Free Sheepdog Training Assessments!

Send us a clear video of your sheepdog, cattle dog or stock dog training session for FREE advice!

We're looking at ways of improving our service to visitors to The Working Sheepdog Website - and that includes assessing videos of training sessions with your sheepdog, cattle dog (or any other herding dog which gathers livestock). If there's enough interest, we may offer a modified version of this service in exchange for payment, so this is your opportunity to get a free assessment of your dog's work.

If you'd like our opinion of your dog's work and how to improve it, get a friend to video one of your sheepdog or stock dog training sessions, then send it to us (details below). We'll watch the video and then we'll give you some advice on what's right, what's going wrong, why it's going wrong, and how to put it right.

We're not looking for professional quality but if we can't see what's happening, we can't help you. Try to keep the camera steady and avoid sudden movement. If possible, record on a still day to avoid wind noise. If we can't hear your commands or whistles, it's impossible to know whether the dog's obeying them!

Your video remains your property. We will never use your video in our own productions unless the you specifically grant permission.

We intend to watch all the suitable videos we receive, but we cannot be held responsible if we're unable to watch or comment for any reason.

Ways to send us your video:

    Copy your video to a USB stick or SD card and post it to us using the address on our contact page. Video size limited only by the capacity of the USB stick. Be sure to enclose your full name and contact details. Enclose paid return package if you require the USB Stick or SD Card to be returned.
  • DVD
    Copy your video file to a blank DVD and post it to us using the address on our contact page. Video size limited only by the capacity of the DVD. Be sure to enclose your full name and contact details. Enclose paid return package if you require the DVD to be returned.
    Upload your video file to YouTube or Vimeo and send us a link to it via our contact page. You may prefer to use YouTube's privacy setting if you don't want the video to be available to the public.
    Upload your video file to Facebook or Twitter and tag Andy Nickless (Facebook) or @SheepdogTeacher (Twitter). You may prefer to send the video in a private message (PM) if you don't want it to be available to the public. (Twitter users: Twitter only allows very short videos. Tag me in a tweet to let me know you want to send a video privately and I'll follow you to make this possible.)
    Upload your video file to one of the specialist file transfer websites such as WeTransfer, MailBigFile or Hightail. They all offer a free service and you can send us a link via email once the video is uploaded.

This is a special offer which will run for a short time and is limited to one short video per person. To take part, you do not need to be a paid subscriber to our sheepdog training tutorials, but the advice we give may advise you to watch one or more of the videos to help you understand the issue better.

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    For a very small monthly (or annual) subscription, watch many hours of expertly presented sheepdog training lessons. Not just theory - we show you what should happen, and what to do when things go wrong. Signup now
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Dogs aren’t the only ones who can learn

Our sheep have become experts at avoiding pressure

Our sheepdog training course yesterday was a great demonstration of just how clever sheep can be. Many people think sheep are very stupid, because to us, they seem to do some really silly things, but anyone who really knows about sheep has a lot more respect for them.

Closeup of Kay concentrating hard on her sheep
Little Kay was heroic when it came to returning difficult sheep to the training ring yesterday

Certainly, sheep can be unpredictable at times and often it's difficult to understand why they act the way they do, but the small bunch of training sheep we have at the moment have learned just how to avoid pressure from all but the smartest of dogs.

It began a few weeks ago when one of the sheep developed a knack of trotting smartly away from the remainder of the group whenever they were in a tight spot. There's nothing unusual in that though. Watch any sheepdog trial and you'll almost certainly see more than one errant sheep making a bid for freedom.

Usually it's no more than a minor inconvenience for a well trained dog. The dog's natural instinct tells it to keep the sheep together, and quite often it will bring the lone sheep back to rejoin the bunch immediately, without waiting for a command.

Our sheep have perfected an admirable new technique though. Recently, the moment one sheep (often the same one) departs in one particular direction, one or more of the remaining bunch immediately gallops off the other way!

A group of sheep splitting to avoid the dog
These sheep have learned to separate and run in opposite directions to avoid the dog

It's so clever! Most trainee dogs are defeated by it and even Kay, our most skilled herder, is sometimes too slow to keep them together. If the sheep go in opposite directions, you have to send the dog one way or the other to gather them, so one or more of them aways gets a better chance of running back up the field towards the rest of the flock.

On yesterday's sheepdog training course, the first dog into the ring was very bouncy and aggressive around the sheep, and it upset them. As a result, the poor sheep were extremely reluctant to go back into the ring whenever they had the opportunity to get out into the open field. Who can blame them?

Kay was nothing short of heroic when it came to returning the sheep to the fold, but eventually she became exhausted so Bronwen, who was doubling as a trainee dog, and eventually Ezra, had to deputise for poor Kay.

We're running another course tomorrow, so the dogs are getting a good rest today, and I've arranged some sheep hurdles to assist with returning our crafty sheep to the training ring.