Featured tutorial – the Point of Balance

Everyone's heard that the dog must balance the sheep, but what does it mean?

You'll often hear that the dog MUST stop at 12 o'clock. To understand where this is, you need to imagine that the handler is standing at 6 o'clock on a clock face with the dog directly opposite the handler (at 12 o'clock) on the other side of the sheep.

At least, that's the theory.

In practise it isn't quite so simple, but rest assured that if the sheep are moving towards you, in a straight line, then wherever your dog is it has found the point of balance.

Watch the Balance tutorial to understand the basics of balance. Once you've mastered the point of balance Sending the Dog the Wrong Way looks at working OFF balance, and Driving Part 2 explains that the point of balance can be more than just watching the clock!

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.


Special offer for one-year subscriptions

New subscriptions will be valid for up to 14 months.

A one-off 12 month subscription to our online training tutorials will make a super gift for anyone who's training, or is thinking of training, a sheepdog.

New one-year subscriptions, paid during November and December, will be valid until 1st January 2021 - it means that, regardless of when you buy, you can be sure your recipient will get a full 12 months' benefit.

It doesn't have to be a gift. Buy a year's subscription for yourself and take advantage of two extra months!

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.


Featured tutorials – the dog and the handler

Silhouette image of a shepherd and dog moving a small bunch of sheep

The Sheepdog Selection and Preparation and Sheepdog Handler tutorials provide lots of helpful tips and advice.

Many handlers seem to find the early "puppy" months very stressful; they're anxious to raise the dog in a way that will spark and preserve the all-important working instinct, but worry about balancing that with the entirely natural desire to have a well behaved family playmate and companion

Training with a young collie and a few sheep

Sheepdog Selection and Preparation should answer these questions, and more, and help you develop the relationship with your working dog.

The Sheepdog Handler tutorial looks at the other end of the "magic cord" - you! For example, you need to be prepared to run, to help your dog balance the sheep or to maintain control. Body position is arguably your most important tool because it influences both the dog and the sheep, so it helps to be fairly fit.

A few simple steps will fully equip you to start training, and to be in the best position to guide your dog.

These two tutorials are based on the Handler and Sheepdog chapters from our First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training DVD, with a few changes, and added subtitles.

If you need more help please leave a comment or question on the tutorial page. Remember, to watch the tutorials you'll need to be logged in as a paid member.


Featured tutorial – Sending the dog the Wrong Way

Young sheepdog working off balance

Our Sending the Dog the Wrong Way tutorial demonstrates a great exercise to encourage the dog to widen out on its flanks and outrun, and to give the sheep more space.

But, just as when we start to teach shedding we ask the dog to ignore one of its basic lessons (NOT to run through the sheep) this time we want the dog to work off balance: that is, to ignore the old rule of stopping at the back of the sheep (often referred to as 12 o'clock).

A collie sheepdog working sheep in long yellow grass

It isn't always easy to convince the dog that this is a good idea, so take time to understand the technique and why your dog might find it difficult.

Teaching your dog to ignore the point of balance and go the wrong way is essential for driving, and for yard and pen work, and will result in a more versatile and useful dog.

If you need more help please leave a comment or question on the tutorial page. Remember, to watch the tutorials you'll need to be logged in as a paid member.


Featured tutorial – Eve at the Pen

Dog bringing sheep into a pen

Many of the online tutorials include actual training sessions with a trainee dog. No training happens in isolation so, as well as the main topic of the tutorial, any training session can highlight other aspects of the dog's work - good or not so good.

A typical example is Eve at the Pen.

At this point in her training Eve was becoming a very useful young dog, but you'll see she isn't perfect. The focus might be on working in and around the sheep pens, but the lesson demonstrates so much more!

Watch Eve at the Pen for help with:

  • A dog who circles the sheep after its outrun, instead of bringing them to you
  • A dog who brings only a few of the sheep - leaving some sheep behind
  • Teaching the Look Back - to collect the left sheep and correct the habit
  • Positioning the dog to push sheep into a pen
  • Building the dog's confidence
  • Positioning the dog to move sheep through a race
  • Using your body position to control the dog
  • Stopping the dog at the back of the pen, behind the sheep, and keeping it there
  • Leading the dog into a crowded pen to accustom it to working close to the sheep
  • Eve at the Pen is a 36 minute training session, demonstrating some common problems and full of valuable advice to improve your dog's work (and your own).

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


Revised tutorial – Stopping the Dog Part One

Title page of training tutorial stopping the dog

We're continuing to revisit and revise the tutorials, adding information and improved footage as we go.

Our latest revision is Stopping the Dog - Part One. Unsurprisingly it's a popular tutorial, as problems with the stop are very common - almost to be expected.

Of course there are things you can do to persuade your dog to stop - wait until the dog's on balance; raise your arms or the training stick; or get between the dog and the sheep to block it - but a good stop goes deeper than that.

The new Stopping the Dog - Part One goes into more detail about why the dog will or, more usually, won't, stop. It encourages you to look at your entire relationship with your dog, at its general obedience, and at how the hunting instinct can both help and hinder your progress.

We hope you'll find Stopping the Dog - Part One more clear, and even more helpful than its previous version, but we're always happy to hear from you so please let us know what you think!

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


Featured tutorials – How to use a sheepdog whistle

If you'd like to use a sheepdog whistle, but don't know where to start, there are two tutorials in the Online Training Tutorials library that will help.

In The Sheepdog Whistle Andy demonstrates a tried and tested technique to get you blowing your whistle within minutes. Once you can make a sound, any sound, you'll find you quickly improve and can begin to develop your own whistle commands.

The Sheepdog Whistle tutorial has had lots of positive feedback from people who've finally discovered the key to their whistle - sometimes after years of trying.

Teach Your Dog Whistle Commands proves that it's harder to learn to blow your whistle commands than to teach the commands to your dog. We describe two methods of teaching the commands so you can pick whichever seems more natural to you. To demonstrate the techniques, Teach Your Dog Whistle Commands includes an actual training session, when Andy taught the whistle commands to Bronwen.

The Sheepdog Whistle and Teach Your Dog Whistle Commands can be found in the Whistle category in the online tutorials library.

Sheepdog training DVDs - covers and discs

If you prefer (or need) to watch on DVD The Sheepdog Whistle appears on Volume 1, and Teach Your Dog Whistle Commands is on Volume 2 of the DVD tutorial collections.

Our first training DVD, First Steps In Border Collie Sheepdog Training, features The Sheepdog Whistle and covers the basics of sheep, dog, handler and theory to get your training started. It's an ideal introduction for any aspiring handler (we're told).

Buy two or more of our training DVDs to receive a discount!


Featured tutorials – Considering sheep

Don't ever be tempted to think that sheep are stupid! They might not be deep thinkers, but they're experts at protecting themselves from a dog - either by running away, or by standing and facing - and their size (and feet!) can be intimidating to an inexperienced or shy dog.

We talk about sheep on our First Steps DVD and the revised sheep chapter appears in the tutorial library. Sheep - Essential Facts for Trainers looks at how to find suitable sheep, where to keep them, and why sheep can be controlled by a dog. We also cover what types of sheep are easier to work with, and what types should be avoided (if possible).

Of course, we can't all choose our perfect sheep and many of us simply have to work with what we're given. Watch Woolly Jumpers for some ideas about coping with sheep who've discovered that escape is the best policy!

You don't want your dog to cause distress to the sheep, for reasons of both welfare and productivity, so it must learn to control and move the stock with respect. Watch Give the Sheep Space to see the difference it makes when a dog keeps its distance; the sheep will be much calmer, and subsequently far easier to manage than excited or frightened animals will be.

Calmer sheep make for a calmer dog, and you'll probably feel calmer too!

Give the Sheep Space can be found in the Where to Start; Flanking & Circling; and Working Distance categories of the online tutorials library.

If you need (or prefer) to watch on DVD you'll find Give the Sheep Space on the tutorials collection, Volume 1, where you'll also find Close Work, The Outrun, Driving, and more.