When confronted with a dog, one of the few ways sheep have to defend themselves is to crowd together onto a fence, or in a corner. From this position they can turn to face the dog, and even just a few sheep can look very intimidating from the dog’s point of view!
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.
Getting sheep away from fence
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”.