QUESTION: My dog is very enthusiastic and eager to work but she’s a bit timid and runs away from aggressive sheep. Are we spoiling her by keeping her in the house?
ANSWER: Living in the house shouldn’t affect the dog’s confidence when it works sheep, but there are plenty of things you can do to help build its confidence. You need to anticipate the situations where the dog will have difficulty with the sheep, and make sure you’re as close as you possibly can be to it at those times.
The dog’s confidence with be considerably greater if it knows you’re close alongside it.
If the sheep are really stuborn, move them yourself – and if the dog dives-in and nips the sheep’s coat while you’re doing it, as long as the dog’s not being too aggressive, PRAISE it!
In other words, teach your dog to be more assertive with the sheep (when you tell it to). That way the dog’s confidence will grow, and once it’s moving the sheep reliably by itself, you can GRADUALLY increase the distance that you work it at.
It would also help if you could get rid of the sheep which stand up to the dog – but of course, that’s not always an option.
We have a Sheepdog Training Tutorial called “Sometimes Nice is Not Enough!” which specifically covers sheep which are lacking confidence.
This post is one of our Sheepdog Training FAQs
Click here for the full list of frequently asked questions.
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