Sheepdog Training 02 – Basic Requirements

Basic Requirements for Sheepdog Training.

Trainee stockdog Carew at work with a bunch of sheep

There are a few basic requirements you'll need to attend to if you wish to train a sheepdog. Apart from the dog, you'll need something for it to work with. Sheep, ducks or cattle are the usual animals to start your dog with, but all manner of other animals including goats, geese and turkeys are commonplace.

You may be interested to know that we produced our own sheepdog training DVD called "First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training" aimed specifically at beginners who want to learn how to train a sheepdog. The (2x) DVD set is different to others because it shows things going wrong (sometimes badly wrong) and then shows you how to put them right. It also spends time explaining how and why sheepdogs herd sheep and there's advice on choosing the best kind of sheep and which to avoid if possible.

The most important attribute a dog trainer can have is PATIENCE
The next is DETERMINATION

If you want to train a border collie to work sheep, you should understand that it's a long term project and put aside any desire for instant gratification and results. Having said that, every dog is an individual and sometimes, a dog's progress can be meteoric.

If every dog is an individual, then just as with humans, some are sensitive and some are hard. A working border collie can be a tough cookie - to train one, you sometimes have to be even tougher!

A Sheep or Cattle Dog Can Be A Tough Cookie!
To train one, sometimes you need to be even tougher!

Before you can properly train your first sheepdog, you should have some knowledge of the way their minds work and be prepared to take the blame for nearly everything that goes wrong because it will, in all probability, be your fault.

It's quite rare for a dog to be deliberately disobedient - more usually, they simply don't understand what we want them to do, so their instinct takes over. Just as often, our lack of understanding of how the dog's mind works and our high expectations turn to frustration when the poor dog doesn't deliver the result we wanted

There may be times when your dog ignores your commands and you would be justified in thinking he's just being disobedient - but the reason he's ignoring you is because he's not sufficiently bonded with you yet. He doesn't respect you sufficiently.

Work on gaining his total respect before anything else. It's up to you to demonstrate that by doing as you say, the job will be more efficient. And pleasurable for all concerned. This can take an awful lot of patience and understanding with some dogs - and be quite a quick process with others.

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