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60 Replies to “Contact us”

  1. Hello,
    I have a border collie of about 3 years and 2 months.
    I would really like to train him to herd sheep (maybe later on also cattle but not just yet).
    My biggest concern is if he is not to old.
    He is obsessed with birds and sometimes he gets hold of a chicken, I think he doesn’t bite or wants to kill it but I have never really waited to find out.
    So I am also wondering what will happen if I put him in a field with sheep, and if he will attack them or not.
    Hope you can help me out!
    Thanks,
    Robb

  2. Hello,
    I have a border collie of about 3 years and 2 months.
    I would really like to train him to herd sheep (maybe later on also cattle but not just yet).
    My biggest concern is if he is not to old.
    He is obsessed with birds and sometimes he gets hold of a chicken, I think he doesn’t bite or wants to kill it but I have never really waited to find out.
    So I am also wondering what will happen if I put him in a field with sheep, and if he will attack them or not.
    Hope you can help me out!
    Robb

  3. Hi, Andy
    I am wondering what you would do with this situation. Perhaps my first mistake was naming him Jet, but my 3-year old border collie brings the sheep in so fast that I fear I am going to be run over, have my knees taken out, or have a sheep bounce up in my face. This is a fairly new issue that seems to have worsened as he grew more confident. It’s not so bad in the open field because there is lots of room, but it really makes things exciting in a training corral with solid fence. Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. You haven’t given any information about the way your dog behaves, other than to suggest he’s pretty fast, and of course you must avoid any situation where the sheep could cause you harm, Caroline.
      You need to go back to basics with this dog, slow him down, and teach him to stop on command. It can be a tiresome business with a strong-willed dog, but it’s very necessary in your case.
      Even if you’ve seen them before, I suggest you watch “Stopping the Dog” (recently revised) and “How can I Slow the Dog Down?“. The tutorials will show you what causes the dog to go fast, and plenty of ways to slow it down.

  4. Hi, I wanted to say thank you for giving me the opportunity to watch your quick tip tutorial for free, I don’t dispute that your further videos would not help me and I still might subscribe to them one day but it made me realize, I am not sure we have the right sheep, totally don;t have the right area, and the dog, well it has a bit of border collie in it but quite a lot is a springer spaniel mix. All in all we keep small amount of sheep for winter, have our own lambs during summer to graze land, mostly in electric fencing which we move around the countryside around us. The sheep are used to it and us and the dog, the only reason I looked at your tutorials is because at the end of the year I take them out to freely graze and could do with a bit of help but it is so shortly lived that I don’t need a border collie breed as it really would not get enough work with us and they do need to work. Had one before but that was before sheep and she was trained to search and rescue and was brilliant at it. .. sorry I digress, I really just wanted to say thank you as your video made me realize that we are fine, every now and again we struggle but we manage. I might one day subscribe as I would love to watch and learn how you work your dogs. I love the outdoors and animals and learning new things. all the best for now. Best regards, maria

  5. Hi Andy,

    We have two lovely pups who will be two in February (the eldest and the youngest from the same litter). We currently live in Richmond but we are planning to move to the country, and we want them to live a fulfilling life and herd a few sheep as a hobby. Though we live in the suburbs we are graced with green spaces I’ve started training them; they know come-by, away, and lie-down, but have enever worked sheep (I use a ball chucker). I know time is of the essence and I would like to instill sheepwork into them before they get too old, and suss-out if they are keen and have potential. I’m not aiming for trials nor real animal husbandry, just a handful of ewes to mow the lawns and keep the boys engaged and happy. Would you be interested to take them on for a few days to introduce them to sheep and appraise them?

    Many thanks,

    Francis and Lorna

  6. Hi sorry to bother you again. Been trying with this dog . At the moment we have a muzzle on him a heavy chain to slow him down and often a lead as well. He singles sheep out and attacks them charging straight into the middle of them. I have a long stick and push him left and right which he does quite well if sheep aren’t within visibility. With the muzzle on he can bowl a sheep over frighten it to death and then stands over it and wont come away until you make him by putting him on a lead wagging his tail as he thinks he has done well. He gets so worked up in a pen of sheep he rushes around and barks constantly whilst trying to get at the sheep to attack them. There is literally no way of getting him to listen and he gets taken away. The trouble is without the muzzle he does real damage ripping the sheep. I need to understand why his main aim is to single one sheep out like this. Take sheep out of the equation and he is a calm dog loveable and comes back stays and lays down. My question is would castration help him be less aggressive do you think? He is aggressive with strange dogs as well. He wees all the time marking his terrortry constantly. I haven’t given up on him but at 3 years old I am wondering if I can help him. The constant barking is a problem as you will understand he frightens the sheep so much.
    The breed is collie. He is 3 years old. I have watched all the max ones a few times getting started. The smaller holding pen seemed to be where is was most frantic so I took him into a small field. I now have a pen at the back of the dipping pens which is half way between the two. I am keen to try him in here I know he will single one out like he does but at least I will have more control I hope. Its probably not ideal either but I cant get the help I need off the men as they just think spot is a waste of time. He is fed on skinners field and trail lamb and rice. 22 protein 12 fat. When he is not training sheep he is in his own shed. He barks incesently if he is in the pens with the other dogs in the main cattle shed. He is fine on a lead pulls when he sees sheep but trots along nicely. If I could slow him down and get him to respond by lying down when I dont want him to go full tilt into the sheep that would be a massive step forward. The man we got him off showed my son him going around sheep and he seemed to be ok. He used a long whip apparently. He didnt bite the sheep at this point or charge into them like he is doing now. Its like he really doesnt know what he should be doing so to gain control attacks. thanks maggie

    1. You certainly have a problem there Maggie, and the fact that the men won’t help you is disappointing (to say the least).

      The dog needs guidance, and he’s not going to get any when he’s shut away in a shed on his own. Being penned up drives dogs nuts, just as it would with humans. He desperately needs companionship and leadership but he’s not getting any.

      He’s trainable. I have absolutely no doubt it’s possible, but I’m wondering if it’s worthwhile. You’re certainly getting no help or encouragement, and it’s going to take a lot of patient training to get this dog pointing the right way.

      In the meantime, those around you will probably feel you’re wasting time so it’ll be a thankless task to start with.

      On the other hand, whatever the dog was doing with his previous owner, he’s perfectly capable of doing with you, so he must be able to go around the sheep, but for some reason, he’s slipped back into his old ways. This is very common with new dogs because they have not yet bonded with their new owner. How long have you had him?

      If he worked well when the owner used a lungeing whip, I suggest you try him with one. Make sure you can “crack it” beforehand, and if/when he comes in towards the sheep, give it a good crack! (Don’t hit him with it, and crack the whip BEFORE he reaches the sheep if you possibly can).

      Failing that, if he were mine, and if I felt inclined to take the task on, I’d start by spending as much time as possible with him. Has the poor dog had a chance to actually bond with any of you – I doubt it?

      If you watch the tutorials, you’ll know that I repeat over and over again that it’s vital the dog respects you as its leader. That can only come by spending time with the dog and showing it that you’re a suitable leader. (Not screaming and shouting excitedly, or hitting the dog, for instance – and not shutting it away for countless hours in total isolation).

      If you watch the tutorials you’ll also know that I keep talking about the dog’s hunting instinct. Dogs are descended from wolves or hunting dogs, and they all (regardless of breed) have some degree of instinct to bring down and kill animals such as sheep, which they see as prey. In many breeds, this hunting instinct has largely been bred out of them, but in the working border collie, it’s been preserved.

      If they didn’t have it, we wouldn’t be able to train them to work sheep. The instinct is stronger in some collies than it is in others – guess which category Spot falls into!

      A healthy three year old male with a very strong hunting instinct is going to be very strong physically, too. I’m not sure I’d want to be constantly holding Spot back off the sheep, how about you?

      You need to bond with him and teach him basic manners. When he barks, it’s because something is exciting him, so if you calmly take him away from what’s exciting him, he’ll stop barking. Then, after a few minutes of silence, you can approach the cause of his excitement – but the moment he begins to bark again, take him away again – and so on.

      He’ll soon learn that if he wants to get close to whatever he’s interested in, he needs to be quiet.

      That’s the principle on which you need to train him.

      It’s a fact that if you put a dog on a lead and walk it around a field of sheep, eventually, the dog will lose interest in the sheep entirely. Obviously you don’t want this to happen, but if you did it to the extent that he calmed down when he was around them, it would be a massive help.

      It won’t happen overnight, it could take weeks, but it DOES work if you have the time and patience to do it – not to mention the sheer strength to hold him back, particularly in the early stages.

      The first time I did it was with a lurcher who was terrible with sheep, but after a couple of weeks (two short sessions a day) I could walk THROUGH the flock with the dog off the lead, and she’d stay by my side.

      If you want to try it, use a short lead to begin with, then as the dog begins to relax you can use a long lead – and eventually move on to a longer length of rope. On the long lead or the rope, you should crouch down from time to time, and call the dog back to you. If he won’t come, you pull him back, then praise him (for coming back) even though he didn’t want to.

      Eventually, he’ll be coming back reliably enough for you to let go of the rope! If he still comes back, you’re nearly there! And if he charges off after the sheep, it’ll be easier to catch him because you can grab (or step on) the rope. Take care not to pull him up too sharply, in case you hurt his neck though.

      As I said, it’s perfectly “do-able” if you have the time, patience, determination, and physical strength to do it.

      I don’t think castrating him will make any difference, particularly now that he’s three years old.

      1. He is out twice a day one for a walk with me around the forest or 5 miles around the railway line the other in with the sheep. Whenever I can I take him out but you couldnt have him just running around the yard as he would get in with the sheep and do damage or attack peoples dogs who walk through. He has been in with the other 2 dogs for the 6 months we have had him but as he barks non stop when in there and is quiet on his own I think the men thought he was better there . We put wood around the pens so it was warmer and also so he couldnt see the stock as much which we thought made him bark but as we lamb 2000 ewes in there is was a bit brain dumbing during this time. He loves Lewis – son and me and is openly affectionate to us. When we got him off his breeder he was in rather a state – thin and bad coat and he now looks the picture of health. I think he was shut in a shed a lot then and not trained very much as the dog was too much for him. It was a knee jerk reaction getting him as Lewis dog who he absolutely loved and he had trained to be a good dog got kicked by a horse and instantly died. Recently I have had him on a 40m lead with no chain and no muzzle in the field and he is slower goes in the direction I ask – mostly and I am holding my breath and hoping he is improving. I am managing to hold on to the end of the lead slowing him before he gets to the end and avoinding jerking but with it I can show him not to be so close to the sheep – to go around all of them and in the right direction. There is no way I am giving up on this dog. He does get excited goes round in circles and starts barking his head off a little later in the training but if I do as you say and take him to away to quieten down and then bring him back that may work. They are finally putting me up a pen 16m where I can see what he does so fingers crossed. I do have faith there will be a turning point with him and its so interesting in your videos that you talk about understanding the dog. The men avoid taking him when they are on with sheep but its just where he needs to be so I do go with them and take spot – i can see their point when he does damage to sheep like he does its upsetting. You didnt mention food? I wondered if just a maintenance diet would be better . Interestingly I have a spaniel who is on James Wellbeloved and it may be wishful thinking and expensive choice but the odd times he has had this he has seemed fractionally calmer but it has more protein in actually by 2%. Thank you for your help with this I will get a whip if you think that may help as well but to me he responds to kind voices . Its a fine line as you also say as he needs to be controlled but also not frightened. Thanks for taking the time to deal with me its good to have the encouragement .

        1. Great to hear that you’re going to get a proper training ring, Maggie, but don’t expect immediate results. Spot has got into the habit of attacking sheep, so it’s going to take a little while. You seem to be more positive about him now though – that’s excellent.
          Leaving him unattended and loose anywhere on the farm is not an option at the moment, of course, and to be honest, when the dog is loose on its own, it’s not really learning anything (other than possibly getting into mischief). He needs your company and guidance at the moment.
          Make sure he can’t see any stock when he’s in his pen. If he can see them, he’ll wind himself up mentally, and be all the more excited when he finally gets loose near them.
          I was thinking about the chain. You said you tried a heavy chain, but he scatters the sheep and singles one out for attack. If he can do that, the chain’s not heavy enough. If he’s still attacking the sheep, make the chain heavier (until he can barely drag it along if necessary). The chain will slow him right down, and then you can praise him for moving steadily. Also, if the dog’s strong, the chain does all the hard work for you. Because he walks well on a lead away from sheep, the chain will be more effective because he will associate it with being on a lead (being controlled by you). The pull he feels on his neck is much the same as a lead.
          I forgot to mention the food. It’s the protein level I’m interested in. Too much protein can make dogs uncontrollable but 22% isn’t too bad. Even so, I’d reduce it to 18% if you can. It takes about two weeks to have an effect, so the sooner you do it, the better. Once he starts working properly, I would go back to 20 or even 22% but remember the protein can have a big effect on some dogs. This one is 18% – if you don’t have a local stockist you can even buy a bag on that page.
          At the stage Spot is just now, there’s no point in the men taking him with them. They’ll be too busy to control him, so all he’s learning is to get more and more wound-up. Better he gets his basic training away from work, where he can be guided.
          Just have faith in him (and yourself) and he’ll be a great dog, but I strongly recommend you watch all the BASIC Tutorials so that you understand him better. He just needs firm guidance – but it won’t be quick!
          It’s certainly worth trying the lungeing whip. If it worked for his previous owner, it could well jog his memory. It’t not for beating the dog, the idea is that the sharp crack focusses his attention and makes the dog realise you really mean business. It should only be used to warn him off when he’s going to dive-in, but if you use the heavy chain, he shouldn’t be able to move very much more quickly than the sheep, so you may not need the whip at all.
          If you watch the “Starting a Young Puppy” tutorials, you’ll see that if the sheep are contained in a 16m training ring, the puppy can get around them even though it’s clearly much slower than the sheep. (In the open field, the sheep will simply run away from a puppy). You need to prove to Spot that he can go steadily and still get control of the sheep, without coming to any harm.
          Good luck, and please keep us posted with his progress (good or bad).

          1. Wow. Thank you so much brilliant of you to respond so quickly thank you. Will give it a month and report again. Thanks

  7. Hello,

    Looking for some mild sheep dog training kind of thing for our 18 month old collie, Blu.
    I brought Blu for my dad when we lost our last collie.
    We live on a small holding with a small herd of cattle, pigs and chickens (no sheep).

    My dad is getting on a bit now and has bad arthritis so my idea is to get Blu & dad trained to help dad out on the farm…

    Dads used to compete with dogs in obedience competition so dads done a bit of obedience training with Blu and he has great recall however, we don’t know how to train him further to use him more on the farm.

    Is this something you could help us with? If not could you recommend someone?

    Idea is to maybe buy dad this for Christmas.

    Kind regards
    Emma Buckley

    1. Can I recommend that you give your father a year’s subscription to our Sheepdog Training Tutorials? (Click the link to watch a preview). The principles are just the same with cattle as they are with sheep, apart from the obvious safety issue.
      For cattle, we strongly recommend training the dog to push them away from you first (rather than bringing them to you). The reason for this is that if the over-enthusiastic trainee dog brings a group of cattle running towards you, it could be dangerous.
      There are seventy sheepdog training tutorials available on our site, and they carefully and clearly explain every point. I suggest your father starts at the beginning and watches the basic ones first. That way he’ll get a much better understanding of what’s going on and why the dog is behaving the way it does, than he ever would if he spent a couple of hours or so watching someone in a field.

  8. Hi is there a tutorial for very early puppy training for basic commands Sit, stay, lie down . I have always trained a dog with treats but don’t think this is the way to go with a working collie.

    1. I see no problem with giving a young puppy treats to help with it’s very early training – away from sheep, but treats should definitely not be used for training on sheep.
      If you watch the basic tutorials though Samantha, you’ll see that when the pup takes an interest in sheep, certainly, “Stop” and “Lie down” or “Stay” can be taught effectively (without treats). That’s where we do it.

  9. I have purchased your First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog training DVD which I have found extremely good. Unfortunately when I recently subscribed to your website I am unable to view the videos and therefore cancelled the subscription. I am able to watch any other You Tube or video streaming – just not your videos – even when I change the settings to SD.
    Is there a known issue or do I need to download particular software in order to view the videos.
    I am located in Australia if this makes a difference.
    Kindest regards
    Lisa

    1. Hello Lisa,

      Thanks for being a subscriber to the tutorials, and for letting us know about this issue.

      There are no known problems with viewing the videos in Australia (or anywhere else) and you certainly don’t need any special software. I’ve checked our records and can see that you previously subscribed for some months in 2017. If you could watch the tutorials then you shouldn’t have any problems with them now as we haven’t changed anything, other than make them easier to watch.

      There are several things to try to address the playback problem: try watching on a different device; try watching using a different browser, or; empty the cache of your usual browser and then try again.

      I hope one of these will help you. Of course your subscription to the tutorials themselves has expired, but you can experiment with the Preview or log in and watch the free tutorial. Both of these videos use exactly the same file types and sizes as the tutorials.

      Best wishes, Gill

  10. Have a three year old dog who gets absolutely so wound up when he is with sheep to the point you cant do anything with him. If let loose with the sheep he bites them and wounds them badly. I am trying to talk quietly to him to stop him constantly barking and calm him down. Have you any suggestions please.

    1. If the dog is excited to the point of barking, it suggests he’s had little or no previous training with sheep. He’ll settle down OK with training, but of course you need to get him under control.
      I can see you are a full member, so the first thing I suggest you do is watch “Training Max – the GRIPPER” and then “Starting a Strong Dog”. Those two tutorials should help you a lot.

      1. Yes i have watched both those and have tried to do as you instruct . If you think its a case of repeat and repeat will ry that. Have a feeling he could be a good dog in time but so vicious at the moment with sheep

        1. You must protect the sheep, Maggie. Have you tried the rope-chain? That will work if you do it properly.
          If you can’t control him any other way, keep him on a long leash until he calms down. That way you can control him and protect the sheep. As he improves, increase the length of the rope. Give him quiet commands and talk to him softly to calm him down, then eventually you should be able to release the rope.

          1. Thank you very much everyone on the farm – hill farm has given up with this dog but I want to give him a chance. Do you ever take dogs for training? Or do master classes?

          2. We don’t take dogs in for training, Maggie. It’s far better for the dog to be trained by its owner.
            As you know, there are seventy sheepdog training tutorials at your disposal on this site. I suggest you start at the beginning and watch the basic ones first. That way you’ll get a much better understanding of what’s going on and why your dog is behaving the way it does, than you ever would if you spent a couple of hours or so watching someone in a field.
            You haven’t mentioned what the result was when you tried to do as I instructed – what did you try, and what happened? If it went wrong, why do you think that was?
            I asked whether you tried a rope-chain, but you didn’t answer that. The methods in the tutorials work, but only if you’re prepared to carefully put them into practice.
            Your dog is showing perfectly normal symptoms of a highly-driven dog which will make a perfectly good sheepdog if someone’s prepared to learn how to train it. I’m writing these replies to try to help you, but it’s pointless if you ignore my advice.
            If the dog’s being aggressive with the sheep, you need to be more aggressive with the dog and MAKE him stay away from them. Watch Max the Gripper again, and see how I control him.

  11. I have a young dog that’s great at outruns , flanking etc … shy on walking onto sheep ..
    what options do I have to make him walk on to sheep …
    many thanks

    1. Not absolutely sure what you mean, Steve… Either way, it’s a confidence issue though.
      If you mean the dog does a good outrun but fails to bring the sheep, you need to shorten the outrun because the distance is too great for the dog’s confidence level at the moment. Either shorten the distance, or go closer to the the dog and give it lots of encouragement.

      If you mean the dog won’t walk up on the sheep when it’s closer to you, again, it’s a confidence problem. I know you’re a subscriber to our Sheepdog Training Tutorials, so to help you build your dog’s confidence generally, I suggest you watch the tutorial “Sometimes Nice is Not Enough“.

  12. Hi there,
    I am looking for some advice.
    I have a 2yr old kelpie. He works has a lovely style, but I have to work him around sheep with a muzzle on, as he intends to knock them over and pull at the wool,
    Even with a muzzle on he knocks them over and trys to pull at the wool, any ideas on how I could stop him?
    Thanks

    1. There’s plenty you can do, Macauley – the dog just needs training.

      That’s what our online Tutorial Videos are for. There’s a small monthly (or yearly) charge for SEVENTY great training videos – and you can cancel at any time.
      Watch the Preview

  13. Hallo,
    I’m a sheepfarm lady in south Africa and my Internet is bad, so i am trying to decide wether to buy the dvds or try the online tutorials with the chance of having trouble seeing them. So i thought to ask you if the dvds are the same as the online tutorials (except for the updates) or if it is more information in the online tutorials.
    With kind regards
    Esther

    1. Thanks for your interest, Esther.

      Watching online is clearly the best, and I may be able to help you with it.

      On our video player there are two settings. HD (the default) which plays at high resolution and SD for lower resolution (which is far easier to play). Have you tried this?

      You can access the SD setting by clicking on HD first (see picture below). Once set, the player will remember your preferred setting until you change it.

      How to play our videos when your internet connection is not strong

      Click this link to watch a PREVIEW.

      If you try the SD setting and it works on your system, you’ll be able to watch all the online tutorials (on the same setting) because they are all made at the same resolution.

      Most of the Tutorials are included in the four Tutorials DVDs and some of the ones not on the tutorial DVDs are covered by the First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training DVD set, but the big advantage of the Online Tutorials is that while your membership is valid, you’ll be able to watch any new tutorials we bring out. As well as this, we’re updating and improving the Online Tutorials too, so the improvements can be seen immediately, whereas by their nature, the DVDs will be older versions.

      Unfortunately, post to South Africa is really bad at the moment – it’s taking at least a month for DVDs to arrive, so we won’t ship to SA without a note from the customer to confirm that they understand this.

      If you try the SD setting on the player and it won’t work, or it’s buffering, please let me know because I’m considering an even lower resolution setting for those with not-so-good internet connections.

  14. It looks like it is not possible to download videos? Our ranch is northern California doesn’t have good internet, so I was hoping to download a few videos to watch at home.
    I just imported a lovely bitch from Ludivine at Raise Lodge and your videos are very nice :)
    David Leejohnson

    1. A lot of people have that problem David, especially farmers! Our internet’s not very good either, so we’ve put most of them on DVD for you:
      Sheepdog Training DVDs

      You’ll find the DVDs on this link:
      https://www.sheepdog-training.com

      If you’ve tried and failed to watch the tutorials, did you try selecting the SD setting? (See the post below).
      The SD setting is for people with poor internet connections, and often helps a lot.

      Please let us know if you need any further information.

  15. Hello!
    Love the videos/tutorials.
    I try to watch them on my phone, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
    I thought I saw somewhere that you now have an app that makes viewing them better.
    Let me know if you do.
    Thanks Paul

    1. Thanks for the feedback on the tutorials, Paul. It’s good to know they’re useful.
      We don’t have an App as such, but if your internet connection’s not too great, click the “HD” icon on the player (when it’s playing) and select “SD” which will play much better. I hope this helps. Please let us know if you need more information.

      How to play our videos when your internet connection is not strong

  16. Hi,
    I have a 6month old puppy from registered working parents, we are a working farm with one trained dog, not train ed by myself. The puppy is walked twice a day, spends some time in a crate and sometime in the porch or kitchen. She is sooooooo keen. I used to let her run free in the garden but she just escapes and goes to chase the small bunch or sheep behind the house. I stop her immediately and do not scold her as I don’t want to put her off or discourage her. It has happened about 10 times . She is now not allowed out unless on the long line or tethered. I walk her on a long line, she is mostly well behaved will sit, lie down, come to me, does not pull a after first 5min. I can not walk her off the lead as we are surrounded by sheep and she she knows she is off the lead she just goes under a gate and off. If no sheep she has a very good recall. I have started this week with a small pen and 5 sheep inside letting her run round the outside. She goes both ways, stops and will lie down although very difficult to catch, hurdle put my to block her then I tell her lie down and go to her. Just wondering if you have any advice, how often should I train her and how can I make her learn not to go off by herself? I hope to make a larger pen with sheep inside soon so I can do more. Many thanks Claire. I am signed up to watch tutorials.

    1. I think you’re on the right track, Claire. It’s a frustrating time with a keen young (adolescent) dog, but it will be well worth it in the long run. We’ve been going through the same experience with Portia (about 6 months) and fortunately, she’s far better now, but we still can’t leave her unattended. It’ll come though.
      Presumably you’ve watched “Stopping the Dog (Part 1)“? We’re working on Part two at the moment, where I talk about catching a keen youngster, but that’s in a larger training area. Using some hurdles to restrict the dog will make it easier to catch it – and of course, if you let the dog go again, it will be More likely to let you catch it, than it will if it learns that when you catch it “the fun stops”.
      The more you can let the dog go again, the quicker you’ll be able to catch it in future, but I understand how difficult that is when you’ve struggled to catch the dog in the first place.
      Nobody said training a sheepdog was easy, but it’s well worth it if you stick with it!

  17. Hi
    I was passed your number by a friend who has your collection of training videos…. I’m sure you have many hundreds of people ask you questions but I’m
    Beginning to feel at my wits end with my merle collie, in every sense of the word she is a great dog apart from the fact that when we near the sheep she turns and makes a run back to the farm for her kennel…. She was locked in a stable for the early parts of her life and I can’t help but think this is a contributor to her nervousness, is there any advice you could give me to try and put into her to get her started and realise the sheep won’t chase or hurt her so to speak?
    Many thanks for your time
    Bitch is coming up 16months and I’ve had her from a pup

    1. For some reason, the dog has got into the ‘habit’ of being frightened of sheep. There are many possible reasons for it, but I doubt if being shut away as a puppy is likely to be one of them. Usually when this happens, the pup takes fright when it first sees sheep, and the fear sticks (but who knows).

      The older the dog, and the longer a ‘habit’ has been allowed to develop, the harder it will be to break that ‘habit’. It can be done if you have the patience, but at sixteen months, I suspect it’s been going on for quite a while now.

      As with all things which frighten dogs, familiarity is the key, but whatever you do, don’t try to force or drag the dog towards sheep. That will only make matters worse.

      I suggest you make sure the dog walks very well on a lead (well away from sheep). Take the dog for short walks and make sure the lead is slack for at least 85% of the time. If it’s not, keep practising lead training until it is. This is important.

      Next, when you’re sure the dog fully respects the lead, try taking it towards a handful of sheep VERY CAREFULLY. Stop at the first sign that the dog’s getting nervous, and quietly try to make the dog feel at ease. Don’t be tempted to show any interest in the sheep or to encourage the dog closer, or attempt to pull it nearer to them. Simply stroke the dog, talk to it, and try to get it to relax for a few minutes, and then take it away.

      A small number of sheep is less intimidating to the dog, so just three or four would be ideal if you can arrange it.

      The next day, take the dog a little closer if you can, but again, whatever you do, don’t try to drag it or force the issue. Stop when the dog begins to get nervous, and try to relax it again. If you can approach sheep which are separated from the dog by a fence it will help.

      The idea is to get the dog to realise that it’s coming to no harm – but you must do it SLOWLY. If you’re definitely making progress, you could try two sessions in one day if it helps.

      Once you can get the dog fairly close to the sheep without it trying to run away, watch it closely. Is the dog looking at the sheep (even glancing at them is good) or does it try to deny the existence of them? Some dogs will totally blank the sheep out as a way of avoiding them. I’ve even got another dog to gently bump the sheep into the nervous dog, and it still won’t look at them! (Talk about being “in denial”)!

      If the dog will look at the sheep, you’re in with a very good chance. If it won’t, it’s going to take a while.

      I suggest that once you can get the dog close to the sheep without it running away, you subscribe to our Sheepdog Training Tutorials and watch “Starting a Non-Starter“. It’s a two-part tutorial with a lot of information about starting a dog like yours. (Far more than I can write here).

      There’s also a lot of information about the dog’s confidence and it’s working instinct, which should help you a lot, and there are many videos about training the dog, of course.

      It would be great to hear how you get on with getting your dog interested in sheep.

  18. Hi Andy
    What tutorial would you recommend ?
    I’m getting on great with my dog & had a wee go at a novice trial.
    I find him a bit tight for steering round obstacles or getting the sheep in the pen!
    If I could bend him out a bit it would be great!!
    If I push him out he’s liable to turn on him self which I don’t like
    Thanks
    Mike

    1. Clearly your dog’s not ready for the work you’re expecting it to do, Michael. You need to go back to basics – get the dog working nicely when the sheep are close to you, giving them plenty of space and stopping well.
      Once this is going well, move on to “Walking Backwards” – and then “Back to Forwards”.
      You should make a point of watching all of the tutorials in the “Where to Start” category before moving on to “The Outrun” and “Driving“.
      Finally, before you enter it in a trial, your dog should be able to Circle the Sheep on Command – so watch the tutorials in the “Flanks and Circling” category, and make sure the dog can do it PROPERLY!

  19. Hi Andy, I have got a young puppy, and I am aware it’s too early to start actually training, what should I be doing in the meantime with my puppy. What obedience training is most necessary for her strive. E.g. Can I teach her away and come by without sheep. Etc

    1. We’re working on a tutorial which includes “pre-training” at the moment, Oliver. It should be available in a couple of weeks’ time.

      In the meantime, I strongly recommend you watch the tutorials in the “Starting” category – especially Puppy training essentials.

      Basically, you need to “bond” well with the dog, and earn it’s respect as a leader. It’s also very useful to teach the dog to “Sit” and “Stay” – and make sure it has a really good recall.

      I HAVE  heard of someone teaching the dog to flank both ways, but to be honest, without the presence of sheep, this is in the realm of obedience training, and I wouldn’t know how to go about it.

  20. Hi Andy, I am wanting to purchase your program although i am looking to train my border collie on goats. Would you recommend following your program or is the training different for goats than sheep. Thank you!!

    1. Personally I have no experience of working goats with dogs Shalene, but I know that people do.
      Basically, if the dog is keen to “get at” the goats, and the goats would prefer not to be near the dog, then the tutorials will apply.
      As well as sheep, Border Collies are used for working chickens, ducks, turkeys, cattle, and other animals.
      Why not try it and find out? It’ll only cost you $14.50 (US) for a month, and you can cancel at any time. Signup here.

      1. we have had goats and they can be very helpful for training dogs. They tend to have the fight vs flight response so not easy for some pressure sensitive dogs but similar to working cattle. they behave more alike than do sheep

  21. I have just found your site and hope it helps . I have a young male around 21/2 years Not much socializing done he was in a pen next to cattle working pens we sent him to a trainer they used a shock collar on him . The trainer called in 30 days and said the dog is no good in trainable the dog runs and hits the ground when you raise your voice he thinks you are going to hit him when you raise your hand is there any hope in getting his confidence back? He acts like he wants to work behind the fence but when you let him in with the sheep he is afraid to do anything

    1. Hmm – some trainer! I can’t help wondering what inspired you to send your dog to such a person in the first place, and how much the trainer charges people for electrocuting their dogs!
      The dog’s young enough, and if it’s showing an interest in sheep, you should be able to rebuild its confidence, but it might take a lot of patience on your part.
      The secret of training a dog is to make the work as simple as possible (for the dog) at first, then very gradually develop the dog’s new skills until its work becomes more practical.
      If he’s keen on the sheep when they’re inside a pen, that’s a good place to begin. Try walking him around inside the pen on a lead or short rope. Give him loads of reassurance and walk him towards the sheep to show him that they’ll move if he approaches. Avoid any conflict with the sheep. If they threaten him that will damage his confidence further, so if necessary, move the sheep yourself, and make sure they don’t stand up to him (or attack him, of course).
      If the dog’s frightened inside the ring, crouch down and make a fuss of him, to reassure him that he’s safe and that you’re not going to electrocute him.
      As soon as he’ll walk around inside the pen with you, let him off the lead but keep helping him to move the sheep around. If the sheep are moving they’re unlikely to threaten him, so keep them moving!
      Once you can get the dog to relax a little inside the pen, even if he won’t approach the sheep there are plenty of things you can try to get him interested. I suggest you watch the tutorial “Starting a Non-Starter” (watch parts 1 and 2).
      You also need to watch the tutorials “Calm But Firm”, “The Dog’s Confidence”, “Sticky Dogs” and “Starting a Reluctant Dog” to find out how to go about this. You can sign up for the tutorials on this link.
      Don’t expect quick results, but if you’re patient I’m sure you can do this.

  22. Hi,
    I have a 19 month old cross female border collie.
    Due to continuing job commitments I can no longer keep her in the active lifestyle she is used to.
    I would prefer if she could go to a sheep farmer for training as a working dog if possible.
    She has been exposed to sheep but is too full on with them and just wants to chase so is a complete novice.
    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. Hello Gary. I’m afraid we don’t get involved with re-homing any more, although we’d always take back any dog we’ve bred or trained if its circumstances change. I think you should contact the breeder of your dog and explain the situation. For the dog’s sake, a conscientious breeder should be prepared to help you.

  23. Hello, I was hoping to find out if you think these tutorials are applicable and would still help if you have an Australian Shepherd. I have since added an Aussie to the mix. My border and I haven’t done much herding since I was last signed up over a year ago I believe. a lot of things got in our way, I enjoyed the tutorials and was hoping to start up again. Just curious regarding a loose-eyed breed. Thank you so much!!!

    1. Hello Rachelle. The short answer is yes, the tutorials will help you train your dog, provided the dog is of a gathering breed. We have very little experience of training Aussies, but we’ve trained collies and Kelpies with the same techniques. So long as Aussies have a basic gathering instinct then all of the tutorials will be useful. The driving tutorials will help with a breed that drives, rather than gathers, and all the tutorials that look at commands, the dog’s distance from sheep, and the dog’s confidence are equally applicable to any working dog.

      I hope that helps?

      Thanks, Gill

      1. Gill,
        Thank you so much for your quick response. Yes, this helps. I figured the process and basic commands would be the same regardless. I am very excited about improving our skills. Yes, Aussies do fetch and will drive. They don’t have that “stare” and most don’t crouch as much. Very fun breed. Love both my dogs :)

        One more question if I may: how few sheep is ok to start with? I am in the process of getting proper fencing to house some sheep we can work at home on our own. I was thinking of starting with 2 because I have the funds and adding some later. Maximum probably 5. Your thoughts.

  24. Should a young 11 month bitch border collie ever be hit [4 times on head in lie down position] after it appeared to be heading into a pack of nervous fragile sheep in a square pen?

    1. The only time I would condone hitting a dog during training would be if the dog was physically attacking the sheep and harming them. In other words, if hitting the dog was the only way to keep it away from the sheep and protect them. To find out how we train our dogs to work sheep and other stock, why not subscribe to our Online Sheepdog Training Tutorials?

  25. I have a question not so much a comment. I have a 4 year old BC and he likes to do everything 100{e9f43a434d6010da6dbd2b3f7c84d70e19d11d359b130214b424d1842cfa3837} quickly. When I work him on our very small flock of sheep he is so fast that he startles the sheep. This could also be the sheep breed by reacting quickly. I have tried slowing him down by giving him a long drawn out command, and also stopping him which is a lie-down. I don’t particularly like the lie-down as he is popping up and down as I give the come bye or away to me. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    1. The dog simply needs training, Hope. The majority of keen Border collies are like your dog when they begin working with sheep.
      I thoroughly recommend you watch “Backwards is the Way Forward” and train your dog to do this properly. If you have the resolve to insist he brings the sheep up to you at the same pace that YOU choose to walk backwards, and at the distance that you choose, it will transform him. He will learn to creep forward steadily, and he will learn that whatever distance you keep him back off the sheep is the correct working distance.
      I can’t promise it will be easy with such a strong willed dog, but it will be well worth it in the end.
      When you say you don’t like “Lie down” because he’s popping up and down, do you mean he actually lies on the floor when you give the “Lie down” command? If so, I suggest you encourage him to stay up on his feet. You can do this at the same time that you’re practising “walking backwards”. It would be worth watching “Sticky dogs” too!

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