, sheepherding is a completely different world. My little BC is from the UK (I’m in California) and I’m amazed at the instinctive behaviors that she was born with. For example, she has a natural outrun – something I’ve been told is more commonly seen in UK-bred BCs. I stumbled on your website, watched the introductory video, and instantly could relate to your way of explaining and illustrating. It’s so helpful to have videos, not just words, and to show when things go wrong. It provides the perspective needed for a beginner and gives me the opportunity to watch dogs work with an experienced handler.

  16. Do you have a tutorial that would show how to get a dog to circle and head the stock that absolutely does not want to circle? The only instinct my dog has is to push the livestock. Anything other than that and he loses interest.

    1. Wow! That’s not much information to go on, Katrina!
      You don’t give any information about the dog (whether it’s a gathering breed or a droving type) and other than saying he loses interest if you try to get him to head the stock, I have nothing to go on.

      Assuming he’s a border collie from proper working lines, then it could be you’re just not reading his sensitivity correctly. When you say the only instinct he has is to push the sheep, do you mean he’s attacking them, and when you correct him for that, he loses interest?

      If that’s the case, I suggest you watch “Calm But Firm. If the dog really wants to get at the sheep, and then loses interest when you correct him, to help get the dog back to work, watch “Starting a Non-Starter“. (You need to login, then UPGRADE to a Paying Member Account for these links to work).

      Many of the tutorials cover your question, but it’s down to you to judge the dog’s sensitivity against it’s determination to push (or dive into) the stock. Then you must balance the sensitivity of your correction to suit the dog. (I can’t do that for you).

      1. I am sorry. He is a Border Collie with 1/8th Kelpie.
        He does not like to work on the heads /gather the cattle and he does not balance on me. He drives them away from me and is very natural at it.
        He is 9 months old and still shows a lot of “puppy.

  17. Hello,
    I have a question ( sorry for my englisch )
    I have a 1 year old bitch, on the field she grips if she has the change. If I worn het with my voice, she stops working. If I Seattle her and I walk to the sheep, she Will work again. But she Wales Very slowly.
    She Also Will not keep distanche from the sheep. If I put a little pressure then she Also starts working Very slow.

    She us with gripping hard headed but When pressure she gets slow.

    Not sure what to do.

    Just let het work close and keep her happy and wait till she is little onder to put pressure. Only hen she Will stay doping the same think over and over.

    Regards Marc

    1. Your dog is OK Marc, but she does not like you telling her not to grip the sheep! This is very common.

      She will be fine if you are careful with her. When you can see that she is going to grip a sheep, try to correct her as gently as you can (try not to shout too much). If she’s very slow, try to encourage her with a gentle voice, but be ready for her to run at the sheep and grip them (you already know that she is likely to do this when she changes direction).

      I suggest you watch these tutorials (you need to be logged into your account for the links to work):

      • Calm But Firm. It takes self-control but, if you can be calm yet firm with your dog, it will be far easier to train. – 10.5 min

      If you can stop her on the far side of the sheep, this tutorial will help a lot – but you must do it correctly and make the dog stay back so that she brings the sheep at the pace that you walk back at.

      1. Saw Some strange words in my replays.

        She is getting better on het away side. Come buy she Will walk slow or stop.
        She looks afraid on that side. No idea why.
        On the away side she even makes little outruns. But come by is still terrible.
        I tried like in video, but she Will not take that side.

  18. Hi, Andy, I have an Aussie ( Feb 3, 2016 born) that I want to mountain bike with but he bites my tire everytime we try to go out to ride? I assume he is herding me but how can I can No! I don’t want to herd sheep but just want really badly to bike with my dog up in the country on the dirt roads? I go for long rides which include 40 to 50 mi? I did make this mistake of trying to use an electric collar, bitters on my bike tire and a loud No with my voice! Have experienced many flat tires! He is worth every tire. I love my dog and want to bike with him sooo much! Please help or advise in anyway you can would be very appreciated!
    Thank you! Sharon Engle

    1. First of all Sharon, a dog which is coming in close (let along biting) when you’re riding your bike is a danger, not only to you but to others who may be around at the time. You must either get control of the dog, or stop taking it with you when you go cycling.

      At just nine months old, your dog is “an adolescent boy”. He’s likely to have strong ideas of his own, but he should be very trainable too. There are no shortcuts though. I’ve always had a very strong dislike of electric collars and never use them for training.

      You don’t say how well behaved your dog is away from bikes, but I guess he’s something of a handful. The reason I mention this is because there are two important factors involved here.

      1. The dog’s respect for its owner.
      2. The dog’s strong hunting instinct.

      Clearly, the dog isn’t listening when you try to tell him not to bite your tyres. This suggests he doesn’t fully accept you as his leader. Dogs are pack animals and as such they live by a hierarchy. If yours doesn’t respect you as its leader, it will completely ignore you at times when its instinct is strongest (such as what the dog perceives as hunting) or when it’s having more fun somewhere else.

      A very simple test of whether a dog fully accepts its owner as its leader, is to walk it on a lead. If the dog walks with the lead slack for at least eighty percent of the time, it’s fully accepted you as its leader, but if it’s pulling on the lead, it’s clearly not satisfied with either the direction you’re taking it, or the speed that you’re travelling at. By pulling, the dog’s trying to control YOU – and as such, cannot possibly have accepted your leadership.

      So phase one, is to make sure your dog accepts you as its leader. To do this, you simply need to be FIRM, FAIR and CONSISTENT – and spend lots of time with the dog, but be the boss. Teach the dog good manners. For instance, you go through doors and gates first, and you decide when to play with the dog, and when play is over. Most useful of all, teach the dog to walk properly on a lead. This will help to establish your leadership.

      With any form of dog training, it’s best to start off with something easy, and gradually progress towards the goal. By trying to ride your bike from the outset, you started off at the goal!

      If the dog’s determined to bite the tyres of the bike, there’s no way you’re going to control it while you’re actually riding the bike, so start by simply standing still while you hold the bike and make certain the dog doesn’t interfere. If the dog doesn’t interfere while you are still (and it probably won’t) give the dog a command, such as “Stay Back” to tell it to keep away. That should be very easy, so assuming all’s well, push the bike a couple of paces or so. If the dog bites the tyres when you start to push the bike, again, you must make the dog keep away. If you can’t do this on your own (dogs are much quicker and more nimble that we are) get someone else to push the bike while you control the dog. Put it on a lead if necessary.

      It would take far too long to type all this out in full, but I’m sure you can see the idea! If the dog’s OK while you’re standing still, push the bike a little way. If he’s still OK, move on in stages (maybe standing on a pedal and coasting for a little way). If this is OK, try sitting astride the bike with both feet on the ground. If he’s OK with this, use your legs to push you forward slowly. Once he’s alright with that too, you can try actually mounting the bike. The moment the dog shows signs of interfering, stop immediately, give a sharp “Go Back” command, then go back to a stage that he’s OK with. Only move to the next stage when he’s calm and well away from the bike.

      When people ask me how to lead train a dog, I tell them to walk the dog on the lead (away from stock) and if it pulls, turn around and go back the other way. As I said earlier, if the dog’s pulling, it’s usually because it wants to get to the park (or wherever) more quickly. If you go back the other way, the dog will eventually learn that if it pulls, it will take longer than ever to get to the park. Occasionally people have said “I tried doing that, and if I’d kept it up, we wouldn’t have got to the park, so I gave in. It didn’t work!”. That’s nonsense. If you do it, it always works, but if you give in and let the dog get its way, it won’t work.

      The same thing applies here. Progress slowly and each time the dog interferes, stop and go back to a stage where the dog doesn’t interfere. You may not actually get out for a ride at all for a couple of days or so, but once the dog accepts that it mustn’t come near the bike, it’ll be well worth it.

      You don’t say whether your dog chases cars, but if a dog gets excited by something like a moving bicycle, there’s a very good chance it will be a car chaser too. Hopefully he’s not, but in either case (cars or bikes) you need to take great care. Once the dog will walk properly on a lead though, it can help to familiarise the dog with bikes if you can take it somewhere where people are riding them – but again, start off with something simple, like a friend riding a bike – and only do it if you’re absolutely certain you can control the dog (and the collar won’t come off or snap etc).

      I realise you’re not interested in training your dog to work stock, but getting your dog’s respect and obedience plays a large part in it. I’m sure you would find a subscription to our Online Sheepdog Training Tutorials well worthwhile including Sheepdog Selection and Preparation, Use a Reward to Get Training on Board and An Insight Into Pack Behaviour. These tutorials can be found in the Preparation category. Whether you subscribe or not, good luck with training your dog. I hope you’ll let us know how you get on.

      1. Hi Andy,
        Excellent advice and i will follow through with your advice for riding the bike with my dog! Otherwise he does obey and comes when called! Stays with me when we hike and will accept walking beside my bike when I am off the bike but when I get on it he must think it is a sheep out of control. I will follow throught with your suggestions of starting with only one pedal and see what happens but quite quickly and gain control if he tries to bite my tire or any aggressive motion.

        I did take him to obedience classes so he waits for me to go through a door, and only comes when I giver permission, he comes when called and sit’s on command & waits if I give a command and go into another room. I can hike for miles with him staying with me on the trails. When approaching another bike he cares nothing about their bikes only mine if I am on it and ride! He does chase the Elk and Deer here but comes back when I call him. I assume he will stop this when I gain better control!

        I like the idea of turning the other way if he pulls and I go the other way! I am excited to start with the bike on the ground which I had been doing some but will follow through as suggested! Excited to start working with Cowboy! Thanks so much and I will look at the other tutorials! I need a well behavied dog since we live at on 300 aces which is a camp for kids. He loves kids and loves to come! My mistake with the bike since as a puppy he biked and no problem. I probably stoped my trainning and did not realized. I plan to breed him occasionally. Thanks again, Sharon Engle

  19. Hi Andy, I looked at several of your videos and it is unfortunately for me to advanced I did not read enough since I only saw now that I was supposed to buy the 2 dvd’s “First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training”. Since I don’t know anything about even basic training I have a tough time to see from your videos how I must learn the dog commands like lay down, wait not even to speak about learning it to flank or circle. If it is possible can you make a video that show how you teach the dog these commands. I for instance looked at your video about commands and I learned nothing from it since I don’t know any commands. Thanks

    1. I’m slightly confused, Willie. I’m assuming you want to train your dog to work sheep? If you have sheep, and you take a young dog to them for training, you do not need to teach the dog what to do before you begin.

      With the possible exception of preparing a training area, and some knowledge of sheep, our online tutorials cover sheepdog training for beginners in far greater detail than the “First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training” DVDs. I think the best tutorial for you to watch if you want to see just how we first get control of the dog when it’s around sheep, is The Training Stick. Also, I recommend you watch the videos in the “Starting” category. Scroll to the earlier videos at the bottom of the page, and watch those first. These tutorials will show you how to get the dog to work sheep, right from the very beginning.
      Lastly, we’re finding that posting DVDs to South Africa is very unreliable at the moment, but Sheepdog Selection and Preparation is one of the main chapters (updated) from the “First Steps” DVD. I’m sure that one will help you too. Please let me know how you get on.

      1. Thanks as you can see I really don’t know anything. I will give it a try. I am farming with sheep. This is my 3 rd year of farming with sheep.

  20. I am in the process of beginning training on a 7 month old pup. It appears that the sequence of your tutorials are alphabetical rather than progressive. Do you have a list on starting a dog and progressing from there?


    1. Thank you for subscribing to our sheepdog training tutorials, George.
      It’s difficult to please everyone when it comes to listing the titles. That’s why we have the category buttons.
      If you click the Starting Training button, there are lots of tutorials for you to choose from, including “Starting a Young Puppy” (parts one and two) which deal with a pup much younger than seven months, but they will still give you a good idea what to do. You could then watch others such as “Starting a Strong Dog” or if the dog is very aggressive with sheep, try Training Max – The Gripper!”.
      (You need to be logged into your account for these links to work).

  21. Hi Andy, I am a beginner that do not even know how to train my dog the basics like sit and stay. My dog is still a very small pup, he is now about 9 weeks old. I am a sheep farmer in South Africa. What I want to know, shall your course help me to train my dog the very basic commands. And your videos do you show step by step what to do or do you just explain what to do.

    1. I would hope our tutorials are ideally suited to you, Willie. We give step by step instruction from the earliest stages of training, right up to preparing for sheepdog trials.
      I know that you took out full membership very soon after posting this question (hence the delay in my reply). Thank you for that. If you have time, it would be really useful for us to hear whether you are finding the tutorials helpful, and whether there are areas we could improve.
      Good luck with training your pup.

  22. Hi Andy,

    Your DVDs are really helping me with training my first sheep dog. He seems to me that he has a lot of potential but my sheep are not used to dogs which makes training very difficult. I’m training him on lambs at the moment. I have managed to teach him to get the sheep off the fence but they are very skittish (woolly jumpers) and he is a very excited dog so this doesn’t help. I’ve asked my local sheepdog societies but with no luck finding sheep that are used to dogs. I’m new to farming and Don t have many contacts. Just wondering if you know anyone in Kent/sussex/essex area that would have sheep like I see on your training videos. I am also happy to travel further as i really want to make him a successful sheepdog. I feel like this would really help. Thank you for any help.

    1. Kate,
      I am in a similar situation on my farm. I have found that my best training come when I put 2 lambs and an older ewe together. The lambs keep the older ewe moving and the older ewe calms the lambs. This has worked great here. Ultimately, you need your sheep to work with your dog. Training the lambs is a great idea!

    2. It’s great to hear that our training DVDs are helping you to train your dog, Kate. Thank you for the feedback.
      Unfortunately, apart from being “skittish” you don’t actually say what the problem with the sheep is. If the dog’s able to get them off the fence, provided the training area’s not too big (about 16 metres diameter is ideal to start with) you should be able to manage.

      Both sheep and dog will settle down provided you’re able to keep using the same sheep for every lesson. If the dog keeps getting them off the fence, the sheep will quickly learn that they’re better off staying in the middle of the training ring, where you have the most control over the dog (and can protect them).

      Once the sheep will stay off the fence, it’s a simple matter or getting yourself in the correct position to block the dog and make him treat the sheep with respect. Watch The Training Stick and Starting a Strong Dog if you need help with getting the dog under control. It sounds as though he’ll make a great dog!

  23. Hi Andy,
    I have a really nice 2 year old border collie bitch doing all the basics really well on sheep, she has great manners and is really interested in her training. She is a very shy type and rolls over when being rubbed and praised. I always have to put her on a lead to take her to the training field as if I don’t she will run back to her kennel. Regularly during training in the yard adjacent to her kennel, she leaves the job and returns to her kennel, she lacks confidence . I usually go to her put her on a lead and bring her back to the yard where she continues on with her work. When the training is finished she immediately runs back to her kennel. Any ideas on how I might be able to improve her confidence and prevent this becoming a habit.

    1. There are several possible reasons for the dog being seriously shy like this John. If it’s properly bonded with you and if you’re not being unduly harsh with the dog, it really shouldn’t be running back to the yard, it should come to you when it finishes work. The problem is fairly easy to put right though. It just takes a little time and some patience.

      The first thing that springs to mind is that you may not have had the dog very long. You don’t actually say how long you’ve had it but if it’s only a few weeks, bear in mind that when you take a dog away from it’s home (particularly if the dog was born at that home) you’re taking it away from absolutely everything it’s ever known. A good comparison would be for us to be “abducted by aliens ”.

      If you have a different voice and accent to the trainer that will add to the problem as well, but the main thing to remember is the older the dog is, the longer it will take to bond with you. By bond, I don’t mean the dog wags its tail when it sees you, or will sit still (or roll over) while you make a fuss of it. I’m talking about the dog accepting you as it’s true leader.

      This can take a couple of weeks with a young dog or sometimes months, depending on age and circumstances. It also heavily depends on what kind of leader you are to the dog. If you get cross or excitable when things go wrong, that can confuse and frighten the dog and it’s not exactly portraying you as a leader, but if you’re firm, fair consistent, and calm – and if you spend a lot of time with the dog (rather than shut it away in a pen or chain it up all day) the bonding will happen far more quickly. A two year old dog will take longer to bond with a new owner than a puppy, or a one year old dog.

      I recommend you take the dog with you as much as possible. In the tractor cab, in your truck, when you’re working in the buildings etc. Have the dog loose if you can trust it not to run off or get into mischief, otherwise you need to be careful, but if you can have the dog with you, and interact with it, the dog will grow to respect you. A dog which is shut away or chained up is learning virtually nothing but it will view wherever it’s shut away as a safe place. Because your dog is nervous, once it has finished working, it immediately wants to get back to the safest place it knows. That should be with you, but at the moment for your dog, it’s not. You need to become the dog’s best friend.

      How shy was the dog with its breeder or trainer? If you have not had the dog very long, and if you saw it working before you bought it, once the dog has bonded with you it will work at least as well for you as it did when you saw it with its owner. Hopefully, better.

      The second scenario is that you may have had the dog for a long time or even from birth. If this is the case, the dog has not been socialised, or you’re being very harsh with it. It’s important to gauge your dog’s sensitivity and moderate your training technique accordingly. A very strong aggressive dog will sometimes require harsh measures, but a timid dog needs very careful treatment. Watch the tutorial Calm But Firm for more on this.

      If the dog has had a very sheltered life, you need to broaden its horizons. Once again, take the dog with you at every opportunity and gradually introduce it to new people and new experiences, taking care to make sure those experiences are pleasant ones for the dog.

      You need to keep in mind that anything a dog does regularly will soon become a habit. This is one of the reasons why we’re able to train dogs, and it means that the longer your dog runs back to the yard, the more habitual this becomes, so you need to work on getting that bond with the dog immediately. If it were my dog, I would work on the bond and the dog’s recall away from sheep and only go back to training on sheep when there’s a good chance the dog will come to you, rather than run away. When you’re coming to the end of a training session on sheep, I suggest you begin trying to get the dog to come close to you so that eventually you’re able to reach out and hold it’s collar. A good way to encourage the dog to come closer is to crouch down, making yourself much smaller. To a shy dog, a human being must be a huge, overbearing creature. We find crouching down particularly effective.

      If the dog insists on running back to the yard, I would immediately give it a flanking command to encourage it to come back to the sheep. That gets the dog back close to you again and you can continue working it for a little while, and then try to call it to you again.

      Good luck, and please let me know how you get on.

  24. Hi Andy, I have just bought a trained sheepdog after seeing two videos of it working for an experienced trainer online(£1800). Got it home 10 days ago and the dog just wont listen to any commands from us. It has bonded well with the family and is in all other respects a good dog. The seller suggested we put a slip knot rope around its waist to make it obey commands, which it does when the rope is on(you can tell it is no stranger to this method of training) but as soon as the rope comes off then it runs wildly around the sheep refusing to stop or come back. My question is that surely at that money I should expect the dog to stop and come back when called. Any suggestions

    1. It’s not a good idea to buy a dog on the strength of seeing a video, because the handler might only show you the best bits. If you go to see the dog, you’ll get a much better idea of how it behaves when it’s first sent to the sheep. Don’t despair though what you saw the dog do on the video is what the dog will do for you once it’s bonded with you.

      You don’t say how old the dog is Roger, but you should bear in mind that when you take a dog away from it’s home (particularly if the dog was born at that home) you’re taking it away from absolutely everything it’s ever known. A good comparison would be being abducted by aliens.
      If you have a different accent to the trainer, that will add to the problem, but the main thing to remember is the older the dog is, the longer it will take to bond with you.

      By bond, I don’t mean the dog wags its tail when it sees you, or will sit still while you make a fuss of it, I mean the dog accepting you as it’s true leader.

      This can take a couple of weeks with a young dog or sometimes months, depending on age and circumstances – including what kind of leader you are to the dog. If you’re cross and excitable, that’s not exactly the sign of a leader, but if you’re FIRM, FAIR and CONSISTENT – and if you spend a lot of time with the dog (rather than shut it away in a pen all day) the bonding will happen more quickly.

      If the dog was working reasonably (without a rope) in the video then that’s what you’ll get once you’ve built up that trust, I recommend you take the dog with you as much as possible. In the tractor cab, in your truck, when you’re working in the buildings etc. Have the dog loose if you can trust it not to run off or get into mischief, otherwise you need to tie it up, but if you can have the dog with you, and interact with the dog, it will grow to respect you. A dog which is shut away or chained up is learning virtually nothing.

      You need to go back to basics with the dog (briefly). Get that right, and the dog will progress quickly. I suggest you watch the videos in the Starting Category.

      Good luck, and please let me know how you get on.

  25. Hi Andy
    i just watched “the prefect stop”, and saw Bronwen, jumping away from the sheep, not having enough confidence. My dog does exactly the same, if im close or far away when dealing with stubborn sheep. The dog does not give up, it really wants to move the sheep, but does not have the power and confidence to do so. Most often the when a ewe stand up to the dog, the dog just picks at weaker sheep out of the flock and nips it in the hind leg. this means it starts circling the sheep. the dog is most often impossible to stop when this happens. some times i have to walk away just to get the dog to stop trying to move the sheep. although if i have a stick, i can smack it on the ground and the dog stops.
    I have seen all your tutorials.

    How can i build the confidence of the dog.

    1. Yes (at 2:43) in The Perfect Stop, Bronwen is chased away by a sheep – and I say that I was too far away. I should have been close enough to help her, and that’s what you should do. Get in there and help the dog by driving the sheep away yourself.
      Yes! The dog will find a weaker sheep and attack it (a perfectly natural reaction from a dog which is hunting) and you must discourage this, but encourage the dog to focus on the sheep which is causing the problem. It won’t happen overnight but the more you help the dog, the quicker its confidence will grow.
      Even though you have watched all the tutorials, I strongly suggest you watch Sometimes Nice is Not Enough at least once again.
      If the sheep are difficult, make sure you’re close enough to help it – and the dog’s confidence will grow.

  26. Hi Andy,
    Hi my puppy is nearly 6mths he has a thing about food he goes to grab
    any food which I give to my livestock as I’m feeding them once they
    have got it he’s not bothered, but when he grabs he grabs at the
    animal too I’ve tried on and off the lead. He’s also like this with
    the other dogs (3) I’m not sure why he’s never had a reason to fight
    for it. He also barks a lot pls help if you can.
    Zoe Bishop

    1. Whichever way you look at this, it’s a behaviour problem, Zoe. If the food jealousy issue (with other dogs) had been addressed when the puppy was eight weeks old (or the moment it first came to your notice) it wouldn’t have escalated into what it’s become. Now unfortunately, the dog’s got into the habit and you have a more difficult job on your hands, but of course it can be corrected.
      Dogs assume that anything we don’t (effectively) correct, is acceptable behaviour, so they carry on doing the same thing, or even develop it into an even worse problem. Obviously whatever measures you’ve tried with your dog have been ineffective, so the problem has developed. For this reason, it’s time to change the measures you’re using.
      I suggest that the moment the dog shows food jealousy with another dog, the youngster immediately gets put away on its own in a shed or cage, and left there for at least a couple of hours. If the incident happens at a meal time, the dog will miss that meal too (but of course it will have plenty of water).
      As for attacking livestock, I realise it’s nice to have the dog with you but other than training when you’re able to concentrate fully on controlling the dog, you shouldn’t be allowing a dog near stock if you cannot control it properly at all times.
      In the short term, I suggest shutting the dog away as I’ve just described, but even better would be to get the dog’s training with stock underway as soon as possible. Once you can control it properly around stock, you’ll be able to watch out for the problem and if it happens call the dog away, or send it back and make it stay away at a distance.

  27. Can you tell me if you have a tutorial on how to get a dog to slow down? My border collie is like a bullet and that puts my sheep at a full run constantly. It is almost impossible to actually move the sheep in a calm manner. I have tried sending him in one direction and then asking for a lie down at various points on the circle, but he still gets up at full speed. I also notice that when we even enter the field, the sheep take off at a full run away from us. They have learned what he is about. Thank you!

    1. If the dog goes out wide and steadily, the sheep will come away from the fence calmly, but if the dog is erratic and unpredictable, the sheep will be erratic and unpredictable too.

      The dog moving at lightning speed and far too close to the stock, is a problem that a great many trainers face Kim. There’s no “quick fix” for it, but once you understand why the dog’s doing it, hopefully you can work with the dog to correct it.

      When the dog’s working sheep or cattle, it’s using an ancient hunting instinct. This instinct tells any predator that if things go badly, the prey could retaliate and the predator could be seriously hurt. If you understand and believe in this, it will answer just about every question about training a sheepdog.

      In your dog’s case, it’s highly excited because it’s afraid it could get hurt – so the best way to keep out of trouble is to be so fast, nothing can catch it.

      Unfortunately, as you point out, the sheep will run amok if the dog’s running around very fast. If the dog is calm and steady, the sheep are much more likely to be calm, but to achieve this is going to take time.

      YOU must be calm too. I mean REALLY calm!

      Of course, I’ve not seen you work your dog, so I may be wrong, but from my years of teaching people to train dogs, I know that the biggest problem with new handlers and trainers (including me when I started) is that (just like their dogs) they’re nervous. If the handler’s nervous, the dog immediately picks up on this, and becomes even more nervous and excited itself.

      Watch “Calm but Firm” for a lot more on this. (Logged in members only). Try to be really calm, but firm. If the dog does something wrong, give ONE very firm correction (preferably before the dog actually commits the act) and then carry on giving gentle commands as though you are firmly in control (even if you’re not).

      The thing your dog needs most is good leadership. Good leaders don’t panic, and they don’t excitedly repeat commands when things are going wrong – be a strong, calm leader and your dog will be calmer, but as I said, to steady the dog down is going to take time.

      In your question, you suggest that you can stop the dog, but when you send it off again, it rushes at the sheep. If I’ve understood this correctly, then you’re nearly there.! Once you can stop the dog on the other side of the sheep, you can practice walking backwards with the dog bringing the sheep up to you in a calm, steady manner.

      Once the dog will stop on the far side of the sheep, “Walking Backwards” is the single most useful training exercise you can do. Learn how to do it with our sheep and cattle dog training video “Backwards is the Way Forward”. (Logged in members only).

      As I say in the tutorial, it’s boring and may seem pointless, but once the dog learns to do it properly, you’ll have a different dog. It will improve the dog’s pace, working distance, control of the stock – and most important of all, it’s respect for YOU as its leader.

      From the few details you’ve provided, I’ve had to generalise. If any of the above does not apply to you and your dog, please give me a fuller description of the situation, both about the dog, and your own behaviour when you’re working it. I’ll do my best to help.

      Of course, walking backwards while the dog brings stock to you is potentially hazardous. Only do it if you’re prepared to take a few falls, and be particularly careful of any trip hazards, trees, or low hanging branches and the like.

      1. Andy-As a beginner handler-yes, I would say there are times when I am nervous. Though I do not think I show this-I am sure Kai is picking up on it. I had never thought of his running as a sign of him being afraid, I will give that more thought as I suspect you are correct. I have two comments about your response to further clarify:
        1. Kai can circle the sheep and will take the lie down command. To try to slow him, I think of the circle as the face on a clock and will stop him at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00 and so forth. He will stop on command, but when he gets up-it is lightening fast.
        2. Walking backwards is interesting. Kai gets sticky on the walking backwards. He will lie down and stay there. It takes great effort to get him to come on and continue. Then, the sheep and I get too far ahead of him and then the sheep disengage and so we can not get where we need to be. I have used a long line (40 ft is what I have) to give a tug when I give the command, “walk up”. But often that gets us into trouble as he can then get too close to the sheep and then they run and he busts through them. I also seem to find myself tangled in the line. Kai also protects the weak point to a fault. If we are walking away from the weak point, he is better, but trying to get him to walk backwards with me towards the weak point is not so good. He does not want those sheep near the gate and will either lie down or will swing around in front of them to protect that gate.
        Off to watch more videos!

        1. Ahh! He’s sticky as well!

          Watch “Sticky Dogs“.

          Kai’s issues are ALL about nerves and lack of confidence.

          The problem is, you’re going to have to be really clever. You’ll see in “Sticky Dogs” that the way to stop the dog being sticky is to try not to actually stop the dog – try to keep it moving – and this is what you need to do with walking backwards.
          To be honest, I’m puzzled by him not getting up when you walk back. Normally, as you walk back, the sticky dog realises it’s no longer holding the sheep to you (and they’re far enough away to not be a threat of any kind) and the dog moves forward to gain control. If the dog’s prepared to LOSE control of the sheep, there must be a reason…
          If you can keep him moving though, this will resolve itself quickly.

          As with all fast, sticky dogs, the more they work the sheep without anything horrible happening to them, their confidence will grow and their pace will get steadier, but the difficult part is keeping control while they’re learning!

          Weak point?? Not sure what you mean by this…

          1. By weak point, I mean where the pressure is in the field, for example, the gate that takes them back to the barn.

          2. You mean where the sheep want to get to? Perhaps another group of sheep they can see in the next paddock, or somewhere they see as a hideout from dogs??
            I’ve never heard of the expression “weak point” in sheepdog training before.

          3. Well I am new to sheepdog training and don’t always use, or know, the correct term. My local trainer calls it the “pressure point”, the place where the sheep want most to go.

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