Sending the dog from your side (FAQ)

Sending the dog from your side FAQ showing the relative distance between dog, sheep, and handler

Sending the dog from your side FAQ

QUESTION: My dog’s doing lovely long outruns when I stand between her and the sheep, but how do I get her to do them when I send her from my side?

ANSWER: The reason for standing between the dog and the sheep when you send it on its outrun, is so that you can move towards the dog and encourage it to go out wider as it comes past you. This way, you can send the dog on much longer outruns than you can if you are sending the dog from your side.

Many farmers and shepherds send their dog away on its outrun from wherever it happens to be standing at the time. It works fine, most of the time, but you can achieve a lot more if you take the trouble to teach the dog to wait by your side, while you face the sheep, before sending the dog away.

This will teach the dog that even if it can’t see them, the sheep will be directly ahead of where the handler is facing. It can be extremely useful when the sheep are not in the dog’s line of sight when the handler sends it off.

Sending the dog on its outrun from by your side is the required practice in sheepdog trials.

Teaching the outrun

When the dog’s learning to do outruns, it’s good practice for the handler to stand between the sheep and the dog before sending the dog off. That way, the handler is able to encourage the dog out wider but

Once you’re satisfied that the dog is going wide enough on its outrun without you having to walk towards it or shout at it, then you can gradually reduce the distance between yourself and the dog before you send it off.

If you find the dog begins to come in tighter, you need to position yourself closer to the sheep next time, and make the transition more gradual.

I can’t give you any specific distances because they are infinitely variable, but you will know whether you’re happy with the width of the dog’s outrun or not.

If you are satisfied, reduce the distance between yourself and the dog next time, but if the dog’s too tight (either on the main outrun, or as it gets near the sheep) you need to be closer to the sheep again next time.

Sending the dog from your side

By the time you reach the stage in your dog’s training where you can rely on it to do an acceptable outrun, the dog will have learned to read your body language, and it will anticipate when it thinks you’re going to send it off on an outrun. This is a really good time to call the dog close to your side and encourage it to ‘look’ for the sheep.

If you’ve already taught the dog to ‘look back‘ this will be very easy to do. With the dog close beside you on the side that you’re going to send it (on your left as you face the sheep, if you’re going to send the dog clockwise) you quietly tell it to ‘look’ and once the dog has seen where the sheep are located, you send it off on its outrun.

This method is great for showing the dog where the sheep are. If you follow this routine of setting the dog up on the side that you want it to outrun, and making a point of always facing the sheep, the dog will learn that if it can’t see them from the place you are sending it from, they will be straight ahead of you.

There are three Sheepdog Training Tutorials dedicated to the outrun, in the Tutorials Library.


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