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How to Train Young Dogs Naturally for Stock work - Working Commands

  • While keeping the sheep against a fence line, call your pup to your side and encourage it to go out from there to gather the sheep for you.
  • Place yourself strategically to help the sheep move off the pup.
  • Then back off and allow it to drive them to you.
  • If the pup is too aggressive, step in and steady the sheep against the fence.
  • You may have to hold up your hands and move towards the pup to enforce your authority.
  • If all is well, step back and allow the sheep to move between you and the fence.
  • Now your pup must come around cleanly behind you to catch them from the other side.
  • Move out and perhaps hold your stick out to encourage a clean wide cast.
  • Use spoken and whistled commands for:
  • Go left
  • Go right
  • Stop
  • Walk Up
  • Steady
  • If pressure builds up, teach “That’ll Do” to move the pup back off the mob.
  • This command will be used later when asking your dog to leave the stock it is working to recast for some other animals.
  • The pup may dive in to grab a sheep. Don’t allow this.
  • Move in quickly between it and the sheep, growl a warning and hold your stick out to deter a further attempt at closing in.
  • Remain calm.
  • If the pup becomes excited, steady the situation down by blocking the sheep yourself.
  • Remember that it is easier to steady a strong pup than to encourage an uncertain one.
  • Observe your pup during early attempts at stock work and help it to make a success of these efforts.
  • Be patient and persistent while you establish the basic commands.
  • By coming around behind you to head the sheep, the pup learns to be clean and wide in its cast.
  • This is important and you should see that the pup gives the sheep plenty of room.
  • To further establish the “Right” and “Left” commands, teach it to come part way round from the fence and then back again.
  • Now drive the mob along the fenceline while teaching your pup to “Walk Up”, “Stand” and walk up from beside you and then even go ahead of you.
  • After about half a dozen lessons, the pup will be experienced enough to cope with stock away from the fence line.
  • Take the sheep out into a clear area, and after they have been headed, call the pup off balance to come round behind you and swing out fast to catch the balance beyond the sheep.
  • Just a few of these lessons will suffice, as dogs prefer to learn during general stock work.
  • At this stage you could allow your young dog to quietly work a few quiet animals by itself.
  • Ideally you will be nearby doing some other work but able to observe the young dog.
  • It will be leaning better basic stock handling skills on its own rather than under the pressure of being commanded.
  • If it happens to start crowding these animals growl it back off them - "Go outside!"
  • Take care not to interfere with the pup’s work more than you must.
  • Help it to develop a natural style by allowing it to move freely to cover any attempts by the stock to elude control.
  • This is preferable to a mechanical response to the shepherd’s commands.
  • Aim to handle the sheep without causing any alarm or stress.
  • Remember that training close at hand is much easier to manage than attempting to teach a dog when it is far away from you.

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