QUESTION: My dog’s doing lovely long outruns when I stand between her and the sheep, but how do I get her to do them from by my side?
ANSWER: The reason for standing between the dog and the sheep when you send it on its outrun, is so that you can move towards the dog and encourage it to go out wider as it comes past you.
Many farmers and shepherds send their dog away on its outrun from wherever it happens to be standing at the time. It works fine, most of the time, but you can achieve a lot more if you take the trouble to teach the dog to wait by your side, while you face the sheep, before sending the dog away.
This will teach the dog that even if it can’t see them, the sheep will be directly ahead of where the handler is facing. It can be extremely useful when the sheep are not in the dog’s line of sight when the handler sends it off.
Sending the dog on its outrun from by your side is the accepted practice in sheepdog trials.
Teaching the outrun
When the dog’s learning to do outruns, it’s good practice for the handler to stand between the sheep and the dog before sending the dog off. That way, the handler is able to encourage the dog out wider but
Once you’re satisfied that the dog is going wide enough on its outrun without you having to walk towards it or shout at it, then you can gradually reduce the distance between yourself and the dog before you send it off.
If you find the dog begins to come in tighter, you need to position yourself closer to the sheep next time, and make the transition more gradual.
I can’t give you any specific distances because they are infinitely variable, but you will know whether you’re happy with the width of the dog’s outrun or not.
If you are satisfied, reduce the distance between yourself and the dog next time, but if the dog’s too tight (either on the main outrun, or as it gets near the sheep) you need to be closer to the sheep again next time.
There are three Sheepdog Training Tutorials dedicated to the outrun, in the Tutorials Library.
With nearly FOURTEEN HOURS of our SHEEPDOG TRAINING TUTORIALS now available as FOUR double DVD sets, you can SAVE up to 20% if you buy all four, together with our original “First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training” DVD set. More details.