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Two Dogs, First Time on Sheep

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Hi all, 

I have been fascinated by sheep and sheepdogs for years now. I finally took the dive and brought my Border collies to see sheep. Neither of them are ideal candidates for herding, which I get into below, but I am wondering if others have any comments:

Dog 1: 5 years old, bred for herding and out of successful working/trialing sheepdogs. Trained for and competes in dog sports-- Upon seeing sheep, she showed no interest. She wanted to stick by my side and showed only interest in me. She was really meek and uncertain and the sheep seemed to sense this by turning towards her and stomping at her. 

Dog 2: Two years old, from a rescue. Purebred and originally from a breeder, but unknown lineage-- He showed interest right away. But, he was a barking mess and flew around, chasing the sheep like a madman. The trainer said we could try and work with this, but to my untrained eye, he did not seem different than any other dog chasing livestock.

Please feel free to ask more questions about them, as I am not sure what details I should include for now.

My questions are: if you saw either of these dogs on sheep, would you bother continuing to work with them? What do you like to see in a dog who is introduced to sheep? Is it ever the case that a dog shows no interest the first time but does the next? What about a dog that barks like crazy? And finally, is it too late for these "older" dogs to begin? 

I'd have the opportunity to work my dogs about once a week.  I am trying to determine if we'd have any future in this activity or if I should just wait a few years until I get my next working bred BC (and have a more in depth idea of my goals)? 

Any comments would be much appreciated for this newb! 


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It's not at all unusual for dogs' first introductions to sheep to be disappointing, especially if they're adults and haven't had any prior exposure. Some dogs simply don't know what to do right away and it may take a few exposures for their instincts to click in. Others are just so excited they can't control themselves and they have to settle down and be calm enough to figure it out.

It's up to you to know how much time and money you want to invest to see if anything might develop with either one of them. It may, or it may not. I know that's not very helpful, but it is what it is.

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I agree with GentleLake. The younger dog may settle down with more exposure; the older dog may turn on with a few more tries. The key will be if he is willing to take direction/corrections from the trainer. He, at least, doesn't sound like a good candidate for you to learn on (just because the barking/seeming chasing will make it difficult for you to learn because you'll be worried about the stock, whereas an experienced trainer may well have the skill to redirect his instinct to useful work). The older dog may surprise you. Sometimes dogs who start slow will quickly change to being a little "wilder" once they gain confidence. The real point is that you can't know if either dog is worth training without at least a few more exposures to stock.



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A part of me really wants to jump into training because I've been interested for so long, and I'd like to eventually get my own fiber flock to work with. But right now we have no sheep and a third dog isn't in the forecast.

I'm just itching for experience! 

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