Find out how to get sheep away from fences and hedges
QUESTION: How can I get my dog to move sheep away from fences?
ANSWER: It might not seem like it at the time, but leading the trainee dog between the fence and the sheep can help to get them away from it. The dog probably won’t like it, and will pull back on the lead, but once it understands that when it goes in between the sheep and the fence the sheep move away, the dog’s confidence will begin to grow.
Every time the sheep move away from the trainee dog, its confidence will improve a little.
Apart from the dog pulling back on the lead, because it really doesn’t want to be led between the sheep and the fence, the sheep are likely to immediately re-group on the fence again! This can be disappointing for both dog and handler!
‘Waltz’ the sheep away from the fence
In the tutorial video ‘Get off the fence‘ there are examples of ways to get sheep away from a fence or hedge, including using a trained (or untrained) dog to keep them away from the hurdles in a training ring. Quite often though, the dog will ‘muddle’ the sheep away from the fence or hedge, and the trick here, is to keep the dog circling the sheep, and ‘waltz’ the sheep away from the fence as you can also see in ‘Get off the fence‘.
As long as the dog will get the sheep off the fence in one direction, it’s fairly easy to send it back the other way by blocking it – but your timing must be good really good, or the dog will end up holding the sheep AGAINST the fence! It’s easier at this stage, to keep the dog circling in one direction and ‘waltz’ the sheep out into the open.
With the dog going around the sheep, you simply take one or two paces away from the fence on each circuit. Dot this AS THE DOG GOES BETWEEN THE SHEEP AND THE FENCE. Don’t move towards the dog – the sheep won’t follow you, but they WILL follow you AWAY from the dog – so this is the time to move towards the centre of the training area. (Happy waltzing)!
Keep the sheep in the middle
Remember. The closer the sheep are to the fence, the more confidence the dog will require, to go between the sheep and the fence. It’s scary in there for dogs! Ideally, the sheep will be in the middle of the ring when you try to gently block the dog and encourage it to flank (or cast) the other way. It’s important that the dog will flank in both directions around the sheep, but initially, just concentrate on getting the sheep away from the fence or hedge. We can sort the flanks out later.