This is not so much an article as a short “memo” to a question I was asked today.
I have a friend that has just bought a place and has her first sheep. We were working and I mentioned her sheep wouldn’t let a dog control them. They spent the entire time just running, no matter what kind of pressure the dog was putting on them. So, we talked about some of the issues that cause this response in her sheep and what she could do to help.
I said “short and sweet” answer is the last work the sheep have … is what they will remember- the first work the next time out. In other words – IF she stopped working them while they were running – the lesson learned – run and the dog goes away.
Take the time to work the sheep until they are responding to WHAT the dog is doing not just because a dog is behind them. You are teaching the sheep how to react to a dog – good or bad – every time you work them. You want a dog working forward and in contact. You want the sheep respecting the dog BUT to get that respect … He needs to respect the sheep’s space and what they require to feel comfortable. If they are running all the time they are feeling a constant threat from the dog and aren’t relaxed enough to walk. You need to figure out what distance makes them move but not run. So, work them until they are settled enough to walk then call the dog off – don’t call the dog off while they are still running or the lesson they learned was run and the threat will go away