Sheepdog Training FAQ

A collection of frequently asked questions about sheepdog and cattle dog training

Click a topic link or scroll down for questions and answers about sheepdog and cattle dog training. Feel free to ask a new sheepdog training question below or privately via our Contact page.

Advanced training

A trainee sheepdog bringing a small group of sheep
QUESTION: How do you go from training a dog to collect six dogged sheep, to collecting a hundred or more flighty sheep, scattered around in a field? ANSWER: In a word, gradually!Good training should progress at a rate the student …
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Aggression

A dog leaping up at a young heifer's face to bite it
QUESTION: My dog works cattle quite well, but dives in and grips their legs for no apparent reason. How can I calm him down and stop him gripping cattle when they’re moving OK? ANSWER: The first thing is to try …
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Photo of a Kelpie dog running around a flock of sheep
QUESTION: My dogs killed a sheep today. I don’t want to have the dogs destroyed, they are working Kelpie X Collie dogs which we want to train on sheep and cattle. What can I do? ANSWER: I’m sorry to hear …
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Photo of a working sheepdog very close to some sheep which are trapped in a pen
QUESTION: My dog has become very ‘sticky’ and recently started biting the faces of the sheep, instead of responding to my commands what should I do? ANSWER: Being sticky (staring at the sheep and not responding to commands) and biting …
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Behaviour

Photo of an excited dog jumping up and down at the prospect of getting to the sheep
QUESTION: How can I stop my dog barking when I take him somewhere new, where there are sheep? ANSWER: Basically, there are two reasons why dogs bark: 1. ALARM – if they suspect an intruder or danger of some sort …
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picture of a car driving down a country lane, being chased by a sheepdog
QUESTION: How can I stop my dog chasing cars tractors, motorcycles, cyclists, lawnmowers and anything that moves? ANSWER: Chasing cars and other vehicles is a big problem for some dog owners. It can be extremely dangerous, both for the dog, …
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photo showing the dog with its tail in the air as it's led into the training ring
QUESTION: I keep hearing people talk about the position of the dog’s tail when it’s working sheep. What do they mean? ANSWER: When dogs are relaxed, they hold their tails in a normal downward position but when they are nervous …
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Photo of a group of sheep in the late evening sun with a sheepdog in the background
QUESTION: Why do some sheep run away as the dog approaches, while others stand their ground? ANSWER: There are many reasons for sheep to run away from dogs but, primarily, sheep instinctively see dogs as predators. Dogs are descended from …
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Confidence

Photo of a dog jumping out of a sheepdog training pen to get away from the sheep
QUESTION: I’m hoping to train my seven month old dog to work sheep and cattle but when I took him to sheep for the first time, he ran away! ANSWER: My first reaction to your comment was to ask myself …
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Control

Two border collie sheepdogs driving sheep along a farm track
QUESTION: How can I call my dog away when he’s working in the ring or in a yard? ANSWER: It’s natural for the trainee dog to want to keep working. Being confined in a training ring or yard creates a …
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Photo of a sheepdog at work
QUESTION: My dog is generally working well but when I send her on an outrun to gather the sheep, she goes out too far. How can I stop my dog going too wide? ANSWER: Going too wide is certainly one …
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Photo of a young trainee sheepdog lying down, glaring at sheep
QUESTION: I’m trying to put the sheep into a yard but my dog stops them from going in. How can I get my dog to put the sheep right in? ANSWER: This problem is more common than you would think …
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Photo of a sheepdog herding sheep into a paddock
QUESTION: “How can I make my dog go both ways around the sheep? She stops reasonably well, but insists on going anticlockwise all the time”. WHY THIS HAPPENS: In a similar way to humans, a great many dogs are left …
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Photo of a trainee sheepdog which has separated a bunch of sheep
QUESTION: My dog likes to split the sheep up and bite them. I am having trouble getting her to go round them. Can you help? ANSWER: It’s perfectly normal for your dog to split the sheep up in the very …
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Outrun

Graphic image showing the relative distance between dog, sheep, and handler
QUESTION: My dog’s doing lovely long outruns when I stand between her and the sheep, but how do I get her to do them from by my side? ANSWER: The reason for standing between the dog and the sheep when …
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The top of the outrun
QUESTION: Should my trainee sheepdog stop at the top of its outrun without a command from me? ANSWER: It’s nice to think the young dog will stop at the top of its outrun without a command, and indeed, it sometimes …
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Preparation

Help for inexperienced handler or trainer (FAQ)
QUESTION: I purchased a fully trained sheepdog but I have never worked a dog on livestock before. Do your videos cover how to start off with a trained dog? ANSWER: Sometimes people buy a trained dog in the hope that …
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Close up picture of a dog close behind a sheep.
QUESTION: We have an eight year old border collie and now live on a smallholding where we will soon get our first flock of sheep. Will it be possible to train the dog to work sheep? ANSWER: In theory, you …
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Photo of a man holding a sheepdog, using a rope for a lead
QUESTION: Is it OK to walk my dog around the sheep every day? He’s not ready to work them yet but I want him to get used to being near them. ANSWER: Familiarising the dog with sheep or cattle would …
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Photo of a puppy gazing at sheep through a fence
QUESTION: I have a young Border Collie puppy which I want to use for herding our sheep. How can I tell if he’s interested in working? ANSWER: If one or more of your pup’s parents works sheep or other livestock, …
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Speed

How to slow your dog down! Photo of sheepdog Ezra, too close and too fast around sheep
QUESTION: My dog works too fast around stock. How can I slow it down? ANSWER: Dogs get excited by many things, not least being near to sheep or cattle. In its excitement the dog runs faster because speed makes it …
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Close-up photo of border collie sheepdog Quinn
QUESTION: I know most people have the opposite problem, but how can I get my dog to go faster when it’s working? ANSWER: You’re right. Most trainers struggle to slow their dogs down, but if you have good control of …
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Technique

Close-up photo of Trainee Sheepdog Portia for our 'stop shouting at my dog' blog
QUESTION: My dog ignores my commands unless I yell at it. How can I stop shouting at my dog? ANSWER: It’s important to try to work your dog quietly whenever possible. Once it will obey commands given in your normal …
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Welfare

Sheepdog trainer working close to the dog
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 …
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At what age should my dog retire? Kay worked into her old age
QUESTION: My working sheepdog it getting older and slower now. At what age should he retire? ANSWER: There is no set age for a dog to retire, some keep on working to a very old age, and others retire quite …
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Working breeds

Huntaway dog herding a bunch of sheep towards some farm buildings
QUESTION: I’m getting a Huntaway to work my sheep and cattle but I can’t find any Huntaway or Blue Heeler specific training on the internet. Are they the same as Border Collies? ANSWER: The basics such as general dog behaviour …
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If you can’t find the answer to your question among the frequently asked questions about sheepdog and cattle dog training. Feel free to ask the question yourself, using the form below. (We try to answer questions within a day or so). (Top)

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