Eve at the Pen – Sheepdog Training Video

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Getting sheep into a tight spot, and then getting them out again, needs confidence and control

Close-up of trainee sheepdog Eve
Eve is a bright, intelligent and eager young dog. She's quick to learn and eager to please.

Practising any particular technique, time and time again, becomes boring for handler and dog, so don't be afraid to tackle something new with your young dog, even if you think he might not be quite ready. There's no harm in broadening the dog's horizons, and encouraging it to think.

In this tutorial we see Eve, a keen young dog whose training's progressing pretty well. The basics are in place; Eve flanks nicely and (usually) stops well, but she still shows some tyro weaknesses - she favours "Away" to "Come Bye", and her stop isn't so good when she feels under pressure. However, a lesson in and around the pen doesn't only teach penning, it gives us the opportunity to work on Eve's stop and flanks, to introduce the "Look Back" (when she fails to bring all her sheep cleanly to the pen) and to help build her confidence to get between the sheep and the fence.

sheepdog Eve brings a small flock of sheep into a pen
Eve's brought the sheep into the pen nicely but what happens when she tries to get them out again?

Although the work may be new and different for the dog, for the handler the rules are the same as ever. Just as when working in the training ring or out in the field, you must remain - or appear to remain - calm and confident, and to use the training stick in exactly the same way as usual to either block or support the dog's decisions.

The tutorial uses three camera angles and shows the entire lesson twice, making this one of our longest tutorials yet (over half an hour). To help you understand exactly what's happening, the first session is at half-speed with a full commentary. It's not always a slick performance (by man or dog - or sheep!) but then, training very rarely is.   Visit the Tutorials Library.

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6 Replies to “Eve at the Pen – Sheepdog Training Video”

  1. I have a young dog who is very attached to me getting her to go out on her own is a big problem. She wants to stay at my side once moving she does great. I am frustrating my trainer because he has never seen a dog do this before. I have always had the dog that just wanted to work. She is 13 months old. I don’t want to give up on her yet.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Matthew.
      It’s very frustrating when a dog wants to stay close to you all the time, but it can be overcome. First, you need the dog to have a good stop. Then you get the dog to stay in place while YOU move to the other side of the sheep (best done with just a handful of sheep at first). Whenever the dog is more or less on the other side of the sheep from you, be sure to give it plenty of praise with a soft voice.
      Once the dog will stay on the other side of the sheep for a few moments, move back away from the sheep and encourage the dog to bring them to you as per our Backwards is the way forward tutorial.
      The dog will soon begin to get the idea that it should be on the opposite side of the sheep from you.

  2. Hi Andy,
    I noticed in the video you were using a ‘stand’ command rather than ‘lie down’ (which I seem to remember you saying was better) and wonder if there is any significance?

    I’ve heard differing opinions on which is ‘best’, (although my bitch doesnt respond to either!) and wonder if you could shed some light?

    many thanks
    all the best
    stuart

    1. Hello Stuart,
      Thanks for your comment. I realise it’s a little confusing because I generally prefer “Lie down” to “Stand” but some of the dogs that come here have already started their training. In Eve’s case, she was used to “Stand” rather than “Lie down” so I used that initially. As I trained her on, I gradually changed her over to “Lie down”.
      These days, I prefer to use “Lie down” because it’s softer – and it lends itself well to being stretched out (so the dog hears the command for longer) I find this can make a big difference with some dogs.
      (It’s all about being calm but in control).

  3. Hi Andy

    Thanks for a great tutorial, I really enjoyed it and found it extremely helpful, I can’t wait to practice with Rhys.

    It was good to see Kay showing us how it should be done!

    1. Hello Alison,
      Glad you liked the tutorial – We enjoyed making it too. Eve’s a lovely dog as you can see, but of course, Kay didn’t hang around when it came to getting the sheep out!

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