Jump to content
BC Boards

new member and beginners question


Recommended Posts



This is my first post to this list, but i already absorbed a lot op information form it. Thanks! I live in Holland, own sheep and two border collie bitches (2 and 3 years old) both working the sheep.That's my short introduction, now my question.


When i (try to ) send my young bitch for a mini outrun and i am in front of the sheep (between her and the sheep), she more or less refused to go and is glued to the heads of the sheep. I will give her some room and step aside so that she can see the sheep but as long as there is no motion she will stay put. When i try to rill her up a little bit and step in her direction she is likely to take off in a straight line to the sheep passes me to dive through the sheep, go the the opposite site of them and lie down or bring them back to me.


I tried a couple of things to solve this problem. One of which is not creating such a extreem off balance situation, in which she clearly is very unconferable, but sending her form my feet. She will kick out to start with, but as soon as she come at the same level of the sheep or already before that, she is very likely to come in, cross and skatter the sheep, but will bring them to my feet wherever they will go.


She is very keen, a little one-sided, holds the sheep to me nicely and smoothly without commands but will not respond to my flanking command when, again, we (I - sheep - she) are in a straight line. I frequently have to drag the sheep more or less around her to make her take a flank. I guess this problem is related.


Any suggestions to tackle this problem?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Erica,

It sounds like she if feeling the pressure and may also have too much eye. In other words, she is using her eye to hold them in postion and stop them from coming towards you. She is reluctant to go on an outrun becasue it means, by definition, giving up the pressure before re-engaging the sheep once she is behind them. If you do get her started on an outrun, her eye is sucking her in part way there.

Things to try: Reverse the pressure so that the sheep want to go away from you rather than toward you. Put sheep in an adjoining pasture as a draw or put the group you are working between you and the gate to home. That way, your dog will need to go around them to get to their heads, which will be pointed away from you.

Have the sheep running away when you send your dog. She will be stimulated to go around them to catch them and turn them back.

Use lighter sheep. They won't just be standing there staring at you like cows. A dog with a lot of eye has trouble moving when the sheep are still.

Have someone holding for you who keeps them moving around with the set out dog. Again, motion is good.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Andrea,


She indeed has a lot of eye. When i first started her (at about 14 mounth of age) she immediately got behind the sheep (nice) but it was almost impossible to get her flanking or to circle the sheep using my body pressure (no so nice).

Now she knows her flanks and i keep her moving and on her feet as much as possible. But (for some reason :rolleyes: i started practising outruns rather static...


Yesterday i set her up for an outrun next ot my side, waited for the sheep to drift away (motion as you mentioned), sent her in de direction the sheep were going (so that is could take the "shortest" route to their heard without crosssing), and at the same time i started running toward the sheep.


She started nicely, hasitated a little when she came on the same level of the sheep, saw me comming running to the sheep (and shouting "get back, away!), kicked out again and finnished her outrun fine.

Needless to say i was very content!


Today i practised similar things, made everything very loose and moving while staying (me) far from the sheep and she worksed fantastic.


I guess she is most stressed when i am close to the sheep and she is not at the balance point. When i am further away form the sheep she seems less worried about not being at the balance point and flanks nicely and squarly. She needs to learn to take flanks when i am close to and in front of the sheep, but for now i am goning to make things easy for her to build her confidence.


Thanks for you suggestions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"She needs to learn to take flanks when i am close to and in front of the sheep . . . "

Yes, you are right, and the time will come when you will need to insist on it, once she really understands what an outrun is. However, it will be easier to get that once you free up her eye. I call a friend of mine who is really good with eyed dogs a "perpetual motion machine."


Link to comment
Share on other sites



Do you have "Lessons from a Stockdog" by Bruce Fogt? I think it has the best explanation about putting pressure on the dog to go out properly- along with clear diagrams that help you know what position you should be in. I waited way too long before getting it.. you can probably order it from Border Collies In Action- I would highly reccommend it.


J. Green

Las Vegas, NV

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi J.Green,


As a matter of fact, i do have the book you mention and re-read some parts of it just now. If you are referring the to description of the "aggressive dominance correction" for slicing in at an outrun, i think i now do something similar although maybe less forcefull. I run out together with the dog (me straight to the sheep ) as to avoid her from comming in and stopping to eye the sheep. I did not yet went agressively towards her, though.

I noticed that in the diagrams the handler's positions is not so very close to the sheep and not directly in front of the sheep (from the dog's view) which was my initial position to start doing outruns, but a little bit to one side. I think that this (re)positioning is part of the solution for me and me dog's problem.

Anyway, if you meant something else please let me know.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Erica: Your method of preventing slicing may in fact be appropriate for your situation.




The reason a more forceful correction is *normally* recommended is that you need to teach your dog once and for all that violating the sheep's flight zone by slicing is completely and absolutely tabu - whether you are there or not. Your goal, of course, is to have the dog doing the right thing when you are 800 yards away.


If your dog is reasonably keen and not too soft, probably it will take a more dramatic correction to get the point across. But if you have a soft dog or one who may not yet be fully "turned on", then maybe your are right on.


If you are not careful, you may teach your dog to always shape the outrun according to your presence instead of according to the sheep.


I guess the test of whether your method is appropriate is: Does it work? What I mean is this. If, after a few of your outrun drills where you block the sheep, you choose not to run in and block off the sheep, does the dog in fact consistently widen the outrun compared to the early slicing?


The usual fine print: unless someone actually sees you and your dog, their advice is pretty much worth what you paid for it. And, even if they DO see you and your dog ...



Link to comment
Share on other sites



Well, i totally agree with you that teaching a dog not to violate the sheep's flight zone is very important and has to be done early in training, and i do not hesitate to use a forful correction if necessary, soft or hard dog doesn't matter. With this dog, however, i have problems to get her moving at all when set up for an outrun and i am standing close to the sheep (in a position to correct her if she is wrong). She is eye-ing the sheep and get very rilled up when i put pressure on her to move, resulting in her flighing into the sheep (exactly the opposite i aim at). Btw. she is very keen and can take correction pretty well. But everything happens so fast that i am not able to block her (she will switch sides very fast).


I noticed that when i walk with her to the sheep, she is very cautious and tries to kick out and go around the sheep to bring them to me. That is why i tried to let her go...


On short distances her outrun is improving. This is not always possible (my sheep run away now and then) On longer distances she is likely to slice in and cross as soon as the sheep turn, go around them and bring the to me.

If i run out with her to prevent her from slicing and crossing she will kick out and continue her outrun properly.


I plan to practise this way a little more until she know what an outrun is and then to resort to the more traditional setup (me closer to the sheep) and see what she does (and if i a can push her out if necessary). This is because i also want her to learn to take flanks when i am in front of the sheep.


Does this make any sense?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To talk theory for a moment.

You say: "I guess she is most stressed when i am close to the sheep and she is not at the balance point."

Technically she is at the balance point, or more specifically at ONE POSSIBLE balance point. The sheep are standing still facing you. An eyed dog is very reluctant to "rock the boat." Everything is under control at this point. If you try to get her to disengage so she can reestablish balance on the other side of the sheep, she flies in because of her eye.

Later you say: "I noticed that when i walk with her to the sheep, she is very cautious and tries to kick out and go around the sheep to bring them to me. That is why i tried to let her go..." Again, I wonder whether the act of walking towards the sheep causes them to turn and move away, or at least THINK of doing so, which you dog picks up. That is why she is now willing to go around them and turn them back to you.

So, to come to my point in a roundabout way, I personally would be more inclined to keep the sheep moving AT THIS STAGE so that she wants to go out and around, rather than FORCING her to do so in a static situation. I am always inclined to think that preventing a dog from doing what its eye or whatever is driving it to do by pushing her out and off the sheep is papering over a problem that will resurface later. Better to create a situation where she WANTS to kick out ie it feels right to kick out and go around.

Just another opinion,


Link to comment
Share on other sites



I have been very buzzy, therefore a delayed response.


Keeping things in motion, does indeed help. Kaina (my bitch), is working more relaxed and she is increasing the distance between her and the sheep (without me pushing her out).


Thanks for the suggestions.




I do not know a Tony, and i did not know that written text can reveal an accent :rolleyes:

Link to comment
Share on other sites




Maybe i do know Tony by his last name ... If he participates in trail here i most likely have seen him and his dog.


And, .. i have new sheep (this year lambs). Today we worked them (together with a small dog-broken flock) and they are very nice: they do not come to the handler when a dog is spotted (so the dog can do the job), however, at some point in training two of them successfully avoided the dog by lying down (flat on the ground) and keeping very still.

They did not seem stressed or exhausted at all ...


When i sent my bitch to collect such a flat lying sheep she did not really know what to do. (Together, we got her back on her feet to joint the rest).


I guess that they will settle and learn that (here) we do not tolerate lying down and hiding behind long grass and bushes...


But just out of curiosity:

Does anyone has any experience with this type of sheep behavior???

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, I had a pancake lamb. She started it when she was a bit wormy and learned the dog would pass her by if she laid down.


It ws a problem until I worked a German Shepherd on her and her friends, and the GSD got very excited by the one showing weakness, rather than the opposite. She took her by the neck and pulled her back to the flock and then every time the lamb started to hang back the shepherd would get very excited again, even cutting her out and chasing her around, which seemed against the purpose - but it worked, because that lamb has worked nicely ever since. No more pancakes.


What's the point? I don't know, I don't think I needed the German Shepherd dog, that's for sure. I think by being consistent in going over and getting the lamb up every time she pulled she pancaked I'd do two things. First, I'd get it in her head that she couldn't get away with that stunt. Second, I'd be helping my dog understand that it wasn't acceptable to leave one behind unless I said so.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Coming in a bit late on this thread, but if the dog is getting hung up on the outrun, my advice would be to shorten the outrun until she doesn't get hung up, even if it means walking straight up to the sheep with her at heel (or on a lead until the sheep start to move away.


Then, rather than working on outruns, just let the dog balance sheep to you -- keep walking backwards as she brings them. After a while, she'll develop the confidence, depth, and comfort she needs to get past that initial contact point with the sheep.


My young dog Tweed was like this for a while. He now gets to that point, I see his head flick in as he feels the contact with the sheep, but now, rather than crossing or locking onto them, he kicks out wider. He's a lovely outrunning dog.


The last thing you want to do is to discourage this kind of contact with the sheep. A real outrunner is in contact with the sheep from the moment he leaves your side until you call him off. Your dog's contact is causing a problem right now because she's responding to it incorrectly, but the contact itself is a very good thing. You just need to help her get comfortable in getting past that point and take control of the sheep from the correct point.


The other thing you can do if the dog locks up or comes in too tight on your side of the sheep is to lie her down, walk up to her and shoosh her around again from closer. See Derek Scrimgeour's tape "A Hill Shepherd Trains His Border Collies" for examples of this.


Again, you're not discouraging contact, but correcting the dog's response to it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites



You said "When i sent my bitch to collect such a flat lying sheep she did not really know what to do. (Together, we got her back on her feet to join the rest)."


If one lies down, try bringing the others back to the one laying down. Most likely it will jump up when the others come near it and trot off with the group.


Nancy O

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I keep the outruns short (15 - 20 m) in cases where the sheep

cooperate, but sometimes i have to send my dog because the sheep will

keep running away ... In this set-up i am not near the sheep but near

my dog. And start running toward the sheep as she runs out (but i am

not that fast).


My initial problem with practicing mini-outruns was that my bitch (Kaina) did

not want to move when the sheep are standing still (close to me) and i am

between her and the sheep, a little of the line. Me walking up to

her and trying to shoo her around the sheep resulted in her coming

straight to the sheep, racing through (without gripping) and lying down

and the opposite site, turning the sheep back to me. I tried to block her path straight to the sheep and push her back and around, but she out-maneuvers me.


I still do not really know how i should address this problem. She want

to do i right (i think), but she also enjoys rushing to the other site she

i am afraid.... For now more or less try to avoid the problem because

i do not want to her to form bad habits. I try to keep everthing in

motion which seems to help a little, but she gets wilder too.


I do a lot of balance work, without commands just body position. When

doing so, Kaina has a very strong tendency to her right and

wants to keep control of the leading sheep. I can block her and

she will stop, but she will not turn back behind the sheep, or to the

balance point where she belongs. With larger flocks (20 or so), she

might even split the flock and keep concentrating on the leader. She

will not take a flank command when she is glued to the leader (i do

not even try), instead i "drag" the sheep around her so that it is

natural for her to go back (to her left) and behind the sheep.

Switching balance points really fast and trotting backward helps, but

i can only do this a short period.


I can imagine that her getting hung up at her outrun (or crossing and

flying through the sheep) and the problem i described above are




As for the flat lying lambs, i normally would take a group to a single

one. Doing so with the lying lambs (two of them had

this habit) would bring her up to join the group. However, going to

them with my dog and pull them back on their feet sort of cured

them from the habit. We do not have problems with them any longer :rolleyes:.


Well, a little bit long, but i really do appreciate your suggestions and commends.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...