Once you can go backwards, turn around and go “Back to Forwards”!
Don't be confused by the title of our latest sheepdog training tutorial, “Back to Forwards” is the follow up to “ Backwards is the Way Forwards” which really should be one of our most popular videos because it teaches the herding dog so many important things.
If you spend a little time teaching the dog to stay well behind as you walk backwards with the sheep, the dog will learn the distance that you want it to work at. not just behind the sheep either.
As the dog learns to stay well back, it should begin to maintain that distance when it flanks around the sheep.
If the handler insists on the dog staying back, it will dramatically improve the dog's stop, too.
Other spin-offs from the walking backwards exercise are improved sheep control and steadier pace. Because walking backwards is by its nature a slow process (and if you do it, you must be prepared to fall over occasionally) the dog will learn to work more steadily.
Once the dog is bringing the sheep to the trainer at the pace that the trainer chooses to move backwards at, without diving in or losing control of the sheep, the natural next stage of the dog's training is for the trainer to turn around and walk forwards.
Sometimes, the dog will accept this and naturally maintain it's steady pace, but some dogs see the handler turning their back as an opportunity to dive in and grip or split the sheep. If this is the case, the transition between backwards and forwards will require the diligent trainer to alternate quickly between backwards and forward depending on the dog's proximity and intent towards the sheep.
The point when the trainer is able to trust the dog to keep the sheep together and not attack or split them up, marks a very significant milepost in the dog's training.
“Back to Forwards” is highly recommended for all trainers who seek to improve their herding sheepdog's working pace, distance from the sheep, sheep control and stop.