Sheepdog Training FAQ – Calling the dog away when it’s working

QUESTION: How can I call my dog away when he’s working in the yard? He’s a young Kelpie who works well, but won’t come back off the stock when I call him.

ANSWER: It’s quite natural for the trainee dog to want to keep working, and being confined in a yard creates a lot of stress for the dog, but of course he must come away when you want him to.

Very often the dog fears that the session will be over when you call it back to you, so they “deaf you out”. The simple remedy for this is to have him on a long lead or a rope, and pull him away, but then after a few minutes, being him back to work again. If you keep doing this, quite soon the dog will become more willing to come away with you if it knows there’s a good chance it can work again in a few minutes. Once the dog will happily come away with you, you can reduce the returning to work!

The above assumes the dog is working properly on commands in the yard, but if the dog is ‘mesmerised’ by the stock (what people call “too much eye”) that’s a different matter. It’s caused by a lack of confidence. Once the dog stops, it stares at the sheep and won’t move, so when I get a dog like this, I try to keep it moving as much as possible – don’t let it stop. There’s a lot more you can do to help. I suggest you watch the “Sticky Dogs” tutorial for details on how to free-up the dog.

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