A tutorial series that demonstrates the differences in young dogs.
We took two puppies, Bronwen and Scylla, from a litter and thought we knew what to expect: we assumed their work would be similar to their parents’ and that Bronwen and Scylla would be similar to each other. How wrong we were! Both girls developed into keen and useful sheepdogs, but their differing personalities, strengths and, yes, weaknesses, meant they each needed a different approach.
If you’re training a young dog and are confused by its progress (or lack of progress), we recommend you watch the “Bronwen & Scylla” series of tutorials. Our intention was always the same – to have the dog flanking nicely around the sheep, keeping them together and not chasing them away, and then stopping when we ask. Because Bronwen and her sister were so different, you’ll see that achieving our aims was sometimes hard and seemingly thankless work (Scylla) and sometimes gratifyingly easy (Bronwen).
Usually, it was somewhere in between!
Tutorial One looks at early training, and the importance of supervising your puppy’s early experiences with sheep. And does the temperament of your puppy give you any clues as to what sort of worker it will make? (Spoiler alert – we think so!)
Tutorial Two shows our techniques to prevent a young dog from developing the habit of gripping, and what to do when we’re too late. We also look at early lessons in stopping; gathering; dealing with one-sidedness; and the tricky but essential issue of getting the dog between the sheep and the fence.
Plus a miscalculation shows why a small space and just a few sheep offer the best chance of early success.
Tutorial Three – reading your dog’s tail (Bronwen and Scylla’s tails tell very different stories); keeping the lessons short, and how to turn flanking practice into the first outruns.
Tutorial Four – getting a lesson off to a good start; learn to differentiate between confusion and disobedience; an easy walking exercise that builds confidence and fluency. Particularly important with Scylla’s training – even when it feels as though nothing’s going right try to recognise an improvement, and take heart.
Tutorial Five – we’re over-ambitious with our new sheep, but it demonstrates the difference between using dogged and undogged sheep when you’re training.We also see why the dog needs to learn to work in different circumstances, as Bronwen and Scylla both find their new neighbours very distracting.
Tutorial Six introduces the Look Back as we try to work the dogs outside the ring – with mixed results (naturally).
Tutorial Seven focuses on Bronwen’s problem of flanking far too wide from the sheep, and losing contact with them.
We like to use practical tasks to make training more interesting for the dog, and for us, and hopefully Bronwen will learn that to get the job done she mustn’t lose control of her sheep.
Tutorial Eight of our training comparison focuses on Scylla and points out the areas of her work which deserve praise and encouragement, as well as those which are still a long way below par.
Sometimes our best efforts are thwarted, and sometimes we get it wrong, but we take these opportunities to show you there’s something to learn from every session – and not always learned by the dog!
NB: Tutorials are available to paid subscribers who are logged into their account. Paid subscribers may also submit short videos of their own training sessions for evaluation and advice. Please contact us for details.