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I'm just wondering how & when people teach a dog to leave the sheep when a session is over.


My pup is 13mths & has been on sheep 4 times in a yard. She is very keen and so far, I have just stopped her and taken her collar to take her out of the yard.


We will start working a a field the next time I take her to sheep. I'm just wondering at what stage you start to teach them to leave the sheep & follow you out without a collar and the different methods of teaching it.


I have about 1000 questions, but thought I'd try to start with an easy one.




Vickie & Trim

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When I started with Celt, he had a very good recall. I think that is essential, so make sure that your dog has an excellent recall and also a very good "down" when not working with the stock.


Do not move to working in a larger area until you and your dog are ready to do so. Before you move into the larger area, where control will be more difficult, etc., your dog must have a good recall and down, and be under your control.


When you are working and want the dog to leave the stock and come to you, use "that'll do, come" as the command. The ideal is for the dog to leave the stock and come right to you, straight up to the front of you and facing you.


If the dog is not likely to leave the stock to come to you, give the "down" command and walk up to the dog, attach the lead to the collar, and leave the stock with the dog on lead. Do not hold the collar or drag with the leash in a way to make this unpleasant.


One thing to practice is to work the dog with the stock a little bit, then have the dog come to you ("that'll do, come"), praise, and set the dog up to work again. Doing this repeatedly will teach the dog that the command does not necessarily mean the end of the work but that it also means that you are just preparing him for another round of work with the stock. It helps to keep the command from becoming something he doesn't want to hear.


Good luck with your training!

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I second the suggestion of calling off several times in a session and immediately returning to work. My trainer does this from day one and I've picked up the habit too.


You'll have to give your dog the freedom to decide to come to you, or not, at some point. Better to do it in the smaller area now. Then, if he ignores you, it's much easier to go get him!


Work on recall first, seperately from the off lead exit from the pen. Make sure he'll stop and come to you from any reasonable angle and distance (obviously not when the sheep are between you or RIGHT beside you, but any other time). Be consistent and don't make up excuses. You might want to use a long line to help you catch him and keep him from rewarding himself with a return to the sheep, but don't use it to MAKE him come back.


After he is solid on his recall, you can work on going out together. Before that, use the leash (being collared is pretty unpleasant and should really be reserved for a correction - that's what should happen when he DOESN'T come when called :rolleyes: ). Just keep calling him and then use whatever word you'll use to keep him there - heel or here or whatever you choose. Then when he turns back to the sheep (and he should if he's a good dog), just say NO, repeat the recall and the heel commands and keep going.


I'd also repeat this a couple times before you actually leave. A dog should never feel like "this command means we're not working anymore today" and either panic or run off. You never know when you have to do JUST ONE MORE THING, even after you thought you were through. Seems like there's always another sheep to look at, a lamb out of place, a fence broken requiring sheep to be moved to another paddock - you get the picture. The dog should be able to accompany you anywhere around your operation, relaxed and waiting for the next chore.

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Thank you Sue & Rebecca,


She has a pretty good recall normally and we are having success with stops but I haven't as yet called her to me after stopping her, so will start to do this & then return her to work.


"You'll have to give your dog the freedom to decide to come to you, or not, at some point."


I know this is true, LOL, I'm never good at first time stuff, always a bit nervous. Then I always wonder why I made such a big deal of it, LOL.


I'm a little nervous about a field as well but everyone who has seen her tells me she is ready, so I'll have to trust those who know more than I do. I am also extremely fortunate to have her breeder as my teacher & mentor, so her first time in a field will be with someone who knows her and the way she is likely to work.


I'll let you know how we go.


Vickie & Trim

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Hi Vickie. How's your summer going? We've been pretty cool most of the time down here.


I must admit I cheat with Kirra sometimes - and after "That'll do/Here to me" I sometimes say - "Let's go find some more sheep." I tend to do that when we do have another job to do, and so now that's pretty powerful for her. I've found the more work we get, the easier it is for her to come back to me and/or walk past sheep without trying to work them ("Not those ones").


Yes, do trust your trainer to know when you're ready for the field. I can still remember the day it happened for me - end of May last year - and late July when we went to our first big mob - scary - but I figured my trainer wouldn't put her sheep at too much risk - or risk the progress we'd made to that point. I don't think Kirra and I will ever be a trialling combination, but it's so magical to be able to do real work.

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Hi Barb, I usually prefer a stinking hot summer over anything else but it's been so hot here that I'm craving the cold. It's so hard on the dogs and the sheep in this heat. They do adjust training times to start earlier in the morning or later in the evening, so that is some help.


We got our first go last week at real work, moving sheep around from pen to pen to give them a break. It was fun & although it wasn't as smooth as in the yard, we got the job done.


It's a 4hr drive for me to work her with her breeder, so it's something we wont be able to do every week. I have joined a club nearby but the methods of training are a little different and not what I want, so for now it's a matter of learning at one place & practising at another.


I'm also reading everything I can get my hands on, and have been listening to Katy Croppers A Dogs Life in the Dales. I guess you could say I'm just a bit obsessed.


I've no idea whether we'll end up trialling. A month ago, I hadn't even considered it, but a couple of things have happened to make me think about it as a possibility one day. We'll see.

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Be careful - you're getting the addiction, I can tell! My drive is only a bit over an hour each way, and my trainer is a friend who has a sheep farm - ideal! There's no doubt, I think, that doing even 'made-up' jobs is great for both novice handler and dog. From the handler's point of view, you have a clearer idea of what should happen, and can really appreciate the dog's effort when it does happen. We've used 'real' work as a reward for Kirra after she's been drilling some particular aspect. Though lately it's been all work. Today she helped load some wether lambs into a truck - including pushing them up the ramp onto the top level. She did a really good job, I'm happy to say.

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