Out walking with twenty or more sheepdogs

Teaching the dogs to 'stay close' while walking in the woods

Spring really does seem to be with us now. There are lambs in the fields. young leaves on the trees, flowers in the hedgerows, and the grass is growing.

Delicate elm leaves in a spring hedge
These delightfully delicate elm leaves caught my attention in a hedge on this morning's walk. (Click to enlarge).

Such a huge relief after the winter, but of course, we are still worried about the lack of rain. The last few days have been damp, but not enough rain has fallen to make a real difference. If 2012 has a long hot summer, I dread to think what it will be like for farmers.

The dogs are oblivious to it all, of course. They are constantly anticipating the next exciting event - whether it's a run in the woods and along the local bridleways, or training on sheep, as long as there's plenty of activity, they're happy.

This morning I spent a few moments teaching the youngsters to 'stay-close'. This is the command I use when we are on the bridleway and I want the dogs to keep behind me. I start off buy walking backwards so that I can see any dogs or pups who are likely to 'break ranks' and run ahead.

Teaching the dogs to 'stay close' while walking in the woods
I took this picture while teaching the dogs to 'stay close' on this morning's walk. (Click to enlarge)

If this happens, we simply go the other way and the errant dog finds itself at the back again. They soon learn that they gain no advantage by being disobedient, and before long, they do as they're told.

Teaching dogs to 'stay-close' is really useful training for youngsters who are soon to start sheepdog work.


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