Can a sheepdog live in the house? (FAQ)

QUESTION: My dog is very enthusiastic and eager to work but she’s a bit timid and runs away from aggressive sheep. Are we spoiling her by keeping her in the house?

ANSWER: Living in the house shouldn’t affect the dog’s confidence when it works sheep, as such.

A more likely problem is that family members might ‘spoil’ the dog by making too much ‘fuss’ of it. Even this, isn’t bad though, as long as the dog knows that what goes on in and around the house, is totally different to what happens on the farm or around livestock.

When the dog’s on the farm, it must be keen and obedient.

Confidence could be an issue

If the dog gets a lot of play and ‘pampering’ around the house, it’s confidence in the face of livestock may suffer but there are plenty of things you can do to help build its confidence. You need to anticipate the situations where the dog will have difficulty with the stock, and make sure you’re as close as you possibly can be to it at those times.

Sheepdog trainer working close to the dog

The dog’s confidence with be considerably greater if it knows you’re close alongside it.

If the sheep are really stuborn, move them yourself – and if the dog dives-in and nips the sheep’s coat while you’re doing it, as long as the dog’s not being too aggressive, PRAISE it!

Your dog should be assertive with the stock

In other words, teach your dog to be more assertive with the sheep (when you tell it to). That way the dog’s confidence will grow, and once it’s moving the sheep reliably by itself, you can GRADUALLY increase the distance that you work it at.

It would also help if you could get rid of the sheep which stand up to the dog – but of course, that’s not always an option.

We have a Sheepdog Training Tutorial called “Sometimes Nice is Not Enough!” which specifically covers sheep which are lacking confidence.


The Working Sheepdog Website blog. Cover image for our sheepdog training DVD set

Learn how to train your first sheepdog with the 2xDVD set that shows sheepdog training as it really is! As well as clear instruction on what to do, you’ll see things going wrong and how to put them right. More info

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One response to “Can a sheepdog live in the house? (FAQ)”

  1. Elisabeth Kelly avatar
    Elisabeth Kelly

    Our puppy is living in the house and I am trying to establish myself as leader. He has been with us for a week and is now 10 weeks old. His main vice is biting my ankles and calf area any tips on how to handle this? Your videos are so great – can’t wait to get to sheep! So glad I subscribed.

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