If there’s one aspect of sheep work that demonstrates the joy and convenience of a working dog, it’s a good outrun. When you no longer need to walk the length of the field (or up the hill) to drive your sheep to where you want them, you save your time, your temper and your legs.
Put simply, the outrun is the sheepdog leaving its handler, approaching the sheep in a manner that won’t disturb them unnecessarily, and then (depending on the situation and command) either lying down to wait, or collecting and bringing the sheep back to its handler.
It sounds straightforward, but it has lots of elements. Watch our Outrun tutorials, and guide your dog to the perfect (or almost perfect) outrun.
Before you start you’ll need to have the basics firmly in place, and then it’s a gradual process of building confidence as the dog learns to work further and further away from you. As ever, the closer the dog is to the handler, the more confident it will be.
In Part One we demonstrate how to start teaching the outrun, and how to make the best of it when things go wrong. This is an actual training session with a keen, but headstrong, young dog.
Part Two shows how positioning yourself, your dog, and the sheep, in relation to each other, is the key to success when you’re working on lengthening or widening your dog’s outrun.
If you experiment a little, you’ll discover how much influence and control you can have over the result.
Part Three in the series demonstrates how to use the “Slingshot” technique to encourage a wider outrun; it can also help to widen the dog’s flanks. Some dogs do this naturally, and some need to be encouraged, but either way it’s a very effective tool.
Most dogs thoroughly enjoy outruns, and outrun practise can be a good way to relieve the tension when training becomes more intense.
You’ll probably find that teaching the outrun helps to improve other areas of the dog’s work.