Gain Control of an Aggressive Sheepdog

A trainee dog attacking a sheep

How can you train a dog who’s a danger to sheep?

Max the herding dog attacking a sheep

Our latest three-part video series covers the basic training of Max, a dog who was determined to attack sheep at every opportunity.

Part One shows our first encounter with Max, and our first session with him at home.

This tutorial shows you how to approach training such a challenging dog, especially the importance of recognising the pattern to his behaviour and how to slow down the action to give you a better chance of staying one step ahead.

Trainee stock herding dog Max looking aggressive

In Part Two (actually Max’s next training session) Max has made a little progress, and we try to build some trust with him.

The tutorial shows that there’s no “quick fix” for a dog with Max’s temperament, but we also see that rewarding the dog is just as important as correcting him when we’re trying to develop a relationship.

Training a dog which is aggressive with sheep

Part Three finds Max taking his sheep out of the ring, and bringing them back again.

This is a simple, but very useful, technique to use with young dogs; this new challenge for the trainee herding dog relieves the boredom of repetitive work inside the ring, and gives us a glimpse into the dog’s improving sheep control. (It’s described and explained in detail in the “Coming Out” tutorial.)

At last, a marked improvement in Max’s flanks means he keeps the sheep together, and with his reduced biting and increased willingness to come away from the sheep, training Max can become more rewarding and, dare we say it, fun?

Smooth coated herding sheepdog Max
Max was a lovely dog, but he was a real danger to sheep until he was trained

The “Training Max – the Gripper” series has been amongst our most popular tutorials to date.

We’ve been completely honest about gripping dogs – they’re not easy to work with, and they offer a real challenge to an inexperienced handler as well as representing a potential danger to livestock – but, if you keep your temper and your wits about you, even a hard dog like Max can be “tamed” to become a really useful herding dog.

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