Featured Tutorial: Backwards is The Way Forward

Sheepdog trainer Andy Nickless walking backwards as his dog brings the sheep up to him steadily

This deceptively simple but significant lesson can pay dividends in improved performance of your dog.

As soon as your dog’s working around the sheep, and under some sort of control, this simple exercise gives you the opportunity to improve the dog’s stop, flanks, and working distance – all at once.

Backwards is the Way Forward revisits Tess and her training. Tess was a strong and determined dog, with loads of potential, but we needed to harness her enthusiasm and create a working partnership with her before she could make progress. In this tutorial you’ll see a training session where Andy puts this deceptively simple exercise into practice. 

You won’t need vast acres or even a training ring for your “backwards” training sessions, but eyes in the back of your head would definitely help! When you’re both ready for something more advanced the follow-up, Back to Forwards, will show what you and your dog can learn when you turn around and look where you’re going.

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

Featured tutorial – The Stop (Part 3)

Some sheepdogs stay on their feet, rather than lie down, when they stop

A huge thank you to the subscriber who let us know they were having problems running Part Three of our Stopping the Dog tutorial.

The entire tutorial has been taken apart and put back together again, and not only is it up and running as it should be, we think it’s better than ever. So if you’ve tried to watch it and couldn’t, or haven’t looked at the Stopping the Dog series yet, we recommend you check it out.

Achieving a good Stop can involve many other aspects of your dog’s training, and will be affected by his character and, possibly, yours too.

In Stopping the Dog Part 3 you’ll see:

  • The importance of balancing control of the dog with protecting the dog’s confidence
  • Modifying your approach to match the various characteristics of the dog (if it’s aggressive, sticky, shy etc.) and matching the intensity of training with the sensitivity of the dog
  • Coping with a dog that won’t stop
  • There are good and bad times to attempt to stop the dog. Learn how to judge an opportunity, or when there’s no way the dog will stop
  • The benefits of keeping a dog in place once you’ve stopped it – and why you need to let it go again
  • The importance of the tone of your voice
  • How to DELIVER your commands for best effect
  • The importance of preventing boredom by setting yourself and the dog simple tasks, rather than just repetitive training (though that’s important too)

The Stop can be a big problem for many new or inexperienced handlers (and sometimes, even the experienced ones) but understanding why it isn’t working for you and your dog can often lead the way to improved work all round. 

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.

What’s Wrong With White Sheepdogs?

A predominantly white border collie sheepdog working a small bunch of sheep

Answer – NOTHING! (Well, almost nothing).

A recent question from one of our members reminded us that white border collie sheepdog pups are not as popular as black and white, tricolour, red or other colours.

Three predominantly white border collie pups under an overhanging branch.

That’s a pity – and there’s little or no justification for it, unless you’re a sheepdog trials competitor.

If you have a predominantly white dog, the sheep don’t always recognise it as a dog when it first approaches them. I’ve seen this happen. Unbelievably, the sheep will often totally ignore the dog until it’s extremely close to them; then suddenly they realise there’s a dog amongst them and they panic!

Cap the white border collie sheepdog

After their initial panic, the sheep remember that the white thing approaching them is actually a dog (in disguise?) and it’s not a problem from then on. This is OK in a farm situation, where the same sheep see the same dog every time, but for sheepdog trials, where you can lose points if the dog causes the sheep to jump or panic, the poor sheep rarely see the same dog twice. In this situation, a white dog can be a big problem.

Read more about coloured dogs we’ve had .

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.