DVD – First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training

"One of the best sheepdog training DVDs available"!

The DVD and its Case for First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training
At last! A sheepdog training DVD that's specially for beginners who want to train their very first sheepdog - and who don't have the advantage of an already trained sheepdog to assist them. This programme was specifically designed for beginners and will give you more information on training a sheepdog than any other DVD currently available

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Unlike any other herding sheepdog training programme you've ever seen before, "First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training" really does guide you through the difficult early stages of training, even if you're a complete beginner.

Professionally recorded and presented in a clear, easy to understand manner by sheepdog trainer Andy Nickless, from Worcestershire, England, this 2xDVD set demonstrates not only how to approach sheepdog training, but what to do when things go wrong (as they will for even the best sheepdog trainers).

  • How and where to start training a sheepdog.
  • Sheepdog training as it REALLY IS - you'll see things going wrong, as well as right.

It's the first training herding and sheepdog training video to explain simple but vitally important factors such as dog and sheep behaviour, as well as how you can set up the ideal training area to make training as simple and convenient as possible.

Whether you're a hobby sheep keeper, smallholder, aspiring sheepdog trialler or farmer, this unique down-to-earth double-DVD clearly explains the natural instinct of the Border Collie Sheepdog and how (with patience, determination and simple preparation) it can easily be developed into a really useful working dog.

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Formats: PAL / NTSC - Run Time: 160+ mins - Widescreen.

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12 Replies to “DVD – First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training”

  1. I ended up with two mixbreed dogs in Kyrgystan. Neighbours found the 2 girls on a field, and after some nice words they started protecting my house, unasked. In order to control their (very motivated) barking I started training them. They are probably 6-7 months old, but I can now have one lie down, and call the other (with the first one waiting). They generally live freely, the territory is unfenced. And here’s the problem: if they spot any sheep around here (from neighbouring shepherds) they would chase them, barking and running after (same with cows, horses). But more surprisingly, I spotted once that they circled the sheeps, so I ended up with 30 sheeps starring at me and 2 dogs perfectly (balanced?) running around them. I just had to wait on one spot of the circle and one after the other run into me. I shouted at them, but they seemed very angry almost driven to get back…

    Local shepherds want to shoot them. Ideally they would ignore the sheeps, as most dogs here do. What training approach is best? To keep training that they ignore, or to try to control their behaviour? Is any of the described behaviour related to a shepherd dog, or is it a basic hunting instinct? Thank you

    1. Without more information, it’s difficult to know how to advise you for the best, Katja.
      Any dog which is allowed near livestock without proper training, will surely get into trouble eventually. Dogs are descended from hunting animals and their natural instinct is to hunt for food. Even dogs which are well fed will still hunt (and eventually attack) livestock because it’s in their instinct. The dogs you describe clearly have this hunting instinct.
      If dogs live in a domestic situation they are less likely to run off and attack livestock if they are properly supervised at all times. The more dogs are allowed to run free, the more likely they will attack livestock at some point.
      If you have encouraged these dogs to stay with you, then you will be presumed responsible for their actions, so you must ensure the dogs don’t harm livestock. In the UK, farmers and shepherds are perfectly within their rights to shoot dogs which chase their animals. I don’t know what the legal situation is in your country.
      The behaviour of the dogs strongly suggests that they could be trained to work livestock, but I don’t know whether you want (or have the time and the facilities) to do that. It should be possible, but the dogs need to be controlled (shut away or at least kept in an enclosure) when they are not being trained.
      It would be a big responsibility for you, and of course, your neighbouring farmers would be watching very closely.

  2. I have a 14 month old sheepdog, Cass, who is very bouncy and kind natured but is showing absolutely no interest in sheep at all. How do I go about getting her interested in sheep or am I better to move her on and concentrate on a younger dog my dad currently has (only 7 months, but who is already interested in sheep)?
    If I am to persevere with Cass can you suggest what I should be doing to get her interested in sheep and how I should start trying to train her. I am on a working farm but this will be the first dog I have actually trained although I can gather sheep using our two older dogs, on a very agricultural basis, but I can get them where I want them. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated. thanks Sarah

    1. Dogs, and in particular border collies, are creatures of habit. The longer the pattern of their life goes along comfortably without change, the more entrenched that pattern of life can become in their makeup and the more difficult it can become to change that pattern. At just fourteen months though, there’s no real reason why your dog shouldn’t take an interest in sheep. If you watch the “First Steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training” DVD you’ll see Zoe start to take an interest in working at about the same age as your dog. Zoe went on to become an excellent sheepdog.

      The oldest dog I ever got working after it showed a complete lack of interest in working was no less than ten years old, but that was exceptional. As a rule, the older the dog is, the harder it will be to trigger it’s work instinct so the sooner you get started with Cass, the better.

      If a dog from working lines is not interested in working sheep, there’ll be a reason for it. The most common reasons are:

      1. At some stage, something has caused the dog to be frightened by sheep. It may have been allowed to wander near them as a puppy, and perhaps one of the sheep threatened or even attacked the pup.
      2. If a puppy escapes and chases sheep, and then the owner is cross with the puppy when he or she catches it, that can be enough to put the pup (or older dog) off working, possibly permanently.
      3. Perhaps an over-enthusiastic owner has led the dog around a field of sheep thinking this will get the pup used to sheep when in fact, by restraining the dog, the owner was actually teaching it to ignore them!

      As you’ll see from the “First Steps” DVD, sheepdogs use an ancient hunting instinct when they work stock. In some cases this instinct seems to be dormant, so we need to awaken it in your dog. Very often, working the sheep with another dog will be enough to spark the interest of a reluctant dog, particularly if the trained dog can “spook” or startle the sheep when the passive dog is very close.

      Sudden movement of the sheep is very often the key to getting your dog to take an interest in chasing them.

      If it doesn’t work in the open field, get a handful of sheep into a yard or pen where there’s room for the animals to move around freely but not enough room to allow the passive dog to ignore what’s going on. In this pen, get the trained dog to hassle the sheep somewhat while you (and others if possible) do whatever you can to excite the dog. Clapping, shouting, whistling and other noises you can create, will all help but TAKE GREAT CARE NOT TO FRIGHTEN THE PASSIVE DOG. Untrained dogs barking excitedly on the outside of the pen, can be of particular help. If you can get your dog excited when it’s around sheep, you’re nearly there!

      If that’s not working, try walking your dog on a lead inside the enclosure. I know I said that walking a puppy around the edge of a field of sheep can give the wrong message to the youngster, but when the dog’s in an enclosed space near the sheep it can feel restrained by a lead, and more likely to be aggressive.

      Initially, it’s this aggression (or hunting instinct) we want to encourage. Obviously, you must take care that the sheep are not harmed while this is going on.

      While the sheep are in this confined area, there’s another trick that will often spark the dog’s interest but be very careful. MAKE SURE THERE ARE NO OTHER LOOSE DOGS AROUND and only do this if you’re prepared to be bitten by your dog.

      You should be in the pen with your passive dog and the sheep, nothing else. You then grab a sheep, and drag it away from the other sheep (or pretend to). This is like the pack leader deciding which sheep the pack will kill, so the others are likely to attack too. BE VERY CAREFUL and WEAR THICK GLOVES if you do this, because I can tell you from experience, the dog’s likely to bite the sheep in the same place that you grabbed it! You might get your hand bitten!

      I have to say, when I’ve done this in the past, I’ve been bitten on the hand by the dog, but never seriously. The dog has always realised it’s made contact with my hand, and released its grip immediately. You might not be so lucky, so do take care.

      When I mentioned “pretending” to drag a sheep away, it’s because I’ve noticed that if the sheep puts up a struggle, the dog is more likely to come to your help, so I try to hold the sheep in such a way as to allow it to jump around. I don’t hold onto the sheep’s leg because I don’t want to encourage the dog to bite the legs of sheep – particularly young sheep with soft tendons.

      While you are going through some or all of the steps above, watch your dog very carefully. Is it looking at the sheep, or is it totally ignoring them? Sometimes, the dog will refuse to acknowledge the existence of the sheep. Before now, I’ve managed to get the trained dog to gently bump the sheep into the dog, and despite being shoved to one side by them, the dog has still refused to acknowledge that the sheep exist!

      This doesn’t mean the dog won’t work though. Usually, if you persist, the methods I’ve outlined above will eventually work – but do be careful!

      If you notice the dog looking at the sheep, even just a glance, it’s a very good sign. If the dog looks at the sheep, you can usually spark its work instinct.

      Good luck with this, please let us know what happens – and BE CAREFUL!

  3. Hi,
    do I find the content of “First steps in B.C. sheepdog training” also in your online training videos?

    1. Hello Frank. Most of the issues raised in First Steps are revisited in greater depth in the online tutorials (or the tutorials DVDs). However, the online tutorials don’t (as yet) explain the very early basics that First Steps covers, such as explaining a little about sheep and sheep behaviour; choosing the sheep to train with; choosing a dog; and making the best of the training area you have available. First Steps also explains how and why dogs work the way they do, and it was produced specifically for anyone who wants to train a dog but has little or no previous experience with sheep or sheepdogs.
      I hope that helps? Thanks for the question. Gill

    1. We don’t have a distributor in Holland, Ed, but if you buy the DVD from us, you can pay in Euros:

      Alternatively, if you really don’t want to buy from our website, you can buy it on eBay or Amazon (UK).
      Best wishes, Andy

  4. I am very interested to know roughly how long it takes to train a sheep dog. Would they need training on a daily basis and what would be the best age of the dog to begin training.

    1. That’s a truly difficult question to answer, Ellie. I’ve started pups on sheep at eleven weeks, and I know of dogs that have won sheepdog trials before they were a year old, but I’ve also had dogs of nearly twelve months of age which were not really ready to start training.
      If I had to give you an answer, I think around nine months is the average age for starting a dog on sheep, but it really depends on so many things including the dog, the sheep, and the handler’s training skill.
      The same goes for how long it takes to train a sheepdog. I’ve had dogs which only took eight or nine lessons to become useful sheepdogs, and I’ve had others which take many, many more.
      There’s a very good example of this on our sheep and cattle dog training tutorials. Bronwen and Scylla are litter-sisters, but there the similarity ends. In her very first lesson, Bronwen was able to control the sheep, take them down the field, and get them into a training area. She’s now an accomplished and very useful sheepdog.
      After something like twenty lessons, Scylla still cannot be relied upon to control sheep in the open field – but she’s improving (slowly) and could even end up being the better of the two dogs.
      I’m sorry I can’t be more specific, but this is how it is with training dogs on sheep and cattle.

  5. I had tried to purchase the DVD “first steps in Border Collie Sheepdog Training” from 5mBooks, but the only format available was PAL. I live in the United States and my DVD player requires NTSC format.

    Do you sell this DVD in NTSC format?

    1. Hi Don,

      Yes, we have NTSC and PAL format. We automatically post the format for the destination country unless we’re asked otherwise.

      Hope that helps,


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