Featured Tutorial: The Training Area

Trainee sheep and cattle dog Remus keeping a small bunch of sheep under control

(Not to be confused with “The Training Ring“)

IS YOUR TRAINING GROUND A HELP, OR A HINDERANCE?

Your training area can make or break the early training sessions. It might seem like hard work, but taking the time to round off the corners and clear some obstacles will make it easier for your dog to succeed, and pay dividends in saving your time and temper.

A group of "Badger Faced" sheep hiding under a canopy of overhanging branches

A SAFE HAVEN!
It takes a confident, skilled dog to get sheep out from under a hedge like this! Sheep are quick to take advantage of any refuge they find when being pursued by an untrained dog.

We originally examined the training area on our First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training DVD, and it also appears, with a few changes and the addition of optional English subtitles, as The Training Area tutorial in the tutorial library.

The Training Area looks at how to adapt the space you have available and suggests some alternatives, including using sheep hurdles to build a temporary training ring, if the corners and obstacles are beyond your control. 

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ONLINE SHEEP AND CATTLE DOG TRAINING TUTORIALS

For English SUBTITLES click CC on the player.

video

Clear, inexpensive, herding sheepdog training instruction

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!

Featured tutorial – Driving

The Driving tutorials are among our most popular videos, tackling a subject that many handlers – and dogs – find challenging. 

In Driving Part 1 you’ll discover how to ease the dog into driving and reduce the stress involved when we ask the dog to take the stock away –  the exact opposite of everything we’ve been teaching up till now! Some sheepdog trainers dread teaching their dog to drive, but there’s really no need to worry if you take the time to understand what’s happening.

Driving Part 2 shows how to use your body position to maintain some control over the dog (and sheep) in the early stages of driving. In this tutorial, Andy shows that putting himself in the right place at the right time, can make a huge difference to the behaviour of the dog.

In Part 3 we see a typical trainee error – the dog who’s anxious to get ahead of the sheep and bring them back to the handler. Luckily we’ve already taught a command to help with that…but which? Andy demonstrates how using what might be deemed an inappropriate command can bring the dog back onto line.

It can be helpful to watch the Circling the Sheep (sometimes called Inside Flanks) tutorials in conjunction with Driving, and you’ll find them all within the Driving category in the library.


ONLINE SHEEP AND CATTLE DOG TRAINING TUTORIALS

For English SUBTITLES click CC on the player.

video

Clear, inexpensive, herding sheepdog training instruction

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!

For a very small monthly (or annual) subscription, watch many hours of expertly presented sheepdog training lessons. Not just theory – we show you what should happen, and what to do when things go wrong. Signup now. You may cancel payments at any time and continue to watch for the period paid for.

Featured tutorials – Puppy Training

Collies and Chihuahuas can be great friends

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll leave training until the puppy’s older – your puppy will start learning from you the moment it meets you. But it needn’t feel like work for either of you.

The early months with any puppy are invaluable for getting to know its personality, and for establishing a bond between the two of you; and you’ll also be laying the foundations of your future working partnership.

  • Be a responsible, but fun, leader for your dog
  • Preserve your puppy’s confidence at all costs
  • Take care to give clear messages to your puppy. Dogs, and especially border collies, can take things very literally, and you may not always be saying what you mean.
  • Allow your puppy to be a puppy. Encouraging play and exploration will help to develop your working dog’s athleticism, confidence, and attitude to new experiences.
  • It isn’t essential to enlist a Chihuahua for your puppy training – but it helps! Socialisation with a variety of dogs and other animals can be fun for everyone.

There’s lots of information and advice about puppy training in our Online Tutorials library, and much of it, we’re sure, isn’t available anywhere else – except on our tutorials DVDs. Start with our short introduction video, Puppy Training Essentials, and move on to Starting a Young Puppy (parts 1 & 2).

ONLINE SHEEP AND CATTLE DOG TRAINING TUTORIALS

For English SUBTITLES click CC on the player.

video

Clear, inexpensive, herding sheepdog training instruction

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!

Featured tutorial – Why Your Dog Should Flank Both Ways

It might not seem very exciting, but DON’T skimp on flanking practice!

For day-to-day farming tasks you might be able to work around your dog’s shortcomings, but when the unexpected happens (as it surely will) you, your dog, or more likely your sheep, will run into trouble if the dog is reluctant to flank freely in both directions.

Why Your Dog Should Flank Both Ways relives an incident that demonstrated the value of a versatile dog. Happily our emergency was on cosmetic and economic grounds, but anyone who keeps sheep near railway tracks, water, roads, or neighbours’ gardens should always be in a position to retrieve their sheep safely, and minimise damage.

The older the dog, the longer it will take to correct the habit of a lifetime, but it CAN be done.

For a simple but essential training exercise to correct or prevent one-sidedness in your dog, watch the Backwards is the Way Forward tutorial (DVD volume 2). Or to see one-sidedness “in action”, look out for Scylla in the Bronwen and Scylla series.


Featured tutorial – Get off the Fence!

Get off the Fence sheepdog training tutorial

Sheep have a real talent for assessing a trainee dog, and for making life as difficult for it as possible. As a result, a very common problem for young dogs and inexperienced handlers is getting the sheep into the middle of the ring or field, and keeping them there. 

It’s a problem we’ve all had, and it’s SO FRUSTRATING! While to the dog, the sheep are trapped and aren’t going anywhere – what’s there not to like?

Luckily, it isn’t difficult to overcome.

As with so much in sheepdog training, the keys to success are the dog’s confidence and your own timing.

The dog needs to put itself between the sheep and the hedge/wall/hurdle or fence, and to stay there, or at least slow down a little, while the sheep move away. Stuck between the sheep and a hard place can be very scary for a young dog, so you’ll need to be quick on your feet – and with your commands – to encourage and guide the dog to bring the sheep out into the field. 

Then you need to move backwards, into the field, and be equally quick to stop your dog from putting the sheep back onto the fence again.

It’s easier to understand if you see it, so watch the Get Off The Fence tutorial to see how, with persistent and patient guidance, your dog can learn to deal with sheep that “sit on the fence”.

 


 

Featured tutorials – The Outrun

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.


Featured tutorial – Educating Gloria

A training session where we encourage the good, and make the best of the not-so-good!

Handlers who are new to sheepdog training can find it difficult to recognise what their dog’s doing, and take the appropriate action at the right time – timing is everything! Your timing will improve with practice, and watching Gloria’s training session will be a huge help.

This was Gloria’s fourth lesson; she’s headstrong and excited, but not uncontrollable. In this tutorial we see the complete training session twice, first at half-speed and then at its actual speed – demonstrating why new handlers often feel everything’s happening too fast. Don’t worry. You can’t hope to get it right first time, every time, but with patience, persistence and a good temper, you and your dog will progress.

High drive dog! Gloria jumping fallen trees in a wood
Gloria has a high drive, and can always find ways to entertain herself when she isn’t working

Watch Educating Gloria to see setting up the dog for a good start; use of the stick and body position to impose and maintain control; stepping up the discipline (and when to back off); how the handler’s attitude influences the dog; establishing a good working distance from the sheep, despite the dog’s best efforts; typical ways the dog may evade the stop command; and avoiding patterns in your commands.

For the highs and lows of a typical early lesson, with an equally typical trainee dog, watch Educating Gloria.

To watch the tutorials you’ll need to be logged in as a paid member, and if you need more help, leave a comment or question on the tutorial page.


Featured tutorial – Sticky Dogs! with “too much” eye

Young sheepdog working off balance

It’s time to get moving if your dog has “too much” eye.

To a greater or lesser degree, border collies use “eye” (a particularly intense and assertive stare) to move stock. In some dogs the look is very exaggerated, while other dogs work with their heads up and don’t appear to be using eye at all.

Either type of dog is perfectly capable of getting the job done.

But when a handler finds, or more often is told, that their dog has “too much eye” it can seem like a big problem. The dog works in a stop-start fashion, frequently “sticking” on the point of balance, but it can be improved, and it isn’t difficult if you understand what’s happening.

If your dog has an excellent stop – but won’t get up again – the chances are that the problem is “eye”. This was exactly the problem we had with Mab, the subject of our Sticky Dogs! tutorial; Mab works with that typical stop-start action, sometimes rooted to the spot.

Andy demonstrates that with a kind, encouraging, but assertive approach, the dog learns that it needs to keep moving to get the job done.

The emphasis in this tutorial is on movement, and often it’s the handler who needs to do the moving.

Don’t be stuck with a stop-start dog – watch Sticky Dogs!

To watch the tutorials you’ll need to be logged in as a paid member, and if you need more help, leave a comment or question on the tutorial page.