Little Dot – Andy’s first sheepdog

They say you ruin your first sheepdog . . .

Sheepdog Dot lying on a steep bank in North Wales


This is Dot. A daughter of Derek Scrimgeour's Ben, Dot was my first sheepdog back in 2002.

They say you ruin your first sheepdog, and there's certainly some truth in that. I was much too hard on Dot right from the beginning because I knew nothing about sheepdog training and I'd been told that unless you had a perfect stop on a dog it would never be any good. Since then, I've discovered for myself that this is not necessarily so.

These days I prefer to get the dog working reasonably well around the sheep and build its confidence. Then, if the stop hasn't already developed the way I want it to (and it's surprising how often the stop comes naturally during training) I'll apply more pressure to the dog to stop quickly when required.

Dot was a headstrong young dog, but I was so determined to stop her quickly that I believe I damaged her confidence. If I were given an opportunity to train Dot from the beginning again now, things would be very different.

One of the things I really liked about Dot was her driving. She was a natural driving dog, and eventually I sold her to someone in Idaho, USA as a cattle driving dog. I sometimes wonder whether she's still alive and if so, what she's doing now.

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4 Replies to “Little Dot – Andy’s first sheepdog”

  1. I suspect that we worry too much about things we cant go back and change Andy, and looking at what was available in 2002 for training Sheepdogs and whats available now I believe that now more than ever we are getting it right first time around.
    The variables I see in Dogs and Bitches and many not counting the gender differences and I have to say that Your and Gill’s work has enlightened so many that ruining your first dog would be far harder to do.

    3 or 4 DVD’s, a few books and a plethora of online resources and one finds that one has more than enough information to apply to the task at hand and if we stumble then we have even more resources to quickly and without great cost consult the Guru’s one on one or read of others who have stumbled before us and learn where we went wrong.

    Working with Dogs is a sacred trust and not to be taken lightly so armed with the knowledge available here we can do justice to the breed and humbly accept that we got it right the first time :-) and better every time after that.

    Tony

    1. Thanks Tony, I hope you’re right (about there being more good guidance for sheepdog trainers these days).
      I didn’t ruin Dot -she was a great farm dog – but if I’d known then what I know now, she’d have been an even better sheepdog than she was – I’m certain of that.

  2. Your post here has made me wonder if I’ve made some huge mistakes with Jock. When needed, he’s 100% reliable, but even though I have never made a move to smack him (or similar) he seems to have a permanently guilty conscience. Now he’s started another trick that I don’t seem to be able to stop, and I’m starting to think that I may have let it happen. Let’s hope I get it right in the end. It’s amazing when we look back on the dogs we have trained. I’d love to get my hands on some of my previous trainee’s and do it right, second time around.

    1. I think we all feel like that from time to time, Jenna. As well as feeling guilty about dogs that I’ve made mistakes with, sometimes I see video of a dog that I’ve sold and I kick myself for selling it! Is Jock’s new ‘trick’ to do with sheep work, or just obedience?

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