Featured tutorial – Get off the Fence!

Getting sheep away from a fence or hedge (as seen by the dog)

Getting sheep away from a fence or hedge can be a big problem when you start training a sheepdog.

When confronted with a dog, one of the few ways sheep have to defend themselves is to crowd together onto a fence, or in a corner. From this position they might turn to face the dog. Even just a few sheep can look intimidating from the dog’s point of view! Alternatively, the sheep may crowd tightly together with their backs to the dog. This can make damaging them more difficult for a predator.

Either of these reactions makes getting the sheep into the middle of the training ring or field, more difficult. It can be quite a problem for inexperienced dogs, and their handlers, too.

It’s a problem we’ve all had, and it’s SO FRUSTRATING! To the dog though, the sheep are trapped and aren’t going anywhere – what’s there not to like?

Luckily, it isn’t too difficult to overcome.

Getting sheep away from a fence

As with so much in sheepdog training, the keys to success are the dog’s confidence and your own timing.

Kelpie getting sheep away from the fence

The dog needs to put itself between the sheep and the hedge, (wall, hurdle or fence) and to stay there. Or at least slow down a little, while the sheep move away. Stuck between the sheep and a hard place can be very scary for a young dog. Be quick on your feet – and with your commands. Encourage and guide the dog to bring the sheep out into the field. 

Once the dog is between the sheep and the fence, you need to move backwards, into the field. The sheep will come away from the fence. At this point, be equally quick to stop your dog from putting the sheep back onto the fence again.

It’s easier to understand if you see it. When you watch the Get Off The Fence tutorial, you’ll see how, your dog can learn to deal with sheep that “sit on the fence”.


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