New Tutorial: No 70 – The Training Ring (Part 2)

Poster image for our sheepdog training tutorial The Training Ring (part 2)

The training ring can be used for much more than just starting a dog off

We saw in part one of "The Training Ring" tutorials that getting your dog's training off to a good start will be so much easier if you can confine the sheep and the action within an enclosure of the right size, but that's only the beginning.

title image of our sheepdog training tutorial video with optional English subtitles
Optional English subtitles are available on all of our sheepdog training videos

Our seventieth sheep and cattle dog training tutorial shows ways to use the training ring for increasing the dog's skill and experienced to a far more advanced level.

In this tutorial you'll see ways to get better control of the dog when it's working in tightly packed yards or pens, how to get the dog to circle the sheep on command, and how to teach a sheepdog to drive sheep and other livestock as well as widen its outrun and flanks, improve its stop and self control.

This is the latest of our SEVENTY online training tutorial videos! It will give our members lots of ideas for taking the dog's training to a more advanced level.

NB: Tutorials are available to paid subscribers who are logged in to their account. There's more information about our sheepdog training tutorials in the video below.


New Tutorial: The Training Ring

Photo of sheepdog trainer Andy standing inside a training ring made from sheep hurdles

Correct size and shape of your training ring can make starting your dog far easier

Not only is the training ring one the most useful assets you can have when you start to train a sheepdog, it can also be a great help when the dog moves on to advanced work such as driving, pen work and circling sheep on command.

Our new tutorial "The Training Ring (Part 1)" clearly shows the dimensions we have found to be best for starting your dog off. Once some control is established and the dog is going around the sheep, rather than splitting them up, the addition of just a few more hurdles (or panels) transforms the ring into an oval which is ideal for "Walking Backwards".

Sheepdog training ring title image showing the availability of English subtitles
Optional English subtitles are available on all our Sheepdog Training Tutorials

The walking backwards exercise, (look for the tutorial "Backwards is the way forward") is the single most useful training exercise for dogs which have very basic control of the sheep. It teaches the dog self control, to keep its sheep together, to flank both ways, to work at a steady pace, and the correct working distance from the sheep.

It improves the dog's stop and teaches it to stay in place when told to.

Our latest tutorial video will give our members lots of guidance for building the dog's confidence and encouraging it to work steadily

NB: Tutorials are available to paid subscribers who are logged in to their account. There's more information about our sheepdog training tutorials in the video below.


New Tutorial: How Can I Slow the Dog Down?

Photo of a trainee Kelpie sheepdog splitting up a bunch of sheep

Many people ask us how they can slow their dog down when it's working

It's essential that the dog learns to work stock steadily. During training, a dog which is calm is likely to learn much quicker than a dog which is excitedly racing around.

If sheep or other stock panic as a result of the dog working too fast and close to them, not only will it be far more difficult to get the stock where we want them to go, but the stress will cause them to be less productive, too.

English Subtitles are available on all of our training tutorials
English Subtitles are available on all our Sheepdog Training Tutorials

Unfortunately, teaching the dog to work steadily isn't something we can achieve overnight, but there are quite a number of things we can do to encourage the dog to be calm.

Our latest tutorial video will give our members lots of guidance for building the dog's confidence and encouraging it to work steadily

NB: Tutorials are available to paid subscribers who are logged in to their account.

More information about our sheepdog training tutorials in the video below.


New tutorial: The training area

Photo of a sheepdog trainer fastening the field gate, watched by Kay the trainee sheepdog. This is the title image of the training area tutorial

For beginners and beyond

The wide open spaces have their place, but NOT in the early stages of sheepdog training.

For the best chance of success, and to save your legs and temper, keep the dog and sheep contained. We stress, in our training tutorials, that: "The closer you are to the dog, the more control you have," but it's especially important in those vital, early lessons.

First steps in border collie sheepdog training dvd

The size, shape and nature of the training area can make a huge difference to your training experience, and will either help or hinder your dog's progress.

We covered the training area on our First Steps DVD and now, after a few minor changes and with the addition of a subtitled version, the training area chapter can be seen 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 training ring.

Once built, we show you how to get your sheep into the ring and then take a first look at moving out into the field when your dog's ready.

To help you get the best out of your training ring, we recommend you watch "Get off the fence!" where we demonstrate how working inside the ring helps the dog learn to keep the sheep away from the fence or hurdles. Partly confidence and partly technique, this is an important skill for your dog to master before it can work successfully in an open field (although it's almost impossible to train in any situation when the sheep are pressed tight against the fence).

Don't dismantle the training ring once you start to make progress. Even as your dog becomes more advanced you'll often find it helpful to go back to the ring for a session or two, either to reinforce the commands or perhaps restore some confidence to the dog. If you watch "Teach your dog to circle the sheep (inside flanks) part two" you'll also see how useful the ring can be for introducing more advanced work.

Having covered sheep, dog, and training area, the final part of the equation is the handler - coming soon.

NB: Tutorials are available to paid subscribers who are logged in to their account.

You'll find more information about our sheepdog training tutorials in the video below.


New Tutorial: Sheep – Essential Facts for Beginners

The title image for our sheepdog training tutorial. Showing seven sheep in a line near a hedge.

Understanding sheep and their behaviour makes training your dog far easier

As we approach the tenth anniversary of the release of our double DVD set "First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training", we're busy updating it in anticipation of releasing a second, even more comprehensive version in the near future.

A useful spinoff of this is that as each "First Steps" chapter is somewhere near completion, we can add it to our Sheepdog Training Tutorials Library so that our full members can benefit from the advice.

First steps in border collie sheepdog training dvd

Full members will know that we've already uploaded "Sheepdog Selection and Preparation" and "The Sheepdog Whistle" and now we're pleased to be able to tell you the chapter "Sheep - Essential Facts for Beginners" is available in the Tutorials Library.

As the title suggests, Sheep - Essential Facts for Beginners is packed with useful information which is not often available to those training a sheepdog for the first time.

As well as showing what sort of sheep are best for training, and which to definitely avoid, there's advice on the legal side of sheep keeping, and how you might find a training ground if you don't already have one.

There's advice on the behaviour of sheep, too - it's extremely useful to know when sheep are likely to stay in a neat bunch and when they're probably going to make a run for it at high speed!

Whether you already have sheep but perhaps don't understand why they behave the way they do, or you're thinking about training a dog and simply wondering how to go about it, you'll find some essential information in this "new" video tutorial.

Watch the video below for more information on our sheepdog training tutorials.


New Tutorial: Starting a Non-Starter!

Photo of a border collie clambering through a fence to get away from the sheep in the background

A TWO-PART tutorial on how you can tempt your dog to start working sheep or cattle when it really doesn't want to!

Can anything be done if your collie isn't interested?
The short answer is "Yes!" and understanding the possible reasons why the dog won't work is a huge help to finding the cure.

It's very disappointing to find that your dog doesn't seem to want to work sheep or cattle, but it doesn't necessarily mean you won't be able to change its mind. As with most aspects of training dogs to work stock, if you understand what's happening and why, there's a much better chance of putting things right.

Photo of Slawek with Kay who didn't want to work sheep but then went on to win a sheepdog trial
Slawek's Kay wasn't at all interested in working sheep but went on to win a sheepdog trial within a year!

Our latest tutorial, Starting a Non-Starter, looks at how the hunting instinct gives us a working dog, and how that very instinct may be the reason why some dogs would rather not get involved.

On the other hand, by simulating a hunting situation we can trigger the instinct and, once that's done, you're on your way to a useful sheepdog. Simple, isn't it?

Starting a Non-Starter will not only help you get your non-starter started, it will also help you avoid the situation arising in the first place. Once you're aware of how collies learn you'll see how, despite your best intentions, what they learn isn't always what you thought you were teaching.

Collies take things literally, and that's both an advantage and disadvantage when it comes to training.

If your young dog doesn't want to work, the two-part Starting a Non-Starter is the place to start.

Follow this by watching Starting a Reluctant Dog, where we see Maisie overcoming her initial inhibitions to begin to work fluently around the sheep. Calm but Firm demonstrates the next step, working with a sensitive dog in the open field - not always as straightforward as you might hope.

New Tutorial: Back to Forwards!

Cover image for online sheepdog training tutorial: Back to Forwards

Once you can go backwards, turn around and go “Back to Forwards”!

Don't be confused by the title of our latest sheepdog training tutorial, “Back to Forwards” is the follow up to “ Backwards is the Way Forwards” which really should be one of our most popular videos because it teaches the herding dog so many important things.

Photo of a sheepdog trainer walking away from the camera with a dog bringing five sheep up towards him
Mab keeps a good distance as Andy walks back with the sheep

If you spend a little time teaching the dog to stay well behind as you walk backwards with the sheep, the dog will learn the distance that you want it to work at. not just behind the sheep either.

As the dog learns to stay well back, it should begin to maintain that distance when it flanks around the sheep.

If the handler insists on the dog staying back, it will dramatically improve the dog's stop, too.

Other spin-offs from the walking backwards exercise are improved sheep control and steadier pace. Because walking backwards is by its nature a slow process (and if you do it, you must be prepared to fall over occasionally) the dog will learn to work more steadily.

Photo of a sheepdog trainer walking towards the camera with a dog bringing five sheep up behind him
Andy keeps an eye on Mab as she approaches the sheep while his back is turned

Once the dog is bringing the sheep to the trainer at the pace that the trainer chooses to move backwards at, without diving in or losing control of the sheep, the natural next stage of the dog's training is for the trainer to turn around and walk forwards.

Sometimes, the dog will accept this and naturally maintain it's steady pace, but some dogs see the handler turning their back as an opportunity to dive in and grip or split the sheep. If this is the case, the transition between backwards and forwards will require the diligent trainer to alternate quickly between backwards and forward depending on the dog's proximity and intent towards the sheep.

The point when the trainer is able to trust the dog to keep the sheep together and not attack or split them up, marks a very significant milepost in the dog's training.

Back to Forwards” is highly recommended for all trainers who seek to improve their herding sheepdog's working pace, distance from the sheep, sheep control and stop.

New Tutorial: Train a Sensitive, Reluctant Dog

Close up photo of Maisie, the dog used in this herding sheepdog training tutorial

The first training session for reluctant Maisie

Our online tutorials include Starting a Young Puppy, and Starting a Strong Dog. Now it's time to look at another common type of young dog - A Reluctant Dog - sensitive and apparently uninterested.

Maisie's parents (Isla and Ezra) could never be accused of lacking enthusiasm, so at the age of 9 months we were surprised to find how reluctant their daughter was to work sheep. Nonetheless, we were sure Maisie could make a useful working dog.

Maisie has possession of the frisbee while friends Ezra and Kelpie Molly wait in hope!

In this tutorial you'll see Maisie's first lesson with sheep. Initially we have to overcome her reluctance to work, and spark her interest (her "hunting" instinct). Once that's achieved, despite Maisie's sensitive nature, we have to protect the sheep while still boosting Maisie's confidence.

It might sound like a balancing act, but Maisie makes excellent progress in a short time. If you have a sensitive and reluctant dog you can take heart from this 10 minute tutorial.

If you don't have a sensitive dog, you'll still benefit from seeing how and when to limit the pressure applied by your control measures, while at the same time encouraging the dog to work.

In effect, Starting a Reluctant Dog can be viewed as a prequel to Calm, but Firm, which deals with a sensitive dog working in the open field. Calm, but Firm can be found on page 4 of the Confidence category list, or in the Distractions category; this is the type of dog who'll look for ways to avoid pressure.

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