Featured tutorial – Moving out into the open field

Ricky keeps control of his sheep during training

The training ring is ideal for keeping the action in easy reach of the handler, but some young dogs are unhappy when working in a restricted space; confined with the sheep, and feeling under pressure, the dog can be uncharacteristically aggressive.

Dogs are often more relaxed, and easier to control, out in the open, so we recommend you move your training sessions to the open field as soon as your dog can control its sheep.

But, if the dog's inexperienced and excitable, how do you move out of the ring while maintaining control? And then, just as importantly, move back in again?

Sheepdog training in a training ring

In this tutorial Andy demonstrates how, by understanding what's likely to happen and why, bringing your sheep out into the field needn't be chaos. And once you've learned the technique, your dog will learn some valuable lessons too.

When you can work in an open field training becomes more varied, and more fun, for both dog and handler. While "fun" might be going too far, the sheep probably find it less stressful too!

To find more information about using the training ring - for starting a young dog and for introducing more advanced work - see Training Ring 1 and Training Ring 2 in the tutorials library.

Moving out into the open field was previously listed in the tutorial library as Coming out - with dignity.


Watch with subtitles

Close up photo of Kelpie Will looking at the camera

We've already made our tutorials easier to watch when your internet connection is slow, and now there are improvements to the tutorials themselves.

Existing subscribers will notice a slightly different format. There's not only the choice between Standard (SD) and High (HD) definition, but instant access to English subtitles - just click on (CC) on the video screen.

Closed caption (CC) subtitles are broadcast compliant, and leave you free to opt-in or out of subtitle mode without navigating away from the page.

We're making the changes gradually, so please be patient if your favourite tutorial isn't yet available with closed caption subtitles - they are still available in the usual way.

To watch tutorials in the library you'll need to be logged in as a paid member.

Mainly white Border collie female

Our video tutorials give members lots of guidance for starting a dog, progressing its training, and dealing with the challenges that arise.

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, or register for a free subscriber account to watch a sample tutorial, "Top Tips for Easier Training".


A NEW Training DVD and a GREAT OFFER for BUYERS!

Picture showing the five DVDs on special offer

We're proudly announcing our FOURTH Sheepdog Training Tutorials DVD and a great offer to help you buy more than one copy!

If you're eagerly awaiting the next volume of our collected tutorials... HERE IT IS!

Picture showing how to choose the currency you'd like to pay with
How to choose your currency and select a DVD or book category using a mobile phone

PLUS, to celebrate Volume 4 and mark an amazing ten years since the launch of our first DVD, First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training, we're offering discounts on multiple purchases - from 10% (for two DVDs) to 20% when you buy all five.

The tutorials on Volume 4 are all available online, but we know that some subscribers have internet problems, or simply prefer to watch on TV.

Sheepdog Training Tutorials Volume 4 is in stock, and ready to ship to anywhere in the world NOW. You can buy in one of eleven popular currencies (see the picture above-left) and we automatically ship the correct format for your worldwide location.

So check out our new shop pages, choose your currency, and checkout with your DVDs!

WHAT'S INCLUDED IN THE 2xDVD SET?

Volume Four looks at new challenges, and goes into some previous topics in more depth, all using explanatory graphics, slow motion, and clear instructions. In just under four hours, 16 chapters cover:

Picture showing the two DVDs and the case for volume four
  • Slowing the dog down
  • Making the best use of the training ring, even for advanced work
  • Back to Forwards - taking a vital exercise a stage further
  • Bronwen & Scylla - further instalments of our training comparison
  • How work can be a reward for a keen dog
  • The how and why of flanking both ways
  • Starting a reluctant dog
  • Why some dogs don't want to work, and how to spark their interest
  • Top tips for training your dog
  • Further training with "Max the Gripper"
  • Stopping the dog - part 2

But hey? You'll find lots more information on the Sheepdog Training Tutorials Volume 4 page.

Does your internet connection hold you back?

Young collie puppies playing together

Try our new video player

We've made a few changes to make our tutorials easier to watch when your internet connection is slow. Some subscribers have to live with this all the time, and others only have an issue when using a mobile device away from home.

Either way, it's a real nuisance if you can't concentrate on the information because of constant buffering (re-loading).

New player for the online sheepdog training tutorials

In this screenshot you'll see an HD symbol in the lower right hand corner of the screen. This means the video is playing on High Definition.

If you find your connection isn't coping, click on "HD" to see the quality options, and choose SD: this means you'll be using the lower quality Standard Definition.

You won't need to do this every time because the player will remember what you chose, but simply clicking on SD will take you back to the SD/HD options without any interruption in the tutorial.

If you look to the bottom left of the screen you'll see the usual forwards-stop/play-backwards symbols, but you'll also see a figure 10 in an arrowed circle - clicking this will rewind 10 seconds of video to watch again. And if you need to leave mid-tutorial, the player will remember where you were, and re-start from the same place next time.

If you like to watch in full screen mode, the "full screen" arrows have moved to the top right hand corner. Remember though, that in SD mode the picture quality won't be as sharp as in HD.

Finally, to switch to the subtitled version without leaving the page, just click on the image showing "subtitles".

If, because of your internet connection, you've delayed subscribing to the tutorials you'll find the new player on the tutorials preview and the subscribers' free tutorial. You can test it out before you subscribe.

We're sure the new player will make your tutorial viewing easier, and even more enjoyable.

Mainly white Border collie female

Our video tutorials give members lots of guidance for starting a dog, progressing its training, and dealing with the challenges that arise.

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, or register for a free subscriber account to watch a sample tutorial, "Top Tips for Easier Training".


Featured tutorial – Get Off The Fence!

It's hard to make progress if your sheep just "stay put"

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! Luckily, it isn't difficult to overcome.

how to train a sheepdog to get sheep off a fence or hedge

As with so much in sheepdog training, the dog's confidence is the key.

If your sheep are crowding into a corner, or pressing themselves up against a hedge in a (successful) attempt to foil the dog's gathering efforts, it'll probably be because your dog lacks the confidence to get between the sheep and the fence.

Don't despair! As with every other challenge, if you try to understand what's happening, and why it's happening, you'll overcome it with persistent, supportive training. Stay calm (your frustration or temper will only help to convince your dog that it's right to be scared) and practice the techniques you'll find in this tutorial.

With your newly co-operative sheep, and bolder, more confident dog, training will become so much easier!


Watch the Get Off The Fence tutorial to see how, with persistent, supportive training, your dog will learn to cope with sheep that "sit on the fence".

Our video tutorials give members lots of guidance for starting a dog, progressing its training, and dealing with the challenges that arise.

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, or register for a free subscriber account to watch a sample tutorial, "Top Tips for Easier Training".


Featured tutorial – The Outrun

A sheepdog handler sending his dog off on its outrun to gather sheep

The outrun - the only training session you'll hope will go "pear-shaped"!

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 down the field to drive your sheep to where you want them, you save your time, your temper and your legs.

Most dogs thoroughly enjoy this part of their training, and outrun practise is often a good way to relieve the tension when training becomes more intense.

Our three Outrun tutorials show you how to teach the outrun, and how to make it longer and wider as the dog's skill and experience grow. As ever, don't skimp on the basics. We have lots of emails and enquiries about the outrun "going wrong at the end", when the answer is simple: Get it right at the START.

Part One - a real training session with a headstrong young dog, Jed, shows how to begin teaching the outrun, and how to make the best of it when things go wrong.

You'll probably find that teaching the outrun helps to improve other areas of the dog's work too.

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.

Experiment a little, and discover how much control you can have over the outrun.

Part Three in the series demonstrates how we use our "Slingshot" technique to encourage a wider outrun.

The Slingshot will help to widen the dog's flanks, too.

You'll often hear that a sheepdog trial can be won at the pen, but it can be lost on the outrun. If you plan to compete, give your dog the best possible chance with a reliable and confident outrun.

Our video tutorials give members lots of guidance for starting a dog, progressing its training, and dealing with the challenges that arise.

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, or register for a free subscriber account to watch a sample tutorial, "Top Tips for Easier Training".


Featured tutorial – Sometimes Nice is Not Enough

Sheepdog Bronwen lies down defiantly in front of some threatening sheep

It takes huge self-confidence for a dog to lie down in this situation, but even a cautious dog can learn to assert itself.

Sheep are natural "runners" when they're being hunted, but certain situations, such as when held in a pen, or protecting their lambs, can make a sheep turn and fight back.

While sheep and dog welfare must always be a priority there are occasions when the dog, quite simply, needs to get the job done. But what if your dog naturally shies away from confrontation, or has the memory of a previous bad experience holding it back?

Even a shy dog can be taught to assert itself in this situation, but give it time.

Sometimes Nice is Not Enough was made in response to many emails, questions and comments left on the Training Tutorials pages. It features two dogs, Carew and Kay, with very different ways of controlling their sheep. Neither approach is perfect, but with training they both became extremely capable sheepdogs.

The tutorial looks at how their personalities dictate how Kay and Carew work; how to recognise the different ways a dog can demonstrate a lack of confidence; and how to build that much-needed self-confidence to deal with practical shepherding situations.

Our video tutorials give members lots of guidance for starting a dog, progressing its training, and dealing with the challenges that arise.

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.


Cammen Kay – our unsung hero?

Quietly in the background, with no fuss or bluster, we didn't always give Kay her due!

When we bought Kay, at about a year old, our intention was to train her but not, necessarily, to keep her forever. Yet I think Kay is probably the only dog we haven't ever suggested we could sell.

When Andy first started to plan First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training (as much as we ever plan anything) we picked three dogs to use as demo dogs, and one of those was Kay. Anyone who's seen the DVD will probably remember Kay's debut in the introduction where, I think we can say, she demonstrated exactly what she thought of it all.

Lovely image of man and sheepdog. Border collie yawning.
Kay was quick to demonstrate that life in front of a camera isn't all it's cracked up to be!

Who could have guessed that she would prove to be the ideal pupil, and a lovely character too.

I remember when my son was at primary school. He'd produced an excellent story and, having been highly praised by his teacher, was pretty confident of receiving that week's class prize for achievement. Imagine his disappointment when a classmate was given the prize for seeing and recognising his own name?

I'm not suggesting it was unfair, but I often used to remember it when we were training and assessing sheepdogs!

Kay was surprisingly slow to learn to drive, but with perseverance (from both Kay and Andy) she eventually nailed it and continued to be an excellent driver of sheep throughout her working life. Everything else she just picked up in one or two lessons, so Kay's progress didn't attract much attention.

Sheepdog driving ewes and lambs along a farm track to the yard.
Kay always enjoyed driving our landlord's flock along the farm drive - not too fast, and not too slow.

On the other hand, a dog that was hard to work with (mentioning no names - Max), or frustrated us with a persistent and annoying problem (ditto Carew, Bronwen, Scylla, I could go on) would receive high praise and accolades when there was a perceptible improvement, however minute.

In the meantime, if we needed a job done, if we wanted to take puppies to the sheep in safety and with minimum effort (for ourselves) or if we were holding a training class and needed an assistant, we called on Kay.

Kay taught herself to watch from a distance (often relaxing under a tree), spot when the trainee dog lost control of the sheep, quietly run out to bring them back to the trainee and then simply melt away without interfering.

Sheepdog driving sheep into a paddock
It was easy to take Kay for granted, she was so reliable.

Kay's workmate, Carew, was/is a superb sheepdog - gentle and sensitive to the sheep she would move 200 ewes at a speed to accommodate the smallest, slowest lamb, and yet with power to spare when it was needed. Carew's work style drew your attention, but little Kay was always on hand to back her up.

When Carew left us to work with a dairy flock, Kay was promoted to Number One dog and we finally realised just how good she was, and how much we'd come to rely on her. Without our noticing, Kay had became our go-to dog.

At 12 years of age Kay's become rather deaf, and with her eyesight not what it was her working days are over, but she seems to enjoy her retirement. She takes an interest in her daughters, Jet and Maddie, and her granddaughter Scout, and still enjoys the traditional collie sport of "flattening" precocious young pups who try to take advantage of her good nature.

We have Ezra's daughter, Dulcie, making meteoric progress, and she, with Jet and Maddie, have taken over Kay's work duties, but we'll probably never know if they could be such accomplished training class assistants.

I hope Kay understand how much she's appreciated, and I can't help thinking that this photo suggests her answer is "YES! And rightly!"

Tricolour border collie looking majestic
"I think you'll find this is our best side"