Starting Dogs

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    Hello — I am really enjoying the course on starting dogs! I have watched part 1 and fifteen minutes of part 2.

    Question: How do you help dogs that want to constantly circle stock to be at the head rather than stop behind the sheep? It seems the dogs that are shown are naturally staying behind the sheep. Do you have videos of started dogs that circle the stock instead? Or is that behavior perhaps more indicative of handler error (ie. maybe the handler is constantly walking toward the dog’s tail and not changing directions or backing up to let the dog get to balance point)?

    Of note, in part 2, it is very difficult to understand what is being said during the cone figure 8 exercise (roughly minutes ten through fifteen).


    I have some additional questions now that I have watched the rest of part 2….

    As a follow-up to my prior question, I noticed the dog circling when Alasdair was talking around minute 24. Why is the dog doing that?

    Question 2: I noticed Alasdair often repeats the “lie down” command. How do you get the dogs to lie down the first time? Does that come with experience? Do you specifically change how you train that at a later time?

    Question 3: Around 40:40 in part 2, how did Alasdair know he needed the cones closer together?

    Question 4: Around 42:05 in part 2, the sheep get ahead of Alasdair. Do you have any videos of dogs that consistently push sheep past the handler? How do you address that?


    Hi Laura, When we first start a young dog we often allow them to continue to circle one direction and we only ask for a lie down once theyre ready, which certainly varies. Some dogs want to turn in naturally at balance but many run past and thats ok. It’s up to the individual dog as to when they are ready for a lie down and a good barometer for that is being certain they get back up with the same enthusiasm as before you asked for the lie down, if not, there’s a good chance that’s asking too much of your dogs at that time. In Starting dogs other than Zac the young dogs are a bit older . On The Academy we start several dogs before 12 months that illustrate some of your questions including Training Jake Part 1, Training Ted Part 1, Training Scot, Training Chip. In terms of lie downs you’ll find lots on that as well, Teaching Lie Down on and off sheep, How The Lie down can help you help your dog and Introducing the Lie Down on Sheep All of these can be found under Foundation, or by going to the drop down Sheepdog Training>Foundation. Also Figure 8’s for every level you’ll find helpful here, (Focusing on the first few stages), you can find that here, The reason we adjust the width of the cones in Starting dogs is to be certain there is enough sideways movement for the dog –the width can vary depending on the response of the sheep (more reactive vs. less reactive sheep). Moving them closer creates more reaction, hence more flank. As it relates to the very detailed questions about the video, we’d be happy to address those specific issues in a private lesson where we can drill into the detail while having the video available for discussion. Details for those can be found here, cheers!

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